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Together Teams in Tougher Times

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all the chief priests and elders had said to them. (Acts 4:23)

teamOf course they went back to their own people! Don’t we all seek from each other the strength and support of the like-minded among us? How do management teams recharge and refocus together? They retreat together. What do football players do after five to seven seconds of organized chaos? They huddle up as one. Why do we join small groups? To find and to give unconditional acceptance, love and care. We crave solidarity with people who share singularity of purpose.

So after 24 hours of healing, preaching, incarceration, defense and release, Peter and John needed their own people—big-time!—and their own people needed them. But what if these two leaders began their report, only to be stymied by the group arguing over worship style (choir recital versus rock concert, or something in between)? What if the good folks appreciated John’s loving heart, but were contented only with Peter’s bold oratory? What if Peter and John sought harmony but encountered dissonance instead?

What the apostles needed from their fellow believers was maturity and unity, and fortunately for them, that’s exactly what they found. “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘. . . consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness’” (Acts 4:24, 29).

As in earlier times, the church today is under persecution, and persecution is no time for pettiness. Tougher times call for together teams: we must have internal union if we are to stand amid external rejection. Simply put, each of us needs the oneness of all of us. Today, let each of us resolve to lay aside all that divides us and serve as one body—one people—in Christ.

Father, you desire unity among your people. Purify my heart, that others would find in me the encouragement, support and love they need. Give me the wisdom and compassion to set aside my self-interest for the good of the entire body of Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.

[Read the Scripture for the day in Acts 4:23-31.]

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Doing the Most Good

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)

logo - doing most goodFor over 10 years, I have had the privilege of serving on The Salvation Army (TSA) Columbus Area Services’ advisory board. Today, I’d like to use this space to share with you some of the reasons I’ve come to love this organization and its people.

  1. TSA’s mission statement doesn’t just hang on their building’s walls, it lives in their people’s hearts and drives everything they do: “Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
  2. Eighty-five cents out of every contributed dollar goes to meet human needs. Speaking at our annual fund raiser, retired astronaut and U.S. senator John Glenn recalled that his father used to say, “The Salvation Army gets more out of a dollar than anyone else.” His dad was right.
  3. Management guru Peter Drucker declared TSA to be “the most effective organization in the U.S.” I can tell you first-hand that these folks are exceptional at what they do.
  4. The Salvation Army is there 24/7, year-around. Some organizations are appropriately designed to engage the community during an emergency and then move on. TSA is designed to stay; they are always there to support and serve the hurting.
  5. Here are some of TSA’s services: food pantries, housing, after-school tutoring, anti-human trafficking case management, emergency disaster relief, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. People often say to me, “I never knew The Salvation Army did so much.”
  6. Rather than foster a permanent dependency, TSA moves people down a path to independence, believing each person has innate strengths and capabilities that can be mobilized to facilitate change.
  7. “Doing the Most Good” is TSA’s brand promise, and in my view, it is a promise kept.

When you see The Salvation Army’s red kettles and hear their bells ringing a few months from now, smile and know there is still goodness in the world and that people still care. Hope lives on.

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The People I Admire Most

[Read the Scripture for the day in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.]

Who do you admire most, and why do you admire them? Is he a musician or an athlete? Is she a business leader or an author? Do you appreciate people for their accomplishments or abilities or character? What resounds in others to the point it resonates in you?

Personally, I esteem the twelve-steppers among us and others like them those who have looked honestly upon their innermost weaknesses and vulnerabilities and confessed their inability to overcome them in their own power. With a precious humility worthy of our aspiration, they rest completely in God for restoration, rerecoverynewal, and fullness of life.

Truth is, these folks have discovered what we all need to admit, that confronting our wrongs is far more powerful than denying them, and that confessing is crucial to overcoming. With this in mind, the apostle Paul called out some various ways our inward condition surfaces through our actions, from the sexually immoral among us, to the greedy, to those who slander. Then in a bold celebration of truth and grace, he reminded his readers, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Our natural inclination is to deny our wrongs or excuse them or blame others for them, but that gets us literally nowhere in the kingdom of God. Instead, our hope is found in being completely open, honest and accountable before God for our wrongs and our overall tendency toward sin, and then trusting in the boundless grace of Christ for forgiveness, salvation, and transformation.

“Coming clean” with God is our first step. When we do, He not only forgives us, He cleanses us from the inside out. What could be more worthy of our admiration?

God, reveal my heart, and give me the strength to trust you completely for forgiveness, cleansing, and the precious gift of a right standing before you in Christ Jesus, your Son. I stand in awe of you. Thank you.