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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

On a very recent trip to the Columbia Gorge of Oregon and Washington states, I snapped many pictures of the scenery.  As I readied my camera to snap another photo of the river, I captured an interfering fly instead.  The bug blurred my view.

I wonder what might be blurring your focus of the week ahead.  What is it that seems to be interfering in your time with the Lord?

You see, more often than not, we go about our days with good intentions of making the world a better place, of improving our relationship with God, of being more thankful.  But, something bugs us and blurs our focus.  It only takes a brief moment to divert your eyes from Him, and when it happens, the picture is distorted.

As you being a new week, I pray the flies of temptation, worldly thoughts and problems would not hinder you as you seek to focus on the beauty of the Lord.  Of course one thing to note, is that even though the pesky fly wound up in my photo, it couldn’t take away the beautiful river and mountains beyond it.  Thank God that even when our vision blurs, He remains just beyond, waiting for us to refocus!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

You see here a simple underpass.  This is a place along the course of a highway where the traffic must pass underneath another road, or in this case, a railroad.  There’s nothing really noteworthy about an underpass.

But if you think about that for a minute, you quickly realize that just as some must pass under, others will be passing over — on an overpass.

Life hits us hard some days.  And perhaps on your life’s highway this week, it seems as if you are in a never-ending underpass where the sunlight is dim and you feel awfully low.

May I encourage you to take heart, hang on, and trust the Lord, because soon (and very soon) you will be the one headed across the overpass while others are dealing with life’s difficulties.  You will be the one who has made it through the dark tunnel and are now rising above once again.

As you head into the week, I pray that life will carry you on the high road.  But as you travel along, don’t neglect to pray for those who are riding a little lower this week due to circumstances in their life.  You’ll be blessed for caring.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

These are reconstructed Indian huts at the Moundville, Alabama, Archaeological Park.  These reconstructed homes give us a glimpse into the simple lives of the natives who lived and worked that area of the state many years ago.  Maybe you have photos of your former homes from many years ago.  It is interesting to look back and see the way we used to live.

And, ah, isn’t that the real point?  That is, it is the way we “used” to live, not the way we currently do.  Times change, as do locations and the people who abide there.

For the Christian, we look forward to the place we will live one day – the proverbial “mansion on a hilltop” that the Lord has gone to prepare for each of us.  I like to think about that home – what it will be like and how it will look.  Will it be simple and only what I need, because I have everything else in His presence?  Will it be mansion-like, ornate and splendidly beautiful in its Heavenly surroundings?

Like most of the other things I ponder in my eternal future, those details really don’t matter.  I could have a huge mansion, or a lovely log cabin on a lake, or a simple dirt hut like these long-ago Indians.  It won’t matter, because I will be in His presence, His home, part of His family.

Yes, He has gone to prepare a place for us, and one day He will return to take us Home!  Are you as excited as I am?

Just a thought.

William Wilberforce and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

By Dr. Kevin Dougherty

Leadership and management are closely related and often overlapping, but the main distinction between the two concerns their approach toward change. Peter Northouse explains that “The overriding function of management is to provide order and consistency to organizations, whereas the primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement. Management is about seeking order and stability, leadership is about seeking adaptive and constructive change.”[1] Both leaders and managers need to understand how things work, but it is the leader that is driven to make things work better.[2] James Kouzes and Barry Posner agree, adding that “change is the work of leaders. It’s what they do.”[3]

Almost all meaningful change, however, comes with a measure of difficulty and resistance that John Maxwell refers to as “the make-or-break time for a leader.”[4] During this period, leaders can expect to be viewed with increased scrutiny and suspicion. Change usually requires some power shift. It requires additional work. Its results are uncertain. Such bold change requires a tremendous leap of faith.[5] Steven Covey adds that in order to make vision reality, all leaders “must have the discipline to deal with the hard, pragmatic, brutal facts that stand in the way.”[6] To do so, Joseph Badaracco notes that “leaders have a deep conviction that they must make something happen and they devote themselves to making it happen—despite obstacles, frustrations, failures, and very steep costs.”[7]

Christian leaders are not immune from this great need for perseverance, but theirs is not merely an exercise in mustering the indomitable strength and will necessary to see a task through to completion. Perseverance for the Christian leader is based on the empowerment and perspective that comes from faith in the all-encompassing sufficiency of Jesus. It that type of perseverance that Paul refers to in Hebrews 12: 1-2 when he calls us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” It is that kind of Christian perseverance that William Wilberforce drew on in his twenty-year struggle to abolish the slave trade in Great Britian.

