Is business…pleasure?

John 1:3

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I was on a business trip this week to Wisconsin. I drove though Wisconsin several years ago. I found very little of interest. Long straight roads with boredom stretching out for miles either side.

But this time I was taken into the heart of what was either side of that road. I had a glimpse behind the curtain and God revealed to me true beauty. Some soft and gentle. Other beauty, dramatic and exciting. It taught me a lesson. How could I dare think that God had created something boring?  But still He invited me in. God’s beauty is everywhere. Beyond roads. Inside people or just round the corner of the road we are sometimes fearful of going down. And an 8 hour journey from Boston. It was a trek, but God wasn’t going to make it easy. But to answer my question above. Yes, it was a true pleasure.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, as we gaze out of the windows of cars, buses, trains and offices, we give thanks for all that you have created. We ask that you speak to us through the beauty you have made – Amen!

Here’s just a glimpse of what I saw.

dogIMG_6402beessepia housetruck

Think small.

Luke 12:15

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for ones life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

I watched a documentary a few days back called ‘Tiny’. It was full of a lot of great messages. It’s not a christian film and it doesn’t have christian values as such but it does have in it many things that The Bible teaches us. A tiny house in CT is one of those 3 bedroom capes. In this movie those capes are mansions in comparison. It’s an inspiring film and will for sure get you thinking and maybe wanting. You can find it on i-tunes. Here’s the trailer:

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for film makers that get us thinking. And for those films that inspire and move us. May you speak to us through these films – Amen!

Listen.

Proverbs 18:13

If one gives answers before he hears, it is folly and shame

 

The business world is full of talking. People talking over each other. Some of us go into a meeting desperately needing to make a point. Many are so wound up about something that we go into it already frustrated and just need to blurt something out. (especially on Monday mornings). That’s normally when we regret something we say.

Everybody wants to be heard. And, of course, someone has to talk. But listening is a skill. As the song goes ‘Silence is Golden’. Listening for a length of time without talking can work wonders. We’ll be tempted to jump in but we have to stop ourselves. And actually not saying anything can solve it! I have seen so many people talk themselves into a solution or simply run out of steam. Or they get to the point where they have to say “What do you think”? That’s the best place to be then a few and considered and wise words is all that’s needed.

This isn’t a lesson in management, but we all need reminders. Scripture has many verses on the subject of speaking and talking. None of them, as far as I know, tell us to talk and talk without listening. Hear what I’m saying?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, give us peace today in the work place. May we surrender our instincts to talk so we can let You guide our hearts and ears to listen to our colleagues – Amen!

Is a ‘Mum’ God’s masterpiece?

Proverbs 31:2

‘Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her’

 

Most creators of things have a masterpiece. Da Vinci had the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh his sunflowers. Architects have them so do composers and musicians. But does God have one. I suspect not. There’s too many to mention but, if there was, the ‘Mum’ gets my vote.

Think about what they do. I won’t get into details but I’m sure if you sit down for 5 minutes and give it some thought you will have some kind of realization. And then think about your own Mother whether she’s alive or not. Think about where you are today and then think carefully back to a time when your Mother helped you get to where you are now. Words of encouragement, support and love. Or maybe a financial sacrifice or just a sacrifice of her time. The last one is the big one. Time, that’s what Mum’s give to us most. At the expense of something they may want to do. And they don’t think twice about doing it. Thank God for Mums. His masterpiece.

Usually around Mother’s day a song pops into my head and an early memory of my Mum humming away to it in our kitchen as she listened to the transistor radio. The song and a vague image of her stays with me for a few days and then disappears. But it’s a happy memory and I thank God for it. The song is posted below.

Happy Mother’s day for Sunday.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for our Mothers and all that they sacrifice for us – Amen!

 

Are we ‘up to the job’?

Isaiah 48:17

‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’

Rejection. It’s tough. Feeling worthless and incapable of doing something we thought we could do but then being told we’re not ‘up to the job’ is one of the hardest things in the business world.

