Editorial A great opportunity for the Western world.
Y2K -- Is the Bug Still Out There?Most people feel that being helpless is a weakness.
Mankind's Universal StruggleMankind as a whole often doesn't live up to its own standards.
Will We Be Better This Millenium?Can we change our world into some sort of utopian ideal?
Appropriate Technology for Small and Medium Businesses: EPOS Do you need EPOS?
Is East East and West West?Eastern thought and practices compared to Western ideas and ways.
Daily Discipline: The Story of Job The book of Job helps us understand why suffering sometimes comes to innocent people.
Superhuman Life No. 92: Step Out of YourselfWhat is the significance of your life?
Personal Experiences of God David B. Updegraff tells how God has been in his life and influenced it.
Management Matters: Dealing with Complaints and Difficult PeopleTurning complaints into opportunities.
CCI BOOKSHOP: The Spiritual ManVolume 2 of Watchman Nee's classic.
Visit The CCI Library The CCI Bookshop is a review of different books and audio cassettes from the CCI libraries in South Mimms, England and Raleigh NC, USA.
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by Ernest O'Neill
Now is the great opportunity for the Western world -- armed with the computer, the internet, and unequalled prosperity, we face a world in Africa, Asia, and South America that needs and wants food, clothes, and freedom. Our life, as always, will be saved as we are prepared to lose it - or will be lost as we try to save it!
We have been given the clearest view of reality and the best of the earth's resources so that we will share both freely with our neighbours. Upon our response to this moment in time will depend the future of our own civilisation. If we lose our way in self-absorption and self-indulgence, our neighbours will suffer, and we ourselves will sink into decadence. If we rise to the exhilarating challenge, resources will be multiplied and our neighbours will have what we have.
This is the story of the world's civilisations in the past - it's the reality in which we live today!
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by Trish Overby
As a kid growing up in the 50's, I can remember the many times my siblings and I watched old horror movies and were scared out of our minds because we thought the bogieman would get us in our beds (even though our parents were asleep in the room next to us!). That fear would keep us awake until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer.
For the past two years we have heard a lot about the Y2K bug which would infect all of our computers around the world. Some of the international airports were cutting the number of flights coming into the airports for the first two days of 2000. The UK government mailed out a lot of information and articles on how to prevent this `insect' from getting into our computers or how to remove it if our computers or software were from the early 80's. Software companies offered `special deals' on how to upgrade your computer or software with as little fuss as possible. So by the time 31 December 1999 rolled around, either you could feel confident about your computerized accounting system or you were sweating and counting the seconds until you knew for sure you needed to call the Compu-doc.
The fear some of us faced this Christmas and New Year now seems to have been unfounded, with the exception of those of us who had `minor' computer problems. But the build-up to this fear was very real and, at times, some of us might think very irrational. Our local supermarket stacked bottled water as high as the ceiling in order to remind us about the utilities which might have difficulty supplying our households with the necessary drinking water we needed. But have you noticed how some companies use our fear to their monetary advantage? We could all think of different times over the past year when we were afraid and wanted someone or something to give us the answer to dispel our fears. Even if it is the auto mechanic who `recommends' you replace those tyres or brake pads or the new improved toothpaste to prevent tooth decay which appeases our fears. Why are we so influenced by our fears? What is the basis of our fears?
If I look back to those times as a child when I was scared, it was because I felt a sense of helplessness to protect myself from the bogieman. The emotion built-up from the TV show was so strong, I just knew he would come and get me that night and I was powerless to stop him. I was literally powerless over my `small' world back then. Isn't this true for us as adults too? Don't we feel helpless as we contemplate the Y2K bug, the bald car tyres and a full set of dentures?
Most people feel that being helpless is a weakness. Others would say being powerless is reality. These people will look at fear as a positive reminder of their position in the universe. They would acknowledge their `weakness' because they know there is a Power who is behind the world we live in. It is this Strong Person we can put our trust in and give our fears to. He created the world we live in and He created each one of us. He knows each one of us personally, knows our family and emotional background AND knows what we ate for breakfast and what we will eat for dinner. This Person is one we can rely on for all the `fears' which face us throughout our days because He loves us and cares for us. With a loving Person such as Him, how could we be afraid of what happens to us? "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear". I John 4:18 RSV
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by Martin Poehler
With the recent turn of the millennium, many articles in the press have looked searchingly at the last thousand or hundred years. Lists of "bests" have been drawn upbest writer, painter, sportsman, musical pieceand the atrocities of man versus man in the last century have also been remembered. Life as a whole when reviewed shows great accomplishments: fine ennobling literature from Shakespeare and others, cures for tuberculosis and other diseases being found, a higher enjoyment of life for many coming through cars, the microchip, and other technological advances. On the negative side must be listed hatred leading to mass murders in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Nazi Germany, the wide-spread crime in many western societies, regularly reported depravity such as paedophile behaviour, and computer-hacking bringing severe threats to organisations in our information age.
Looking at mankind in this way, we see good points and bad points. But one thing is clear: mankind as a whole often doesn't live up to its own standardsevident from the large number of "bad" things men have done which we can all list.