Wilberforce was elected to the House of Commons in 1780. He was a relatively inactive and unremarkable politician until his conversion to Evangelical Christianity in 1784 spurned in him an interest in social reform. He even considered leaving politics to become a clergyman, but John Newton, the former slave trader who authored the hymn “Amazing Grace,” convinced Wilberforce that he could serve God better by remaining in Parliament and campaigning for social reform.

In addition to Newton, Wilberforce also drew inspiration from Thomas Clarkson, who in 1786 published Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African. Clarkson’s work was a powerful indictment against the slave system and the slave trade that supported it. In 1787, Clarkson joined with William Dillwyn and Granville Sharp to form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Clarkson originally approached Charles Middleton to represent the group’s interests in the House of Commons, but Middleton instead suggested Wilberforce, who “not only displayed very superior talents of great eloquence, but was a decided and powerful advocate of the cause of truth and virtue.”[8] Soon an effective division of labor was achieved with Clarkson and his colleagues gathering evidence and shaping popular opinion through his society and Wilberforce championing the cause in the House of Commons.

On October 28, 1787, Wilberforce wrote in his journal that “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”[9] His formal entry into this great work was marked by a three and a half hour speech he delivered on May 12, 1789 that argued to abolish the slave trade.   After the speech, the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade sent Wilberforce their thanks for his “unparalleled assiduity and perseverance.”[10] But neither Wilberforce nor the Society could have possibly anticipated how much, much more perseverance would be required.

When the House of Commons agreed to establish a committee to look into the slave trade, Wilberforce introduced no new testimony, naively imagining the case against the trade was already in the public record.   Like many others, he thought the proceedings would be brief, but instead, Ellen Wilson reports that “the slaving interests prolonged it so skilfully that when the House adjourned on 23 June, their witnesses were still testifying.”[11] Wilberforce had his first experience with the magnitude of the organized opposition he faced.

The French Revolution created political complications for Wilberforce’s anti-slave trade campaign and also distracted much of the national attention.   The excesses of the Jacobins made the British government “afraid of anything that smacked of human rights or liberty or equality.”[12] When Wilberforce finally had the chance to introduce a bill to abolish the slave trade on April 18, 1791, it was defeated the next day by a vote of 163 to 88.[13] Undeterred, Wilberforce was so convinced of the injustice of the slave trade that he vowed to “even less make this grand cause the sport of caprice, or sacrifice it to motives of political convenience or personal feeling.”[14] In 1793 he put worth a Foreign Slave Bill with the more modest objective of stopping British ships from carrying slaves to foreign countries. Even this half-measure failed in the House of Commons by two votes. It passed the House of Commons the next year, only to be crushingly defeated in the House of Lords.[15]

Wilberforce tried again in March 1796. In what Eric Metaxas describes as a “tantalizingly, horribly close” defeat, the proposal failed by just four votes.[16] The razor thin margin was especially agonizing because at least a dozen abolitionist Members of Parliament were out of town or at the new comic opera in London. A frustrated Wilberforce lamented, “Enough at the Opera to have carried it. Very much vexed and incensed at our opponents.”[17]

The 1804 bill passed the House of Commons, but Wilberforce was persuaded to withdraw it from the House of Lords because of a lack of support. When he tried again the next year, the slave trade proponents were better prepared and it was defeated by seven votes.[18]

The tide turned in February, 1806 when Lord Grenville was invited by the king to form a new Whig administration. Grenville had been a vocal opponent of the slave trade throughout the debate of the 1790s and now was determined to bring an end to British involvement in the trade. Clarkson, recognizing that “there was never perhaps a season when so much virtuous feeling pervading all ranks,” redoubled the efforts of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade to mobilize support.[19]

Eric Metaxas records that “Since 1787, year after year after year, Wilberforce had put forth his bill, and year after year after year it had been defeated, one way or another. In twenty long years, he had still not brought the boat into the harbor, though he had tacked and retacked and circled back and tacked in again and again and again. There had always been some difficulty, some heartbreaking last-minute barrier to success.” But now, “the waters were quite suddenly smoothed, and the harbor for which he had longed for two decades seemed finally to open her arms to him.”[20] Indeed, on March 25, 1807, some twenty years after Wilberforce had taken up the cause, “An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade” abolished the slave trade in the British Empire and also encouraged British action to press other European states to do the same.

