Editorial Is Business a heartless enterprise?
How to Succeed in Sales: The Sales SlumpSteps for jump starting a slump.
The Internet: Gimmick or Serious Business SolutionA new way of doing business.
Is Western Philosophy Getting My Share of the Pie? Materialism in the East and West.
Management Matters: Weighing Up the CostsAnalyzing sales campaigns.
Daily Discipline: Isaiah Part 2 of the study of this amazing prophet.
Superhuman Life No. 94: A New Life?You are unique and valuable.
Is Right Living Possible?Are we loving or just seeking our own benefit?
Is the Alarm Ringing?Facing reality -- like it or not.
Personal Experiences of God Rev. Daniel Steele tells how God has influenced his life.
CCI BOOKSHOP: The Life of ChristDean Farrar presents who God, Himself, is.
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by Ernest O'Neill
Although business is usually regarded as a heartless enterprise, those of us who have been involved in it for decades know it isn't. Through the years you find that those who lay out money to make money are the same people who can not only bear the loss but empathize with others who fail. Perhaps business people have a sharpened sense of the precariousness of life and the ups and downs of economies because they themselves are usually in the front lines of such cycles.
Certainly the ebb and flow of business illustrates that old paradox that human sympathies and feelings prosper when economies don't. Perhaps that latent knowledge is what encourages all of us when financial fortunes falter: we remember that heart-kindness seems to be expressed and experienced whenever times are hard. Undoubtedly reality is caring for each other in good times and not just in bad times, but it's a tender mercy that softens financial adversity with human kindness.
We should not wish for bad times, but in these days of prosperity when human kindliness seems hard to find, it's worth remembering that the clouds of economic adversity usually hold rain that softens hard ground and hard hearts.
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by Martha Nelson
Last time we talked about going into a sales career for the right reasons. We concluded that selling is the highest-paid hard work and the lowest-paid easy work there is. In other words, the flexibility of most sales jobs allows you to succeed beyond the limits of a 9 to 5 office job, or to goof off and get slim pickings. The choice is yours.
Let's imagine two typical types of days for a sales person.
The sun is shining, you're out on the open road passing beautiful mountain scenery with your favourite music tape playing, and so glad you're not stuck in that office job anymore. You just took the largest order of the year from someone who loves your product, and right now you're headed for an appointment with that Big Account you've been working on for 5 years who finally wants to order. Your week is full of good appointmentsbuyers eager to see you and hand over those big orders. "Isn't it great to be in sales?"
On another day next month it's grey and dull, you're standing in rush hour traffic that makes you ill from the exhaust fumes, and as the rain begins your car makes some noises that indicate you should get out there in your new suit and check under the bonnet to see what's wrong. At least you won't be late for your appointments, because you don't have any. No one wants to see you. In fact, several customers said, "Your product has stopped selling."
Uh Oh. Could this be the beginning of the Inevitable Sales Slump? "I hate being in sales!"
Most salespeople thrive on the first type of day and hope the other never happens. But the truth is that almost everyone in sales will someday face a Sales Slump.
In his book, The Guide to Greatness in Sales Tom Hopkins gives four steps for jump starting a slump.
1. Acknowledge the fact that you're in a slump.
Like serious health problems, sales slumps won't go away unless they're treated properly. If your sales have dropped sharply, admit it and resolve to take action.
2. Figure out exactly why you're slumping.
Last time we discussed the importance of keeping a Sales Diary to record your sales activity: number of prospects phoned/day, calls/day, mail pieces posted out, sales, number of cold calls. This will help you determine whether the slump is self-induced or not. If you're making fewer calls, you need to do as many as you did in your good days. If it's harder to close sales, you may need additional sales training. If customers are just not buying, it may be your product or the marketplace.
Take time to investigate your market. Is there a new product out that's taking your market share? There are also cycles for most industries, and there are many places where you can find the facts and figures about your industry's cycles, such as trade associations and publications. Become an expert in your industry's cyclical patterns.
Are other sales people on your team slumping too? If their sales are also down, chances are it's not all you. If they're selling normal, you will have to take an in-depth look at what you are or aren't doing properly.
3. Plan how you'll counteract your selling problem.
Plan precisely what you need to do and schedule specific actions needed. For example, if examining your Sales Diary shows you have not been prospecting as heavily as before, plan double the number of hours prospecting. Locate new databases or sources of prospects. Study how others pursue prospects to improve your skills. Set exciting goals to motivate yourself. Ask a successful "non-slumping" colleague on your sales team to analyse your methods and share theirs.
4. Do it.
Act immediately on the plans you've made. Don't wait for tomorrowbegin now. If you were making 40 calls a day at your peak, do it again TODAY. Get on the phone or out in the field and start implementing the plan that will lift you out of the slump.
By now you can see the value of keeping a Sales Diary. How else can you analyse your performance in a slump to see what needs changing? "Slump time" is also an important time to keep analysing how your week went.
Every salesperson faces weeks when everything seemed to go wrong: your best customer dropped you, the Big Potential Buyer changed their mind, your car broke down and your week's sales were horrible. By Friday night all you want to do is flop in front of the TV and forget about it. But that's what you can't do. At least by Saturday morning you need to evaluate that bad week and ask yourself some key questions. It's hard, but it's the only way to LEARN from your mistakes and avoid another disaster week. (Do you really want to go through this again?) Record your responses in your Weekly Sales Diary. These key questions might be:
Facing the difficulties and analysing the results can lift unnecessary burdens from us. For example, if this is the second week in a month that your car broke down, perhaps you need a new one or need to set up a regular maintenance schedule for the one you have to avoid further disruptions of your selling time.