I have been rejected for very senior jobs in ad agencies that I was fairly confident I could do and it was odd to me that I wasn’t getting them. But after a while, I just said “Okay God, what is that you want me to do”. Just because I hadn’t been given the opportunity I wanted it didn’t mean that God didn’t have something else equally challenging for me. For example, I was filming in Prague this past week, merrily going about my job as a Commercial’s Director. When filming, most of the crew stand behind the Director’s chair and the actors stand in front, obviously. For most of the shoot, I had been comfortably doing the job but I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t give direction because my brain froze. In that moment, the actors were staring at me. (Actors that didn’t speak much English) and when I glanced behind me all the film crew were looking at me as well.  And there was this weird ‘are you up to the job’ silence. They were all looking to me for direction. And I had to act quickly. Something came to me and I shouted out some words and I was back on track. I sensed that God had put me in that place and thankfully given me the words to do my job. I also realized that I was in a very senior position on the set but not the position I had once expected, during those times of rejection. I don’t crave or seek out senior positions any more but God had put me in one. One, that in many ways was more challenging than that of being in an ad agency but I believe it to be a better use of my skills. I also believe that it’s all God’s work. So, ‘are you up to the job’? Maybe not the one  you think you want but God will have something else for you that’s most likely even more challenging or unexpected. Are you up for praying about that?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we ask that you guide us in our work. We want to follow your path so we do what you have planned for us not what we plan for ourselves. Give us the confidence and strength to believe in you and take that leap of faith when an opportunity arises that we weren’t expecting – Amen!

One step at a time.

Psalm 18:28

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

If you’re anything like me, you might sometimes sit on the train (or where ever you may be) wondering what the future looks like. But, of course, we don’t know. And because we don’t know, we plan. We plan something that is our idea of what it might look like. Planning is good but only if we are looking to God for guidance. Even then, we can get carried away with our own dreams. “Dear God, I pray that you can guide me to Florida where I can retire.” That’s probably not the right prayer but we all do it. Or something similar. The Psalmist of the verse above is happy to have a lamp to guide him. Lamp’s won’t light up the entire path, just a few yards. Enough to stop us from going the wrong way. The future is now. That sounds like a cliché but it’s pointless planning so far ahead because we may be missing out on so much today! So, plan the next few steps with God and let’s pray a prayer for a future (today and the for the rest of our lives) that can in some way glorify Him. Sound like a plan?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, We thank You for always being with us even when we don’t know it. Lord, we offer our lives up to You. Our future is in Your hands. Lead us to where You want us to be. Give us the faith to follow You, one step at a time – Amen!

Advice from someone who knows.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

We usually seek advice from people who have been in a similar situation or have knowledge of something that we don’t. But how often so we seek it from God? He’s written an entire book on how to live our lives. The Bible. It’s quite incredible that not many people seek it out given that in some shape or form it can give us direction and advice on everything we face in this life. It may not be the advice or guidance we want to hear but it’s in there. Work, relationships and money. These are the topics in our lives that we spend the most time thinking and worrying about.

  • Money – Ecclesiastes 5:10 ‘Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless’
  • Work – Colossians 3:23 ‘Whatever you do. work heartily. as for the Lord and not for men’
  • Relationships – Proverbs 13:20 ‘He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the company of fools will suffer harm’

There are hundreds of verses on all topics of life. Some find it hard to believe there’s a God because we don’t see evidence that He exists. How do we have a relationship with someone we can’t see? But he does exist through His word. Actually picking up the book and reading it is the biggest hurdle to leap regardless of our faith. The more we read, the closer the relationship we have with Him. And then the decisions on all aspects of our lives become somewhat easier. It’s a self-help book of sorts, but unlike other self-help books we can have an on going conversation with the author through prayer and scripture.

The link below is something I sometimes use when I need help. It’s a bible search engine. Just tap in the subject and various scripture pops up.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/

Of course, we need faith to do this. It comes with time but I pray that we will all turn to His word. Silly not to turn to someone who knows everything!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, Your word is a light to our path. Teach us to look to scripture through anyway possible. A book, the internet or even apps! We give thanks that the gift of technology allows us to seek you out in many more ways! – Amen

Testing, Testing…

Ephesians 4;32

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Last week there was a massive power failure on the train line going into Grand Central. One of the most disruptive incidents I’ve ever know while commuting. It took me 4 hours to get into Manhattan. It usually takes less than an hour. It’s not going to be easily fixed either. It could go on for days and weeks. The link at the very bottom will give you more information, if you’re interested!

