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Seeking Stardom

November 12, 2018

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”(Daniel 12: 3)

Everyone in Los Angeles has stories of celebrity sightings in the course of going about their everyday lives.  We see stars in our neighborhoods, restaurants and markets, on the street, on the train, at the hairdresser, through our work, and elsewhere.  Father Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, tells one such story in his book Barking to the Choir.  He relates that Glenda, a tattooed felon gang member on parole was waiting tables in their Homegirl Café when Diane Keaton and a friend stopped by for lunch.  Glenda did not know who Diane Keaton was—but a few minutes later, said that she thought she recognized her from somewhere.  Keaton started to reply that she has a common face and gets comments like that all the time—when Glenda showed a spark of recognition, and said triumphantly, “No, wait, now I know . . . We were locked up together!”

There are many celebrities in LA, and many more would-be stars.  Some people come to LA hoping to snag a role on TV or on the Big Screen.  Few succeed. But they may be looking for stardom in the wrong places.  The Scripture texts for next Sunday explain that anyone can achieve stardom: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”(Daniel 12: 3).[1]

We are assured a star, not on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but as beacons of light in our neighborhoods if we stay close to the Word and keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Paul explains that when we do so, our light will shine brightly:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure . . . Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16 a).

The psalmist assures us that we will not be abandoned when our time on earth is over: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will never abandon me to the realm of the dead . .  . You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Excerpts, Psalm 16: 9-11).  Jesus will lead us through this life and usher us to our place in heaven where our stars will shine brightly.  The stars of those who follow the path of life—the path leading to God—will shine forever.

Jesus did not promise us a rose garden life—in fact, he warned us that our lives will be difficult.  Even so, we are promised an eternal reward: “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13: 13). We do not earn our stars, as generals do.  We become a star in God’s kingdom by admitting our mistakes and asking for forgiveness.  When we do that, God who is gracious and good, will forgive our sins, so that we can shine our lights into the dark corners of the world.  Our stardom in Christ Jesus is not limited to 10, 20, 30, or 50 years.  It is not limited by time or space—we will shine in the heavens with God forever. That is the promise.  That is why we “ . . . hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10: 23).

Do you yearn to shine as bright as a star?  Look no further than the Guidebook to Stardom (aka the Bible).  If you don’t have the Guidebook, get thee to a bookstore or to Amazon now. Christ Jesus is our guiding star who leads us to stardom.  May your star rise and shine for all to see now and for eternity.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

Prayer: “Be thou a bright flame before me, Be thou a guiding star above me, Be thou a smooth path before me, Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me, Today—tonight—and forever.”   –Saint Columba

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Daniel 12: 1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10: 11-25; Mark 13: 1-13.

Christian Sacrifice

November 5, 2018

But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9: 26b).

All parents make sacrifices for their children.  Parents sacrifice sleep, time, money, career advancement, freedom, social life, and other activities and forms of relaxation. Parenting has it ups and downs, its joys and sorrows, its fun times and heartaches.  William Bennett said, “Real fatherhood means love and commitment and sacrifice and a willingness to share responsibility and not walking away from one’s children.”   The Scripture texts for next Sunday explain that sacrifice is a necessary element of authentic faith—real faith.[1]

Love is the element that motivates parents to willingly sacrifice for their children, just as God was motivated by love to sacrifice his Son for us.  God knows what sacrifice is about.  He made the ultimate sacrifice by sending his Son to die for our sins.  And his Son made the ultimate sacrifice by suffering and dying so that we may be absolved of our sins.  Jesus’ sacrifice took the place of the repeated animal sacrifices that had gone on before. He was the perfect sacrifice that did not have to be repeated: “But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himselfJust as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to the take away the sins of many. . . ” (Hebrews 9: 26b-28a).  But both the Father and the Son made the sacrifices they made so that humankind could reap eternal benefits.

Paul tells us that God wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).  The author of Kings gives us an example of how God wants us to sacrifice for others.   Elijah went to Sidon and saw a widow near the town gate and asked her for a piece of bread and water to drink. But she only had a handful of flour and a bit of olive oil to make a last meal for herself and her son.  Elijah told her “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’” (1 Kings 17: 13-14). The widow, in faith, sacrificed much of what was to be her family’s last meal to give some to Elijah—and reaped long-lasting benefits.  The jar of flour and jug of oil remained filled.   She was repaid in spades for her faith. The psalmist sings: “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry” (Psalm 146: 7).

