Editorial The Choice between faith and fear.
How to Succeed in Sales: Go Into Sales for the Right Reasons Hard work pays off.
Appropriate Technology for Small and Medium Businesses: Back OfficeAnalysis, Planning & Execution
Management Matters: Change -- For Better or Worse Implementing Change effectively.
Does Eastern Philosophy Mean Harmony With Life? People acting the same or differently?
Superhuman Life No. 93: When Were You Born?Are we a product of Chance?
Daily Discipline: Isaiah Part 1 of the study of this amazing prophet.
Personal Experiences of God Fannie J. Sparkes tells how God has influenced her life.
CCI BOOKSHOP: The Spiritual ManVolume 3 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
Business always seems to highlight the ancient choice between faith and fear. We operate either by faith that the system somehow will work if we do right or by fear of what others will do. Fear often sets in when the life-urge stage of an idea begins to sink into the death-urge stage. So, a company starts off with a dynamic idea or activity, and the life-urge creates confidence to risk and innovate; then profits and assets accumulate and the death-urge creates a preoccupation with preservation of assets. This usually results in fear-motivated mergers ostensibly to gain market-share and greater efficiency but actually to neutralise the competitors' efficiency and eventually its own.
This seems to be working as normal in both company mergers in the United States and national mergers in Europe so that fear will produce its usual result of stress and failure. Faith that the world will work if we use our skills, ideas, and discipline to meet human needs appears to lead to more freedom for trade and nations, while fear appears to lead to less freedom for trade and nations. Once more both East and West face the age-old question - is there Someone in charge or not?
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by Martha Nelson
Are you considering a career in sales? Or are you already a salesperson facing some difficulties, and wondering why you took the job on? It's important that you go into sales for the right reasons.
In his excellent book The Guide to Greatness in Sales, Tom Hopkins says, "Big money certainly is being made in sales, by the top professionals. But the high-earning salespeople all do it the old-fashioned way: They work for it. It takes time and effort to learn effective selling methods and to establish a solid customer base. In fact, selling is the highest-paid hard work and the lowest-paid easy work there is. If you're willing to work hard, sales can be very lucrative for you. If not, expect slim pickings."1
Many people go into sales for the wrong reasons: to make big money, to be their own boss, to have easy work with good hours, to be able to goof off now and then without anybody knowing, or to have a job without having to study. However, if we examine these reasons in the light of Hopkins' quote above, we'll see why they don't work.
1. Make Big Money - It's true that a career in sales allows you to make as much money as you wantno ceilings such as in a 9 to 5 job. But there's no replacement for methodical, hard work and analysis of your methods.
2. Easy Work with Good Hours - The top 20 percent of income earners in sales are putting in much more than 40-hour weeks and doing something positive with every minute of it. You need to be productive with all your time on the job: prospect by phone, study your product literature, practice your techniques, learn new sales methods. You need to be an owner-manager of your business, not just an employee. Time management is essential.
3. Time to Goof Off - It's true when you're out in the field nobody except you knows when you're goofing offif you're a top producer. But if you're not a top producer, your lack of self-discipline becomes crystal clear when you total up your week's sales. There is no secret to success in sales; good sales come when we do unremittingly the practical steps we know we should do, day in and day out. And if you ARE a top producer, why back off and risk a sales slump when you could be selling even more?
4. No More Studying - Perhaps you went into sales to avoid higher education. Successful sales people study all they can about their product to become the experts in their field. Many also invest at least 10% of their income in self-education through books, tapes and evening courses.
There are many right reasons for going into sales. It's often fun and provides the chance to travel and meet new people. Selling skills are also portable and easily adapted to new jobs over many years. There is no limit to your earnings, and selling offers high potential returns from a low capital investment.
Good sales people are always in demand. It's also a challenging career that's always changing, and allows you to use individual initiative.
There is a myth that only certain personality types will succeed in sales, e.g. the extroverted glad-hander who quickly wins everyone's attention and finds it easy to talk with strangers. But the truth is that successful sales people represent many different personalities, including shy ones. In fact, one sales trainer says he finds it much easier to train a shy person than to get a talkative person to shut up and listen to the customer! If you are willing to work hard and learn from others, you can be successful with a sales "style" that is all your own. After all, there is no one quite like you.
