Be Joyful and Pray!

Church, Praying, Prayer, Cathedral, Interior, Building

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

One of my wife’s last public postings as prefaced with I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In that posting she made mention that I was beginning phased retirement and that we would have some extra time together.  It was extra time, bit all too brief as she passed two weeks later.   But the message resonates for me.  Joy!  yes, I am sad at her leaving, but I have joy over her destination.   But returning to her post she wrote:

“Much as we appreciate your prayers for me, especially as my condition continues to change so fast, I have a lot of spare time at home, so would ask you also to share your prayer needs with me too, so I can pray for you.”

“Pray without ceasing,” give thanksgiving in all things.  I am thankful that she was in my life.  I am thankful that she did not suffer.  I am thankful she was and is at peace.  But even more so I am thankful for her example.  She wanted to use her time of unceasing prayer to lift up the needs of others.

Accordingly, I ask that just as she did, if anyone reading this has prayer needs – please let me know.  I, and Dianne before me, do not need details, only an indication that there is a need.  I don’t want to pry into anyone’s life, nor create a “talking point.”   God will know what the need is – I just need to know to lift it up.

Pray for me too my friends.   I am still getting used to this “new normal,” and I above all want to remain strong.  Your prayers will help me to be so.

Padre

Legacy of Faith: “Holding His Hand Each Day”

Image may contain: one or more people, drink and indoor

In I Thessalonians 5:11, Paul wrote: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”   There are many ways in which we can lift each other up.  First and foremost of these is in the act of prayer.  The act of intercessory prayer is a mighty one.  It  taps into the central power of all creation – God – in order to strengthen and provide for the needs of others.

In addition to prayer there are our words of kindness and encouragement.  It is easy to get lost in one’s own struggles and to feel alone – “I am the only one suffering this,” or “nobody cares.”  But a gentle word can prove to be, not just a “reality check,” but a load lifter all on its own.

My wife, Dianne addressed this “ministry of encouragement” in the face of her own illness.  It is part of her legacy of faith, that she set out to lift others while she herself was in decline.   Below is a posting where she discussed it.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: ‘When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.’

I make a public posting almost everyday, and document how i am coping and remind readers that God is helping me through.

I do this because i want to connect with others out there, perhaps suffering terrible trials, maybe even waiting through terminal cancer as i am, maybe you have relatives out there who have a diagnosis or you just want to understand. Possibly you are prepared to pray for me to make my journey easier.

Whatever the reason, this is possibly my legacy, all i have to leave behind.

I have prayed to be healed and certainly believe God can heal me, but i wont know the truth until my time limit of 6-18m[onths] is over.

Most of the time i try not to think about it, but it an ever present ‘spectre at the feast’ and colours every decision to some extent.
In my case i will potentially be mostly well, until suddenly i am not, and then it would be a quick decline.
I do have other co morbid issues though which make me generally ill and confine my to the house largely, often to bed for long periods. These are the issues my post largely comments on and also logs my positive attitude, which i work hard to maintain.

There are issues i havent touched on yet, the stress of not knowing, will i see another birthday… The loneliness of being home all the time but too ill to really see anyone. The pressure to leave something positive behind, to not be an extra burden to loved ones, to be upbeat and cheerful, to ensure nothing is left undone, and just waiting to see …knowing everytime i am in pain or have a new symptom my husband worries and quietly panics inside.

It is a fulltime job, this being brave: as my mum described it today. But -it is what it is, and i am doing all i can, -all i believe God is guiding me to do.

Cancer… Is a terrible word, it has terrible connitations. i pray daily for those who have relatives who are suffering this cruel monster, who struggle to hold their life together whilst quietly being terrified and out of control.

But, God is there for all of us, he walks us into the storm, holds our hands through it and brings us out the other side changed, improved, sanctified.
Never forget to check if you are holding His hand each day (Dianne’s posting for 24 September 2018).

She was indeed “mostly well, until suddenly [she] am not, and then it would be a quick decline.”  Her decline was a matter of four days, but her bravery, concern for others, and this wonderful reminder to hold God’s hand daily inspire me to carry on.

 

Padre

Why?

Argument, Angry, Silhouette, Boss, Client, Dispute

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  

 

Why is it that some instigate, incite, and connive?

Creating rifts and obstacles, so many just contrived –

They feel they are entitled to bring upon others pain –

Then they act all contrite; and innocence then they feign.