Probably no one reading this is a mass murderer, paedophile, or criminal computer hacker. We and nearly all people abhor these crimes. But do we live up to our own moral idealsor instead do the things we know are wrong? For instance, do we steal or lie? Perhaps not. But do we think critically of others? Or talk behind their backs? Are we jealous of others, or do we hold grudges against them? If you're like me, the answer to some of these questions has been yesand yet we feel we should act and think better than we do. Though we believe in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," at times we are jealous, do hold grudges, and don't want the best for others. Though most of us agree we should always love others, we all at times fail to do this.
Why is this? Because "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark." We all experience this state within our inner natures, and it has been written about for centuries. More than 2700 years ago Isaiah wrote, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. 1 " By using All, he reminds us it is universal that we know what is right, we desire to do what's right, yet are unable to do the right things or rein in our hostile thoughts towards others. This thing in us is called sin. It comes from the Greek and Hebrew words that mean "to miss the markand so not share in the prize." 2
Mankind and each man specifically has in many ways gone down the wrong path. This causes a certain amount of angst in most people, believing as we do in the rightness of being in control of our livesi.e., acting sweetly towards others as we believe we shouldbut finding it a struggle. This writer knows the struggle he's describing only too well.
As I describe our lives which so often contain moral struggle and defeat, you may deny that mankind and each individual is in this condition. You may say, "I'm not that bad," or "I'm only humanno better or worse than anyone else." Or you may say, "It's impossible to live life on that high moral plain where we follow the principles we feel are right." There are two problems with these statements. The first is, that when others cross us by holding a grudge or being jealous towards us, we feel they are acting wrongly. This shows that we truly believe there is a moral law by which all men are judged. So we must believe that law applies to us as well.
The second problem is, no matter how firmly we hold to beliefs like, "I'm no worse than anyone else," our feeling of angst remains. Missing the high standard we all feel we should meet causes us pain. Where this high standard comes from, and why we feel pain when we miss it, can be seen in the words, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 3
It seems that the rule of right living has been put into the centre of our natures by the God who made us. In one particular wayacting rightly according to our conscienceswe were made to be like God. The pain we feel when we don't act rightly is partly from guilt from what we have done wrong, and partly from being far away from the God we know we should please with our actions.
We said earlier that sin is universal, that all have missed the mark. But is this so? Has anyone always hit the mark and not sinned? If there is someone like this, can we change and live without sin, and do the right things we know we should do? We'll look at these questions in the next issue.
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by Greg Leitschuh
The world at the turn of the 20th century was obsessed with the idea of evolution -- we were told mankind was getting better and better. At that time, many traditional beliefs were being questioned and the influence of people such as Darwin and Nietzsche helped to erode many people's belief in God. The idea of the "superman" was popular and it was generally thought that with better education, we would eventually change our world into some sort of utopian ideal.
When World War I had come and gone, this philosophy was generally discarded and there arose an attitude of disillusionment and fatalism. With the rise of communism, and then another world war, these attitudes continued to flourish. Only during a brief period in the 50's and early 60's in America did people once again feel that perhaps they were entering into a new era where there might be peace and prosperity. However, with the assassinations of the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King, as well as the outbreak of the war in Vietnam, the idea of peace and progress seemed far away and disillusionment set in once again.
The entrance into the `third millennium' this year with all its pomp and circumstance has seen another rise in this utopian way of thinking. Modern technology and education have once again bolstered the opinion that we will eventually arrive in a `golden era'. The arrival into this new millennium has brought forth both optimistic and cynical comments - optimism for those who believe we are going to progress and cynicism for those who think that society is deteriorating.
Because of the recent massive advances in information technology and the internet, the optimists are saying in a sense that knowledge will be our saviour. On the other hand, pessimists point to the difficult social conditions that are evident around the world as well as the last century's record of `man's inhumanity to man' in which were witnessed the holocaust and the recent wars in Bosnia and Kosovo and Chechnya.
Perhaps we should now ask ourselves, `Where are we going?' Are we evolving into a more peaceful, gracious society or heading towards revolution and lawlessness? The internet revolution has helped to spread lawlessness which can be seen through the great increase of fraud and pornography that have become difficult to control. Where mobile telecoms and email have made communication easier than ever, people are becoming more isolated from each other. It still remains to be seen whether the use of technology and better education will enable us to prevent another war and stem the tide of disorder or drive us closer to it.
In many countries and cultures around the world, there is growing dissatisfaction with life. Many people in Muslim countries want a revolution and establishment of an Islamic state to stop the degradation in their societies which they see happening in the West. Governments in the West itself seem not able to find solutions to the growing social problems that result from increased break-ups of marriage and family life.
There are no easy answers to these questions. Religion appears to have not found a way to enable people to live peacefully and happily. Most seem to know the right thing to do but are either unable or unwilling to change. Is there anything we can look forward to that will bring humanity to a higher level where we won't trample over each other to have our own way? The emptiness as well as the selfishness that increasingly seems to envelop mankind can only be overcome by a revolution within our nature rather than a vague hope that we will eventually evolve and become better as we gain in knowledge.
Will we be better this millennium? One answer seems to lie not in the hope of an external, social or religious revolution around usbut in a lasting change within ourselves. This kind of change does not come about through mental activity or having a right attitude or even being more religious but is a change that can take place in the very depths of our spirits.
