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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

A farmers market is always an interesting place to visit.  You might see any number of home grown vegetables and produce like these pictured here.  This particular market in the Pacific northwest was full of home grown veggies, fresh breads, homemade soaps, handcrafted woodwork, and live music, among other things.  Everything on display or for sale had to do with the work of someone’s dedicated hands.

The kiddos are headed back to school.  Many little ones will be in new classes with new teachers and meeting new friends.  But there are always those who seem to have a tougher time making friends, fitting in, or adjusting to new surroundings.  I’m also aware of a couple of friends who are beginning new jobs, perhaps facing the same things our little friends will in the school setting.

Perhaps they each just need a touch from someone’s dedicated hands.  The children depend on us to help show them the way, teach them right from wrong, and be there for them when troubles arise.

Aren’t you thankful that we serve a God Who so lovingly does all of that for his precious children?  We are products of the greatest farmers market ever, handcrafted by the Master, on display for the world to observe.  Put your best foot forward this week, helping others along the way, always thankful for Father Farmer’s loving care.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration

By Ryan Kelly –

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

How often do you view a stressful or challenging situation as a joyful occasion? Normally we will not, but will rather pray that God will end the situation so that the “joy” may return. I certainly have been one to pray that the pain of a bad situaion will end quickly, and certainly don’t think that there is anything wrong in doing so.

However, what is more important is that we attempt to see God’s work in all areas of our life…good and bad. Bad situations are never fun, but they do not have to be exclusive of seeing joy in life. Rather, finding joy through the pain or difficulty is often the best way to glorify God.

How illogical is it to glorify God when everything seems to be going wrong? How much will the world see your faith by doing so? When you can find joy in Christ’s sacrifice for you even through the trials, it eases the pain and allows you to focus on the bigger picture of what is happening in the moment. Doing this takes practice, but the result is a wonderful thing. Focus on the bigger picture of what God is doing and what He has done for you. It will ease the pain and give God glory through the good times and the bad times.

Tips for a Christ-Centered Family Life

By Ryan Kelly –

One of the most important things that we can do in our lives is to support our marriage and our families. God has ordained this for each of us, and we must protect it and grow it continuously.

The following are Biblical tips on how we can best serve our spouses and children.

 

Date your spouse

“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Peter 4:8).

“Be kindly affectionate to one another … in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).

Continue to date your spouse like you did before you married.  Successful marriages don’t just happen; they must be developed. Don’t take one another for granted or the resulting monotony could harm your marriage. Keep your love for one another growing by expressing it to each other; otherwise, love might fade and you could drift apart.

Remember that God joined you together in marriage.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. … So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5, 6).

Don’t forget that God joined you together in marriage, and He desires that you stay together and be happy. He will bring happiness and love into your lives if you will obey His divine commandments.

Pray together

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

“Pray for one another” (James 5:16).

Praying together is a wonderful activity that will help your marriage succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Kneel before God and ask Him for true love for one another, for forgiveness, for strength, for wisdom—for the solution to problems. God will answer. You won’t be automatically cured of every fault, but God will have greater access to change your heart and actions.

Guard your thoughts

“As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

The wrong kind of thinking can profoundly harm your marriage. The devil will tempt you with thoughts like, “Our marriage was a mistake,” “She doesn’t understand me,” “I can’t take much more of this,” “We can always divorce if necessary,” “I’ll go home to mother,” or, “He smiled at that woman.” This kind of thinking is dangerous because your thoughts ultimately govern your actions. Avoid seeing, saying, reading, or hearing anything that—or associating with anyone who—suggests being unfaithful. Thoughts uncontrolled are like an automobile left in neutral on a steep hill; the result could be disaster.

 Never go to bed angry with one another.

“Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

“Confess your trespasses to one another” (James 5:16).

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

To remain angry over hurts and grievances—big or little—can be dangerous. Unless addressed in a timely manner, even little problems can become set in your mind as convictions and can adversely affect your outlook on life. This is why God said to let your anger cool before going to bed. Be big enough to forgive and to say, “I’m sorry.”

Keep Christ in the center of your home.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

This really is the greatest principle, because it’s the one that enables all the others. The vital ingredient of happiness in the home is not in diplomacy, strategy, or our effort to overcome problems, but rather in a union with Christ. Hearts filled with Christ’s love will not be far apart for long. With Christ in the home, a marriage has a greater chance at being successful. Jesus can wash away bitterness and disappointment and restore love and happiness. 

Agree that divorce is not the answer.

“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

The Bible says that the ties of marriage are meant to be unbreakable. Divorce is allowed only in cases of adultery. But even then, it is not demanded. Forgiveness is always better than divorce, even in the case of unfaithfulness.

Keep the family circle closed

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her. … She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11, 12).

“The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your … (Malachi 2:14).

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Private family matters should never be shared with others outside your home—not even parents. A person outside the marriage to sympathize with or listen to complaints can be used by the devil to estrange the hearts of a husband and wife. Solve your private home problems privately. No one else, except a minister, a very close prayer partner, or a marriage counselor should be involved.

Always be truthful with each other, and never keep secrets. Avoid telling jokes at the expense of your spouse’s feelings, and vigorously defend each other.

Be temperate

“Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

“Love … does not seek its own [selfish advantage]” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts, and do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” (Romans 6:12, 13).

Overdoing will ruin your marriage. So will underdoing. Time with God, work, love, rest, exercise, play, meals, and social contact must be balanced in a marriage or something will snap. Too much work and a lack of rest, proper food, and exercise can lead a person to be critical, intolerant, and negative.

The Bible also recommends a temperate sex life (1 Corinthians 7:3–6) because degrading and intemperate sex acts can destroy love and respect for one another. Social contact with others is essential; true happiness won’t be found in isolation. We must learn to laugh and enjoy wholesome, good times. To be serious all the time is dangerous. Overdoing or underdoing in anything weakens the mind, body, conscience, and the ability to love and respect one another. Don’t let intemperance damage your marriage.

 

 

 

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

The owners of this old bicycle placed it in front of their business, added some flowers and extra touches, and gave it a new purpose.

I had a neighbor tell me once that his wife bought junk and sold antiques.  As funny as that sounds, I think we can all relate to that type of re-purposing.

Perhaps today you are one of those friends who finds yourself wondering what God is up to, trying to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, or just realizing some unanticipated changes in your life.  I cannot pretend to know what is going on in your world today, but I can guarantee that sometimes the Lord seeks to repurpose us into different places or positions and certainly into different people.

Thank God He chose to take my life several years ago and repurpose me for something greater — being a child of His!

Allow me to challenge you for the week ahead to commit to grow where He places you.  That may mean a different place with a slightly different purpose, but shine for Him wherever that is.  And remember to be thankful that He finds us useful at all!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Where are you planning to go in the week ahead?  What has your focus?  Where would you like to be?  The choices are as great as you can imagine, because there are any number of things that can tempt or encourage us.

This particular directional sign was found on a fruit farm we visited recently in northwest Oregon.  As you can see, several arrows point to different locations in each direction.  The choice was ours.  And what’s interesting is that none of the choices would necessarily have been bad ones.  They each just offered a different vantage point for the view.

As you head full-force, no doubt, into a brand new week ahead, I pray that you will take the time to stop and read the directional signs.  What are the choices you must make?  Would one particular place be a better fit for you and your personal ministry to others this week?  Maybe your week will afford you the privilege of being in several different places.

The point is, if we don’t stop to see where He is leading, we may just miss something spectacular.  Don’t let that happen.

Just a thought.

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.