The way out of the slump is by taking personal responsibility for it. That it not to say we necessarily blame ourselves, but we agree that we ourselves can and will take the necessary action. We will not blame our supervisors, the market or our product until we are sure we are doing all we can to be the best salespeople we can be.
Next time let's look at some other possible reasons for Sales Slumps, such as market changes and product demand, and what we as salespeople can do to help our company identify these changes.
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By Joe Selzler
If you pick up any newspaper today, read any magazine or watch the news on television chances are you will encounter something about the Internet, or World Wide Web. Every stock market report will make some mention of the dot com companiesthese are companies that exist only on the Internet. With all this hype you might wonder if the Internet is a serious business solution or just a gimmick whose time will pass. The following are a few research results that I have read in the news lately. These statements cast some light on where this new idea is going:
"There are over 70 million Internet users and more are joining every day." IDC
"More than 10,000 new users try the Internet each day in Britain alone." NOP Research
"25% of all homes in Western Europe will have a connection to the Internet by the end of 2001." Datamonitor
"Transactions on the Internet will increase from £32 billion in 1998 to £426 billion in 2002. The number of users who buy products on line will increase from 26% to 40% in the same period." IDC
I think it safe to say that the Internet is not just a fad or a computer geek's plaything; it is becoming a very serious form of communication and increasingly a new way of doing business. The British government has determined to make the Internet available to every child in school, and all the European governments are putting pressure on the phone and communications industries to reduce the cost of getting on-line. The Chancellor of the Exchequer for Britain has even allowed a tax credit for smaller technology companies involved with the Internet.
The largest International companies are taking the Internet seriously. IBM recently made the announcement that it would require all of its suppliers to provide their services to the corporation over the Internet. Dell computers, one of the largest suppliers of PC's worldwide, takes billions of dollars worth of orders through its Web site. Interflora, the flower bouquet people, now make it easy for us to send flowers to just about anyone we want at anytime over the Internet.
The companies listed above are some of the largest in the world, so it seems obvious that they would be on the Internet and doing a good business. However, can the smaller companies benefit from the Internet as well? It would probably be closer to the truth to say that a smaller company could benefit more from the Internet than its larger brothers. The very nature of the Internet makes this so. Why is this?
First, because the Internet is available to a worldwide audience and because any web site on the Internet is viewable by this same audience, smaller companies are given access to markets and purchasers that a conventional street side shop cannot possibly reach. Therefore if you, as a small business owner, were to put a site on the World Wide Web you would be creating another storefront for yourself. The only thing is, and this you will really appreciate, this new storefront will cost you only a fraction of the cost of your physical storefront. (In a following article in this series I will tell you how to create this storefront for very little cost.)
Secondly, because the Internet is on 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, your store can always be open. Therefore, if your prospective customer lives half way around the world from you it doesn't matter if he comes to your store at 5:00 PM in his time zonehe won't find you closed. He can make the purchases he wants and when you return for business the next day you can process his order and ship it to him. The Internet makes business hours obsolete.
Thirdly, a small business can increase the size of their business without the need for more employees. If you wanted to open another physical shop you would very nearly have to double the number of your employees. Likewise, if you wanted to add more open hours to your current physical shop you would need an increase in employees. The Internet allows you to do both without increasing employees at all.
Do you need to have a web site and trade on the Internet? At the rate the Internet is growing in both web sites and users it is probably true that those businesses that do not have at least a web presence, if not a web site that is commerce enabled 1, will get left behind in today's global market. The Internet is making every person in the world a potential customer for you and if you are not taking advantage of this, someone else surely is.
1. A commerce enabled web site is one that has been set up to allow a person to place an order for some product and pay for that order by credit card or some other agreed method. This will be done by the use of an electronic shopping cart. I will explain this in more detail in a later article.
Web Speak! (Definition of Internet Terms)
Internet: A world wide system of interconnected electronic data storage and manipulation machines (Computers). These computers are connected to each other via phone lines and other little machines called "modems", which act as highways for the transmission of data.
World Wide Web: This includes the Internet and the data that is stored and transmitted over the phone lines. This data can be either in the form of "static pages of information" or it can be a series of instructions telling the receiving computer to do something.
Web Page: This is a document that has been specially "marked up" to display information on our computer screens in a way that has been standardized for the entire web. A page that has been marked up in this way displays nearly the same on any computer using any operating system anywhere, regardless whether it is in China or Germany or Great Britain.
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by Dan Schafer
If the West is generally richer than the East, as we observe to be the case at this point in history, does that imply that the East is less preoccupied with material things, and their outlook therefore less greedy? Perhaps some would say that the difference has nothing to do with philosophy and everything to do with chances of geography and history.
But we have no doubt met people who, in arguing for eastern philosophy, would assert that the eastern person is less materialistic than his western counterpart. Such an argument attempts to appeal to and identify itself with our common view that preoccupation with the material is not as noble or virtuous as concern for things more abstract like human relationships and spiritual values.
Let us, for the time being, hold on judging whether such an assertion about the eastern and western person is valid. First let us address whether less preoccupation with or less effort given to acquiring material things necessarily implies greater concern for something higher. Could it not be that the motives have more to do with the security of less risk taking or the comfort of not pushing oneself too hard? In many parts of the world could it not be simply the lack of perceiving an opportunity where effort would lead to success?