This only ever happens to a person as they give up their rights to themselves and embrace God. God is not dead but is real and alive today and can bring about a moral revolution in our souls that will enable us to live to the fullest whatever our circumstances. He is the answer to all of our questions and the fulfilment of all our needs and desires. This is not a trite or glib statement but has been the basis for reality for millions of people throughout generations.
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by Joe Selzler
Today's world is buzzing with new technology and the talk is all about bytes and CPU speed and bandwidth. Computers are beginning to be thought of as an essential part of life, and not just play things for the nerds. In most schools children are taught the basics of computers, and in many cases they are required to use them to complete their studies. Within this first decade of the new millennium most office jobs will probably require computer skills. We could also predict that this dominance of computers will work its way down to the corner shops.
However, there should be no fear in our hearts of these machines, for they are very useful tools, if we use them just as that, a tool. The ability of computers to store large amounts of data for later retrieval and the speed with which they can do complicated and time consuming calculations make them ideal for business. A computer can make a transaction on the sales floor go quickly and smoothly and produce an invoice in the office accurately and efficiently. Their greatest asset is that they can perform the mundane chores of business and free us humans for the creative and social side of life.
The uses for computers in business are varied and many, and would require a good-sized book to fully explain. There are two uses, however, which probably come to most of our minds quicklyEPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) and Back Office computers. I want to talk about these two categories in the next two articles.
First, in this article, lets talk about EPOS. Do you need EPOS for your business? Is your business big enough for it? Can you afford it? Before I say anything that might help you answer these questions I would just like to say a few things about it.
We are probably all familiar with the cash till at the local supermarket or other retail store that has the fancy keyboard and the gadget that reads the little line of black bars on the things we purchase. This cash till is the EPOS computer and the gadget is the bar code reader that converts that bar code into a number that EPOS can understand. What EPOS does with this number is to look it up in a database and use the information it finds there to calculate the sale for the clerk, who then completes the sale and takes your money. EPOS, however, does more than just calculate that one sale. It records the details of this sale in another database along with all the other purchases that have ever been made in that store. The store manager can then use this information to make decisions concerning the store, such as what things to sell and stock, when to re-order and how well the store is doing in sales over any given period of time. Our pasta company provides an excellent example for using EPOS.
In our pasta business we want to know several things about our sales trends in order to reduce waste and increase our profits. By studying the sales information that EPOS maintains we can tell which is the best selling pasta. If we compare the sales trends for that variety for each day of the week we will begin to get an idea of how much to make of that flavour for any particular day. This EPOS data can help us predict how much of any variety to produce, and we can use that to determine how much of any ingredient to stock. This type of system is especially good at helping us to determine our possible sales and stock needs for special event daysdays that only come around once a year.
Another area where EPOS excels is in assisting us with observing trends so that we can adjust our production and sales strategy accordingly. Although some trends develop over an extended period of time, other trends develop more quickly and are easily missed. Because EPOS is updating its data with every transaction, those quickly developing trends can be caught while they are still "hot" and we can take advantage of them before they grow cold.
Perhaps what I have said so far makes you want to go out and get a system right away, but first let me go back to those three questions at the beginning.
Do you need EPOS? There may be no doubt in your mind that having a system like EPOS could help you manage your businessbut is it a necessity, or just an expensive luxury? You could argue that man has been doing business for centuries without it, so we can probably go on just fine without it. I ask you to consider just two things. First, there are more people alive today than all of the people who have ever lived put together, meaning more people doing business and more competition for you. Second, because of faster transportation and better communication, trends in the business world are developing over days and weeks instead of over months and years as in the past. EPOS can help you keep up with those trends. If you are only selling a few dozen items then a calculator and a notebook, or an electronic till, will probably suffice. But if you have much more than that, you should consider EPOS.
Is your business big enough for EPOS? When we think of EPOS we often think of the big supermarket chains that have many stores, all linked together electronically. However, you don't need to have many stores for EPOS to be useful or necessary. Even the owner of one store has enough to do in the management of that business to benefit from these systems. EPOS systems have been developed for just about every size of business, each system having the capability to be expanded as your business grows. Again, unless you are only selling a few items you should probably consider EPOS.
Can you afford EPOS? I am not going to tell you that anyone can afford this system, because that wouldn't be true. EPOS systems are expensive and they do take a fare bit of time to set up and maintain. However, here are a couple of things you should consider. With the increased competition of business today margins are being cut to the bone, regardless if you are a manufacturer, wholesaler or a retailer. EPOS can help you maintain your margins while being competitive. Also, as labor costs soar overheads increase and profits go down. EPOS can reduce labor needs by automating many of our management chores and reducing labor costs. So perhaps the question can be rephrased to "Can you afford to be without EPOS?"
I hope this will help remove some of the fears of computers and give you some guide in this computer age. I must add that EPOS is most likely not the right thing for a new business, but there are some inexpensive alternatives available. For established businesses I recommend that you begin to think about it now. It's a fair bet that your competition already has it.
If you put a check mark beside any of these statements, perhaps you should consider a basic computer system. If you put a check mark beside at least two of them, you should seriously consider EPOS.