It's important to keep your own records of your sales activity: number of prospects phoned/day, calls/day, mail pieces posted out, sales, number of cold calls. This Sales Diary keeps you accountable for how YOU are managing your business (remember, you are an owner-manager, not an employee) and is invaluable for analyzing any sales slumps. (We'll talk more about sales slumps next month.) You may choose to keep this diary on your computer or in a notebook, but it should be a method that is easy for you to record and refer to. If you can't be bothered to boot up your computer to keep this current, get a notebook! Some method is better than none.
Selling time is whenever your customers are at work: usually 9 to 5, unless you're selling real estate. Selling is being in front of customers, talking to customers on the phone, or phoning prospects to make appointments. Non-selling activity (though important) is sales planning, analyzing statistics, cleaning sample cases, preparing to sell, reading sales books, collating mailshots, etc. To get sales it's important to spend as much time as possible 9 to 5 in productive selling activity.
Many people play what Hopkins calls "The Busy Game". They spend their time getting organized instead of seeing people. Their paperwork is on time but they just aren't seeing any new people. A simple solution: make your calls before you touch your paperwork. Then, after putting in a good day's work in the field, do your paperwork in the time that's left.
So I hope we're beginning to see that the secret to success in sales is no secret. There are practical things all salespeople can do to improve their salesthings which do not require special skills but only the discipline to do them faithfully.
Next time we'll discuss the inevitable Sales Slump, and problems which may stem from the product or market you're selling to.
1. Tom Hopkins, The Guide to Greatness in Sales,
p. 3 (HarperCollins, London, 1994)
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by Joe Selzler
There is something about a well organized and operated business that seems right. We sense that it was meant to be that way. As the use of computers increase in the work place it is becoming obvious that they are great tools for organizing our businesses. I explained in my last article how important EPOS has become to the retail environment. In this article we will discuss the area known as the Back Officewhere we do the work that our customers do not see. By this, I mean the chores we perform to manage our business, such as pay the bills, calculate our payrolls, tabulate and evaluate our sales statistics, place orders with suppliers and so on. These chores are important details that keep our business running smoothly and efficiently, but are not done in the public eye.
We will break this down into three distinct areas: analysis, planning and execution. We will look at each of these areas to see how technology can be used to help us accomplish the tasks that must be done. To complete our discussion we will mention some of the tools that are available.
In a previous article we talked of the importance of keeping statistics of what we sell so that we could make educated decisions about what products to stock in our retail stores or to manufacture in our factories. For any business to survive in today's competitive world we simply must know what is selling or likely to sellwe cannot rely on guesswork and feelings about our products. The more products we sell and the more outlets we have the greater the need to keep up-to-date and accurate statistics.
This is where technology plays its biggest role. In the last article we discussed EPOS, the electronic cash till that keeps all transactions at the point of sale in its memory for us to evaluate later. The back office, using a modern computer, is where we evaluate this stored information. Just about every EPOS system stores the data it records in what is known as a Database. This is simply an electronic table of information about our products and sales. The advantage of this system is that literally "billions of records" can be stored in a database. Therefore years of sales can be kept for later analysis.
Databases are good at storing such large amounts of data, but they are not as good at analysis, so another system has been developed for this purpose. In the early days of computing a company called Lotus developed a program called "123" which is termed a "spreadsheet". This is, in its simplest definition, an electronic math table capable of tabulating rows and columns of numbers. By exporting the information stored in the database to the spreadsheet an analysis of our sales can be gained. These two programs, then, combine to make up the analysis area of the back office.
We all want to have some idea of where our business might go and what our costs might be in the years ahead. Planning for the next year or 10 years is paramount if we want to achieve certain goals, and ultimately we all plan for the day when we can retire. With today's technology this planning has the ability to be not only accurate, but timely as well. By using a spreadsheet as mentioned above we can adjust a figure for next week and see how it will affect our business for the next 10 years. For example, let's say that our pasta company wants to buy a new Ravioli maker, costing £10,000. With the press of a few buttons we can see how this purchase will affect our profits in the years ahead. Because we know this new machine will enable us to produce more pasta we can adjust our spreadsheet to reflect this and see in an instant how this will impact our business.
Most businesses that use these programs effectively, use them to determine when to make a purchase, when to approach a bank for an operating or capital loan, and when to make investments that are meant for the purposes of pensions. This is just to name a few of the applications for this technology, and I'm sure each of us can think of other uses that are unique to our own business.