Secondly, few of us would likely say that having material things or getting them is intrinsically ignoble or non-virtuous. In fact, probably in all cultures we could find many examples of wealthy people who are highly honoured for their qualities of character. The Les Miserable character, Jean Valjean, is not diminished because of his wealth. In fact the vision, industry, honesty and generosity that helped him gain his wealth are prime reasons for our admiration of him. Here in Thailand, the king is genuinely and highly honoured. His wealth does not detract from the place in which he is held. In fact people are very aware that his resources are part of what enables him to help his people.
So, having eliminated some straw men, let us try to compare western and eastern attitudes to wealth and material things. We all know from being children our vulnerability to the attraction of material things. What little boy or little girl doesn't want to have this toy or that piece of candy because its sparkle or promised delight has captured his or her imagination. Consumerism is often bewailed in the Asian press as an evil undermining people's values. But we know that human beings anywhere in the world are so constituted that presented with the attraction of material things our desires are aroused to have them.
Eastern philosophies' way, in general, of dealing with this is to teach that the material world is transient and unreal. Buddhism offers negating desire as the way to peace and escape from this transient world.
The Western attitude arises from a cultural heritage that doesn't regard material things as any more permanent, but dealing with them is a reality of life on earth. The Christian heritage has supplied a notion that whatever we do is worth doing with the whole being.1 What is called the "Protestant ethic of work" probably owes its origin to such a teaching. The forebears of present western culture generally had a belief that God honoured their diligence, and that consequently they could expect His blessing on them materially as well as spiritually.
Eastern philosophy has more of a vacuum in this regard. Essential Buddhism is not generally concerned with the handling of material things except to enjoin that an appetite for them is deleterious to ones spiritual well being. Consequently, since the use of material things is essential to physical life, the vacuum is filled in other ways. Practical Buddhism has a plethora of deities and ghosts, departed relatives and dead kings who are appealed to, either to prevent the loss of present wealth or to provide future wealth. Thus much more predominant in eastern cultures than shunning the pursuit of wealth are practices such as astrology, feng shui, and praying and sacrificing to images, relics and spirits to attain material and physical well being.
Further, in the absence of an absolute sense of right and wrong, eastern philosophies do not regard corruption in positions of power as damnably evil. It is bemoaned, but the indignation and will against it are hard to sustain. However in Judeo-Christian based western philosophy there is a very strong sense of good and evil, absolute right and wrong. Western countries therefore generally give corruption a much more uncomfortable ride than do countries of the East. It is hard to statistically compare sins and say one part of the world suffers from it more than another. But it is not likely any advocate of eastern philosophy would dare venture that the influence of eastern thought on its people has made its rulers and petty officials less avaricious for material things than has western philosophy in its home. Such starry-eyed idealism would be undeluded shortly if exposed to practical business dealings in most of Asia.
Greed is a problem with which both East and West must deal. It doesn't come from the West anymore than it comes from the East. It is a fundamental problem in the make up of the human being. To the degree a philosophy fails to acknowledge that, to that degree it is ill equipped to deal with it. This writer makes no attempt to justify or excuse western materialism. But anyone who expects he has found a saviour from it in eastern philosophy has not observed very closely its practical outworkings in the life of the countries and people who have lived in its influence.
1. The Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:10, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Corinthians 16:14, Philippians 2:13
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by Joanne Leitschuh
Cãmpaígn (-an). 1. n. Series of military operations in a definite theatre or with one objective or between taking the field and a temporary or final cessation of hostilities; organized course of action.
Can the office be a battle ground? Yes, very much so! There are no guns, trenches or casualties. However there IS a target and "weapons" for winning!
In the jewellery and badge business, our sales representatives face the main target: "Getting a sale". To get the sale requires ammunition and strategy: money, time and technique. At the moment, we have set out four main "campaigns": retail stores, mail-order companies, organizations that use badges and our internet site. As the office manager, I have to review the balance between costs and income.
To "win" in sales, the strategy is to keep all four areas active yet to focus on one at a time. This achieves the greatest momentum. Costs begin to add up: databases, brochures, samples, stationery, internet service providers, computers and all the software and hardware that goes along with them! The cost that seems to slip away the quickest, however, is TIME!
There comes a point when you have to say either: "This campaign has yielded far more than the resources we put in it. Well done." or "It's time to change horses and go after this other prospective group. We're not making any money and are just wasting time!" That seems to be what I'm learning these days when to step back from the flurry of the battle for sales and make a judgement on whether we're winning or being slaughtered!
Like soldiers, each sales rep is so different. They have different strengths and weaknesses, yet we're all in this fight together. The remarkable advantage we have when we work alongside each other, is that we know we are not alone. There are natural business pressures but no burdens. Mistakes are made, but they are seen as tools for growth. We can objectively look at where our time is being spent and what it is producing. We can together sense when a change of action is needed.
Sales is that the ultimate prize of the battle? Definitely not! I would dread going into work each morning believing that the work we all put so much effort into was only valued if the money came flooding in. Do I shake and tremble when the balance of expense and income goes into the red? No. I know that God, our Provider, will take care of all of our financial needs. He will show us which way to turn and direct us to the way HE wants us to go. He can give us a delight in our work even when there are missiles whizzing past throughout the day. Such is the life and "battleplan" that our Father puts before His soldiers:
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by Colleen Donaue
If ever we find ourselves content with the things we own, and satisfied by our self sufficiency in handling our life we may be in a real danger zone! If you followed our study last month you saw that the Israelites, during the time of Isaiah the prophet, were completely "full of themselves". They were wholly occupied in getting ahead and with all they could get out of life. Their friend God had been left "in the dust". No longer did they give Him His due or ask His advice. In short, they had forgotten God and had no need of Him. There were a crop of wild, sour grapes instead of the sweet, cultivated ones they were meant to be. They were a people completely estranged from God and yet they kept up a whole ritual of going to synagogue, offering sacrifices and "talking the talk". Everything was taught "by the book" but there was little reality in daily life.
