The Blessing of Mourning

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Pain hurts. Most people avoid pain at all costs; however, pain is a part of life. Learning to deal with pain is a mark of maturity. God has promised blessings for those who mourn  among which is the blessing of comfort.

Our Lord promises comfort to those who boldly lament and are not ashamed of their grief. Sorrow is a painful aspect of human existence. This Beatitude encourages Christ’s disciples to deal with it, not avoid it.

Those who try to run from pain’s reality do so at a cost. Indeed, most people do not realize the extravagant expense of avoiding pain. Those who refuse to deal with something in their life causing pain are only putting off the inevitable and intensifying the sorrow.

Remember this: if you avoid the pain, you are also avoiding the comfort.

  • Your broken heartedness will be comforted.
  • Your ashes associated with death and mourning will be exchanged for beauty just as the ancient patriarch Job.
  • Your black garments worn to mourn the loss of someone beloved will be exchanged for one of praise.
  • Your heavy, burdensome clothing of sacrifice will be exchanged for something much lighter, for Christ has proclaimed His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

++++++++

Read 10 full length studies on the Beatitudes in my latest publication: Beauty from the Mountain.

Beauty from the Mountaing Cover

The Season of the Ant

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,  Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Most ants build a nest of some sort and store their hard-gathered food in that nest. The food is gathered in the harvest after working all summer long.

Have you considered that most ants live for only a few months?

macro photo of five orange ants
Ants teach us how to prioritise our lives.

The season of the ant is a type of the season of human life. 

Your ‘winter’ season will be the retirement years when you are physically unable to ‘gather’. The harvest season stands for your working years. The ‘reaping’ for retirement is possible because of your summer work. That is why, the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat (Proverbs 13:4). You do not reap a retirement by accident!

The ant teaches you that today you are preparing for your future.

Part of that preparation is passing on your knowledge to those in the spring of their life. Children need to be taught by word and example how to prepare for their future.

Don’t live for the momentlive in it for the morrow.

Balance tomorrow’s evils by putting God first. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

By trusting in God today, you will reap His protection, provision and comfort at life’s end and into eternity.

What grand lessons from such a lowly insect!

Creating Order from Your Chaos

The story of creation provides a model for new beginnings. All cultures share this story and at its root is order from chaos. By embracing the chaos in a person’s life or organization’s current standing; you position yourself to receive an orderly creation of something better.

Producing a new beginning for any person or organization means just that: creating order from chaos.

This powerful notion of success is discovered by using a shared language of the Elements. Comparing explanations of origin in different cultures, faiths, and ancient philosophies, there is a shared story. The traditions have passed down:

Fire, Air, Water, and Earth were combined through a Spirit process that began with chaos and ended in order.

The Genesis story of Creation widely known in our Western civilization also preserves this ancient understanding of the Elements. It begins by recognizing existing chaos: “The earth was without form and void.”

  • SPIRIT – And God said.
  • FIRE – Let there be light.
  • AIR – Let there be a firmament (space as in “outer” space).
  • WATER – Let the waters be gathered.
  • EARTH – Let the dry land appear.

Enjoying hard earned success is finding order in your life. To get there, you followed a process because your life or your business needed change. Something was missing. You were seeking fulfillment.

From within yourself (spirit), you articulated a plan (fire). You separated into divisions (air) everything surrounding your project. From there a plan was formulated (water) connecting the divisions and your success appeared (earth).

Following this pattern propelled you to success. Recognizing this configuration allows you to enjoy continued success.

I have applied this arrangement to assess several sales organizations. The company would have already enjoyed success. It reached a plateau and was finding it difficult to grow beyond its last level of success. It was usually bogged down with a toxic environment.

Every time I assess a successful team in trouble, I emphasize two truths:

  1. The current problem was a result of their success and therefore contains the very elements for the solution;
  2. To go forward they had to be willing to allow “Light” to shine in the darkness of their chaos.