The paperless officeis it a dream or a reality? If by that we mean absolutely no paper in the office, then I doubt if it would be a reality. However, if we mean a greatly reduced amount of paper, then I think we will definitely see that in a number of years. In the execution of our businesses we do produce a huge amount of paper. With the advent of computers, however, this is being drastically reduced. Just storing all of our sales information on a computer in a database reduces our need for paper. Nothing, however, uses up paper like correspondence. This is where much of our work is concentrated in the office. Computers, and one program in particularthe Word Processorhave reduced the amount of paper that we generate in the office. No longer do we need to make endless paper copies of our letters and instructions and all the other written things that businesses need to operate. Now we can keep copies on our computers electronically, update them at will and print out a hard copy only when needed. Not only that, but we can pass on these things on a floppy disk, or send them via e-mail, for others in our company to print out when they need them. Some things won't need to be printed at all.
As we said in the last article, we should not be afraid of the advance of computers in business. They are not as scary as they seem and they offer us great advantages. The human race was created to subdue the earth and to bring it into subjection and to rule over it. In a small, but very important way, business helps us to accomplish this. Computers, in their part, help us to manage our businesses in an efficient and professional manner. And how well we run our business reflects back to our Heavenly Father the attributes He has given us for our unique role.
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By Joanne Leitschuh
People resist change. In the words of Machiavelli, "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things."
"Business as usual" is a comforting idea but in these times with computers, fancy electronic devices and competitive marketing trends, it's difficult NOT to make changes in an office. Often change creates some basic fears, such as loss of control, uncertainty and having to take on more work. I know a 60 year-old woman who was thankful to retire in the midst of their office becoming computerised. She did her job well but was worried that this new technology would show her lack of knowledge and put her at a distinct disadvantage with the younger "know-it-all's".
Change is often greeted with resistance, excuses and reasons why it won't work. However, change is necessary for survival! Organisations must change to remain competitive. Directors and office managers must take a lead in coping and helping their fellow workers through it all.
The challenge for me, in the midst of change, is to remind myself that change can offer opportunities for many new developments both personal and as a company. Our jewellery company has experienced change in a big way these past six months. I dream of the day when everything will be in place and we all can say, "It was difficult but it was worth it in the end!"
With a new "united catalogue" we now sell the same jewellery items in Europe and in the United States. Our factory in Thailand still continues to manufacture but is now responsible for holding most of the stock. All three companies had to work more closely together. Stock levels, product line and design, promotional literature, computer systems and job responsibilities were all affected.
There was forward planning, but many issues have had to be resolved one at a time. There were several unforeseen problems alongside the benefits. However, the directors and managers in all stations communicated the best way forward. There are still some uncertainties, but these will be approached step-by-step until everyone is comfortable with the new system.
We shouldn't be afraid of change. In our meetings, we often use the phrase "nothing is set in stone" meaning we need to stay flexible when we try to implement new decisions. There are times when we need to make adjustments after we begin to go the new way. Not every change that seems right at the beginning will prove to be the best in the long term. That's the fun of business! To see everyone involved brought to a higher level by being delivered out of stagnation. Lack of innovation can slowly bring about "death" in personal motivation and progress.
New life coming from death is a common theme in nature and should be a common occurrence in business. Progressive change can only come about when people are willing to change their hearts, attitudes and wills. Who wants to stay the same forever? Not me!
Guidelines which can help managers implement change effectively:
Manning and Haddock, Office Management, p.53 (Kogan Page Ltd., London, 1991)
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by Dan Schafer
Last time, in this series of articles, we concluded that though there are many real differences in outlook and expectation, essentially -- on a heart level -- the person of the East and the person of the West are looking for the same things. Since people are basically the same everywhere we go in the world, the generalisations we make about ways of thinking, and how one culture differs from another are only helpful on that level: as an understanding of the big picture. In fact, in actual practice there are far more ways people from different cultures act the same than act differently.
Thailand gets millions of visitors from western countries every year. Most come just to enjoy themselves and see something different. But there are those who come looking for something they think their home country doesn't have. They are more or less explicit about what that something is. But often it has to do with their impression that an eastern way of thinking is more in tune with nature, in less contradiction to it. In contrast, to their mind, the western way cuts across nature. They have an inclination to see the eastern, more passive approach to life as more peaceful, and more the way that life should be lived. The difference is not an unfounded generalisation. Western man seems to be trying to change things, trying to bend nature to serve him, taking sand and turning it into optical fibre and silicon chips. While the east seems to seek to get along with nature, to seek to conform to its inner principles. Its way of thinking suggests that nature has secrets of living with which we need to be in tune to have peace.
