Cradle Proof

If you have once again struggled to find the meaning in this Christmas, know this- the blood oath made by Jesus Christ more than a millenium before, became real that night…

The prosecutor hurled his accusations:
“You are not who you say you are.”
“Your rules are not fair!”
Finally, the Defendant on the throne said,
“I have no more words, I will show you.”

The Son stepped from beside the throne and became Joseph’s son. (Luke 2)
and with one simple substitution,
God for man,
Faith became fact,
and a 33 year proof began.

Humble beginning in the stable,
Violent victory at the cross!
Firmly and forever crowned-
Lion of Judah,
Lamb of God,
Son of Man.

The proof of the most challenged equation of all time was complete.

God = love

Mathematical equality.
Everlasting synonyms.
John’s summary statement. (1 John 4.16)

and every year at this time we celebrate the lowly beginning of a crashing victory.
A victory proving the Father’s right to save me by grace.
A victory started as a tiny baby,
finished as grown man who jumped to his death on the cross.

Jesus, you are the living Word.
The Living Voice,
the walking message identifying your Father.
We praise your Name!
We celebrate You showing us the Father in Your birth,
Your life,
Your death.
Send Your Spirit to fill this heart and this house.
Amen.

When You’re Down…

Several months ago, I was having a really bad day.  I had received some challenging news that I was unprepared to face.  With feelings of depression, hopelessness, and no small amount of anger setting in, I was unable to face my staff who depend on me for leadership and support.

So what did I do? I went straight to my boss, burst into her office, pushing for some serious talk time. And she did exactly those things that cause me to count on her. She validated my feelings. She did a reality check on my facts. Immediately went to the source to correct the issue. Sent me on my way confident in the work we had already done together.

Jesus knew about this need. He was very clear about the source of His power.

“I have received authority from my Father”. Revelation 2:27 NIV.

Jesus knew that without regular time spent with His Father, to renew, to refocus, to remind, to repurpose, He would lose strength and lose sight of His mission. He was on a three year game-changing mission. He had an impossibly short time to do something so shocking, so unique, and finally, so violent, that it would change the thoughts of a universe for all time. 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 NIV.

He knew where to go. He had no question to Whom He should turn.  Through His short life, he modeled this for us over and over. He proved it’s value finally through a victorious mission.

Someone told me something about leadership once, and I’ve found it to have lasting value.

When you’re down, go up!

When you’re up, go down!

What do these cryptic words mean? When you are emotionally down, when you’re mission focus is blurry, when you are confused and discouraged about your value or direction, go up! Up the food chain, up the org chart, up to your boss, up to your Heavenly Father, up to a caring parent. Someone who can handle all of your garbage, your discouragement, your confusion, and your anger. Someone who can remind you of who you are. Someone who can get you standing upright again.

When you’re up, when you are clear on the mission, when you have value to share with those around you, when you are strong enough to support and affirm,  go to those who count on you for leadership. They could be employees, children, fellow students. If you’re not ready to do that, go up! Rant in your boss’s office, take a prayer moment in the car before entering your home, go where you need to go to get your game face back on.

Jesus knew where to go for renewal, to get His game face back on. And so do you.

shared in the workplace 12.16.13 Thanks Heather!

Whoever is Not Against Us

I had an idea at work the other day. I know that’s shocking to some of you… but I did! I was kind of proud of it and was looking forward to having my name linked with it. And then, the most shocking thing ever! Someone else had come up with my bright idea! MY idea! My personal, brilliant, creative, innovative idea.

 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,  for whoever is not against us is for us. Mark 9:38-40

So…. apparently Jesus didn’t have that problem. He was trying to teach His disciples that the mission was more important than the man.  The message more than the messenger. Effect more than credit. That’s kindof tough on the old ego.  We naturally want to be recognized for our brilliance and creativity, don’t we?

Jesus kept His eye on the mission: to reflect His Father’s loving character and to heal and save idiotic humans who were trying to kill Him. No time or energy to waste on ego or fame. If something or someone furthered that mission, He was for it… and them!

So how can I copy this? When an employee comes up with a great idea that I have also generated, acknowledge them for it with affirmation both privately and publicly. When a colleague promotes a new concept or cause that you were planning to initiate, find a way to team up with them by your willingness to follow their leadership. Support them with creative effort and cheerfully compliment them to others.

As a church family, are we willing to support community efforts that don’t have our name on them or do we feel the need to duplicate every service to ensure that our denomination or congregation is recognized?

What about within the home? As a parent, do I really need to be the guy with all the bright ideas, or can I lift up my children by leading questions and conversation, ready to praise them when they have a lightbulb moment.? As a marriage partner, are you willing to take second chair, acknowledging your spouse and supporting them in an idea that could have been yours?

Father, let me copy your Son by letting others succeed rather than seeking recognition, by letting good be accomplished around me, no matter the source.

I Am Redeemed

Early this morning, the sun just starting to laser light beams across the mountains to the east. The house was quiet and I was listening to one of my new favorite songs. Again, clarity about your value, and mine, came to me.  Take a couple of minutes and listen…

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  -Isaiah 43:1. NIV.

