I Have To Honor Whom?

March 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Candace McQuain –

Steve Jobs, Former CEO of Apple, once said, “My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

Mr. Jobs’ passion for his employees was evident. He worked hard to bring out the best in those who worked for him.

So many managers do not.

I’m positive that at one time or another we’ve all had “that” boss, someone who just made our workday the worst. They had no people skills, no knowledge of the work we were doing and made us ask ourselves every day, “How did that person get where they are?” Of course, we all have our own hypothesis. Some quite funny and some very disturbing, but at the end of the day we just couldn’t get a hold of why they were managers at all.

The reality is, it doesn’t matter why or how they got into the position they did. They were appointed that position of authority by the Lord and we are to honor and respect them because of that alone. I know. Believe me, I know. It’s so hard to swallow that whether or not they deserve one iota of honor and respect or not, we are to give it to them. Why, oh why?  The answer is clear and can actually be quite motivational. Although we are directly working for an earthly being, we are ultimately serving our Lord.

I know from experience giving this type of honor is much easier said than done. The truth is, it’s so easy to defend our “not-so-nice” thoughts about our less than savory boss because we feel in our heart that God would not want us to be treated badly. God’s truth though is this, “7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do”  (Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV).

Maybe you’re dealing with management issues that go deeper than lack of knowledge or people skills, maybe your boss is just plain rude and disrespectful. Well my friend, the outcome Jesus expects is still the same. Take this to heart though, you do not have to respect and honor the “person” you are working for, you are to respect and honor the “position” in which the Lord put that person in. When we look at it from that perspective, it takes a little of the sting out doesn’t it?

So, the next time you feel like you’re about to loose it and go crazy over something your boss says, doesn’t say or does or doesn’t do, just know that at the end of the day when you’ve done all you can to honor that person, you are honoring your Heavenly Father and you will be rewarded for it.

Still not quite feeling warm fuzzies for your boss yet? That is completely understandable. Honoring someone who you feel is not deserving of that honor is tough, even with God’s powerful words commanding it. Just know that as we are commanded to honor those who are above us, Ephesians 6:9 goes on to address how they are to honor us. There is quite a lesson for your boss on the topic of honoring you as well.

Father, Unveil Our Hearts

February 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split” (Matthew 25:41 NIV).

Most of us have heard that verse countless times. It occupies the chorus of songs and the the thrust of countless prose. Most likely we could quote it without much thought. In fact, I wonder if we’ve heard it so many times, the reality of what happened on the cross loses impact. We’ve grown so accustomed to the idea of “communing” with God, we forget what a privilege—no, miracle, it is.

To the first century Jew, the tearing of the temple curtain would have  been a knee-knocking, mind-blowing, heart-stirring, worship-inducing event.

For centuries, they’d known God as the Holy One, Almighty, El Sheddai, the Creator of the heavens and the earth who, upon occasion, met with a few select men. Like Adam before the fall, or Noah, or Abraham and Moses. They remembered the Ark of the Covenant, which signified God’s presence, and the great care the priests had to take in transporting it. God wasn’t Someone they took lightly, nor someone they expected to commune with. Perhaps they dreamt of one day hearing God’s voice like the young boy Samuel did as he lay upon his mat, but that’s where their hopes remained—in their dreams.

Until one day a plain looking man claiming to be God hung upon a cross, and cried out to heaven with his dying breath. Those who gathered around Him—some mocking, some gawking, some crying—felt the earth beneath them tremble. Darkness fell over the land and then, with a mighty rip, the curtain barring sinful man from the Holy of Holies—the place where God Himself dwelled—ripped apart from top to bottom. The barrier erected centuries past severed before their very eyes.

Can you imagine what that would have felt like? The joy, fear, confusion that must have welled up inside them as they looked upon the curtain, now flayed open before them? After centuries of waiting, of praying, of dreaming, the God of their fathers said, “Come. I have removed the barrier. I want to commune with you like I did with Adam. I want to share my heart with you like I did with Abraham.”

God says the same thing to us today. He invites us to catch a glimmer of His glory, experiencing the awe those ancient Jews must have felt on that victorious day.

Let us not become so accustomed to the Christian phrases and hymnals that we lose sight of the miracle. The Creator of the Universe, the Holy One, asks us to come and sit at His feet. He’s taken away everything that would keep us from Him. If you’re a redeemed child of God, the only thing standing in the way of unhindered fellowship with your Creator are those things you allow. Today think upon the veil when it first tore and worship Christ afresh. Don’t let apathy or business rob you of the divine romance. Pause and ask God to unveil your heart, drawing you into His.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12 NIV).

Fatal Attraction

February 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Last month I took a trip up north. From Texas, I flew to Wisconsin, picked up my mom, and drove her to our family reunion in Ohio.

Before our road trip began, we met my in-laws for breakfast at an old-fashioned diner in Sun Prairie. We enjoyed a great visit swapping stories and photos with my mother-in-law, Diane, and her new husband, Bob.

After the meal and four cups of coffee, I excused myself to run to the little girl’s room before we got on the road.

I took a quick glance in the mirror after I washed my hands. Not finding any food in my teeth or toilet paper hanging out of the back of my pants, I reapplied a layer of barely beige lipstick and fluffed my hair. The mirror approved and I sailed out the door ready for pictures and hugs.

Outside the diner, the four of us played rotating photographer. My camera held photos of me and mom, me and Bob, me and Diane, Diane and Bob—you get the idea. After final hugs, I turned to unlock the car and caught a glimpse of a large white square stuck to the back of my upper thigh.