Buddhism is anchored in that idea. "Dhamma is the natural truth that exists by itself in nature timelessly (aliko). It is therefore no matter whether the Buddhas are born into the world or not. The Buddhas are only the discoverers and teachers of the Dhamma (Akkhataro tathagata)."1 The West, on the other hand, wittingly or unwittingly, has inherited a philosophy that says take control and bring order to nature. 2
Though the great majority of people in the East and the West are more irreligious than religious, both areas have legacies which influence the outlook they have. The Eastern thinking person confronted with technological advances, on one hand is not quite sure how to incorporate them into his philosophy, and on the other hand fears being left behind if he ignores them. Practically, he knows his country has been left behind for a long time. He knows the same easy- going tolerance of people's failures on a private level that characterises his philosophy has left determined, smooth-talking leeches on a public level to bog down every effort to improve the country. He knows his government has been talking about getting tough on corruption for generations. He knows there are holes in the streets that shouldn't be there, and buildings that collapse because the construction inspector was paid off. He hopes he can help by teaching ethics and the importance of integrity, but society has a way of contradicting all his theories, by demonstrating that it is the cheats who get ahead.
The Western person, as he walks along his city's relatively clean streets, steps into its relatively orderly traffic, studies at his university that is relatively free and has a relatively high standard, retreats to a relatively clean and beautiful city or national park, and goes home to a house where the utilities and telephone all work tends to take these things for granted. He tends not to think about the hard work and research that has gone into enabling the electrical and plumbing systems to withstand the cold and rain. He tends not to regard the fact that most of his tax money actually gets spent for legitimate things as unusual. He tends not to suspect that the manhole cover he steps on might give way.
We know that there are many things to indict in western society, and much to emulate in Asian society. But just as communism was always a struggling, repressive economic system because it didn't account for the essential drives in human beings, so are idealistic philosophies of getting back to nature doomed to impracticality.
In my job in the factory in Thailand, I often have to deal with machines breaking down. Why do they break down? I know it is a silly question, but it illustrates a point. Things just work that way. If we don't vigilantly work at maintaining, oiling, tightening, and replacing parts and enforcing proper procedures the machines are bound to break down. It is the same with production systems. If we don't instruct, teach, correct and upbraid, soon the system won't be working. It is the same in my own life in regard to food, exercise and studying Thai. If I don't actively discipline myself, I will descend to a dissatisfying sloppiness.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything has a tendency to run down, holds pretty well in human activities and especially at our interface with nature. A person who grew up in Minnesota or the Swiss Alps knows pretty well that when you go outside in the winter you cannot afford to take a passive attitude to nature. If you don't take care to dress warmly and keep your body active while you are outside you could end up in a permanent sleep. So also with sailors who sail on any big body of water, particularly the ocean. If they don't keep alert and actively assert their skill against the elements their next port could be the last and that not just of their sailing career.
So is there such a thing as harmony with nature? If there is any unity to the universe and creation then there ought to be some harmony among its parts that is possible, including our relationship with nature. But passivity to nature and trying somehow by that means to get in tune with it is certainly not the key to harmony with it.
1 Buddhism for the Beginner By Prof. Dr. Saeng Chand-Ngarm
2 Bible, Genesis 1:28
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by Ernest O'Neill
We've been looking at the reality that each of us was originally created inside the son of our Creator long before we were born into this world as our mother's baby. This startling fact is stated in several places in the Bible (the best series of histories we have of the unique human being, Jesus Christ). However, we need to look more closely at this "original creation" because it involves taking seriously the infinite capacities of the Maker of the universe.
Our present knowledge of space has made it clear that space and time are related. The most obvious example is that many of the stars in our sky died years ago but their light is just getting to us now. So, if you could get far enough out in space to where they used to be, you'd see them when they were young. Even this crude example helps us to see that our Maker must be able to see everything everywhere, so he must exist above time and space - in timeless eternity. This is the reality we find in the Bible in Colossians 1:15-17: "He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created.....He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." In eternity, before earth existed, you were made inside God's Son who was not only the divine, only-begotten son of our Creator but was also the "first-born of all creation" i.e. the first (and in a sense the only) human being. Inside him all of us were made !