Jesus compares phony and ostentatious displays of wealth and power to the sacrificial offering of a poor widow who gave “two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.” Jesus said that the widow’s offering was much more valuable than the offerings made by the wealthy: “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.   They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12: 43-44).

Next week is an appropriate time to think about sacrifice as we honor those who have given up years of their lives to serve our country in the United States Armed Forces.   Whatever you do—raising children, getting an education, serving your country, helping others, honing your professional skills—requires sacrifice on your part to do it right.  You may be required to give up time spent on hobbies, recreation, and activities you enjoy to care for others, to study, to work, to provide services, and to follow the path that God has laid out for you.  Just as God, the Father, and Jesus made the ultimate sacrifices for us—so we are called to sacrifice if we want to have an authentic faith.  We are called to give generously of our time, our possessions, our talents and other resources as an outpouring of our love for our families, the church, and fellow man.

Lent isn’t the only time to give something up.  Christians should offer themselves up daily to God to use for his purposes. What will you sacrifice this week for your family or for others who are in need of your unique talents and skill set?  What will you give up to spread the Word or to help others?

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

Prayer:  “Show me today, O Lord, the one to whom I am to give a cup of cold water in your name.”  F.B. Meyer

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are 1 Kings 17: 8-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44.

The One

October 29, 2018

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5; Mark 12: 29-30).

The One is an expensive one-person two-pound backpack tent that promises to shelter a person from the elements, keeping “you snug as a bug in a weatherproof ripstop rug.”  I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in need of a safe and secure shelter—a place to hunker down during the life’s storms.

The One that I depend on to provide refuge and shelter is the one true God.  Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6: 4-5, when he told the people gathered to hear him that the most important commandment is “Here, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12: 29-30).[1]

The belief in one God was a novel concept when Moses wrote Deuteronomy over 3,000 years ago. At that time and place people often worshipped multiple gods.  God wanted to prepare his people for their entry into a land where many gods were worshipped, which is why he told Moses to instruct the people that they were to worship the only one true God—The One—with all of their heart, soul, and mind.

The psalmist extols the virtues of staying true to The One:  “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.  Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Psalm 119: 1-2).

The book of Hebrews was written to the Jewish Christians who were struggling with the new faith. Some were slipping back to the old ways.   They needed to be reminded of the one true God, and of Christ’s authenticity and superiority.  We, like the fledgling Christians, slip back into godless routines from time to time. We worship at the altar of celebrities, sports, work, or unhealthy habits.  We get so wound up in our lives that we forget to pray.  We forget to praise and give thanks to the One.  Like the early Christians we need to be reminded of the basics: “Christ came with this new agreement so that all who are invited may come and have forever all the wonders God has promised them. For Christ died to rescue them from the penalty of the sinsthey had committed while still under that old system” (Hebrews 9:15, The Living Bible). The one true God sent his Son to die for us and to rescue us from ourselves.

It is through God’s grace by sending his Son to die for our sins that removes us from the penalty for our mistakes.  We cannot save ourselves.  God loves us so much that he sent his Son rescue us. Being loved by God and saved to be with him forever is a free gift from God; we need only receive it.  Seek shelter and refuge in the One—the one God who loves and watches over you.  Open your heart to the One who will protect, shelter, and shepherd you through life’s challenges, disappointments, difficulties, and heartbreaks.

“Common Collect: Lord Almighty, Come and scatter the darkness of our hearts by the light of your presence; that we may know you, the Light of the world, and the one true God, blessed this night and for evermore.  Amen”.  A Late Evening Office, Book of Common Prayer, The Church of Ireland.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 119:1-8; Hebrews 9: 11-22; Mark 12: 28-37.

Jesus O’Lantern

October 22, 2018

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15: 12)

In a few days witches, demons, ghosts, goblins and all manner of evil spirits will fill the land on All Hallows Eve.   A day later, we will recognize those who have gone before us on Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.  The Scripture verses this week describe forces of evil leading to murderous plots, but also remind us that Jesus is the light of the world who redeemed us from death.[1]  On Halloween we put candles in carved pumpkins–Jack O’Lanterns—and place them in dark places.  The Jack O’Lanterns illumine the paths of the likes of princesses, super heroes, Harry Potters, brides, pirates, ghosts, and goblins.  Christians are like Jack O’Lanterns: their faces glow with an inner light that illuminates dark places.  We receive our light from Jesus.  He is the lantern who lights our path every day of our lives.