 

Why is it that so few build-up, encourage, or cheer?

Helping others surmount their worries or their greatest fears.

Giving just a moment to rectify misunderstandings great or small,

Aiding others in their wants, and open hurts so raw.

 

Why do we pass by silently, when these things we see?

Ignoring chances to speak up or aiding others to agree –

Be it politics or relationships, do we really need to divide?

I leave that with you now,  it’s for you to decide.

 

Padre

 

 

 

Inspiration Call: Word Prompt Wednesday – Why?

FOWC with Fandango — Instigate

FOWC with Fandango — Surmount

FOWC with Fandango — Raw

FOWC with Fandango — Rectify

 

Speaking Beyond Fear and Doubt

Presentation-lectern-model-President

Of Oratory

Of General Application

The fear of public speaking is a much commented upon topic.  Some studies suggest that it is in the top five social anxieties, and at least one puts it above the fear of death. Yet, most of us are comfortable sharing our views with our own “dear and near.” But why should it be so?  Is it the conviction that friends and family “have your back” or the assumption that their affection for you will override any faux pas?  If this is the case then we are building our security through familiarity.  Fair enough.

But if we see this as security, how much more can we take comfort in anonymity?  An audience is often addressed only once. And is it likely that a group of people who have gathered to hear you will bear you any ill will?  Why then did they bother to come?  Audiences have spent time, and sometimes money to come.  They too have your back, they have a vested interest.  They want you to succeed.

If what you say is safe with friends, then saying it to others is also safe.  If your message is worth sharing, it is equally valuable to any hearers. Roger Love has rightly observed that, “All speaking is public speaking, whether it’s to one person or a thousand.”

Of Christian Application

So far I have been “speaking” to anyone who has apprehension about addressing others, and especially those who dread speaking to strangers.  But to those who are aspiring pastors or other Christian “labouers in the field,” the point is even more fervently made to you.  You have been entrusted with “the words of life.”  How much more should you feel bold with your message, which in deed is not “yours” at all but that of “He who has sent you?”

Look at the call of Moses,

So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’Then what shall I tell them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’ (Exodus 3: 10-14)”

Moses was sent (as are we)! But even with his more profound “call to serve” than any of us can hope for, he nonetheless responded,

“Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say (Exodus 4:10-12).”

His hesitation was countered by God.  And this message is not just for pastors and evangelists. Remember always that “go ye” means “go me.”

Take heart as you speak.  Make the message pure and relevant, and it will be heard.  If it is not spoken, it cannot be heard.  If it cannot be heard, it cannot be listened to. If it isn’t listened to, it cannot be heeded. And remember that at least of you listeners is among your “near and dear.” So near and dear that He laid His life down for you.

Padre

Motivating People

Last night I gave a presentation at Toastmasters on motivating people as an aspect of excellence in leadership. Different people are motivated by various things such as money, personal growth, love, fame, or praise.  For many of us it is money that makes us get out of bed in the morning (well we do have to pay the bills), it is seldom the thing that drives us to “do our best,” however.

In my years as an educator I have learned that the most effective motivating factors have been praise and appreciation. People like to be liked.  Giving praise for their efforts is a great motivator. In education assessment takes two general forms: Formative (that which shows a way forward), and Summative (that which evaluates the finished product).

Praise and encouragement can follow the same pattern. When we see someone beginning to develop we can encourage them by noting it.  These words of praise should be deserved, however.  Praise for praise sake is flattery and really doesn’t advance people.  It is kind of empty.  As a leader we should look for opportunities to congratulate progress.  Formative praise need not stand alone if we want growth to occur, but when instructive criticism is given, it should be sandwiched between points of success.

Summative praise and reward can take several forms.  Recognising the accomplishment of a task is a great reinforcer of motivation.  Success leads to success.  If we acknowledge and reward in tangible ways the successful completion of a project, our team(or charges) will be more likely to seek to replicate it in the future.

Recognition is not the only motivating factor that we can bring to our leadership skills.  We can also motivate by creating challenge.  Most people when given incremental challenges, will seek to rise to them.  It is up to leaders to see the strengths and skills of people in order to best place them for success.

So how do we motivate others?  Encourage and praise developmental successes. Give more challenge as skills and competences are mastered. Position people where they are most likely to succeed. Then reward in a tangible way the successful outcomes.  It may not be rocket science, but it is good people skills.

Padre

Nine Great Quotes on Christian Leadership

good-shepherd-catholic-clipart-10

For those in leadership positions within the church, there are often challenging times, whether from the “pressure of the job,” the burden of care, or loneliness (yes, leadership can be lonely).  Here are a few great quotes that reflect on the role and burden of leadership.

The Role:

Leadership isn’t about titles. It’s about character.

 1. “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” Brian Tracy

Leadership requires overcoming the burdens and frustrations we meet.

2.  “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Publilius Syrus

Leaders need to know where the are going and what their goals are.

3. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

Leadership is about sharing that vision, and reaching the desired outcomes.

4. “The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision.” Ken Blanchard

Just because you are the leader, doesn’t mean you’re “the boss.”

5. [T]he rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20: 25b-26

The Burden:

You are not alone in feeling the pressure. The apostle Paul wrote,

6.”Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:28

You can’t do everything yourself.

7. “The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t.” Anthea Turner

Remember even Jesus delegated.

8. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” Luke 9:1-2 & 6

Better still, even though leadership may be lonely, you are never alone! Jesus said,

9. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20b

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Dawn take you . . . , and be stone to you!’

Norwegian-trolls-Trollhunter-movie-h

Trolljegeren image

I have been writing a blog now for about a year.  I find the act of communicating via the blogosphere a fulfilling experience.  My motives are pretty straight forward – I like sharing information, and I hope that I am at times entertaining as well.  I do not have any desire for “fame” per se, though I, like most people, like to be liked.

When it comes to the blogs of others, and life more generally, I am rather a simple soul.  I take people as they present themselves.  I readily trust them for their integrity, and accept their motives and presentations as “true reflections.”  Because of this approach, I feel I have come to know several people well, and in fact (though I have never physically met them), I have to come to care for them.

Recently, I was saddened when a couple of these admired and cared for “friends” were attacked for things they had posted.  These attacks were not mere contradictions of their views, but personal assaults.  One young woman who I greatly admire was even slammed over her health problems and past personal struggles.  I marvel that people hold their own viewpoints so highly, that they must belittle those who disagree.  Seriously, one does not elevate themselves or their views by diminishing others. It grieves me to see anyone hurt, but especially this lady who has a clear Christian heart.

It is interesting that, within this cyber community that such vicious attacks are called trolling.  On reflecting on this, troll-lore has an interesting facet.  Trolls turn to stone in the light of day. In darkness they do their harm.  Gandalf knew this, but even more powerfully than in fiction, Jesus said in John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”  Paul added to this with the words, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

Let us seek to be lights in the world.  Let our lights not be under bushels, but placed upon a stand.  Let us build up and not tear down.

Padre

Building Those That Build

3D_Team_Leadership_Arrow_Concept

Ralph Nader has said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Okay, don’t get me wrong here, it is an expectation for all the people of God to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  But for those within leadership, there is a need to lift up and train up new leaders.  Otherwise we have stagnation, and without new generations of leaders – decline.

Pastors, elders, and teachers have a grave duty to guide the church.  This is an awesome responsibility, and I use the term in its true meaning. We should be in awe of the task before us. Paul writes to Titus these words, “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:7-9).”

These builders and defenders of God’s church are but one part of the body, however.  Their role (worthy of honour as it is) is just one aspect of Christ’s body’s work. I Corinthians 12: 12 reads, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

How wonderful that the body is so diverse. Each has their place, each their importance.  But, with that said, the aforementioned pastors, elders and teachers have the burden of challenging and promoting the growth of others.  They are the builders of others, the nurturers, and the guides.

But, this at times is a lonely place to be.  Yes, leadership teams do help.  They give some relief by sharing the burden, but I well know from experience that it is still at times “remote” to be a leader. Who do you, as the encourager, turn to when discouraged?  Where do you find strength, after strengthening others?  Yes, the short answers are, to and from the Lord.  He is sufficient.  But not only sufficient, He is wise!

The evidence for this (if any is needed) is found in I Thessalonians 5:11-12 “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren that you appreciate those who diligently labour among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” God’s word calls us to appreciate and encourage those who labour among us.

We as a body should and do encourage (literally “give courage to”) one another.  But as we enter this new week, let us not forget that our leaders and fellow workers need encouragement as well.  When was the last time you sent a random thank you note to your pastor?  When did you last enquire on their week?  Let us build up the builders.

Padre