If you are reading this right now, know one thing: your Heavenly Father owns you twice, once when he created you, again when he bought you back. Don’t ever tell yourself or listen to others tell you that you are not worthy, inferior, not good enough, that you have gone too far, done too much, that you have no value.

He chose you before you chose Him. Even if you never accept Him, He’s paid for you. You are so valuable, not because of what you’ve done, but because of the price He willingly paid for you. A price paid in blood. Lift up your head, throw your shoulders back, and embrace the freedom purchased by the one Who loves you most!

Angel Face Time

We spend tremendous energy trying to determine fairness. Everything from ensuring that your siblings got exactly the same sized piece of cake to adults worrying about who got a longer lunch break. As leaders, we are admonished to treat all of our employees fairly. Often that means sinking our treatment down to the lowest level that could be considered exactly and mathematically equal… the same in every respect. In so doing, we treat our valuable colleagues to a cookie cutter type of leadership that may only fit one out of ten of them!

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”                -George Orwell, Animal Farm.

How does that quote resonate with you? Starts well, but turns a little cynical? Maybe it has nothing to do with what I’m trying to express. Maybe I’m sharing that we are more effective as leaders, and maybe as parents, if we don’t push for exacting equality in how we treat our staff members or our children. Does that make you nervous?

 

Did you know that some angels have more face time with God the Father than others? Try this text on for size:

 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10, NIV.

Hmmm.  Always.  Maybe you think I’m reading too much into this text. Could be.  Before you jump to that conclusion, check the context of this verse. It reeks of, not uniform, but unique treatment of those who need things from us.

I have messages to two groups of you this morning:

If you are a leader [or a parent], those who depend on you deserve more than equal treatment. They need equal consideration of their needs. This frees us to spend twice as much time affirming a young and struggling colleague or investing extra energy to refocus an experienced but disillusioned one.

If you are a young person, whether you are eight, or eighteen, or maybe even 23, you are still forming your view of the world. Maybe God has a central place in your life already. Maybe you are still struggling to find that place. Either way, when your angel… or your prayer goes to the Father, they go to the head of the line! You, in particular, are oh, so precious in His eyes.

Even if you don’t have a place for Him in your life right now, know that you have a place in your heavenly Father’s heart, on His agenda, in His day. He wants to make the connection of a lifetime with you while your life is still beginning. If your relationship with Him is puzzling, unclear, or seemingly nonexistent, know that you totally have an inside track with Him.  You are on His mind and in His sight every day, not because He is watching to catch your every mistake, but because He is your biggest Fan!

If Mama Ain’t Happy…

If Mama aint happyIf Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Have you ever heard that statement? I picture a frazzled and furious housewife, screaming and swinging, causing kids and Dad alike to run for cover! I brought this up last week while teasing one of my hardworking, spirited, but, uh, certainly even-tempered colleagues. During the conversation, I did have to admit that this was so not true in my house. My girls are blessed with a Mom who keeps evil feelings in check and while teaching, playing, working with them, models love in an untiring and self-sacrificing way.

Nevertheless, it is certainly true that Mom’s spirit and attitude set the tone for the day. When Mom is in good spirits, kids respond in kind and Dad, too. When Mom obviously missed her happy pill [NO! not suggesting a pharmaceutical solution, just an expression!], the kids wonder what’s wrong. This is especially true when Mom and Dad are at each other’s throats. Kids act out, feel insecure, get unexplained illnesses, and eventually kick the dog. Moms, and leaders, set the tone for those around them.

But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14:24-29 NIV

This is a popular story used to teach various things. Let’s look for something completely different. The disciples are straining at the oars, fearing for their lives. When they finally recognize that Jesus is the One they see, they notice that He is calmly walking on the waves, seemingly oblivious to the danger.

Calm is catching. It’s contagious. It’s confidence-building. Peter, one of the more radical disciples, becomes so confident that he asks Jesus if he can join Him walking on the waves! Jesus agrees and Peter jumps out of the boat!

A few weeks back, one of my staff came to me and said, “Bob, are you mad at me?” I had said something very unintentional the day before, maybe with a tone she wasn’t used to. Several days ago, another said,”Is everything okay? You seem awfully quiet, more serious than usual.” I don’t know about you, but my staff pick up things from me. They are always watching, listening. Especially in challenging times, they watch to see how I react to stress, how I am affected by what’s happening around me.

Last week we talked about values and how leaders communicate them in everything they do and say. Today, this is something more intangible, less objective. My question for today- My tone, my body language, my vibe- do they communicate fear or confidence? Calm or unrest? Jesus exhibited such peace and confidence that it inspired Peter to leap from a perfectly good boat! Take special note that the storm was still raging when Peter jumped!

Will my staff be more likely to act with initiative, serve with caring, think outside of the boat, due to my influence? What vibe do I export? What infection will they catch from me? Fear, uncertainty, distraction, unrest, negativity? Or calm confidence, sure focus, joyful affirmation?

shared in the workplace. 9/16/13.

Expressing faith in the workplace.

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