The Christian Public Servant – “when persecution comes your way”

August 22, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Matthew 5:11-12 [NIV] Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Reflection
Christian brothers and sisters may complain about being mocked or ridiculed because of their faith. You may complain, too, when persecution comes your way. And, my friend, it’s easy to be insulted – as a Christian – in the workplace. Even if it is against the law where you live, the workplace is where all kinds of things can be whispered and done when you choose to follow Him.

You know scripture reminds us to expect false accusations – if you and I truly make Jesus the Lord of our lives. He promises thorns, never a rose garden in this world. Yet your persecution may never reach the level of being fed to the lions like in the early times of Christianity. And, thank God, the thorns will not likely rise to being beheaded by modern-day terrorists.

No, but count on some kind of consequence if you decide to celebrate His birth or His life or His death – or even if you say simple things like “God bless you” or “God be with you.” Yes, something troubling may be said or done because of your cross neckless or because of that Bible you read in the break room.

So as His follower, expect some kind of persecution, insult, or ridicule. And when it happens, rejoice! It is a sign you are doing right by following your Lord.

Today at work, remember you are a Christian public servant. And when persecution comes your way, know you have won a great reward in heaven.

And know your workplace is better because you follow Him.

Prayer
Lord, You promise me thorns instead of a rose garden. Help me come to grips with the true cost of discipleship and embrace it as a blessing. Regardless of how I am persecuted, help me remain like You at all times. In Your name, I pray. Amen

Stan Best
Training Manager, Apprentice School
Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News, Virginia USA
and Masters of Theology Candidate
St. Leo University
Chesapeake, Virginia USA

Advertisements

The Christian Public Servant – “don’t abuse God’s freedom”

August 19, 2016 – Friday

Galatians 5:13 [MSG] It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.

Reflection
One-day last month, I lost my cool. I got frustrated with a brother. A correctional officer heard me and asked if I was OK. I told him I was, but he knew better. And so he repeated, “No! Look at me. A-r-e   y-o-u   OK?”

As the correctional officer walked away, I got back in the right spirit. When I saw him again, I apologized. I also apologized to the brother who I shouted at.

You see, God has granted me a lot of freedom here on Life Row. I am trusted. Others depend on me. I even minister to the correctional officers. And so gradually my freedoms have grown. Oh, I know it’s still prison, but I am graced with so many blessings from the privileges I have.

Yet there I stood – using this freedom as an excuse to get mad and shout at a brother. And then using it to be annoyed with a correctional officer who was only showing concern over me. My actions and attitude could have destroyed my freedom.

Your freedom is found in every aspect of your life. And you might act like me sometimes, taking your freedom for granted and using it to hurt someone. This can happen in your home, I know, and it can also happen where you spend most of your time each day – at work.

So at work today, be careful and don’t abuse God’s freedom. You might lose it. Instead, use the freedom God gives you to serve – not hurt – someone else.

Yes, don’t abuse God’s freedom. Use it to serve, not hurt.

And watch how He lets that freedom grow!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for Your unfailing grace toward me. Forgive me when I abuse Your freedom. Help me use it to help others. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “turning it all over”

August 18, 2016 – Thursday

Reading

Romans 12:18 [NLT] Do all that you can to live at peace with one another.

Ephesians 4:31 [NLT] Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Exodus 14:14 [NLT) The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Reflection
My coworker does not like me!

Ever hear that? Ever feel that?

It could be a dispute over work assignments, or jealousy over who gets the credit. Perhaps something from outside the workplace has crept in. Or it could a personal thing, like leaving the dirty coffee cup in the break room sink.

So what do you do? Get mad? Get even? Or let God battle for you?

If you’re like me, it’s easy to want to defend yourself – since your coworker is wrong! Right?

Well, you’d be wiser not going into battle for yourself. Just give it to God, and let Him work alongside both of you. Ask God to give you His love and find ways to share it with your coworker. And ask God to give you peace.

Your meekness may initially be interpreted as weakness, so things may not change overnight. And, let’s face it, you may be the one in the wrong! But it’s hard to love and hate at the same time. And turning it all over to Him is like a breath of fresh air. The weight of hate is off your shoulders. And your coworker is no longer battling you; she is battling God!

So today at work, remember there is real power in turning it all over to God. Just stay calm. Get rid of that rage. And know He is fighting for you!

Prayer
Dear Father, please forgive my bitterness and anger. Replace them with Your love for my coworker. I want to live this day in the wonder of You! In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Ronald Wilson
Development Review Coordinator
Dual Combined Administrator
Franklin County Planning Department
Rocky Mount, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “a different kind of sacrifice”

August 17, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Hebrews 13:16(b) (MSG) God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Reflection
We are running out of devotions for The Christian Public Servant. We ask for a different kind of sacrifice – your pledge to write one devotional per month. If you have been blessed by these workplace devotionals, then you might be led to bless others.

Bad grammar? We edit!! Bad or unfocused writing? We re-write!!