In the 26th chapter of Jeremiah, we find that the prophet is the target of another assassination plot.  A few weeks ago, we recounted the plot of his hometown neighbors to kill him.  This time the plot was hatched after he told the people that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed: “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you do not listen to me and follow my law . . . and if you do not listen to the words of servants, the prophets . . . I will make this house like Shiloh” (Jeremiah 26: 4-6).  The tabernacle, previously located in Shiloh, was destroyed by the Philistines in 1050 B. C.  “I will make this house like Shiloh,” means that the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed. The priests and the people called for his death, and brought their request to the city officials.  After listening to Jeremiah, whose words echoed the prophet Micah, the officials decided to spare his life.  Jeremiah was speaking truth to the people to lead them out of darkness into the light, but they did not receive it well.  Yet Jeremiah continued to carry God’s torch.

Hundreds of years later, Paul picked up Jeremiah’s torch in warning us “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”(Ephesians 5:11).  Paul admonishes us to walk away from the dark deeds and people of the world and toward redemption and holiness.  If you walk toward the cross, Jesus O’Lantern will illumine your path.

When Jesus walked the earth, he called himself the light of the world: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).  Jesus lit the way for us.  He showed us the path to the light.  His Word is a lantern that lights the path for us: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).  Jesus uses us to reflect the resplendent brilliance revealed in his Word to those around us.  Go light your world.

At this time of year we also remember the great reformer, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk at the University of Wittenberg, who posted his Ninety-Five Theses in Latin on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.  The church door was akin to a university bulletin board or blog—a place where people posted ideas to stimulate debate by scholars and theologians.  They were written in Latin–the language of scholars and theologians of the day.  Martin Luther called us to be “little Christs” in the world.  In The Freedom of a Christian(1520) he wrote, “[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians . . . “  Luther encouraged us to be little “Jesus O’Lanterns” to our neighbors in the world—to bring the Christ light to a dark world.  He encouraged us to light up our neighborhoods.

How did Jesus shine his light in dark places?  He ministered to the least of those in his society.  He dined with the scorned and disenfranchised.  He sat with the sick and the dying. He used his talents and powers for good.  He brought his disciples through frightening and dark times.  He reassured them in the midst of a dark, frightening storm. His death on the cross resulted in the redemption of a world mired in darkness.  He appeared to a frightened group of his followers, hiding behind locked doors on the Sunday after his death, and within a few weeks transformed them into bold preachers of the Word who carried the gospel to faraway lands.  His light shone through them to others. They lit up their world and they continue to light up our world through their contributions to sacred Scripture.

Martin Luther’s encouragement to be little Christs in the world comes directly from Scripture. The primary way that we shine our lights into the dark corners of our world is by loving others as Christ loves us: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15: 12).  When we love those around us as Christ loved us and as we love ourselves, our candles will not burn out or be extinguished by gusts of circumstantial winds.

The light that shines from Christ through us to others was given to us by the grace of God: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”(1 Peter 1: 3-4).  May your face glow with an inner light that illuminates dark places.  May your face reflect the joy within you, filling the dark corners of your life.  May you be a beacon to others in a poorly lit world.

Go light your world.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Jeremiah 26:1-16; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 15: 12-21.

Choose LIFO

October 15, 2018

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:31

I took a course in law school called Accounting for Lawyers, which introduced me to the FILO and LIFO methods of accounting for business inventory.   FILO stands for First In, Last Out.  LIFO is an abbreviation for Last In, First Out.  These abbreviations occurred to me when Jesus said “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).  In deciding who will be chosen for eternal life, Jesus said that those using LIFO will be given priority.  He said that those who are the least among us—those lacking in wealth, influence, and power on earth will be the first in line for the kingdom of God. They will be the first stringers–not the bench warmers, when it really counts.  LIFO—last in, first out.  And vice versa—those who have put money, power, and prestige first during their lifetimes will be the left on the bench.

The Scripture texts for Sunday address the issue of wealth accumulation.  Solomon writes, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income . . .  As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”(Ecclesiastes 5: 10-11).  Note  that Soloman says “Whoever loves money . . .”   He does not say that the accumulation of wealth is a bad thing—but that the love of money is bad.  Instead of hoarding money and possessions, many wealthy and powerful people use their money and influence to help those in need, and to benefit many laudable causes.

This is the same point that Jesus is making when he tells the disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10: 25). As we discussed last week in the case of the rich young man, riches per se are not a barrier to eternal life, but the love of money is an obstacle to a real relationship with God now and after the curtain has closed on our time on earth.

