Laughter – It’s a God thing

Ever felt like you’re constantly under defeat? As if you can’t ever get it right? That feeling of defeat can permeate every aspect of your being. It becomes your perspective on everything you do throughout the day.

But God has a perspective of laughter. When enemies rise up against him, and their taunts increase beyond measure, God laughs. He laughs because he knows their taunting is worthless before his might (Ps 2:4).

Unfortunately, we cower in fear and defeat. The sight of our enemies brings trembling to our bones. But we forget that we are children of the God who laughs. He invites us to laugh along with him as he sees our enemies and those fearful situations (Ps 2:7-9).

The problems may remain the same, but your perspective changes. It changes to a perspective of laughter.

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Investing in people unwilling to change

I’ve done it with hopes that they will change…one day…eventually. But they never did. I figured I must have done something wrong. After all, my job is to change people right?

That’s where I went wrong. I misunderstood my role. I was taking on the role of the Holy Spirit to change people. I did my best to change them. Then I also realized that they were unwilling to change. That was two strikes against me.

The Holy Spirit can do a much better job. He tests and searches the hearts of people to know what is within. He knows who is willing or unwilling to change. He also knows what it takes to change them.

Before you invest your time into changing someone, try to confirm if this is really your task. Are you the best one to perform this very important task? Maybe, the Holy Spirit can do the best job with this.

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Between them and God

But I want to help. I’ve been trying hard to point them to God. They need to keep their eyes on Jesus rather than on their problems. But they don’t seem to respond to my promptings.

No need for alarm. It really is between them and God. Like street signs, make sure that your message is clear, understandable, and visible. Then, it’s the choice of the travelers. They need to make up their own minds regarding what they should do to obey.

There is no amount of coaxing that will get them on track toward Jesus. Even if they seem to respond to your repetitive promptings, it may be short lived because their heart is set elsewhere.

Really, it’s between them and God. Let both of them work it out.

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Day and night

It grabs you. It takes over every waking moment of the day. There is no activity that eludes it. You are completely captured and mesmerized by it.

When you truly fall in love with God, his words become your delight and your meditation. His voice rings in your ears day and night (Ps 1:2).

Even the night fills your mind with God’s voice. His words spoken to you fills your thoughts. It captivates you so much that even your dreams are full of thoughts of his voice.

How can you be so deeply mesmerized by his voice? It seems to fill your heart day and night. Some might think it’s too much, but it’s not. It’s a delight. Not a burdensome bondage but a deep sense of delight. All day and all night, his voice and his words fill every part of your being.

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Differences, discomfort, suspicion

Differences often lead to discomfort. Discomfort may lead to suspicion. Thus your colleague becomes your enemy. A partnership turns into a cold war or an outright battle.

But if we learn to value differences in perspective, we may end up on a better trajectory. Just make sure you’re headed in the same direction (vision). Link to mission, vision, goals

Differences in perspective can lead to more depth in what you produce. It will produce a better and fulfilling end result. Avoid the narrow perspective of seeing things only your own way.

Build a team. Value differences. Develop a culture of mutual respect and accountability. Share the profits and losses.

Differences may lead to discomfort. But discomfort doesn’t have to lead to suspicion.

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So it was God all along

In your suffering, you may reach out to many people for support. And that’s natural and healthy. But they all have their limitations. As your suffering prolongs, they will each slip away one by one. It’s only logical. They have a life to live. They can’t be with you always. They’ll be back when things eventually get back to normal.

“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold” (Job 42:10-11).

That’s when you realize that it was God all along who sustained you. Your friends, family, relatives, neighbors, and all your acquaintances may step away during your troubles. No one else can lead you through the darkest moments of your life. He sustains you. He carries you. But when you finally come through, he’ll bring you to a new level. Much beyond wealth, Job got to a different level of relationship with God. Yes, it was God all along!

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Small groups, big value

Many resist it. There are so many who don’t think it’s of any value. In fact, in most churches that attempt to conduct some form of small groups, they have less than 50% of their Sunday attendance in small groups.

It seems we underestimate the value of small things. Somehow we think that bigger is always better. But this does not have to be so.

Here are some benefits of involvement in small groups:

+ Relationships: Caring and mutually beneficial relationships are built.

+ Discipleship: We get to help each other grow in obedience to Jesus as his disciples.

+ Evangelism: You get to work together as a team to share the Good News of forgiveness from sin through Jesus.