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by Dan Schafer
This is the first in a series of articles, in general about Eastern thought and practices, and more specifically how they compare with Western ideas and ways.
In the first place we would do well to ask if there is really any significant difference between East and West. There is the famous expression about East being East and West being West and about their never meeting. It intends to be a pun about the nature of the global directions having application to global people. Is there truth in that or is it the disillusioned remark of an embittered romantic who has become cynical after personal experience has blasted his expectations?
Certainly there are many values that are different. Take driving. In the UK and other western countries when courtesy is shown, e.g. let someone go first, let someone in in front of you, there is a certain pride in having made the gesture and a hand is waved or head lamps flashed in thanks by the benefited. In Asia there are as often incredulous stares of "what a fool!" as acknowledgement of kindness. But if in the public sphere Asians are incredibly unconcerned for anyone else's well being, on the friendship level their hospitality and generosity go far beyond a normal western willingness to be put out to accommodate a new acquaintance. The poorest labourer invites you to join him in his meal if you exchange greetings at lunch time.
There are certainly many examples of how West has tried to meet East or vice versa. Business partnerships, schools, and marriages that bring people from two different cultures into relationships all have different degrees of success.
"Madame Butterfly," a story about an American naval officer who meets and marries a geisha in the early days of Japan's contact with the West is a tragic example of a failed meeting of East and West. But although it and many more contemporary real life examples show that there are definite differences in the expectations of such a relationship, perhaps often the reason for the failure is more a result of a lack of maturity and honesty on the part of the parties involved than the basic cultural differences. In the geisha story the American man leaves to go back to America and, disregarding his marriage commitment, marries an American woman. He seemed to have never intended the marriage to be permanent, where as the Japanese lady's expectation of permanence was no more than a normal western expectation of marriage should be. That her discovery of his falseness ends in suicide was her culture's answer, but it was prompted by his failure to live up to what his own culture taught him.
There is an amoral western journalist who writes for one of Bangkok's English language newspapers. He amuses himself scoffing at the naiveté of young western men who come to Thailand and fall for the charms of Thai ladies. His view is that at least 90% of such relationships will end in disappointment. Perhaps his assessment is not far off, but it is also pretty clear that the circumstances of most of the people involved in such failed relationships show they have bent the rules that their own culture put into their consciences. Generally they are hedonists and opportunists looking for what they can get for themselves. Therefore such a negative assessment of East meeting West is not really based on typical eastern or western culture.
In fact the situation we have just discussed illustrates ways in which people in our world are very much alike. The salient feature of the man in the street in Bombay or London, New York or Tokyo, is not that he is Asian or that he is Western, not that he is Buddhist or Christian -- it is that he is looking for a way to make himself happy or successful or in control of things. More often than not that makes him value things that he thinks will get him there: like a good job, like attractive appearance, like things that will give him status in the eyes of his friends.
As we discuss, then, in this series of articles Eastern thought and practices we must bear in mind that essentially the man of the East and the man of the West are looking for the same things. There are many real differences in outlook and expectation. Those differences have profoundly affected our world. They will go on affecting how well or poorly men fare in dealing with the important things of life. And it is primarily these differences that we will be discussing over the next articles. But at the same time it is important to establish that below those differences of thought, in regard to the things that really matter to us, in regard to the things where the human heart craves something it lacks, both East and West have the same kind of people.
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by Colleen Donahue
This month we'll finish our study of Job. You'll remember that he was considered a righteous and good man during his time but had suddenly lost everything including his health. On one day he was a prince among men and the next day he was an outcast sitting in the ash heap outside of the city.
It was at this dump area that three of Job's friends had come to call and offer their advise and "comfort". Through three rounds of talks each man had accused Job and insinuated their reasons for his suffering. This had only served to intensify his suffering and agitation. Job became so riled that he lashed out at God rather than his friends.
These friends were wrong in their accusations and judgements and yet we'll see this month how God actually used them to show Job something of his deeper self. Although suffering is not always caused by our sins it can nevertheless be used by God to show us our true nature and the need each one of us has to be "born again" in God. Slowly and painfully Job came to see God's greater purposes behind his situation.
Like Job, there are many of us going through painful times. It may be physical or emotional suffering, but it hurts just the same. If the reasons why do not seem apparent then let us rest our life in God and trust Him while He accomplishes.....
Job reverts to his past experiences determining to hold onto his integrity. He thinks and speaks about...
Day 1 ....His walk with God. - Job grieves over the cloud that has come over his relationship with God. Job 29:1-4
Day 2 ....His resources in God. - Job remembers the boundless resources he had in his Almighty friend. Job 29:5-6
Day 3 .....His reputation. - At times the Lord needs to withdraw such a respected soul from the eyes of others and make it evident that we are nothing except that it be received from God. Job 29:7-10
Day 4 ....His life of service. - Job describes the joyous service for others which is the spontaneous outcome of life lived in close fellowship with God. Job 29:11-13
Day 5 ....His equipment for service. - Job was clothed in righteousness, eyes to the blind, feet to the lame and a father. Job 29:14-17
Day 6 ...His mistaken confidence. - Job's life was so good it was almost idyllic. He thought it would go on and on that way. Job 29: 18-20
Day 7 ...His gift of utterance and influence. - Job was like a prophet of God in his time and men sought his advise. Job 29:21-24
Day 8 ....His pedestal. - Job compares himself to a king in the midst of his army. Job 29:25
Job turns from the blessed past to the painful present. Perhaps the history of Job is not only a pattern of the ways of God with his children but also a foreshadowing of the Christ who was to come? Job now walked the "path of derision". Those that once respected him did so no longer. A crowd had gathered and they mocked and spit at him. Years later a different crowd did the same to Christ.