Both Solomon and Jesus emphasized how difficult it is for the wealthy to receive eternal life, because wealth is often a distraction from important kingdom work.  Scripture tells us that when a person is more excited about accumulating items than helping her fellow man, that is definitely a problem. Remember, it was Solomon who said three thousand years ago: “As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?” (Eccelesiastes 5: 10-11).

Accounting is not just for lawyers and business people.  The author of Hebrews reminds us that we cannot hide our true motivations from God, and that we will all be held to account for our thoughts, attitudes and actions or lack thereof.  No amount of church-going or pious public praying will mask your true feelings from God: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4: 13).

We will all be held to account. Which method will you choose—life affirming LIFO—or FILO—first in, last out?  Do you want to be among the first drafts or sitting on the bench waiting to see if you will be chosen?  If your wealth has been a barrier to an on-going relationship with the living God, you can turn that around.

But how do you choose LIFO if you have become distracted by acquiring material things and spending money on expensive nonessentials?  For one, you don’t let yourself get sucked into shopping for shopping’s sake.  There are better ways to spend your time and money.  Don’t get sucked into a mentality that you will never have enough designer clothes or money.  Don’t get lulled into thinking that more possessions will make you happier.  Don’t let your closet or possessions create a barrier between you and God.  Look around and find out where the need is and concentrate your efforts there.  You won’t have to go far.  LIFO lives by the motto of God first, then family, then others.  Even if you have enormous wealth, if you humble yourself before God, and treat others as you would like to be treated, then you are well on your way to choosing LIFO.

Give generously of your wealth, your time, your talents, and other resources to those in need around you in your home, community, and in the world at large.  Spend less time thinking about and listing your wants and desires and spend more time in the Word and in thinking about how you can help others.  Spend time with those who inspire and elevate your thoughts beyond your selfish wants.  Choose an eternity of love with the God of the universe over the accumulation of material goods.  You can’t take your possessions with you—they will only drag you down and away from the God who loves you more than any human ever could.  Choose LIFO.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

 

The Today Show

October 8, 2018

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3: 13.

 Many of us watch a morning news program on television while exercising, getting dressed, or eating breakfast.  We do many things every day, or almost every day—eat, sleep, exercise, watch, listen to, or read the news, go to work, make phone calls, send and receive text messages and emails.  We realize the importance of routine.  We know that routine helps cement good habits.  This week’s epistle text suggests that we are in need of daily inspiration and encouragement to avoid the subtle snare of sin: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3: 13).[1]

Sin creeps into our lives like Robert Frost’s description of fog: it comes in on little cat feet. We hardly notice its subtle creep into our daily routine.  Sin starts out small and grows slowly and quietly.  Its tentacles attach themselves to us and grow like a vine up a wall.  Sin distorts our judgment, and we rationalize its existence in our lives—which is why the author of Hebrews counsels us to deal with it daily.   How?  Through prayer, study of the Word, reading inspirational books, fellowship with other believers, and practicing some of the traditional spiritual disciples, such as occasional fasting.  One of the most effective habits that you can develop to stave off the ravages of sin is by taking a few minutes a day to delve into the Word.

There are many terrific daily devotional materials.  Many denominations publish and distribute their own daily devotionals. Two of my favorites are “Tabletalk,” a monthly publication of daily devotions published by Ligonier Ministries and Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Both contain Scripture verses and a short devotional on the Scripture text.

In the 1950’s, Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, observed that it takes a period of time to adjust to changes in our routine and to adopt new behaviors.  He postulated that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit.  I challenge you to begin a new habit todayof dedicating a few quiet moments of your day to a daily devotion.  If you don’t have a daily devotional in your home library, get one at a bookstore, or order one on-line.  If you stick to it for at least 30 days, you will be well on your way to forming a habit that will bring you closer to God and help you throughout each and every day of your life.

When you form the habit of getting into the Word on a daily basis, the text stays with you throughout the day, and helps you get through the challenges of your day. The prophet Amos wrote: “See good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you” (Amos 5-14).  When you turn to the Word daily, you will understand the psalmist’s words: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90: 14).

