Friday, June 26, 2009

Quote of the Week

There is a kind of creation that only God can do.  For God to bring something into being required nothing other than his eternal, loving reality as a starting point.   We, on the other hand, always start in the middle of things, working with raw materials given to us by God and by the generations before us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No King is Saved By His Great Army

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Psalm 33:16-17

Trials and obstacles are part and parcel of living in this fallen world. These days it can seem like bad news is lurking just round the corner - widespread financial collapse, rising unemployment, H1N1 virus, turmoil in the Middle East, etc... Maybe your concerns are much closer to home - perhaps you're concerned about holding on to your job or you have mounting personal debt or you're dealing with a chronic illness in your family.

In times like these, it's easy to locate our confidence in the wrong place. Perhaps Psalm 33 was written in response to such mounting pressure. If you're fighting a battle, it makes all the sense in the world to put your confidence in the size and abilities of your army. It wouldn't seem altogether unreasonable to hope in the battle tested assets that might secure victory.

Yet, the Psalmist reminds himself and us of the folly of such thinking. Despite conventional wisdom, no king is saved by such things. He looked beyond the means of salvation to the source of salvation - the LORD, the eternal God who is able and willing to rescue those who fear Him.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Psalm 33:18-19

When you encounter the next trial or challenge - whether at work or at home, whether great or small, where do you plan to locate your hope?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quote of the Week

"...Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don't make a difference by being the same."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Conflicts At Work

Fights, conflicts, disagreements – it’s one of the sad realities of the workplace. It’s not only undesirable, it’s actually inevitable when sinners work together...even justified ones. You might work in a relatively peaceful environment but you’re never free from conflict. It seems to me that there’s a fair amount of conflict and disagreement at my workplace in recent weeks. Mind you, not the kind that’s destructive or irreparable - just more than desired or productive. Perhaps it’s a result of stress - business is tight, projects are critical and sometimes it seems like there’s no room for error.

Why do these conflicts occur? James 4 offers one possible reason -

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

James is saying that many fights and quarrels arise from selfish desires and from inner conflict within our hearts.

But that's not the case for every conflict. Sometimes, one or all parties in a conflict may well-intended, yet may respond sinfully in other ways. For instance, in arguing for our position on an issue, are we being dismissive of other points of view? Are we failing to acknowledge the contribution of our colleagues? Worst still, could we be sinfully judging our co-workers by assuming ill-motive on their part?

How should we respond? Better yet, how should I respond in the midst of my situation? Here are a few questions I’m pondering for my part –

How can I speak more gently when all my tendencies are to the contrary?
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

How can I encourage my co-workers by speaking hope rather than despair?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

How have I contributed to conflict by my lack of leadership or poor example?

How does this challenge help me see more clearly my insufficiency and spur me on to count on the sufficiency of Christ?