John Piper notes that what made Wilberforce’s perseverance “so remarkable is not only the length of it but the obstacles he had to surmount.” Financial self-interest, the global economy, and international politics all stood in Wilberforce’s way.[21] But, in recounting the leadership lessons associated with Wilberforce’s triumph, David Vaughn notes that “perseverance wins the prize.”[22] Wilberforce clearly had the perseverance all leaders need to effect change, but it was his commitment and conviction that his work was serving Christ and that through Christ all things are possible that makes him such a wonderful example to all who seek to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

 

[1] Peter Northouse, Leadership Theory and Practice, (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2004), 8.

[2] Bob Johansen, Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, (Berrett Koehler Publishers, 2009),20.

[3] Kouzes and Posner, 209.

[4] Maxwell, Teamwork, 236.

[5] William Pasmore, Creating Strategic Change: Designing the Flexible, High-Performing Organization, (New York: Wiley, 1994), 264

[6] Stephen Covey, The 8th Habit, (New York: Free Press, 2004), 65-66. Hereafter, Covey, 8th Habit.

                  [7] Joseph Badaracco, Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2006), 117.

[8] Stephen Tomkins, William Wilberforce: A Biography, (Oxford, UK: Lion Hudson, 2007), 55.

[9] William Wilberforce, diary entry (28th October 1787)

[10] John Wolffe, William Wilberforce : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004-2014).

[11] Ellen Gibson Wilson, Thomas Clarkson: A Biography, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1989), 51.

[12] Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 158.

[13] Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 524.

[14] Metaxas, 159.

[15] Ibid., 159-160.

[16] Ibid., 206.

[17] William Wilberforce, diary (15th March 1796).

[18] Tomkins, 160.

[19] Thomas, 552.

[20] Metaxas, 206.

[21] John Piper, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 48-49.

[22] David Vaughn, Statesman and Saint: The Principled Politics of William Wilberforce, (Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2001), 312.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’ve probably shared a picture of a full moon with you at sometime in the past, but here’s another.  I was thinking about that term ‘full moon’.

We can have a full understanding of a subject.  We might enjoy a full course meal.  We might drive with a full gas tank.  And of course, we might see that big bright full moon.  The word ‘full’ means basically the same in each of those circumstances — complete, filled to capacity, room for no more.

We have each watched a hungry pre-teen devour a table loaded with snacks and wondered if he would ever be full.  Perhaps we think of ourselves studying, praying, and learning all that we can about God and even wonder if we will ever be full.  I pray not.

If full means complete, and there is no room for any more, then I pray that we never get full.  As we attempt to fill our lives this week with all that is good and holy, may we always sense the feeling that there is room for more — more understanding, more love, more patience, more of Him!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This monument to the “Immigrant” stands in a small riverfront park in New Orleans, Louisiana.  It makes me wonder about those long-ago family members of mine who must have left family and friends behind in order to travel to the “New World” and begin again.  What did they experience?  What were the difficulties they faced?

I can’t help but also think about the many thousands of illegal immigrants that come into our country.  Far too many people don’t see the difference between these two scenarios.  But there is a huge one, and it’s the difference between right and wrong.

My Lord and my God welcomes all who will to come to Him, and He waits with open arms for them to arrive.  But they must arrive by only one Way, and that is His Way – acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior of your life.  You can’t sneak in.  You can’t stow away on someone else’s means of transportation.  And you certainly cannot scale the walls.