If the commute goes smoothly and it gets us to our destination on time then we’re programmed to deal with all the stuff that we’re faced with in the office. We expect ‘disruption’ there! But if the commute doesn’t go smoothly then that’s an entirely different matter. I would not have expected to turn up at the platform last Wednesday to be confronted with a 4 hour commute. It was testing to say the least. All humanity goes out of the window when we’re fighting to get into New York. I observed it all. The pushing, the shouting, the anger, the arguments, the frustration, the disrespect for fellow human beings and travelers. And this was just a power failure on one line, in one state. What if something even more disastrous happened?

Knowing God is a wonderful thing. In past years, I may have been the person sitting 3 rows back taking the incident out on the ticket collector. Or the guy that insisted on keeping his bag on the seat so no one could sit down. In truth, we were all too exhausted to argue with him. And I’m not blaming those people. I’m not perfect and on another day I may not have checked myself but knowing God and having some form of relationship with him does mean we have the ability and awareness to check ourselves and realize that the situation is no big deal. It’s an opportunity to allow Jesus to shine through us by having peace and then kindness toward others. The next day I was able to help a few people out as I had memorized the revised schedule before I went to the station.

We will all face disruptions. The one’s that take us by surprise are the ones that really test our Christian beliefs and the way we behave. So, watch out! There might be another one just around the corner! May God be with you when it happens.

Pray with me.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for being so close to us that you can shine through us in tough situations. Forgive us when we forget about you and go about our lives thinking only of ourselves and our own well-being – Amen!

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Power-problem-paralyzes-Metro-North-4841862.php

Don’t let today slip away.

Psalm 75:1

We give thanks to you O God; we give thanks for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds

 

Perfection is difficult to find but the evenings our here in Connecticut these past few days have come close. Not far from where we live there is a beach and park area. It has cycle paths and walking paths. It has trees, rocky out crops by the beach and wide open areas where people can throw or kick a ball around. It has also has wonderful views looking across the Long Island sound to other beaches in our town. The temperatures have been in their mid 70’s at sunset, comfortable enough to walk around with the breeze coming in from the ocean. Why am I telling you all this? Work can be all-consuming especially if we commute. Even if we leave the office at 5.30pm, some of us won’t be home until 7pm. And once we’re home and we’ve eaten, we may feel too exhausted to get out and do anything. But how about we leave the office earlier?! I understand that we can’t always do that. If we’re busy, we’re busy. Or can it wait until the morning? But if we find ourselves sitting there at 4.30 or 5pm realizing that we can actually leave the office then why not just get up and go? God gifts us days for us to make the most of. Missing beautiful evenings in the summer and missing time with family isn’t something we can get back. That day has gone. The good news is there will be another one and another one. But one day, on this earth, our days will run out. It will be dreadful to think that we didn’t make the most of the days and time that God gave us. We can’t always make the most of them. We do have work to do but it’s finding the balance. As I write, it’s 8am in the morning. I was going to post this tomorrow but the weather doesn’t look so good for then. I’m going to post this now because it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day today, with a beautiful evening….check your workload at 4pm and see if you can’t just leave the office and go and meet God’s creation.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, clear my workload so I can get out of the office today! – Amen!

 

 

Ever considered a career in Christianity?

Hebrews 13:16

‘And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,  for God is pleased with such sacrifices’

It’s okay. We don’t have to become Pastors. But we can take on more responsibility as Christians. Whether it’s more of a mentoring role within a church or applying the skills in our paid work to helping others. When we reflect on our week, did it have the right balance between our time spent earning money and giving our time sacrificially? I have done very little of the latter since I’ve been on the road so it’s something I’m keen to re-balance now I’m home. When I was mentoring at The Bowery Mission in New York a couple of years ago, the last thing I needed on a Wednesday evening was to jump on the subway and head Downtown. But every time I did it I walked away energized. The Holy Spirit at work. Because it was of God. It is difficult to feel that way when we walk out of our office buildings every night. We should feel great but we’re human. We feel worn down by the same things. But a different kind of work can be a good replacement for a non-existent pay rise or promotion. The reason we crave the money and the promotion is because we need to feel better about what we do. Rewarded for the pain. It’s temporary though and the pain comes back. We can never find favor with God but finding other ways to work for Him where we don’t expect anything in return means it’s simply through love. Love for God and for others.

The Bowery Mission, Downtown, New York

The Bowery Mission, Downtown, New York

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for our careers and our jobs. We know that they are gifts from you. We pray we can find other ways to use our gifts or gifts we didn’t know we had to work for your kingdom and to glorify you – Amen!