Day 9 Compare what was happening with Job to what happened with David who was predicting what would happen to Christ.
Job 30:1, 9-10 and Psalm 23:6-7
Job 30:11-13 and Psalm 88:8-
Job 30:15 and Psalm 55:3-5
Job 30:16 and Psalm 22:15
Job 30:17-19 and Psalm 69:2,3,14
Job 30:20 and Psalm 22:1-2
Day 10 Job cannot account for God's silence and cries out....Job 30:19-23
Day 11 He charges God (whom he believed to be faithful) with turning against him and persecuting him. This is the crucial point of his trial. Up until now, the word battles with his friends only strengthened his faith, but when he gave himself up to the luxury of dwelling upon the past and comparing it to the present, his pain grew more acute. Job 30:24-31
Job's spirit has at last been touched and he has lost his inner anchor. He is fainting under God's hand. Although he has reproached God he is still loyal in his will to remain under His hand. His resistance has been almost involuntary - the outcry of nature shrinking from intense pain.
Day 12 Job in dwelling upon his unhappiness suddenly gets up and decides to vindicate himself. By a declaration before God and his friends he will clear himself of all the charges his friends have brought against him...
Day 13 Job's summary and conclusion. In every area of life he had walked uprightly with integrity and singleness of heart. He says..."Here is my signature! let the Almighty answer me!" Job 31:32-40
His friends are silenced but not convinced. His character appeared to them self-righteous so that he brought dishonour to himself and no glory to God for self-defense is contrary to the spirit of true humility. Job's language of self vindication unveils the subtle life of "self" and pride making him appear self-righteous to others. Job 32:1
Day 14 Elihu was a younger man that had been sitting quietly near the group and listening. But the more he listened, the more indignant and angry he got. He was able to size up the matter quickly.
Contrary to the others, when Elihu shared truth he also shared God's grace. Job's "friends" only condemned but Elihu in telling the truth about God prepared the ground for the voice of God to speak to Job's heart (Job 33:1-7)
Day 15 Elihu sums up Job's position (according to Job). Basically Job says he is innocent and all the wrong is on God's side. But Elihu makes it clear that God is greater than man. It is not for man to question the wisdom and character of God or the means that He uses to achieve his goals. Job 33:8-13
Day 16 God seems to instruct us in two ways...
Day 17 And what is the object of all God's speaking? Job 33:17-18
Day 18 Elihu then speaks of God's mercies to men in providing a mediator for men to be redeemed and restored to God. He gives a beautiful picture of what Jesus Christ would become for each one of us. Job 33:23-30
At the heart of it all Elihu wants Job to see his real problem is that of accusing God.
Day 19 In Chapter 33 of Job, Elihu shows God's government of man to be sovereign and gracious but in Chapter 34 he shows God's government to be righteous and impartial. As you read Chapter 34 pick out the definite points that Elihu makes about God's character. Job 34:1-37
Day 20 Elihu wants Job to see his real problem has been in accusing God. This has come because of pride, self-will and doubting God's goodness. Job 35: 1-16
Day 21 Elihu now attempts to answer Job's accusation that "God's dealings with him were not just". He does this by showing again the character of God. As you read these two chapters look for definite things about God such as .... He is righteous, He can do no wrong, He is the source of all life etc. Job 36:1-Job 37:24
Job had failed to see that even good men need refining. Elihu had put his finger on the root of Job's trouble. He appealed to Job to take a new attitude towards the afflictions - to be teachable and humble before God.
(For God can't commune with anyone who thinks they know better than God.) Elihu made it plain that Job was not suffering because of his sinning but was sinning because of his suffering.
Day 22 In dealing with Job God didn't speak in deep theological terms or doctrinal truths. He questions Job to see if he knew the truths of God evident in nature. He wants to bring Job to proper thinking and believing. God's purpose is to humble Job, not humiliate him. Job 38: 1-18
In effect, God is saying "Can you doubt the faithfulness of God who brings His mercies day by day to all His creation?"
Day 23 Then God changes the subject from His supervision of the natural elements to His care over His creatures. If He cares for every creature on earth then surely He has made adequate provision for Job and for you and I. Job 38:39 - Job 40:1
Day 24 Job sees his smallness. He had totally missed that creation is placed before us as a testimony to God's power, wisdom and goodness. Job - the creature - had stood in judgement of his Creator and accused God of wrong things. Now, he sees his error and decides that it's best to say nothing more and listen to God. Job 40:3-5
Day 25 This reply was good as far as it went but not good enough. God continues on so as to reveal the hidden pride and selfishness in Job.He wants to bring Job to the place where he recognizes this and confesses it as sin. Job 40:6-14
Day 26 In God's final appeal He speaks of His authority over creatures that defy human control. They have a type of pride which when combined with immense strength, makes them uncontrollable. In these passages God describes the Hippo (Behemoth) and the Crocodile (Leviathan). Job 40:15-Job 41:34
Day 27 The description of these untamable, uncontrollable animals may be a good analogy of what man's old fallen nature is like. No matter how much we try to control it to do good, it seems to do just the opposite. Romans 7:15-20
Like so many of us Job thought he knew God and certainly himself. But the searchlight of God had revealed.....