However, just as we could see a star's early years if we could get far enough out in space, so also our Creator is obviously able to see all of time at once - and did see it the moment we were made in his Son. This means he saw all our lives from beginning to end, saw their autonomous independence, destroyed that in his Son, and made us alive again in him so that we could live out our old life or our new life in time on earth. This is why the Bible has statements like "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:16) and "the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). In other words, we were not only created in our Maker's son before we were born from our mother's body, but we were made and foreseen by our Maker before the creation of the world.
This means that we were not an after-thought of God. We are not just "tack-ons" or little toys that He made to play with. We are an integral part of his son's body - part of the humanity that is him. We usually think of the little baby in the manger at Christmas-time as God's Son becoming a temporary human-being and then leaving his humanity in the tomb and returning to divinity. But the Bible knows nothing of this kind of idea and talks about Jesus as the "son of man" even after he left the earth and ascended to his father, our Maker. The truth is that he took us with him in eternity and where he goes we go because we are part of him ! This is why we often have feelings that we were made for eternity and not just for 70 short years. It's also why some human beings do remarkable things - things that you wouldn't expect them to be able to do. At times the music they make or the poetry they write seems almost divine. This is because the one great human being, Christ, gives them gifts of his own ability so that people feel like Einstein that "all ideas come from God".
Your life, then, has been long in the planning - and it is not just your life - it is part of the life that has been lived in eternity (because foreseen in eternity) by our Creator. It stands to reason that he not only saw what we would do to him and his son because of our desire to be our own gods, but that he lived that life in the reality of his son and bore its consequences. Only in this way could he responsibly give us the freedom to make our choice between him and ourselves; only thus could he face all the consequences of his children's actions and the effects of his own creation of free-will agents. We, of course, always require some time to see that an infinite mind can work out all possible permutations of the attitudes each of us would take and can work with those while preserving our free wills and his own plan. But that's what the creator did with your life!
There is not a word that you have spoken or a deed that you have done that your creator has not foreseen, done in his son, and worked into his plan for you. Why ? There can be only one reason for this kind of care - because he loves you and thinks of you as his dear child. Even now - with all the independent wilfulness that we have shown up to this moment - even now, you are the recipient of a lot of care and infinite love - and will be until you die. What then can we do in the light of this reality ? Let's discuss that next.
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by Colleen Donahue
The patience of God for His creation is a remarkable thing and one of the fruits of that patience was His prophets. The first of many we shall study is Isaiah. His name means "Jehovah's salvation" and we'll find that this subject is a prominent theme in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah's call came in 756 B.C. during Uzziah's reign over Judah and went until the beginning of the reign of Manasseh. He therefore prophecied through King Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
Isaiah was to let Judah know that the time of God's patience and long suffering were running out. They had choices to make leading to salvation in God or judgement under their enemies. If that choice seems a simple one to us it was not to them. They had strayed far from God's path and their hearts were hardened. "Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand." (Isaiah 1:2b-3)
Isaiah warns Judah as a nation, but nations are made up of individuals. Therefore the truths are recorded for our admonition. "Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come." (I Cor.10:11).
Therefore I invite you to LISTEN and HEAR for yourselves ...
Day 1 What was the situation with the people at the time Isaiah was sent to prophesy? Isaiah 1:2b-8, 21-23/ 30:9-11
There was so much corruption and sin in the people that the results were to be visibly seen in Jerusalem and the land. Here are ways it showed up... (Do they parallel our own nation today?)
Day 2 There were more that listened to foreigners and fortune tellers that that listened to God. Isaiah 2:6
Day 3 The people were full of themselvesie. what they owned and could do with those things. Isaiah 2: 7-9
Day 4 How did people treat one another? Isaiah 3:5, 12
Day 5 Their speech and their deeds were against the Lord and they made no pretense to hide it. Isaiah 3:8-9/ 5:18, 20-21
Day 6 What were the women like? Isaiah 3:16
Day 7 There was much greed to acquire land and possessions at the expense of others. Isaiah 5:8
Day 8 Alcoholism had become a problem. Isaiah 5:11-12, 22/ 28:7
Day 9 How does Isaiah describe the leaders? Isaiah 3: 14-15/ 9:16 / 10:1-2 /28:14-15 / 56:9-12
Day 10 They were a people in spiritual blindness so that the revealed will of God was like a sealed book. Isaiah 29: 9-12
Day 11 The people had set themselves up like god and forgot their place before the God of the universe. Isaiah 29:15-16 / 30:9-11
Day 12 As a nation they made plans and alliances with foreign countries that they should not have. Isaiah 30:1-2 / 31:1
Day 13 The people had become weary of God. They did not give Him what they owed Him and certainly showed Him no love. Isaiah 43:22-24
Day 14 In absolute defiance, they offered sacrifices to other gods! Isaiah 57:3-13
The behaviour of this nation had become a stench to God. He had done everything for His beloved chosen people but they were like a crop of wild (or sour) grapes (Isa 5:1-4). As a father must discipline a son to keep his entire life from being wasted, so God needed to take disciplinary action. Notice that with the judgement was always a promise of better days afterwards.