Perhaps the depth of God's anger towards their sin would not have been so strong if they had not displayed the hypocrisy of pretending to be good Jews. Is this not a warning to us? especially those of us that say we are followers of God? Is going to church, reading the Bible, and prayer just part of life's habits while you basically live your own life? Does your soul's thermometer register any degree of love and passion for God?
It was toward a self-willed , rebellious people that God finally acted not as an angry God with an enemy to destroy, but as a Father who knows that without chastening, the son will be ruined. Just as God uses our natural circumstances and relationships to discipline us, so He used Israel's own enemies to discipline and chasten them. In the true character of God, He allowed the events of chastening only after His warnings and appeals went unheaded. For His spokesman, He used Isaiah, a man we know little about but who was a sharp tool in God's hand. Let's continue to LISTEN and HEAR for ourselves.......
Day 1 Whenever we're going down a wrong path, God gives us plenty of warnings in numerous ways. Listen to those He spoke to His rebellious "chosen people". Isaiah 1: 16-17 / Isa 2:5/ Isa 31:6-7 /Isa 55:1-3, 6-7 /Isa 58: 6-10, 13-14
Day 2 Our response to God's warnings then determine our need for discipline or chastening. How did the Israelites repond? Isaiah 30: 9-11; 15-16
Day 3 If we think that God is just waiting to pounce on us with judgement, then we do not know Him well. What is God's deep heart attitude towards all His children? Isaiah 30:18 / Isa 1: 18/ Matthew 23:27
Day 4 If we respond to God's warnings and turn to Him from our wrong ways, He will respond as a loving Father does. What did He want to do for His people? Isa 1:19 / Isa 46:12-13 / Isa 55:7 / Matthew 7:11
Day 5 Continual rejection by the people -- despite God's extended arm of love left God with no choice but to carry through with His judgements. Isa 5:25-30
Day 6 It was to this desperate time and situation that Isaiah was commissioned to prophecy even in the midst of judgement! (Even in judgement God could not stop caring for His people!) Isaiah 6: 1-13
In the years ahead God would use Israel's enemies to discipline His people in a period that would span decades. The destruction of their land and exile of the Israelites brought them into a darkness unknown to them until they could catch that glimpse of light that only God can give.
Day 7 At this time in history how do Israel's enemies think? Isa 10: 7-11, 13-14 / Isa 36:1-22 / Isa 47: 7-8,10,12-13
Day 8 Not only would judgement come from their enemies but from within, for the divided house of the Israelites would wage war against each other. (Ephraim =Israel that would go against Judah). Isaiah 7:1-14b
Day 9 How does Isaiah describe Israel at this time? Isa 8: 21-22 / Isa 9:13-21
Day 10 Although we speak of a whole nation, it is the same for us as individuals. Living in sin always blocks the light and leads to only one end. Isa 59:1-15 / Romans 6:23a
Day 11 It is God's desire to save us from deathespecially spiritual death. For spiritual death results in an eternity of hell. Isa 25:8 / I Cor. 11:32 / 2 Peter 3:9 / Rom. 2:4
Day 12 This is the goal of all discipline and chastening. Though it is hard at the moment we must endure it so our lives will not be ruined for eternity. Hebrews 12: 5-11/ Proverbs 3: 11-12
Day 13 Chastening and discipline are God's tools to open our blind eyes and bring us to true repentence no matter what our age. Revelations 3: 19
With the promise of judgement came the hope of restoration. A true Father loves his child and longs to bring his suffering to an end. He wants to replace the chastening with comfort and forgiveness.
Day 14 Do you know that the Lord is just waiting to be kind to us? When He hears us cry out to Him then He will be swift to answer and guide us through our situation. Isa 30: 18-21
Day 15 What did God need to do to bring the people back to Himself? Isa 9:2 / Isa 28: 16
This light and cornerstone that Isaiah speaks of was to be God's remedy for the Israelites' sins AND for the sins of the whole world! Isaiah is perhaps most famous for his prophecies concerning God's only begotten Son Jesus coming to this earth as a man on our behalf.
Day 16 How was Jesus to come? Isa 7:14
Day 17 Notice that for some, Jesus becomes a sanctuary a place of salvation and rest. Yet for others Jesus is a stumbling block and offense. Isaiah predicted this hundreds of years before He came and this has been true up through today! Isa 8: 13-15 / Isa 53:1-3 / I Cor. 1:23-24 / I Peter 2:4-8
Day 18 What roles would Jesus take while on earth? Isa 9:6-7 / Isa 42:6-9 / Isa 49:5-6
Day 19 How does Isaiah describe Jesus character? Isa 11:1-5, 10 / Isa 42:1-4
Day 20 How did God want to comfort His chastened people through Jesus? Isa 40: 1-5, 9-11
Day 21 For His people to be comforted, God had to suffer through His Son's suffering. How would Jesus handle these ordeals? Isa 50:5-9 / Isa 53: 7-9
Day 22 The effects of the Lord's suffering were to reach from the most common of men to kings. Isa 52: 13-15 / Isa 53:4-6 / Isa 60: 1-3
Day 23 Our Father made His Son Jesus an offering for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God again. This one righteous act on our behalf would allow any man or woman until the end of the ages to walk out of their personal darkness and into the light of God. Isa 53: 10-12 / 2 Peter 1:19 / 2 Cor. 3: 18
Day 24 The work of salvation is God's alone but we as the recipient to that salvation have some things to do. In this passage pick out the verbs that tell us what to do. Isaiah 55: 1-9
Even during the long time of discipline, God anticipated for his children a new life with Himself in a rebuilt Jerusalem. And so throughout the time of exile Isaiah offered the hope and comfort of a loving Father that encouraged the people through to the end of their ordeal.