The wealthy young man who came to Jesus to ask him what he could do to get eternal life would have benefitted from a daily devotional time with God.  In his ignorance, arrogance, or pride, he announced that he had kept all of the commandments since he was a boy—or at least his superficial understanding of them.  But Jesus saw immediately that his love of money was the primary barrier to his love of God, and called him on it: “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said.  ‘Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven’ “(Mark 10: 21).  In condemning the young man as money-obsessed, we often overlook the beginning of the sentence: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”  Jesus did not condemn him—he was simply pointing out to the young man that his love of money had come between him and God.  God wants the best for us. He wanted the best for that young man.  Money itself is not bad—but the love of money– to the exclusion of God–is bad.

There are many obstacles to a relationship with God besides love of money.  What is keeping you from working on your relationship with the God of the universe?  Are you a procrastinator, constantly putting off what should done today to tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes?  Are you obsessed with your work, hobbies, or other activities?  Are you too overcome by guilt to work on your relationship with God?  Is working on your relationship with God at the bottom of your To Do List instead of number one on your list?

Start your own Today Show—consisting of getting into the Word every day when you have a few quiet moments.  It will be a program that will contribute greatly to your well-being and to your relationship with the God of the universe who looks at you every day and loves you.

Get to know the God who loves you more than any human being ever could.  How can you turn down an opportunity like that?

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Amos 5: 6-7, 10-15; Psalm 90: 12-17; Hebrews 3: 12-19;

The Buck Stops Here

September 29, 2018

“’Teacher, said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us’” (Mark 9: 38-50).

“The buck stops here” is a phrase attributed to Harry Truman to indicate that there are some jobs that cannot or should not be passed on to others.  The buck stops at the desk of the Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of a company.  There are some jobs that a CEO must do herself, but many tasks can be delegated to others.

In Sunday’s text[1]Moses complained to God, the Chairman of the Board (consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), that he had too much responsibility—caring for all those people he brought out of Egypt—how was he supposed to do everything anyway? “Moses said to God, ‘Why are you treating me this way? I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people . . . I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough’” (Excerpts Numbers 11: 11-15, The Message).  Moses was ready to throw in the towel until God taught him how to be an effective CEO.

God explained to Moses that one of his non-delegable duties as a CEO was to build a strong management team consisting of seasoned leaders and to delegate some of his authority to each: “The Lord said to Moses: ‘Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people’ . . . Then the Lord came down in a cloud and spoke with him [Moses], and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders” (Numbers 11:16; 25).  He taught Moses that he doesn’t have to do everything—that he can share the power of the Spirit with others.

Joshua, Moses’ long-time assistant, jealously observed two of the seventy “prophesying in the camp” . . . and asked Moses to stop them. “But Moses said, ‘Are you jealous for me? Would that all God’s people were prophets.  Would that God put his Spirit on all of them’” (Numbers 11: 28-29).  Moses was a quick study.  As soon as God showed him how to share the burden with others, he realized the wisdom of it.

It was a lesson that Jesus would have to teach his disciples.  John reported to Jesus “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us’” (Mark 9: 38-50).  Both Joshua and the disciples were jealous of the authority they had working under the CEO, and they didn’t want to share it.  Like a  good CEO chiding his managers, Jesus pointed out that they aren’t in competition—anyone who spreads the Word in the name of Jesus is on the same team!

Pastors of all denominations and lay spreaders of the Word are not in competition for the hearts and minds of people.  We are all in this together.  We all want the same thing—to tell others the good news that Jesus died and rose for your sins and mine.  We all work for God—the Chairman of the Board.  We are all workers in his vineyard.

James issued a warning to oppressive CEOs: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded . . . Look!  The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you”  (James 5: 1-3, 5). It is a CEO’s responsibility to pay workers a fair wage so that they can take care of themselves and their families.  Rich and poor alike are dependent upon God for sustenance and for the very air they breathe.  The psalmist warned arrogant people who think that they don’t need God: “When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust” (Psalm 104:29).

One day each of us will return to dust—so get over yourself and get God.

Whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the CEO or Co-CEO in your family of one or two, a pastor, or a mother making up a chores chart for the members of your family, you need to learn to delegate and to accept the work of others who are working toward the same goal.  You should never overlook the needs and contributions of people who are a bit different.  Seek out others who can lighten your burden.  You can’t do everything yourself.  It’s true that the buck stops with the CEO, but God wants all hands on deck.  Everyone is invited to share in the task of spreading the Word that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We all have different talents and abilities and are not all called to the same task, but a wise CEO observes the special abilities of his people and delegates accordingly.

Go and do likewise. And may the Spirit go with you.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for Sunday, September 30, 2018, are Numbers 11: 4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Psalm 104: 27-35; James 5: 1-20; Mark 9: 38-50.