Many a successful person repels such revelations. They don’t want to face the reality of their problems. They state they want solutions but in practice their pride stands in the way. As leaders, they know subconsciously they are responsible. After successfully building their dream, they personalize attempts to apply needed change. They interpret these efforts from well-meaning consultants, staff members, and even colleagues as attacks on their character and/or position.

To enjoy the abundance of your hard earned success, you must remain open and coachable. Success never changes that fact. You are right to repel judgment on your actions. You are successful! You fulfilled your dream. However, do not allow that to cloud the light of reality. Remember that rules change to sustain success. Embrace the chaos. It is proof you possess the elements of success.

Remain open to the light of truth. It is your friend. It will be the difference between enjoying good success and great success.

Affirmation: I am abundant enjoying my hard earned success.

From 56 Notions of Success

Don’t Kill the Messenger

No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” (Sophocles)

Character assassination in politics has become a normal way to take out competition. Truthfulness of accusations are no longer a concern. The focus is on winning and winning alone. The end justifies the means. It also underscores the difference between so-called success and genuine success. True success is ethical.

Sophocles_pushkin

Thomas came to me absolutely shattered. He confided in me of a terrible situation where his career was about to be destroyed. As I listened to his story, identifying the elements of chaos, it was especially heartbreaking. You see, Thomas was a church elder. He was asked to deliver the results of a polling of church members. And the organization splintered after the message was delivered. 

The church was organized with a plurality of leadership responsibilities. Thomas was the “face” of the organization. He was the one who stood up before the congregation each week and delivered a sermon. Other leaders held different responsibilities. One was in charge of finances, another marketing, and so on. 

This organization had a chairman of the elders. His primary function was to coordinate leadership meetings and ensure their decisions were executed. Yet as Thomas’ narrative unfolded, it became clear the chairman desired more than just coordinate. 

At that time the church did not have its own worship facility. They rented out venues and operated a successful outreach to its community. However, it was no secret the chairman believed it was time for a building program. 

Thomas had been delivering a series of sermons on responsibility to the community. He was approached by key lay persons and several of the other elders. They asked him if he would deliver a message to the chairman that they believed their monies would be better spent at that time on the community work. 

When Thomas delivered the message, the chairman began to blame Thomas for the people’s decision. He accused Thomas of using the public speaking platform to undermine his authority. He then warned Thomas, “You will see how you were wrong to tell me this.” 

Thomas didn’t fully appreciate the warning. By the time he was seeking my counsel, the chairman had released a smear campaign against my client. Unsubstantiated allegations of inappropriate funding were delivered in a letter addressed to leaders across that denomination. Even though Thomas had nothing to do with handling the finances and was only one vote on the executive committee, no outsider was made aware of those details. His character was slandered. 

The chairman soon resigned. It took several months for the organization to regain its momentum. However, it took several years to repair the relationship between the two men. 

When you reach a level of success that holds great responsibility, it will take ethics to sustain that success. 

Challenge: Ethics is an expression of respect for others. Do I view myself as above the rules for social order? 

Morality as per Sylvester & Tweety

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #3 – Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.

Sylvester the cat wants to eat Tweety Bird. Just as he is about to put the little yellow morsel into his mouth, up pops two miniatures of Sylvester himself. One is angelic and the other a demonic image of himself. Each sits on the opposite shoulder and whispers their counsel into Sylvester’s ears.

Is this just a cartoon feature? How about neo-Platonic morality developed by Augustine and encouraged later by later thinkers known as absolutists!

You may be surprised to learn preaching what is moral has not been limited to the church pulpit. There are several systems of principles that have been developed over time. These systems are the practical application to particular beliefs. Your university education will expose you to diverse beliefs.

Man Angel on Shoulder

The science of moral philosophy is known as ethics. The terms ethics and morality are synonymous. They both are derived from words which mean customs and indicate how people are to behave within a given Society.

Ethics is derived from the Greek term, ethika, a derivative itself from ethos, emphasizing character with customs.