As harsh as it may sound, and as difficult as it still seems to be for so many people in this big world, only those who come to Jesus the correct way will ever enter into His presence.  Welcome the immigrants, the ones who come the right way.  And be wary of those who try to get around the rules to get where we are.  It cannot work that way.  The word ‘illegal’ is a combination of two words – ‘ill’ and ‘legal’.  We understand the word ‘legal’.  The word ‘ill’ is easily defined also, though.  It refers to a sickness, something that should not be, something that could and should be prevented.  Stay well.

Disclaimer – For those who may interpret this as a political statement, it is not intended to be.  It is simply…

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

You may take one look at my picture this week and say, “That’s nothing but a mountain.  What’s so special about it?”  This particular mountain or large hill in the state of Oregon doesn’t really stand out.  There is green grass growing all around.  There are plenty of trees and bushes scattered all over.  There are some bare spots showing.  Plain dirt on a plain hillside.

We love those mountain top experiences where we seem to meet with God face to face and see His goodness and grace perhaps in ways we haven’t for a while.  And then we get disappointed when that experience has ended and down the mountain we come.

Maybe we should take our “normal” to the mountain.  What if we carried our plain old every day stuff – even the dirt – and especially those spots we don’t dare to bare for anyone else – to the Lord’s mountain.  Maybe our perspective would change, because even though all these trees, bushes, and dirt look ordinary, they are pretty special indeed, because they part of a mountaintop experience.

Maybe that makes no sense to you at all.  It is just plain old everyday stuff.  However, even my plain old everyday self is much better when I’ve been to the mountain.  Carry your “stuff” to the Lord today.  Allow His wisdom to plant it here and there, using you along the way.  Our plain old dirt could very well be the example and the encouragement someone else needs to see as they look for their mountain experience this week.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I bet none of you ever have technology issues, do you?  Ha.  Just as I finished typing a word for you this morning, and readied my finger to hit “send”, what button did I hit instead?  Well, “delete”, of course!  Wow.

I wanted to tell you to look at this hammock hanging here, and let it speak to you.  Maybe it says to you, “Come to me, bring me your burdens, take a load off, and rest for a little while.”

Of course, no hammock ever spoke those words, but God the Father did when He urged us to “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Who among us refuses to admit that we need rest?!  Whether we like to admit it to the rest of the world or not, even God’s little children find it difficult to trudge along some days.  He invites us to take a breather, lay it all down, and rest our head in the arms of the One who orchestrates our days.

Maybe you need to step away from the technology, turn off the phone, and listen to the silence.  Rest.  Don’t treat that word as a “four-letter word”.  Admit you need it, and be thankful He can provide it.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This little fellow was seen resting on the cool concrete of our carport.  Minding his own business, he seems to be just taking it easy, blissfully ignorant of the world’s chaos around him.

Many years ago, I saw an acronym for the word ‘frog’, using the letters F-R-O-G to say “Fully Rely On God”.  Perhaps your schedule this week promises to keep you hopping.  Maybe the best you can see is a fly-in-your-soup kind of week ahead.  Maybe you feel like croaking!  Let’s take a cue from this frog and fully rely on the One Who has our week perfectly planned and tightly held in His hand.

Maybe the letter F could stand for “Faithfully”.  Faithfully rely on God the Father to take care of all that is before you.  Rest in the cool shade of His embrace.  The flies, and perhaps even the warts, may not disappear, but God is faithful to care of you.  Why not be faithful enough to let Him?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Just one of my most favorite parts about the spring time each year is seeing the colors start to pop out everywhere.  Take these roses, for example.  They are fully opened and full of color.

Just a short time ago, there was no sign of life at all on the rose bushes.  Then the buds began to appear, and now there are blooms where there once was nothing.  There is bright vibrant life where once there was none.

I think that perfectly describes the Easter season, don’t you?  No doubt, Jesus’ crucifixion and death had lowered the gloom and darkened the world for all of his faithful followers.  And yet, the stone rolled away from the burial place.  The light shone where there had been none.  Life ‘bloomed’ where just shortly before, there had been none!

I love the spring time because it brings not only color to a drab world, but it brings life as well.  We see it in the flowers, hear it in the birds’ songs, and experience it in the warming of the sunlight.  Spring has sprung and life is in the air.  I thank God for the life I feel today and the opportunity to share the beauty with someone.  Don’t you?!

Just a thought.