Day 28 To catch a new vision of God as Job did is to bring us to the place where we hate what we are in ourselves -- expressed by a humble spirit and gracious attitude. Job 42:1-6
Day 29 Job left the vindication of himself with God and God did so before his friends. Notice that four times in the next verses God calls Job "my servant" and has him act in the capacity of "priest" for the three that had slandered him. Job 42:7-9
Day 30 The suffering of the godly always includes a compensation or a reward. It may not come in this life but it will come. Job 42:10-17 / II Timothy 2:12
Day 31 Why do the righteous suffer? The book of Job clearly shows that even "good" men need refining in the crucible. In God's eyes all men need to be put to death and remade. They are beyond "repair" and "untamable". Yet He has provided a remedy for each of us in His Son Jesus. I Peter 3:18 / I Peter 2:24/ Isaiah 53:5
If you are suffering today stop striving and do as Peter recommends... I Peter 5:6-7
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by Ernest O'Neill
When you think of yourself as the little boy or girl that was created by your mother and father, you're living in a little corner instead of the great expanse of reality!
Certainly the Maker used them to beget you here on earth, but you yourself were created by the Creator inside his Son - that's who you're part of and He is your real father. Do you doubt it? The greatest book we have that gives the clearest, most credible account of our Creator is the Bible - and it contains the statement: "you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus". Elsewhere it states: "Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created - all things were created through him and for him".
In fact, other parts of the Bible make it plain that Christ, God's divine son, became the father of humanity himself way back before the creation of the world and that He made you so that he could do things through you if you were willing. So your life is far more significant than even you have thought - it is really part of God Himself - and dear to Him because you're part of His own Son.
Now all kinds of religious people - Moslems, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, spiritualists take bits of this reality and reduce it to their own language and customs so that it becomes very offensive and petty, but that's no reason why you should reject reality and live in a petty, little skin-tight corner of unreality. Yet that's what many of us are doing: hence the pathetic worrying about MY job, MY future, MY comfort, MY savings. It's all rather silly if you are, in actual reality, a vital part of the son of the maker of the universe - especially if he has made you a certain way that is fitted to express some facet of his character that only you can show.
Of course, if this is all foolish philosophising and has no basis in fact, then we'd better get back to our little lives that go out like a light in 80 years. But the historical facts are that this man Jesus of Nazareth lived the life and died the death that is reported in the Bible, in Tacitus, Tertullian, Josephus, Philo, and hundreds of other writers in the first two centuries of the first millennium. While histories of Julius Caesar, Plato, Mohammed, Buddha, and other well-known figures depend on 20 or 30 manuscripts that are sometimes hundreds of years later than the events recorded, the details of Christ's life are exchanged by scores of writers a few years after his resurrection: in the Greek language alone there are over 4,000 manuscripts from 150 to 1,000 years following his death. In other words, no ancient event has been more carefully substantiated and examined than the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. No life in the world is so like what we would expect the Creator's Son to have been!
These are some of the basic reasons why we have to seriously face the responsibility of stepping out of ourselves and stepping into reality - the spacious, uplifting reality of being part of the wonderful, infinite human being that is the Son of the Maker of the world. This means getting up each morning and realising that the "head of the universe" has all kinds of things to say and do in you and through you this day. It means that the oppressive feelings about the bad taste in your mouth and your apprehension about the day's events are unimportant details that will sort themselves out as the Maker's son begins to live His life in you today. The thoughts that you're thinking are thoughts that He knew would be in your head - He knew that years ago because He is able to see all the sequential seconds of time from the point of view of timeless eternity. Like looking at a process from a third storey window, He can see not only the part that is passing in front of those sitting at ground-level, but he can see the part of the procession that is past as well as the next part that will be passing in a moment or two. This is reality! Christ - the maker's Son - is the person of whom you are a part. Sure - you're not God - sure, you are divine only because He is - sure, your divinity is derived from Him - you were made in Him whereas He is begotten by God, our Father, directly. But you ARE part of Him - part, in a real sense, of God Himself. From the very beginning of eternity God conceived of you as part of His son - a part that would chose to have your own will rather than His, but a part of Him that He would continue to patiently and lovingly keep within his own Son as He put up with your wilfulness and cruelty.
So - step out of yourself !! Stop thinking in terms of that little cell of self in which you've allowed your imagination to imprison itself. That smallness is the unreality and the lie and the illusion. The truth is that you were "created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared beforehand that you should walk in them" - you don't have to walk in them, but your Maker will lovingly keep drawing you back to them each time you head out in one of your futile detours. By the miraculous calculations of a super-computer, our Loving Father enables you to exercise your own will even as He exercises His - and patiently waits for you to relax in His Son where He has placed you from the beginning.
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I was born near Mount Pleasant, Ohio, on the 23rd of August, 1830. I cannot doubt that I was solemnly given to God from my birth by pious parents. My infant lips were taught to pray, and when I said,
I really expected Him to do it. My young heart was not a stranger to the gracious visitations of the Spirit of God, and was often melted by the power of His love. But as I grew up I grew in sinfulness and in rebellion against God. Though mercifully preserved from many sins of a gross and disgraceful character, I was often in great distress of soul because of those I did commit. At such times I would earnestly repent in secret and cry unto God for mercy. Many covenants were thus made and often, though not always broken. The covenants, prayers, restraints and instructions of faithful parents were not lost upon me.
After being settled in life I renewed my covenants with God, and sought to do right because it was right. I was a birthright-member of the Church and was "zealous toward God according to the perfect manner of the law of my father." I certainly did "fear the Lord," and was a "servant" under the law that "gendereth to bondage" for may years. But I had not "received the adoption of a son." In March, 1864, I made this full discovery. The Gospel of God came to me with great power. I met the test of public confession of sins and my need of the Saviour. It was a hard struggle, for I was proud and stubborn: but I was determined to yield myself to God, and did it. My spiritual conflict was somewhat protracted, but it came to an end in the silent watches of the night. And I had "peace with God." His Spirit witnessed with my spirit that I was His child.
I was at once a glad and willing witness to the reality of justification by faith and the birth of the Spirit. I loved to tell of the power of Jesus to save and of the gladness He had put into my heart. But, first neglect, then disobedience, then waywardness interfered with my Christian life. Chastening and suffering from the hand of the Lord was followed by restoration of soul. Then a more conscious and definite consecration of my service to the blessed Saviour.
I had longed to see God glorified in the salvation of souls and the enlargement of the Church. Some years had passed since I had found the liberty of the sons of God; but I saw that few were being brought into the kingdom. To be sure, I was only a business man, and utterly averse to the idea of being a minister. I greatly desired to serve both God and man, but in a quiet and unobtrusive way. The Church was laying a little work upon me, from which I shrank with a deep sense of unfitness. I felt it far more than I could understand it. But as the Lord opened the door I stepped in, and soon began to learn what real loyalty to God was to cost, and that if led by the Spirit of God, and according to His Word, reproaches and like blessings, promised by the Saviour, would become a reality.
I had always regarded these rather as a consequence of blunders made by people who could not manage to keep out of them. There were a good many people who gave me trouble; but as I learned more of myself I discovered one "old man" who gave me more trouble than all the others, and he was a member of my "own household." "His deeds" had been put off, and truly there was "no condemnation," yet when "I would do good" he was present with me. And he was there to "war against the law of my mind," with a resolute purpose to "bring me into captivity to the law of sin." If he succeeded even partially I was humbled and grieved, and if he did not I was in distress with fear lest he might.
The Lord taught me by some special providences, and I began to understand more clearly how that "the law was weak through the flesh." I hated pride, ambition, evil tempers and vain thoughts: but I had them for all of that, and they were a part of me. Not as acts to be repented of and forgiven, but dispositions lying behind the acts, and promptings thereto, natural to the old man and inseparable from his presence in my being. I began to ask God, with a measure of faith, to "cast him out." Along with this desire there came a great "hunger and thirst" to be filled with all the fullness of God." I longed for a "clean heart and a constant spirit."
In such an attitude of soul I attended a special meeting for conference and prayer on a memorable evening early in September, 1869. As I went upon my knees it was with the resolute purpose of "presenting my body a living sacrifice to God." Such were my relations with Him that I saw a new light and a new privilege in entire consecration, and set about it with great delight. But I speedily found myself in the midst of a severe conflict. There passed quickly before me the obstacles in the way, and the "things to be suffered for Jesus' sake." The misapprehensions, suspicions, and revilings of carnal professors, as well as the conflicts with the world, the flesh, and the devil. And they were not the exaggerations of fancy, either; selfishness, pride and prejudice joined forces and rose in rebellion, while the "old man" pleaded for his life. But I could not, would not draw back. "Vile affections" were resolutely nailed to the cross, and those things that "were gain to me"denominational standing, family, business, friends, possessions, time, talent and reputationwere irrevocably committed to the sovereign control and disposal of my Almighty Saviour.
With my all upon the altar I had no sooner reckoned myself "dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God" than the "Holy Ghost fell" upon me. Instantly I felt the melting and refining fire of God permeating my whole being. I had entered into rest. I was nothing and nobody, and glad that it was forever settled that way. It was a conscious luxury to get rid of ambitions and self-will, and have my heart cry out for nothing but the will of God. I was deeply conscious of His presence and of His sanctifying work. It was not an effort to realise that I loved the Lord with all my heart and mind and strength, and my neighbour as myself. The inmost calm and repose in God, of that time, that day, that hour, was a wonder to me then, and it continues to be so still. It was, and it is, the "peace of God that passeth understanding."
The witness of the Spirit to entire sanctification was as clear and unmistakable to my own soul as it was in the experience of justification. I have had abundant time and occasion in the nearly nineteen years that have passed, to scrutinise and test the reality and nature of the work wrought then, and perpetuated since by the power of the Holy Ghost. In and of myself I am neither holier nor stronger than before. But I have learned that this wondrous baptism with the Holy Ghost is the secret of stability in the Christian character as well as success.
True, it is not a state that is necessarily immutable, but rather a mode of life which may and ought to be maintained by a perpetual faith in Jesus and His promises. His constant abiding perpetuates a disposition to do the will of God. And our obedience in allowing Him to "work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure" constrains Him to abide. I have proven the secret of victory in this life to be quietness, assurance, and obedience, loving God supremely. It must be a supreme dread lest we offend Him. And if grieving the Spirit of God is regarded as the greatest evil that could befall us, the fear of man will not ensnare our feet, and our eyes will keep single and the whole body full of light.
Let Satan stretch the last link in his chainit is still too short; he cannot reach us. For the "mighty to save" is both able and willing to keep His own from the commission of sin, as well as to atone for and pardon sins already committed. Bless His holy name. "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment." "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." Amen.
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By Joanne Leitschuh
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could get along? Yes, it would but is it possible? In the world of business, I encounter suppliers, colleagues, customers and sales people that all have different and unique personalities. It's inevitable that I probably won't "hit it off" with everyone.
In a recent business handbook, the question was raised, "What do you do when a normally reasonable, happy customer transforms into a flesh-eating beast bent on your destruction, and comes at you foaming at the mouth and demanding satisfaction?" This seems extreme, but it does happen occasionally.
I answer hundreds of phone calls every week in our wholesale jewellery business. When a customer calls to complain, very often it won't be my fault, but it is still my problem. The other day, a customer called and the conversation was going quite well. Then, all of a sudden, I was struck with a bombardment of previously suppressed complaints. These were too much for me to handle all at once. Some I had explanations for, others were unjust. I could sense the tears welling up in my eyes and my voice starting to quiver. Then, I remembered that this person was not upset at me personally. Who knows perhaps something irritating had happened to her that morning, causing her to be on edge when she rang me.
"Difficult" people can be irritating, negative and close to impossible to deal with. What do I do when I encounter this type of person? It is easy at first to become anxious and take the conversation personally. However, the situation can be handled more effectively when I can assess the person's behaviour and really listen to what is said. They want someone to hear how they feel. I try to put myself "into their shoes". I look at our company, our products and their problem in the light of what action to take and decide if their complaint is just or not. If it really is our company's fault, it is only natural to accept responsibility and adopt a humble tone.
A complaint can be turned into an opportunity. If it is solved well, the customer will feel positive about our company again. Customers who take the time to complain are generally saying that they want to do business with us but with some changes. They will sense my personal concern and determination to find a solution. Research shows that it costs at least five times more to recruit new customers than to retain existing customers. Therefore, customer complaints should be handled with urgency and care. It is best to try to stop complaints before they occur. How? By acting on a previous complaint so that it does not recur, keeping in touch with customers if something is about to happen that might upset them, and letting them know that it is company policy to resolve any difficulties they might encounter with their purchase.
Manning and Haddock's book, Office Management, outlines the seven basic types of difficult people:
First of all, it is sad that humans can be difficult. Just in these seven types of people, one can see how sin and self can "disfigure" the beauty that Jesus meant for us to have in Him. There are methods of dealing with these people -- from getting them to calm down to using clever tactics to make the situation constructive. However, difficult people need to be treated like everyone else with care, love and prayer. Difficult people are counting on the world to give them satisfaction. In some ways, they are "short-sighted". If they would only look beyond the situation to their loving Father to fulfil all of their needs. Then, when problems come up, they will be assured that He will adequately take care of them. I ask myself, how often do I come across as "difficult"? May I never be a thorn in someone's life and cause distress.
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The long awaited son of his anxious mother who had already born two daughters, Ni Shu-tsu was born in China on Nov 4, 1903. His birth was the fulfillment of a deep longing, based on Chinese tradition, for a son as heir to the traditions of his father's family. But it was his mother who, in the quiet of her heart before his birth, made a promise to God. If He should grant this great desire, the boy should be forever dedicated to His service. As with the prophet Samuel whose own mother had made the same pledge, God took her at her word and also found in Ni (Nee) himself, an open, willing heart for Himself.
Following the Chinese tradition of acquiring or taking a new name upon reaching a fresh turning point in ones life, Ni Shu-Tsu became Ni To-sheng or, in English, Watchman Nee. His name is reminiscent of the watchman who would circle their village at night watching and guarding the villagers from attack and warning of any danger.
In this second book of a three volume series, Watchman Nee shares more of the deeper teachings of the Christian life. This volume deals with the difference between God's Holy Spirit and man's own spirit. It describes man's soul: made up of a mind, emotions, and of an independent will, and then how each of these different attributes of God and man interact with each other, deal with each other and commune with each other. In this volume he deals with our emotions and how they -- for good or evil -- often affect the decisions we make. He shows clearly how our emotions were always meant to be under the control of our wills and not simply allowed to move in whatever direction they desire.
The beauty of it all is in being able to see how our lives are meant to have purpose and meaning and are meant to be lives of order, not confusion -- and that we have been given every possible provision for that to be our daily experience.
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