Morals is the equable derivative of the Latin term, mores. Mores has been transported into English to mean rules related to the conduct, manners and behavior of people to others.

Sylvester and Tweety as Food

As a branch of philosophy, ethics belongs to the normative sciences. Normative has to do with what is the norm of human conduct. This type of science differs from the formal sciences like mathematics and the empirical sciences such as social sciences. Normative science takes place when psychology scrutinizes the social conditions involved in developing moral principles.

Ethics as a disciple is a collection of “doctrines” which govern social manners. The use of the term “doctrine” is very familiar to you as a Christian. It is the same term used by non-Christians in philosophical discussions. In Western Civilization, these doctrines have been debated since the 6th century BC. Philosophers still strive to articulate what is good and right.

When you begin your university training, you will find yourself inside the chambers where morals are still under debate. That is why it is important you understand ethical principles and how they relate to your Christian values.

Posts in this series:

Morality is Virtue

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #2 – Laws serve to represent Society’s morals. They are given with the assumption citizens are capable of obeying and upholding them.

When morality is viewed as a code of behavior, it implies each person is virtuous or, in the least, capable of exercising virtue. That means behavior codes assume you can respect the rules of “right” in relation to social customs.

As a Christian, you may view moral codes as divine law and not human law. You need to recognize that both divine and human law agree that a person who follows the rules of the school; obeys the law of the land; adheres to the creed of a church, et al; such behavior is classified as virtuous.

In plainer language: there are just some actions you know are right thing to do whether or not they come from the Church, the University or your future Employer.

doorhold

Previously, it was considered right and proper for a man to hold the door open for a lady. Today no such social expectation is preached. What was virtuous in Western Civilization previously many not be regarded as such today.

So, how does a Christian know what to do when? Is it proper to conform Society’s standards of morality?

Morality is a code of behavior. What does that mean?

  • Certain actions are accepted as “good”
  • Performing those actions are “virtuous”
  • Virtuous behavior is acceptable “deportment”
  • Right deportment are actions that conform to Divine Law.

At the end of the day, no matter the standards of Society, the Divine Code propagates a superior virtue. Exercise the “mores” of Society only when there is no clear contradiction to the Divine Code.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29

What is the Divine Code? Traditionally, it is known as the 10 Commandments. They form the basis of 603 additional laws issued through Moses. However, Jesus summarized them into 3 (Matthew 22:36-40):

  • Love your Self
  • Love your Neighbor
  • Love your Creator

Morality Is A Behavior Code

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #1 – Morality has become associated as a code of behavior. The philosophers believed a certain conduct would lead to happiness.

The early church taught, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The pursuit of happiness is not the deportment of Christianity; but rather the pursuit of godly living—living in a way that is God-like. It is not the arrogant pursuit of being gods as Adam and Eve erred (Genesis 3:5) but a contentment to live as God directs in accordance to His word.

From the very beginning, God has been interested in His creation doing what He says to bring them the greater benefit (Genesis 3:11). Philosophy can rob you of God’s blessings if you are not careful (Colossians 2:8). Nonetheless, there is an agreed precept between philosophy and Biblical Christianity: your contentment in life can be found when following a code of behavior.

The Bible assumes you are capable of moral actions. There are certain actions which you are bound to perform. The obligations performed as a social duty are, definition, acts of morality. Each Society adjust the rules, but one fact remains: morality is associated with you keeping accepted rules.

Waiter

For instance, most people do not tip in a restaurant here in New Zealand. It is considered immoral for an employer to not provide servers with full wages. With the provision, tipping is not a necessary part of the server’s wages. However, in the United States, it is customary to tip a server regardless of any wages being received. The respective customs reflect differing moral standards for its Society.

At university, you will be given guide-lines and expectations for your behavior. Jump up and down all you want about your individual rights! It won’t make a difference. Whenever individuals join together, there must be agreement on a set of rules. Otherwise, chaos results and there will be no order for your educational environment.