Can’t think of a workplace or volunteer experience? Of course you can! Nothing ever happens in your workplace or career? Oh, come on now!

Below is the information from our “tip-sheet” on how to write a devotion for The Christian Public Servant. Please pray, consider, and pray some more.

We are nearly out of devotionals, and we ask for a different kind of sacrifice – your commitment to write a devotional – your “tithing” of one per month.

Questions? Please contact any of the editors listed below. And please send any one of us your devotionals!

And thank you for all you do in His name!

Prayer
Father, if it is Your will, let volunteers write devotionals. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Co-Editors:
Kevin Cooney kjcjapan@gmail.com
Bill Dudley bbssongs@gmail.com
Jonathan Lantz jklantz@outlook.com
Shelia Malone shelia.malone@students.jsums.edu
Christopher Meconnahey cmeconnahey@gmail.com
Tammy Peavy tammy.peavy@mid.ms.gov
Stephen Pincus spincus@nnva.gov
Jim Slack jslack0229@live.com
Greg Smith greg@kelseysarmy.org
Valerie Steele-Clearman valerieclearman68@gmail.com

 

Here is the tip-sheet: 10 tips

 

(1) PRAY — before you start writing. Follow the Holy Spirit. The task has nothing to do with your ego. It has everything to do with glorifying God.

(2) OVERALL:

  • Use the READING/REFLECTION/PRAYER format
  • Be CONCISE. The entire devotional should be less than 1 page. It should be designed for a quick read. Write as if it will be read at a traffic (red) light on the way to work. No tangents. No redundancies.
  • Keep it SIMPLE. Simple words – not complex ideas with complex words. ONLY ONE simple moral/scriptural/Christian point. Everything should be focused on the one point you want to make.
  • Keep in CONVERSATIONAL. Don’t worry about grammar. Write as if you are talking.
  • Keep it INTIMATE and PERSONAL. Write as if you are talking to a good friend over a cup of coffee. Write about yourself or an experience that you’ve been through, or write about a friend and an experience he/she has been through.
  • Remember, you are NOT writing a Sunday school lesson or a sermon or a lecture
  • You can “change the actors to protect the innocent or your job.” If it is about you, you can say “a friend called me last night…”
  • You can write it as a PARABLE. Keep in mind, Jesus taught best through parables. And, while I do not doubt the infallibility of scripture, parables are STORIES written to keep the attention of the audience. The details of a parable might change, depending on the audience, but the MORAL conclusion is always the same.
  • Your conclusions should be workplace or career or public service relevant. If you are a teacher/budget analyst/student/nurse — whatever – make it relevant to the workplace in general. You can write about your private/family life, but your conclusions should be relevant to the workplace. Make the connection to what should be learned and taken to work.
  • And PLEASENO POLITICS and NO IDEOLOGY. Jesus was (is) neither a liberal nor a conservative. Practicing Christians are (can be) either liberal or conservative in their view of the political world.

(3) Section on SCRIPTURE

  • Use ONLY biblical scripture. No other literature.
  • Use scripture relevant to the point you are making. Use only parts of scripture that are most relevant.
  • You can use any Bible version you want (e.g., NIV, KJ, etc.), but state which version you are using. (If you don’t, I will have to choose a version if I cannot figure out your version.)
  • Use few scriptures. Never use more than 3 scriptures. 1 is better than 2. Have a really good reason for >1.

(4) Section on REFLECTION

  • Do not add other scriptures/readings into the REFLECTION. Keep the REFLECTION focused only on the scripture used in the READING section.
  • One paragraph: tell a workplace or worker story
  • Another paragraph: link it to scripture
  • Final paragraph: link it to what the reader should take to work that day.

(5) Section on PRAYER – Keep it focused on the REFLECTION & keep it short.

(6) SIGNATURE

  • State your NAME as how you want it. Degrees are OK to list.
  • State your official title or what you do
  • State your agency
  • State your city/ state (province)/ and nation.

(7) PRAY before you send it in.

(8) ATTENTION: FIRST-TIME authors:

  • Make sure we have your email address. We will need it to send you a Contributor’s Agreement if you want it to be included in the next edition of the book version, The Christ Worker: Devotions for Job and Career (Emeth Press, 2017)
  • Send in a picture of you (for the book version). Either a picture of you doing what you do in the workplace or a shoulder/head shot picture.

(9) HAVE FUN GLORIFYING GOD!!!!!!! J It will take some thought and work, but glorifying God should always be fulfilling and fun!!!

(10) FINALLY (whew!)

Remember, we edit your work. We do so for three reasons: (a) to protect you from embarrassment, (b) to protect the reader from boredom, and (3) to give a “common voice” to the devotionals. We edit about four hours on each devotional. We might change your words, rearrange your sentences, rewrite parts, delete parts (especially where you are redundant or tangential to the ONE point you are making). We may even add sentences or paragraphs to enhance it.