Day 25 What does Isaiah prophecy for the future of Judah and Jerusalem? Isa 2: 2-4 / Isa 25:6-9 / Isa 35: 1-2 / Isa 60: 1-22
Day 26 How will the atmosphere between all living things have changed? Isa 11: 6-9, 13 / Isa 65: 17-25
Day 27 How will the people have changed toward God? Isa 29: 22-24
Day 28 How will God use Israel's enemies to reestablish them? Isa 60:10-14/ Isa 61:5-6
Are you going through a time of chastening and discipline that has brought you long, dark days and even years? It is to you that Isaiah's message of comfort and hope belongs as well as to the Israelites. However hopeless and dark your circumstances may seem God is able to use them to make your life a glory to Him.
Day 29 What will be the outcome of your discipline if you look to God through it? Job 23:10/ Ps. 66:10 / Isa 48:10 / John 15:2 / I Peter 1:7
Day 30 What does God promise you as you walk through your difficulties? Isa 43: 1-2
Day 31 As we look to Jesus for our salvation and restoration what can we know for certain? Isa 43: 25/ Isa 44:22 / I John 1:9
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by Ernest O'Neill
You did not come into this world as a little animal that has to start finding out what it should do here. You came as a person who has been created by our Maker inside his own Son: this is why at times you feel you are not only unique but valuable. In fact, you are a distinctive expression of our Creator's Son (who was the first human being), and no one else can express his planned life in just the way you can. We say that Christ is the first human being (Col.1:15) because he existed before the foundation of the world - even though he did not visit the earth physically until his appearance in Palestine in the first century. Indeed the life that you have come here to live is a life that God has already lived in his son in timeless eternity for he is able to see all of time in one millisecond; and he did just that _ foresaw what you would do with his plan for your life, faced the confusion and pain which you caused him by your independence, bore the reality of it in his son's death, and then worked out a way back to reality for you in his son's resurrection.
The result is that today you face a miraculous opportunity to live the life that your Creator has planned and prepared for you. And because He has planned and prepared it for you, it is exactly right for your fulfillment and you are exactly right for expressing what Christ has already achieved through you! How boring!! You have now to spend the rest of your life going through the motions or passively watching the events that God has foreordained for you!! Not on your life!!! God's living your life in the reality of his own great mind presupposes your actions and the exercise of your will _ only as you do fully and actively the things you see to do _ only then is God's foreseeing will worked out in detail. Our Maker plans the life that your will freely chooses, lovingly works your choices so that you are repeatedly drawn towards his perfect will for his whole universe, and bears the constant pain and chaos that you can cause by your own autonomy. This is the reality of the life that now lies before you.
Obviously the question is how do you find out what you are here to do and be? The only way is through the one who is humanity _ the one of whose body each of us is a part _ Christ. You were made inside him and he is the one who holds you together and keeps you alive: He is also the one who has walked through every step in your life in his Father's infinite mind. And he alone can lead you through the experiences on earth that will make you a real and willing part of himself. Only he can deliver you from that independent spirit that persists in pretending that you are somehow an independent, self-existent creature rather than part of an infinite being. Naturally this kind of intimacy between him and you requires that you believe in him and begin to follow his directions.
How can you do that? First - by facing the reality that you are not an independent, self-existent being that is in charge of your own creation and destiny. You have hundreds of reactions that you've built on this deception - ways of thinking, of speaking, and of acting that prevent you being the person you really are inside your creator's son. The first step, therefore, is to fully face this reality and be prepared to change your thinking about your whole life and its behavior. Secondly - face the reality that Christ's spirit - his attitudes - in fact He Himself - is in you and ready to begin living your life with you. Once you really and practically begin to take these two steps, your life starts to take a whole new direction built on reality.
Everything - every relationship, every circumstance of your life - becomes secondary - secondary to your relating to the person in whom you were made - and in whom you live. You won't necessarily become religious or churchy - though you may go to places that are regarded that way, BUT you will be more concerned with getting directions from your Maker than getting directions from other so-called experts. In a real way, you'll be less dependent on other human beings for directions; and you'll be more content and restful in listening for God's. You'll end up being more vividly alive to the world than before, yet you'll be more independent of it than before. The truth is that you become more your individual self when you commence finding yourself as you were originally made in Christ. Our creator did not make thousands of clones when he expressed his Son's humanity through all of us - He made thousands of individual beings who express the millions of facets of Christ's - and our creator's - character in billions of different ways and circumstances. The result is that your differences from the rest of us begin to be seen in the ways God planned, and you cease to be dominated by the need to conform and copy others. It's all like starting life over again - except that it's more exciting and interesting because you don't know what's going to happen next. You lose that boring feeling that today is going to be just the same as yesterday - instead, you get up in the morning with an interest in what God has planned for his son in you today. How does all this work out in practice? I can mention some things I've found out, but you have an interesting journey to travel that is different from all the rest of us.
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By Martin Poehler
In the last edition we looked critically at how men and women have acted over the last millennium. We saw that man's achievements were great and noble: such as producing literature and music that stir and inspire us, and finding scientific breakthroughs that have eased sickness and elevated the quality of life for millions. But we also saw that certain kinds of action are despicablesuch as paedophile behaviour, criminal computer hacking, and murder.
Most if not all of us don't do these things, nor do we lie or steal. But there are some things we do which we know we shouldn'tsuch as being jealous, or holding a grudge, or wanting bad things for others. These seem harmless enough. But, interestingly, we do these things even though we feel they're wrong. We know what's right to do, but sometimes don't measure up to our own standards in our actions. The Hebrews and Greeks described this as "missing the mark," like an archer missing the target. This, when translated, becomes the English word "sin."
This universal human inability to consistently do what we know is morally right has been written about for many centuries. Paul of Tarsus in Asia wrote, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." 1 Though we want to be loving, and we portray ourselves as loving to others and disinterested in ourselves, we know that often we seek our own benefit which sometimes causes others to be hurt. Not only is this inconvenient for us at times, but it also stings us inside. We saw that it causes a sense of angsta vague but strong sense of anxiety or remorse, because things aren't the way they should be inside us.
To all of this many of us may say, "I'm not that badI'm only human, no better or worse than anyone else." But there are two problems with this.
The first problem is the law we all hold to, that everyone should not hold grudges and should always love others. We see we believe this when others act meanly towards uswe automatically sense they are acting wrongly. Because we believe this about them, if we exercise our judgement consistently, we must believe this law applies to us also. So it follows that we know we're acting wrongly when we are jealous or don't act in love towards another.
The second problem is that though we say: "I'm not that badI'm no worse than others"our angst remains. Our deep inner feeling about ourselves, when we act badly towards others, contradicts how we say we feel about ourselves. One person, concerning this "missing the mark" by us, said, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 2 He was saying we were meant to do what we know is right. When we don't, we feel anxietyfrom guilt, and from a longing to be close to the God we so often displease.
We ended the last article by asking, Is it true that every man has sinned? The answer is yesexcept for one notable exception. Jesus of Nazareth, Palestine, 20 centuries ago is known for teaching moral goodness and truth as no one else has done before or since. But he was more than an excellent teacher. He lived a faultless life. He asked his enemies (who were many) to point out even one wrong thing he had done, one place he had missed the mark and sinned. They couldn't do this, not even in a court of law. As well as living what seems to have been a perfect moral life, this Jesus didn't seem to have a feeling of angst and guilt within him causing him to feel far away from God. In these ways he appears to be unique among men in his moral conduct and nature.
Jesus in other ways seems to have been special. He routinely healed people and brought many back from death. He did miracles of nature, like multiplying a boy's lunch to feed thousands, and calming storms. In addition, he claimed that he was going to be killed, and come alive againand many testified this did happen. Accounts of his life and his becoming alive again after dying were written down by his contemporaries, and circulated among many people a few years after these events. These were later organised into what we today call the New Testament. The evidence for this book's reliability is great. There are many more manuscripts for it than for any other ancient book, and these manuscripts are remarkably consistent with each other. If we are to believe the reliability of any ancient book, we have to believe the reliability of the New Testament. 3
So Jesus' enemies couldn't convict him of wrongdoing, and he had power over nature, sickness, and even death. Was his character imbalanced in any way? Was he prone to swing excessively one way or the other in his behaviour as we so often are? It seems the answer is no. When anyone in the worldwhatever their religious or non-religious backgroundwishes to set forth an example of a perfectly balanced and integrated personality, Jesus of Nazareth is the one who is presented as the model to follow. "His zeal never degenerated into passion, nor his constancy into obstinacy, nor his benevolence into weakness, nor his tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability or undue unfamiliarity; his self-denial from moroseness; his temperance from austerity." Such are the opinions of most of the behavioural experts of our time.4
Who does Jesus say that he was? Throughout his life, and again while being subjected to a mock trial, he said he was God's son. Because of this the Jews who were trying him condemned him to death, this penalty being required from their interpretation of their holy scriptures. Though we might not administer the death penalty, we ourselves today would find it a shocking claim that someone was God's son, and so was equal with Godin other words, was God himself.
Who was this man who even his enemies admit didn't commit a sin, who seemed to be a master over nature, life, and death, and who claimed to be God? Could he help us to quit doing the wrong things we know we doand do even more than that for us? What is our appropriate response to this man, in view of his astonishing life? We'll look into these questions in the next article.
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by Myron Kliewer
I recently picked up a popular business magazine. The article that immediately caught my attention was entitled "The Truth Can Hurt Get Used To It."
The first few sentences in the article read like this, "I've seen the way we'll all know how we're doing at work in the near future, and I thought you might want to know. I can tell you right off you might not like it. Not that it mattersany organization that doesn't work this way won't be around very long." The article went on to tell how a computer manufacturer that started in a barn rapidly grew to be a successful company with a turnover of $6 Billion per year. Then came the big surprise. After many years of hard work building up the company and its product range, things started to go wrong. Fierce competition sent sales and profits tumbling, the company performed poorly on the stock market, and they were facing a major crisis.
The CEO decided he needed to face reality. He knew the company he started from meagre beginnings needed a fundamental shaking up. He hired a consultancy firm to evaluate his top 100 employees. What did they find? The answer is classic, "Stuff I knew but didn't want to find." Problems were there, and they didn't want to face them until they absolutely had to.
After facing reality, courageous moves were made, the company headquarters was relocated and new people were hired for the top management positions. The result, 18 months later: profit is up, sales have increased by 50% and continue to grow at a steady 20% in a very competitive market.
The article ends with a rather matter of fact statement, "some people recoil from continual, thorough, unvarnished evaluations .. They think it's cold and inhuman. We'll all realize that eventually it's just the opposite: honest and considerate. And effective. My advice: Learn to like it."
As I read this article it reminded me of some of the challenges we face in running our Manufacturing Division here in Asia. I was struck by the fact that both east and west are living in a rapidly changing and demanding world filled with continual challenges, especially in the manufacturing industry.
Our global markets require the highest quality at the most competitive prices. The latest fashions demand continual development and change in the product range. Production methods need updating as new equipment becomes available. Local environmental requirements continue to demand new standards and capital investment. This requires the fine art of learning to nurture and train a local work force that is efficient and loyal.
One might be justified in asking, is it possible for a person or business to keep on top of all these details with demands from every direction? Let's try to answer our questions by this possible suggestion. Could it be that our questions and challenges point us all to a basic and more fundamental fact of life. Every time we find "Stuff we know about but don't want to find..." in our business or personal life we are given an opportunity to act. If we do not act, or act in an irresponsible manner, life has a way of closing in on us. If we respond honestly to difficult situations, reality has a way of rewarding us. Life has a built in mechanism, a way of greeting and encouraging us to face the truth, even if it hurts. The sooner we act the sooner our lives and business will respond by opening out before us as never before.
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(Methodist) -- Professor in Boston University
"The personality of the Holy Spirit was rather an article of faith than a joyfulrealization. He had breathed into me life, but not the more abundant life. In a sense I was free, but not 'free indeed'."
I was born into this world in Windham, N. Y., October 5, 1824; into the kingdom of God in Wilbraham, Mass., in the spring of 1842. I could never write the day of my spiritual birth, so gradually did the light dawn upon me and so lightly was the seal of my justification impressed upon my consciousness. This was a source of great trial and seasons of doubt in the first years of my Christian life. I coveted a conversion of the Pauline type. My call to the ministry was more marked and undoubted than my justification. Through a mother's prayers and consecration of her unborn child to the ministry of the Word I may say, " To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. " My early religious experience was variable, and for the most part consisted in
The personality of the Holy Spirit was rather an article of faith than a joyful realization. He had breathed into me life, but not the more abundant life. In a sense I was free, but not "free indeed"; free from the guilt and dominion of sin, but not from strong inward tendencies thereto, which seemed to be a part of my nature. In my early ministry, being hereditarily a Methodist in doctrine, I believed in the possibility of entire sanctification in this life, instantaneously wrought. How could I doubt it in the light of my mother's exemplification of its reality? I sought quite earnestly, at times, but failed to find anything more than transient uplifts from the dead level. One of these, in 1852, was so marked that it delivered me from doubt on the question of regeneration. These uplifts all came while earnestly struggling after entire sanctification as a distinct blessing. But when I embraced the theory that this work is gradual, and not instantaneous, these blessed uplifts ceased. For, seeing no definite line to be crossed, my faith ceased to put forth its strongest energies. In this condition, a period of fifteen years, I became exceedingly dissatisfied and hungry. God had something better for me. He saw that so great was my mental bewilderment, through the conflict of opinion in my own denomination relative to Christian perfection, that I would flounder on, "in endless mazes lost, " and never enter "The land of corn and wine and oil," unless He, in mercy, should lead me by another road than that which has the fingerboard set up by John Wesley. I was led by the study of the promised Paraclete to see that He signified far more than I had realized in the new birth, and that a personal Pentecost was awaiting me. I sought in downright earnestness. Then the Spirit uncovered to my gaze the evil still lurking in my nature; the mixed motives with which I had preached, often preferring the honor which comes from men to that which comes from God. I submitted to every test presented by the Holy Spirit and publicly confessed what he had revealed, and determined to walk alone with God rather than with the multitude in the world or in the Church. I immediately began to feel a strange freedom, daily increasing, the cause of which I did not distinctly apprehend. I was then led to seek the conscious and joyful presence of the Comforter in my heart. Having settled the question that this was not merely an apostolic blessing, but for all ages "He shall abide with you forever" I took the promise, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. " The "verily" had to me all the strength of an oath. Out of the "whatsoever" I took all temporal blessings, not because I `did not believe them to be included, but because I was not then seeking them. I then wrote my own name in the promise, not to exclude others, but to be sure that I included myself. Then, writing underneath these words, "Today is the day of salvation, " I found that my faith had three points to master the Comforter, for me, now. Upon the promise I ventured with an act of appropriating faith, claiming the Comforter as my right in the name of Jesus. For several hours I clung by naked faith, praying and repeating Charles Wesley's hymn
I then ran over in my mind the great facts in Christ's life, especially dwelling upon Gethsemane and Calvary, His ascension, priesthood, and all-atoning sacrifice. Suddenly I became conscious of a mysterious power exerting itself upon my sensibilities. My physical sensations, though not of a nervous temperament, in good health, alone, and calm, were indescribable, as if an electric current were passing through my body with painless shocks, melting my whole being into a fiery stream of love. The Son of God stood before my spiritual eye in all His loveliness. This was November 17, 1870, the day most memorable to me. I now for the first time realized "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Reputation, friends, family, property, everything disappeared, eclipsed by the brightness of His manifestation. He seemed to say "I have come to stay." Yet there was no uttered word, no phantasm or image. It was not a trance or vision. The affections were the sphere of this wonderful phenomenon, best described as "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. " It seemed as if the attraction of Jesus, the lodestone of my soul, was so strong that it would draw the spirit out of the body upward into heaven. How vivid and real was all this to me! I was more certain that God loved me than I was of the existence of the solid earth and of the shining sun. I intuitively apprehended Christ. This certainty has lost none of its strength and sweetness after the lapse of more than seventeen years. Yea, it has become more real and blissful. Nor is this unphilosophical, for Dr. McCosh teaches that the intuitions are capable of growth.