Day 15 What alternatives does God put before the people? Isaiah 1:18-20, 24-31
Day 16 How will He deal with their great pride? Isaiah 2:11-19
Day 17 What will happen to those that have been wicked? Isaiah 3:11 / Isaiah 57:20-21
Day 18 How will God handle the "haughty daughter of Zion? " Isaiah 3:16-26 / 32:9-13
Day 19 What will happen to Jerusalem? Isaiah 5:5-6, 9-10, 13-15/ 32:14-15
Day 20 Where will the people have to go to be disciplined? Isaiah 5:13, 26-30
Day 21 Who will do the disciplining for God? Isaiah 9:11-12/ 10:5-6 / 20:5-6 / 28:11
The subtle danger for many of the Israelites was that they appeared to be good people who believed in God, went to the temple, and offered all the right sacrifices. Some were outwardly wicked, but probably most appeared as righteous, pious Jews!
Day 22 How does God feel about "the practice of religion?" Isaiah 1: 10-14
Day 23 What is often the problem with those that merely go to church and do all the right activities? Isaiah 29:13 / Ezekial 33: 30-32 / Matt.15: 7-9 / Mark 7:6-8
Day 24 How will God respond to such religious activities? Isaiah 1:15 / 59:1-2
Day 25 How do "religious" people deceive themselves? Jeremiah 7:9-10
What is it that God really wants of us?
Day 26 Perhaps we can skip ahead on our time line to when John wrote down God's revelation to the churches in Asia. This church was doing many good things BUT what did God have against them? Revelation 2:1-5
Day 27 Reading our Bible is a good thing but what did Jesus say was missing from these Jews that were absorbed in the scriptures? John 5:39-40
Day 28 If anyone should have qualified for Heaven it would have appeared that the Jewish scribes and Pharisees would have. But what strong words did our Lord have to say concerning them? Matt. 23:13-33 / Luke 11: 37-42
Day 29 After all that exhortation to the Scribes and Pharisees, what was it that Jesus really wanted? Matt. 23: 37
Day 30 When we become proud of all that we are doing for God then let that be our "red flag" as it should have been to this man. Luke 18: 10-14
Day 31 Just as we want to be loved and needed, God wants us to love Him for Himself. He delights when we love and depend upon Him for our needs. Israel no longer loved or needed God. Jeremiah 2:13
So, what does God really want from us ? Micah 6: 6-8
In our next study we'll look at the Israelites during their time of chastening and at God's great love and tender mercies to them during it.
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I was blessed with Christian parents and the advantages of religious training. At the age of thirteen, during a revival in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Binghampton, N. Y., under the pastorate of Rev. A. P. Mead, I became deeply convicted of sin and sought the Lord earnestly and sincerely. I had an erroneous idea of the witness of the Spirit, and was expecting some wonderful change to be instantaneously wrought in my heart. The sense of condemnation gradually gave place to peace and sometimes joy; yet I could not say I had the witness of the Spirit to my conversion.
On the advice of my parents and pastor, though with many misgivings, I then united with the church. During ten years that followed I was counted a consistent member, and was active in church and Sunday school work. I loved God's written Word, loved secret prayer, and occasionally had remarkable answers to prayer. Much of the time, I know now, I enjoyed communion with God; yet I was constantly anxious, and troubled with doubts of my acceptance, because I could not tell the exact time of my conversion.
In August, 1869, after a severe struggle, I resolved to seek no longer for the witness of the Spirit, but to trust Jesus as my Saviour through life, without light or joy, should He so will it, and appear before Him, at the last, pleading only His word of promise.