Yes, we know, the Holy Spirit is guiding you in writing the devotional. But the Holy Spirit is also guiding us in the editing (or rewriting) of the devotional. And remember, it is STILL your work! It is STILL what the Holy Spirit placed in your heart. Our job is to make sure YOUR WORK helps the Holy Spirit reach the reader.

So let’s both you and us glorify God and let not our egos get in the way! 🙂

The Christian Public Servant – “to die with loose ends”

August 16, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
James 4:14 (MSG) You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.

Hebrews 13:16(b) (MSG) don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Reflection
A local council member lost his wife due to a massive heart attack. It happened so quickly. At first I thought that’s a good way to die – quickly so the pain would be limited. But thinking more, I’m not so sure. What if it were me, and I had a bad day? What if I yelled at my kids before work, and died before I could get home to hug them? What if I had an argument with my husband over the phone at work, and died before we could make up? What if I left a work meeting, having been accusative toward someone? What if I said some really ugly things to a coworker? And what if I didn’t compliment, encourage, or embrace someone who really needed it in their job or career? Good Lord, what if I died before I could take back all the stuff I said or did that day?

Well, it dawned on me that I do not want to die with loose ends.

You ever say or do something you wish you could take back? Do you try to do so immediately, or do you wait thinking you will have time to make amends tomorrow?

Today at work, and at home, remember to never take life for granted. Be sure about this: one day there will be no tomorrow. So think before you speak, reflect before you act, and rejoice in the common good you may do today – before you disappear.

Yes, today make a different kind of sacrifice. You do not want to die with loose ends.

Prayer
God, thank You for allowing me to have this day – and maybe no other – with my coworkers, friends, and family. Give me strength to think before I speak and do, and to love with all of my heart. Give me wisdom to apologize, to compliment, and to embrace – immediately. I do not want to die with loose ends. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Maureen Bereznak
Council Woman
Lewisberry Borough, Pennsylvania USA
and Research Analyst
State House of Representatives
State of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania USA

The Christian Public Servant – “have to believe”

August 15, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Romans 14:8 [NIV] If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

John 3:16 [NIV] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 11: 25(b)-26 [NIV] I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Reflection
A coworker lost his son to a tragic accident. It immediately took me back to the day my daughter was murdered. I see the pain in my friend’s face that I still feel to this day about my daughter. No parent should have to lose a child. The hurt is indescribable.

But God knows that pain. He watched His son die – a horrible death on a cross. He let it happen so you and I could belong to Him. However, it isn’t an automatic free “get out of death” card. You have to believe God sacrificed His only son for you – for you
because He loves you that much! Yes, you have to believe.

Well, my coworker believes and so did his son. I believe and so did my daughter. And we will all be together in the Lord some day because of that belief. Yes, this time is hard and life on earth will never be the same for my coworker – or me; but we will be with our children again, just as God is with His child.

So realize you, too, have to believe. In living and dying – and all the details in between – you have to believe you belong to the Lord.

So do you? What about your children? What about your coworker you see every day?

As a Christian public servant, this is the most important fact you can pass along. And you do so by word and deed. And if you do, people will begin to ask why you act the way you do. In the face of death. In the face of daily responsibilities and deadlines. In the face of challenges to hopes and dreams, jobs and careers. People will begin to ask.

Today at work, show and tell how you have to believe. How this gives you strength to take the next step. Let all know your secret about living and dying: you have to believe.

Prayer
God, I thank You for Your willingness to sacrifice Your son for me. Jesus, I thank You for Your willingness to do Your Father’s will on my behalf. I am blessed with the privilege to believe and show others Your love. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Greg Smith
Kansas State Senator
District 21
Overland Park, Kansas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “watch your lips”

August 12, 2016 – Friday

Reading
Psalm 106:33 [KJV] Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

Reflection
How is your work-week going? Mine’s been awful.

I let a lot of things provoke my spirit. An incident ending with four brothers being stabbed meant a general lockdown. Everyone was forced to remain in their cells – and in the humidity of summer and with no air conditioning or ventilation, the lockdown just went on forever. And there were no “runners” bringing ice to each cell. And so tensions climbed. Brothers began shouting things, and at times, I joined in.

Yes, I let my circumstance provoke my spirit, and I spoke unadvisedly with my lips.

So this work-week has been awful. So terrible, I’ve been distracted from doing my real work here on Life Row – working for Christ.

But the day after the lockdown was finally over, I shared this verse with a brother. And the light went off. I realized I was letting my circumstance provoke my spirit. And that led me to speak unadvisedly. And I knew I had a lot of apologizing to do.

So how is your work-week going? Are you letting circumstances provoke your spirit? Or are you working for Christ?

Today at work, be aware that speaking unadvisedly affects your spirit even more than the circumstance. Your lips affect the circumstance of others, and how others see you.

So at work today, please – watch your lips. Don’t let your spirit be provoked.

Yes, watch your lips – and end this week working for Christ!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Grant me wisdom not to allow this life, a blessing from You, provoke my spirit. Let my words be such that they do not distance me from You at any time today. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA