Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A2G: This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine!

We have all heard the lyrics of this children's bible song, but have we really considered the meaning of the words.  As Christians we all have a little light ignited within us the moment we accept Christ as our personal savior.  We are reborn moving from the darkness to the light, being renewed and transformed into his image.  

Our challenge as new believers is to grow our light, to develop into strong and responsible Christians able to shine in the darkness.  We become a light shining before all as evidenced by our actions.  Growing our light takes place as we commit to prayer, to learning and living the word, and sharing his message.  We move into the place where our light shines in the midst of the darkness.  Darkness is no longer a place to flee from but rather an opportunity to let our lives shine bright, reflecting the message of Christ.  We often pray and complain about the darkness in our lives rather than recognizing that Christ places us in the darkness so we can illuminate the path for others, a light helping them find their way to salvation.

Recently, I dealt with a situation where the person was dark and unreasonable, a person I wanted to avoid at all cost.  I prayed what most of us might think of praying, God get this person away from me.  But today as I prayed God revealed that this person was not placed in my path so I could complain about them, but rather so I could love them and shine the light of Christ.  I fell into the trap of the flesh not recognizing an opportunity to serve my Lord, and instead criticized the person rather than loving them.  I now realize my mistakes; I failed to love the least lovable and to illuminate the path to Christ.  Fortunately God is forgiving and provides opportunities for us to overcome our mistakes and carry out the work he needs us to complete.  He wants us to be the light that shines in the darkness and gives us multiple opportunities to achieve that goal.  We can shine our light on those we serve at work, our families, our friends and on the strangers we meet each day.  Let's all let our lights shine!  Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Are You A Toxic Handler, A Peacemaker?

In the world of organizations and organizational behavior we look at how people formulate an organization and how their interactions create, manipulate and establish the culture within the organization.  Churches as places of worships are organizations replicating many of the same challenges because once again, people are coming together to impact the culture of the church.  Peter J. Frost's article regarding the impact of the Toxic Handler within the organization spoke to my heart with regards to the role of the Toxic Handler within the church, and every church has at least one or more toxic handler.  Unlike author Frost, I identify this person as the Peacemaker within the church.

So what is a Peacemaker?  Why do we need a Peacemaker within the church?  Many would argue the leader of the church, the Pastor, should be responsible for ensuring there is peace within the church, but I believe the role pertains to those God anoints to be peacemakers which can be anyone from the Pastor down to the Custodian.  The peacemaker recognizes the importance of helping reduce the divisions commonly found in so many of our churches today.  First and foremost, he or she practices God's word ensuring they listen carefully to the issues without becoming part of the conflict and without concluding they have all the answers.  A peacemaker focuses on reading between the lines to ascertain the true cause of the pain, does not take sides even if he or she has one, and helps individuals talk through the pain.  If trusted, they can bring a level of greater understanding of the word and its application to the conflict at hand.  Peacemakers are well connected throughout the church and the various groups within the church, they have the uncanny ability to walk on the waters that divide the various groups.  Succeeding in the role of peacemaker involves a deep understanding of self, the strengths and flaws existing within self enabling us to ensure his or her strengths are a blessing to others while keeping individual flaws in check to prevent an escalation of the conflict.

There is a lot to be said about identifying the role, talents, and skills of a true peacemaker.  Each of you is challenged to search within yourselves and assess if you are one of God's peacemakers; one who has been critical to addressing conflict and creating peace.  Perhaps you simply never realized that this is a calling a gift God has given you and the importance of being more intentional in using this gift.  Are you a peacemaker, able to alleviate the toxicity existing within your church, workplace, or school?  Jesus provides us with a prayer reminding us He was a peacemaker seeking his people to be united as one body in Christ.  Here is his prayer for peace:

22"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24"Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.…
John 17: 17-24

Let us come together in one mind and one accord to celebrate being the Peacemakers where ever we are!  Just a little advice to go!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Feeling Convicted?

Have you felt convicted?  In what ways?  God uses the Holy Spirit to convict us in different ways based on the status of our walk with Him.  Conviction can expose us to the fact we are walking outside of God's will, a reminder we need to realign ourselves with God's word.  Conviction can also come in the form of reprove, a reminder of what we know to be true and the fact we are contradicting this truth by the manner in which we are behaving.  Conviction can also come in the form of convincing, convincing us to to do God's will; to take the steps to be right with the Lord.  God's conviction through the Holy Spirit serves to ensure we are reminded of His grace and love for us.  We are reminded he claimed us by the shedding of His blood and is unwilling to let us depart from Him.  In the secular world a convicted person having been found guilty is penalized but in God's world his conviction opens the door for repentance, forgiveness, and renewal.  There is no sentence, no condemnation in Christ our Lord!  Just a little advice to go!