A lone piece of toilet paper lay plastered to my black yoga pants.

Yoga pants are perfect for travel. The stretchy waistband and soft fabric assure a certain comfort factor during a long ride in the car; however, I did not realize yoga pants were also a toilet paper magnet.

I glanced around the parking lot, which stood empty except for my mom waiting by the passenger-side door. With a nonchalance I’d learned over the years of suffering from such disasters, I reached back, dislodged the paper, and nudged it under the back tire.

How did I miss that big white blob on my dark black pants when I performed my cursory check in the mirror? How many people watched me walk out the door of the diner with toilet paper plastered to my leg?

Just like toilet paper, sin is sticky.

It hangs on me in places I can’t see—even if I’ve looked for it. I need help to see what I’ve missed.

Lord, I cry out to you like David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (NIV Psalms 139:23, 24).

And help me remember when I wear those black yoga pants again to check them twice after a visit to the little girl’s room.

Standing for the Wrong Thing

February 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

This example of a young and energetic American missionary who went to Venezuela for his first term reminds me of how we may sit through church services not understanding or even trying to comprehend the message.

This missionary did try to understand by taking the time to learn the language, but he didn’t really get it. On his first day in Venezuela, he was late for church. He walked inside and slipped down the aisle to the only pew with a seat—on the front row.

During the service, he struggled to understand the message so he decided to pick someone near him to imitate. This way, everyone would think he knew the language.

The man sitting next to Mr. Missionary became the best choice and he started mimicking every action.

When the congregation worshiped and sang the missionary peeked at his neighbor’s

hymnal to see the page number. When the man stood up to pray, yes, the young missionary stood up too. When the man sat down, Mr. Missionary copied the move.

This makes me wonder how much we pay attention in church. After all, we do speak the same language don’t we? We should understand our preacher, right? But do we go into remote and forget to listen?

We stand. Sing. Sit down. Turn the page in our hymnals. We open our Bible. We mark the place with our finger. We look up and make eye contact with our preacher. We appear to understand.

We even use a yellow marker on scriptures. We nod in agreement. And we say amen at all the right places. But I must ask. What did your pastor preach on last Sunday? Now I’m meddling, back to Mr. Missionary.

He sat on the pew and tried to look just like that man. Do we do the same? Are we simply trying our best to look like everyone else?

Next, in this service the preacher gave announcements. Everyone clapped at something the pastor said, so Mr. Missionary joined in clapping his hands too. Then the preacher said some words that were even more confusing and the man next to the missionary stood up. So Mr. Missionary stood up too.

Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation, even a few people gasped, and a few fingers pointed at the two men—the only two standing. Mr. Missionary looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down.

After the service, the preacher shook hands with everyone as they left. He stretched out his hand to greet the missionary and spoke in English, “I take it you don’t speak Spanish?”

The missionary replied, “No, I don’t. Is it that obvious?”

“Well, yes. I announced that a family in our church had a new baby boy, and I asked the proud father to stand up. Seems there’s some discussion on who the father is now.”

As usual I see a lesson in this story because many of us attend church. We love to sing. We have our Bibles. But do we listen?

If you are imitating a person, be careful because before you know it—when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing up when you should remain seated.

So this Sunday if you are happy to remain an imitator then sit in the pew beside someone and copy him or her, clap and stand at random.

Or try this. Sit up front. Listen with your heart. Take notes. Apply the message to your daily walk—because John 8:47 reminds me that whoever belongs to God hears what God says.

Just be you, it’s better than imitating others—it frees you to sit on the pew of life with understanding, and you’ll clap at the right time. You’re the only you—there is, fearfully made and wonderfully loved by God. Beside, you don’t want to get caught standing for the wrong thing, now do you?

But it’s just a Small Stain!

February 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Looking so pretty in one of her favorite dresses, my five-year-old daughter was ready for church. I warned her to be careful not to drip any chocolate milk on her dress.

“I’ll be careful, mom.”

She put the cup to her mouth. The next thing we knew and before we could stop it, the damaging drip rolled down the side of her mouth and landed on the front of her dress.

Her daddy told her to go to her room and pick a different dress from her closet. With chocolate still on her mouth, her face wrinkled up into a cry. “But it’s just a small stain!” she cried as the tears started to flow. True to her perseverant nature, or should I say stubborn nature, she continued to cry. Between sobs she would remind us, “But it’s just a small stain!”

As I loaded the dishwasher and watched this play out, her repetition of the phrase, “But it’s just a small stain!” struck something within me. As my five-year-old cried because she wasn’t getting her way, I wondered how many adults cry out those same words to God as the Spirit works to reveal the sin in their life.

The Spirit prompts, “Did you lie to your boss?”

You answer, “But it’s just a small stain!”

“Were you mean to your husband? Were you impatient with your children?”

You cry, “But it’s just a small stain!”

“Did you gossip at church?”

You plead, “But it’s just a small stain!”

We may think we are a good person and those small stains won’t really matter but God does not see it that way. I thought of the verse, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10 NIV). Whether the stain was small or ran all the way down my daughter’s front side didn’t matter. Either way, the dress was still stained and she could no longer wear it to church. Likewise, we all have stains on our souls. Because of those stains, we can no longer have a personal relationship with God. He looks at us and in His sovereignty says, “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me” (Jeremiah 2:22 NIV). However, He also looks at us with love and compassion stirs within Him. That is why He provided a way for our stains to be removed. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV).

Have you allowed Jesus to wash away your stains?  Don’t let stubbornness rule as you, like my daughter, keep crying, “But it’s just a small stain.”

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