Every one hopes for something. Children hope that their parents would take care of them and buy them nice things. An employee hopes that he will get a raise at work, voters hope that the person they are voting into power will address their yearnings and the list goes on and on.
The term “missing link” occasionally makes headlines in terms of a skeleton or fossil being unearthed. But it also fits the human profile for success in such arenas as business, politics, and faith.
When we educate people nowadays, we tend to focus on competencies. When a university builds its business department, for example, it makes strategic hires in accounting, management, marketing, and human resources. The same principle holds from kindergarten through graduate and professional schools. We want people to master certain knowledge, skills, and functions.
Yet it continues to amaze us – or, so we say! – that CFO’s rob their companies blind or CEOs tank them for some version of a double life. Late-night television makes fun of the same phenomenon with mayors, governors, and presidents. Then there are the well-publicized scandals involving priests, rabbis, and pastors. These men and women are smart, well-educated, and have far-above-average skills that let them rise to prominent and influential positions.
So why do such bright and talented people wind up in jail? Disgraced? Made the butt of jokes? They lack the integrity that allows a person to function well. Whether leader or follower, CEO or new hire to the company, it is who the person really is rather than what the person can do that makes one’s lasting impact.
In his helpful book Integrity of a few years back, Henry Cloud points out that integrity is much more than honesty or reliability. He traces the word to its Latin root that means intact, integrated, undivided, uncorrupted. “When we are talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person,” Cloud writes, “with all of our different parts working well and delivering the functions they were designed to deliver. It is about wholeness and effectiveness as people. It truly is ‘running on all cylinders.’ ”
This sort of integrated personality and lifestyle is the “missing link” in the skilled athlete who can’t resist the temptations of drugs and sex; the physical discipline necessary to be in shape isn’t integrated with his psyche. It is the same with the brilliant theorist or dynamic speaker or winning vote-getter who can’t resist being corrupted by money or power over others.
Before you get carried away by the things you can do or the influence you can wield, it is a good thing to be sure about who you are. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things” (Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV).
It is neither brain nor brawn that makes someone truly great. It is character.
One the eve of a new year, there is always a lot of excitement. People gather together to do different things to herald the New Year. For some, it is a time to have a party and make a grand, drunken entrance into the New Year for others, it is a time to have fun watching the fireworks and screaming a feverish countdown into the New Year.
Yet, we have others, who gather together to worship and praise God into the new year, appreciating Him for what He had done in the outgoing year and trusting Him to meet their needs in the incoming one.
As a Christian, I fall into the category of those who love to spend those crucial hours in the presence of God. It makes no sense to people who do not know Him as they feel that it is supposed to be a time of celebration and excitement, rather than a time to go to church or gather to pray.
In my lifetime, almost half a century of Christmas days have come and gone. As the season looms once again, there is excitement and everywhere is buzzing with pre-Christmas activity. You could feel a sense of anticipation as young and old eagerly wait for the special day to come.
Then the day finally arrives. Depending on the standard of living and tradition of the family, you either find children trooping to a specified location, usually under the Christmas tree to pick their presents or in the case of the less privileged, expecting to eat something specially cooked by their parents or given by neighbours and friends.
My theory is that most people spend most of their time sweating over things that won’t really matter when all is said and done.
You’ve probably heard the one about the up-and-coming entrepreneur who was opening the door of his sleek new Jaguar when a truck roared by, hit it, and ripped it off its hinges.
The police arrived at the scene quickly and found the man jumping up and down in the street. He was shrieking to anyone who would listen about the horrible damage done to his precious automobile.
Jesus stood before Pilate in the judgment hall. Pilate had interrogated Jesus without so much as a response. He wondered why Jesus had remained non-committal in spite of all the accusations being flung at him by the Jews.
He wondered why this man would not defend himself in spite of the glaring loopholes in the evidence brought against him. Pontius Pilate was not only a ruler, he was also a judge who had presided over many cases and it was easy for him to see that there no case against Jesus that amounted to treason.
I can just imagine the scene if the trial was being held in our present day. Lawyers will be falling over themselves to defend Jesus. However, this was one accused person who did not seek to be released. He was being tried, not for His own sins, but for the sins of the world, including those who represented the prosecution.
The first duty of a leader is personal integrity. Whether in politics, athletics, business, education, or family, who the person is counts for more than what she does. His title, fame, or salary can never compensate for a lack of character.
We all know it is true, but we seem to have ignored it of late. So we have been willing to overlook a person’s out-of-control lifestyle so long as he can still score points and win games for our team. We have tolerated flagrant excess and sexual infidelities so long as the bottom-line stayed strong.
In Leviticus 23: 33-44, we find a description of the Feast of Tabernacles as God commands Moses to explain this celebration to the Israelites, along with other feasts and sacred assemblies.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a harvest festival, and Scripture records: “beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:39)
The Israelites were to begin and end the 7-8 days with a sacred assembly, and in between, they were to bring offerings and sacrifices to the Lord made by fire.
Even though the first day of the festival was a sacred assembly and rest day, they were directed “to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord for seven days.” (Leviticus 23: 40) They were also directed to “live in booths for seven days” reminiscent of the time when the Lord brought them out of Egypt. (verses 42-43).
In her album, ‘Throne Room’, Cece Winans reminds us of the all-important principle of love in the track, ‘Without Love’.
Every time I listen to the track, I am reminded that every thing God did for me is motivated by His love. The consequence of this is that I have an obligation to show love to others through my thoughts, deeds and actions.
It is however not that simple. If it was simple and easy, I do not think the Lord would have commanded it.
The first words of the Bible most of us probably heard preached to us, are the words of 1 John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
Those who know me and who have read my writings for some time, will know that I am passionate about unity, especially Christian unity.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by my local Pastor with a request to lead worship for a combined harvest of songs service in the town where we live. I accepted the role and began to prepare for the event. As someone who preach unity, this was a great opportunity for me to stand and lead people from different denominations and cultures to praise God!
As the days drew close, apprehension began to set in. Questions started creeping into my mind like ‘What if some churches don’t like my style of worship?’ What if I am unable to coordinate the musicians, especially since we had a bulk of them from my local church and possibly on volounteers from other churches,