I did not at first realize that this was entire sanctification. The positive part of my experience had eclipsed the negative, the elimination of the sin principle by the cleansing power of the Paraclete. But it was verily so. Yet it has always seemed to me that this was the inferior part of the great blessing of the incoming and abiding of the whole Trinity. John 14:23.
After seventeen years of life's varied experiences, on seas sometimes very tempestuous, in sickness and in health, at home and abroad, in honor and dishonor, in tests of exceeding severity, there has come up out of the depths of neither my conscious nor unconscious being any thing bearing the ugly features of sin, the willful transgression of the known law of God. All this time Satan's fiery darts have been thickly flying, but they have fallen harmless upon the invisible shield of faith in Jesus Christ. As to the future, "I am persuaded that He is able to keep my deposit until that day. " In regard to the process of becoming established in holiness, I find this to be God's open secret "to walk by the same rule and to mind the same thing. " Phil. 3:16. The rule is, faith in Christ ever increasing in strength; the heart being fertilized with the elements of faith, a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, the conscience being trained to avoid not merely sinful and doubtful acts, but also those whose moral quality is beyond the reach of all ethical rules, and known to be evil only by their effect in dimming the manifestation of Christ within. The rule of life, I find, must be sufficiently delicate to exclude those acts which bring the least blur over the spiritual eye. Heb. 5:14. If any act brings a veil of the thinnest gauze between me and the face of Christ I henceforth and forever give it a tremendous letting alone.
As another indispensable to establishment in that perfect love which casts out all fear I have found the disposition to confess Christ in His uttermost salvation. As no man could long keep in his house sensitive guests of whom he was ashamed before his neighbors, so no man can long have the company of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the temple of his heart while ashamed of their presence or their purifying work.
In this respect I follow no man's formula. The words which the Spirit of inspiration teaches in the Holy Scriptures, though beclouded with misunderstandings and beslimed with fanaticism, are, after all, the most appropriate vehicle for the expression of the wonderful work of God in perfecting holiness in the human spirit, soul and body.
I testify that it is possible for believers to be so filled with the Holy Ghost that they can live many years on the earth conscious every day of a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light, and of no shrinking back, because of a felt need of further inward cleansing, from an instant translation into the society of the holy angels and into the presence of the holy God. This was my daily experience since 1870. 1 have the Johannean evidence that my love is pure and unmixed that is, perfected in the fact that I have boldness in view of the day of judgement. (I John 4:17, 18, Dean Alford's Notes.) This joyful boldness is grounded on the assurance of a conformity to the image of the Son of God, and that I am, through the transfiguring power of the Spirit, like Him in purity, and that the Judge will not condemn facsimiles of Himself, "because even as he is, so are we in this world."
Yet I am conscious of errors, ignorances, infirmities and defects, which, though consistent with perfect loyalty and love to God, need, and by faith receive, every moment, the merit of Christ's death. In other words, the ground of my standing before God is neither perfect rectitude in the past nor a faultless present service, but the divine mercy as administered through Jesus Christ. Hence I daily pray, "Forgive us our debts."
-- DANIEL STEELE. BOSTON, March, 1888.
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"The Life of Christ is avowedly and unconditionally the work of a believer. Those who expect to find in it new theories about the divine personality of Jesus or brilliant combinations of mythic cloud...will look in vain."
How often have we been presented with endless theories surrounding the divinity of Christ? How often confronted with endless speculation regarding events recorded in the Gospel as miracles -- such as those of healing, of turning the water into wine, of the feeding of thousands of people with little visible means of doing so?
So we often, along with many people who lived during the time of Christ, focus on each of those things, things which to our eyes are show-stopping, sensational acts which ordinary men, as we can testify from our own lack of experience, simply cannot do.
But the Gospels say Christ became just like one of us. He was born in the same manner as we were born, he walked dusty, hot roads and sweated under the sun just as we do. He went in at night after a day of work or play to a mother and father who had things for him to do, who talked with him, who had expectations of him as a son. What of this person? What of this child, this son, this man?
What of the person who was able to understand the shame and helpless feeling of the woman caught in adultery and who, in compassion and kindness, exposed her no further before her accusers. He instead focused the attention away, creating a safe space for her to consider this man who did not accuse her, who did not point the finger and demand the "justice of the law" be fulfilled, but who instead gave her the opportunity to be touched by a compassion and tenderness she may never have experienced before.
We are all too familiar with the concept of a "God of Justice". One who supposedly makes great demands upon us that often seem impossible to fulfil. But how much do we actually know of the Christ of compassion, of tenderness, of suffering? How much have we known the Christ who was misunderstood, judged harshly at almost every step of His adult life and yet who never seemed to hit back with anger and malice? And do we not understand that this man, Christ, is God's physical expression of Himself to us?
Dean Farrar takes us beyond all of the controversies men seem to love to engage in and directs our attention instead to the fact that Jesus was "like as we are...yet without sin". By doing this he makes it possible for us to begin to see something of who God, Himself, is.
By presenting Christ to us in the everyday things of His life, things such as facing the temptation to be angry, opportunities to be impatient when confronted with rank stupidity or lack of sensitivity, jealousy, conveting by allowing us to walk with Him and to see His compassion, His discernment, the choices He makes -- we are able to see a whole different side of a seemingly unapproachable God.
Farrar gradually allows us to encounter the compassion and the tenderness of a God who is so often feared due to our own ignorance, and in the unfolding of the Life of Christ, enables us to begin to see something of His tremendous love for us.
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