I was led to see that I had made a mistake in looking for great blessings instead of thankfully accepting and acknowledging those given. A few days later "he that believeth hath the witness in himself" came home to me with great power, and from that time I have never doubted my acceptance of the Father, through His Son, nor had a single misgiving in regard to the witness of the Spirit. The struggle of years was ended; I rested joyfully in Christ and was loyally obedient to Him.
I had often earnestly desired the blessing of perfect love and had sought it for a time, but relinquished the search through fear that I was not yet regenerated. Some of my friends thought I had now received this blessing, but the Spirit witnessed clearly to my heart that this was the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost" in the "spirit of adoption."
The following spring I was called by the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of our Christ to the work of a missionary in India, and God, by His Spirit, so wrought in my heart that I knew with all the certainty I then knew I was His child that it was His call, and I dared not refuse to follow. I sailed for India September 22, 1870.
New experiences, new duties, and peculiar trials brought a new sense of need, and 1871 and 1872 were years of constant reaching out after God. It was my privilege to be associated in 1872 with Rev. and Mrs. C. W. Judd, who encouraged me to seek for perfect love, and greatly helped me in it. As new light was given I saw that my will was not, as I had supposed it to be, in perfect harmony with God's will. I resolved that my consecration should be complete, cost what it might. The Holy Spirit wonderfully helped me in heart-searching as I prayed for light, until everything was, I knew, laid upon the altar, and I could say, "I am prostrate in the dust; I with Christ am crucified." At last, after weary months of seeking, and feeling that I could not take by faith so great a blessing, I knelt by my bedside one evening in December with the determination not to leave the room until victory should be mine. While pleading, the Spirit whispered, "You have given yourself with all your soul and body's powers unreservedly to God. Why not trust Him now to keep that you have committed unto Him?" I laid hold of the word, "He is able to keep," etc. I said, "I do trust myself into Thy keeping, and will, by an act of faith, hold myself steadily there until Thou shalt set the Spirit's seal."
Morning was about dawning. Throughout that day, while engaged in its duties, I kept claiming and realizing from moment to moment perfect keeping power. At our consecration meeting that evening led by Dr. Scott, although I greatly shrank from so doing, I felt that I must honor God with my testimony. I stated as nearly as possible just my position, and as I ceased speaking my heart was filled with a sense of God's wonderful love and power, and with the assurance that He saved me to the uttermost.
During the days that followed I seemed to be living in an atmosphere of Heaven. I was lifted out of and above myself and surroundings, and realized that I was wholly saved and sweetly kept, enfolded in the everlasting arms. The desire for the salvation of souls was all-absorbing, so that, impelled by a power within, and yet not of me, I labored incessantly, allowing myself hardly time to eat or sleep, but, O, what joy I experienced in labor, what help and what blessing!
After about three weeks of this unvarying experience, I awoke one morning with the consciousness that the Spirit's help was withdrawn. I was as one who had been standing on the top of a high mountain reaching unto Heaven, drinking in fresh beauty and glory at every breath, suddenly let down into a low, shut-in valley, without any knowledge of how, when, or why he came there. I knew the witness of the Spirit to full salvation had been clear when I closed my eyes in sleep. I knew I had not grieved the Spirit. The suggestion came, "You testified too soon and never received the blessing you sought." I refuted the suggestion as best I could, but began the day's duties with a heavy heart. I was examining classes in the orphanage, and from six to ten found it very wearying. Soon after, I voluntary spoke impatiently to a girl who was very trying. It was so slight as to be scarcely noticed by the class, but in a moment I was so overwhelmed with a sense of humiliation and sorrow that I felt obliged to retire to my room, where I humbled myself before the Lord and claimed forgiveness for the sin. I had read a statement said to have been taken from John Wesley's journal, that, notwithstanding his very arduous labors, he never knew what it was to feel in the least wearied, and thought this the privilege of all Christians fully saved. I thought, if this be true, there is so much needing to be done in India I need never feel weary while toiling here. My friends had told me I was going beyond my strength; but I thought not. Now I realized that in addition to the Spirit's withdrawal I was physically prostrated. Satan whispered, "You see you were mistaken in regard to that; the whole thing has been made a mistake." Afterward though not then, I saw that God permitted this experience not only to teach me to live by faith, but also what I was always apt to forget, that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." While I did not then really let go my hold on God I was bewildered and staggered, and, in a measure, shorn of my strength.