Don’t ignore small groups. They are of great value.

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Seeing God through pain

No, we don’t like it, but pain is a reality. But extreme pain and deep sorrow can be an entirely different matter. We all may go through such times at some point in our lives.

Some may become angry and bitter. Others become confused and withdraw from everyone just to cope with this terrible disaster. Others see God.

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Job’s words seem to indicate a deeper and more personal relationship with God. His tragedy has also brought about a clear sense of repentance as well. His repentance is also dependant on the idea that he now sees God with his eyes.

For those who suffer in humility, God has a plan. He leads them to a deeper relationship and repentance.

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Mission, Vision, and Goals

Mission: The purpose of existence

The existence of the organization is based on its mission, which rarely changes. This is one of the few things that are constant in every organization.

Change

If the mission changes, then the entire purpose changes, and the organization will be headed in a direction different from how it began. This is fine as long as the leaders and stakeholders are convinced of the new direction.

Focus

It is imperative that the organization engages in nothing that will not work to fulfill its mission. Such a request or opportunity is to be rejected as soon as you determine that it does not help to achieve your mission.

Vision: A measurable destination in the near future

Where mission is broad and constant for the life of the organization, the vision is specific and will change periodically. Since the mission of the organization is broad in nature, it is important to have a more narrow focus for effectiveness.

Make it a picture

The vision of any organization is a clear picture of a foreseeable future. Such a picture will help to position the people and practices of the organization towards reaching the vision.

Make it narrow

Vision is narrow. The narrower a vision is, the more effective it will be. If the vision is too broad, it will be impossible to gain focus. Thus nothing significant will be accomplished.

Make it clear

Vision is clear. All the members of a given organization should be able to articulate the vision. The vision should be clear and understandable enough for anyone in the organization to state it.

Make it measurable

Vision is measurable. If your vision is measurable, you will know when you have attained it. Then you can recast a new vision based on the same mission of the organization.

You can make the vision measurable by quantity, quality, and time. If your vision is based on quantity, you are aiming for a specific number of people, products, sales figures, or any other item that can be numbered. Quality will focus on a desired property, behavior, or attitude. Time will be simply a specific time in the future.

Goals: Specific steps that lead to accomplishing the vision

Goals are tasks that are done on a daily or weekly basis to accomplish the vision, as the vision helps to accomplish the mission.

Make it specific

These goals are specific tasks that can be part of the regular activities of various employees. As various people engage in these activities, they are directly contributing to the vision.

Make it regular

Let your goals be part of your regular, everyday processes. Work it into the routine so people don’t need to consciously shift their focus to accomplish the goals.

Create systems

Work out a system for accomplishing your goals. Create patterns and processes that people can be involved in. Make sure they take ownership of it. Let them lead it.

Variations

Some organizations use the terminology of Mission and Vision in a different manner than we have used here. The most common usage is what we have been using for our purpose, where Mission defines the purpose of the existence of the organization. But some use the term Vision to describe that purpose. Both are equally valid as long as you are consistent with your usage. For our purpose, we use the pattern: Mission > Vision > Goals.

An example: The bus

The mission of a bus is to provide transportation to people. The bus exists for this purpose. The organization also exists for the purpose of accomplishing its mission.

The vision is like the board on the bus that shows the destination.  Once the destination is reached, a new destination will be assigned. In the same way, when the organization accomplishes its vision, a new vision is cast.

The goal is similar to the various stops made by the bus. Each stop is a step in moving towards its final destination. In a similar way, the goals of an organization are detailed tasks that help reach its vision.

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Too fierce to be controlled

The fiercest of animals reveal something unique about God. Of all the animals, and birds, and reptiles, there are a few that can’t be tamed, harpooned, or caught. These animals are truly powerful and stand out above all others.

God speaks to Job about one such animal. “Lay your hands on him; remember the battle – you will not do it again!” (Job 41:8) That’s power and fierceness unlimited.

God is all that and more. There is no sense trying to control him to get your way. He does everything his way. Even for you, he has determined some blessings that are beyond your understanding. But to get there, he has designed a unique path.

You may not like that path, and you may try to resist. But no chance. His way is the only way to get to the blessings he has designed for you. Don’t resist and don’t doubt.

If you choose your own path, you’ll end up in a different destination. Submit, obey, and stick to God’s plan for you.

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