Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
May those who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay.
Psalms 70

Amen!

Be God’s — every day.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
1 John 1:8-10

No one is perfect.

We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of the standards we set for ourselves, let alone the standard set by Christ as an example to us. We love too little. We ask for too much. We let greed rule our pursuits. We fail to remember those in need.

We are only fooling ourselves if we pretend to be without sin. It’s time to “fess up” and recognize out brokenness, trusting that God will forgive us an cleanse us of our wickedness.

Pray about your failings and shortcomings. Pray about your weaknesses and desires. Ask God for forgiveness and the power to get stronger.

Be God’s — every day.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
Proverbs 3:27-28

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and I recognize now that I didn’t give advance notice. My apologies. I just returned from a trip to India, visiting an office there and meeting a new member of my team. Beyond the states objectives of the trip, I learned much about the Indian culture and people. I also became exposed to the Mumbai slums, evidence of extreme poverty and need.

I am an American, and proud of my culture and heritage as such. I am saddened, though, when Americans challenge me about having such a large office in India. “Don’t you feel guilty about taking jobs away from Americans and sending them overseas?”

In a word, no. I just don’t see it that way, perhaps since this is not how it really works in most instances. I don’t see how work is an American right and not a global right, and I have personally seen the impact that good jobs can have on people in all cultures. Work that has to cost us less than minimum wage (if we paid more, we would not be able to sustain any jobs…) can be staffed by highly qualified people in other markets, so American work is less competitive in this instance. If you say that the best worker at the best price wins, then jobs will move across borders all the time now that technology improves the way we can work over long distances.

God is not The Lord of Americans… He is Lord of All. He is working among the people of India, raising many out of poverty through the availability of jobs that spur economic growth.

You may disagree… And that’s ok. I’m happy to engage in more discussion.

Be God’s — every day.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
James 2:1-7

We all have favorites. We all like to be the favorite.

A few years ago, a young man was an incoming freshman into the high school youth group. At the conclusion of his eighth grade year, he decided he was going to be my favorite. He had buttons made declaring it, in fact. I loved the button… So it definitely moved him in a positive direction!

At work or in groups, we all like to have favored status. As leaders in our various walks, we must take caution in having favorites, though, since all are equal in the eyes of The Lord.

James points out that our faith is questioned if we play favorites, as part of a broader argument (more tomorrow) about how breaking any law is still breaking the law. Certainly, playing favorites is visible, and our love of equality can be undermined if we don’t show it consistently.

Be mindful of playing favorites. Treat everyone with respect and give everyone a chance to succeed.

Be God’s — every day.

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:19-27

What a standard this creates!

We all have our moments when we want to shoot back at someone else, or we feel the need to speak up and make sure our opinion is known. In a life that presents all sorts of trials (see yesterday’s passage) it can be difficult to just sit quietly.

But James recognizes that the temptation to speak out can challenge our faith. James isn’t arguing that by being slow to anger that we magically become more faithful… But he is saying that our faith should display itself in being kind, thoughtful, and caring of others.

Focus today on controlling your tongue. Listen first, then speak. Make sure that your faith is visible in how you speak to others.

Be God’s — every day.

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
James 1:1-18

The next several days will focus on the book of James. This epistle is known for its practicality, believed to be written by James the brother of Jesus.

James opens his letter focusing on suffering — always a good way to grab an audience! James notes that when we face temptations and trials, this is the process of being refined into something greater.

Being changed is hard work — it hurts a little, but that hurt is what makes it possible for something new to occur. Whether that means losing something you had, experiencing trouble while taking on a new task, or feeling alone during a difficult time, that pain is part of making you what God wants you to be.

Be God’s — every day.

“Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:35-36

You don’t get a lot of Leviticus out of me… In general I can find the examples used to be a bit archaic (since it is an ancient book), and thus it can be difficult to consume. This one is pretty easy though…

Much of the “commandment” that we hear refers to personal acts — things we do as individuals. I believe this is partly why Christians are known to cheat at work, or Christians might try to cut a corner with an organization. We forget that our actions as part of the team are still our actions.

This passage reminds us to deal fairly — as consumers and as providers. We shouldn’t tip the scale in our favor. Part of why I have found a home in HR is that I see it as my role to balance the scales, trying to create ways that everyone is treated fairly and honestly (from shareholders to our leaders to an individual entry-level employee in a far-away country). I am certainly not perfect, but I’m energized by trying to live God’s commands.

How can you try to live more fairly at work? Or in your commercial dealings?

Be God’s — every day.

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord ’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord ’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
Isaiah 2:2-4

This is a prophecy of peace. A day when once and forever more God’s kingdom becomes the focus, and the trivial yet controversial details of human life cease to matter. Living for and enjoying the present becomes the norm, as preparing for uncertainty becomes less important. People will stop worrying about conflict and start living together. Our goals become common rather than competitive. Worship becomes central.

It’s paradise.

Nothing about this paradise requires a catastrophic event or some new revelation of how to achieve it. While we may require an intervention — and the Bible tells us it will happen — we have the tools we need. Jesus showed the way. There is nothing stopping us from achieving this paradise except our own nature and pride.

We can treat each day as an opportunity to make progress toward paradise. Each interaction and decision can attempt to live out God’s view of what the world can be.

Be God’s — every day.

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1-7

I really like the verse:

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

It’s really a wonderful summary of what “education” is all about, referring to education as both formal schooling and other forms. We learn things to help us lead better lives, which includes helping us understand how to live best with others.

I mourn for those who don’t have access to adequate education. Their lives are forever diminished, at no fault of their own. I often wonder how many of the worlds problems would disappear if all people had access to better education, imparting the wisdom to improve lives…

Who can you teach today? By teaching, you impart wisdom that will help them lead a better life. Take the opportunity to share wisdom and improve the lives of others.

Be God’s — every day.

I am tired of living among people who hate peace.
I search for peace; but when I speak of peace, they want war!
Psalms 120:6-7

Our world seems to love war. Violence is often the first response in major conflict, as countless resources are spent preparing for violence (or in theory building up to deter violence). Even in pursuit of peace, we seem to act with aggression to get there.

Peace is worth fighting for, but not just with violence. We need to have the patience and courage to act in a loving way to bring people together to pursue a common peace. As Christians, we need to be at the forefront of calls to act peacefully to resume conflict.

Where do you see a need for peace? How can you promote a peaceful resolution?

Be God’s — every day.

P.S. Sorry I’ve missed the last few days. I’ve been under the weather, and am just today getting back into the swing of things.