I think I enjoyed the blessing for two years or more after this, but did not walk in the clear light as I might have done had I not, through fear, become cautious about confessing Christ as my Saviour to the uttermost. Here was my fatal mistake, and I am not surprised that my light became dim until it gradually died out. As soon as I realized that the Comforter was gone I began again seeking His presence, but found it much harder to regain a lost experience that to attain to it at first. For one year and a half following I realized much of the time great help and comfort in the work, and was used in the salvation of souls; but I longed for full salvation and for greater power in the work. I was so bowed down with a realization of my own need, my lack of power, and the responsibility of the souls intrusted to my care, that I often spent nearly the whole night praying for their salvation, and, literally bowing my face to the ground, would exclaim, as did Moses, "Lord, I cannot bear this people alone, because they are too much for me."
In September, 1876, I was holding daily meetings in the girls' orphanage, of which I had charge, and for two weeks no one started to seek the Lord. I closed the meetings and went to Lucknow to a camp meeting then in progress.
At one of the afternoon meetings, where many were seeking entire consecration, I stated my earnest desire for a baptism of power, and asked if it might be definitely sought and found. Brother Dennis Osborn, who was leading the meeting, encouraged me to seek it expectantly now. I reconsecrated myself to God, reckoned myself wholly His, and waited for the baptism.
The next morning, while reading Isaiah 32, new light shone upon the Word from the 15th to the 20th verses, and especially upon the 17th: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
I knew the work of grace wrought in my heart through taking Christ as my righteousness had brought peace, and the effect of the finished work, the abiding Christ, was, I saw, the quietness of resting down low at the feet of Jesus, listening, ready to obey His voice and the assurance that He would Himself do the work, only through me. The words given me to speak should be His words, with His power accompanying them. In an instant, I know not how, my soul anchored to the words and the baptism came the assurance that Christ, in me and through me, was to be to me a power not before known. I was to go forth strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
I returned to my work in Bareilly, again commenced meetings in the orphanage, and in two weeks' time more than fifty of our dear girls were clearly converted.
Two months later I was obliged to return to America on sick leave, but I had never before seen such results in the work as during these two months. Instead of so much struggling and doing I could almost "stand still and see the salvation of God." The full assurance of faith was mine. My words, though fewer, more simple and more direct, were, I knew God-given and could not be fruitless. I had learned, at least in a measure, what oneness with Christ meant, and realized such nearness to Him that when I knelt in secret prayer I was in the conscious immediate presence of Christ, and knew my prayer was answered almost before I could call.
For most of the time since then the witness of perfect love has been clear. My experiences have been varied and new tests have been frequently given. The full assurance of faith and the fullness of the Spirit have not always been mine, but I have realized access to God by faith and power in working for Christ, which could not have been mine without this rest of faith.
Binghamton, N.Y. March 6, 1888
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You may recall from previous issues that we have been reviewing the three volume series entitled The Spiritual Man by an educated Chinese man called Watchman Nee. He states his intentions in writing these volumes were to give those who believe in God a clear understanding about man's spiritual life. He describes man as being three dimensional, seeing the body together with the soul (consisting of the mind, emotions and independent will) and the spirit or conscience of man.
Volume III focuses on the soul. Watchman Nee concentrates expressly on the difficulties we face if we allow our minds to become passive, and refuse to actively engage our wills in choosing and then acting in the light of those choices. These are issues that are revelant to everyone, every day of our lives. As life is full of choices, we can either be active participants in those choices or let the very things we have been equipped with (our minds and wills) go to waste. As we are free beings we can simply allow "things to take their natural course" and as a result live lives which even we sense fall short of the promise they seem to hold.
Nee would contend that many battles we face each day are won or lost in our minds and that the intimate interaction between our minds (all of the many thoughts we have each day) our wills (the freedom we have to choose by our independent wills what we will or will not believe) can and does affect our physical bodies. And also the reverse, how what is happening in our physical bodies can affect our minds and therefore can have an influence on the choices we make with our wills.
In pointing out the dangers of a passive mind and a passive will, Watchman Nee goes on to urge the absolute necessity of our being mentally active, thoughtful people who evaluate information and make decisions. Only by being active participants in our lives do we have any chance at all of growing intellectually and spiritually to become the complete individuals we were intended to be.
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