The Christian Public Servant – “does not change like shifting shadows”

dark shadows2

January 31, 2018 – Wednesday

Reading

James 1:17 [NIV] Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Deuteronomy 31:6 [NIV] Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Reflection

It seems like workplaces are changing so rapidly nowadays. A major reorganization. New management. Change in health care programs. Change in retirement benefits. Transition from full-time to out-source. Some coworkers told this is their last day. Others wait in agony. Things at work can change at such a fast pace that it’s enough to make even the most adapted person’s head spin. And the change that brings on the head-spin also brings on the sleepless night.

Scripture reminds us that the Israelites were also impacted by change, from Moses to Joshua, as they prepared for even greater change – entering the Promise Land. Can you imagine the tension they must have felt? Well, scripture also reminds us that God is in control of all situations. Unlike the uncertainty of workplace transition, He does not change like shifting shadows. And when change occurs, He will not leave us.

So, are you experiencing the stress of change in your workplace? Feeling anxious? Be strong and do not lose focus on the Father. Be courageous and do not become self-absorbed about how change impacts you. Do not chase shadows at work or take them home at night. Instead, have faith because, unlike the change you face, He does not change like shifting shadows.

Today, when you feel overwhelmed with change at work, know His gifts are good and perfect. His gifts are certain because He does not change like shifting shadows. He will not forsake you – especially in workplace change.

Prayer

Dear God, on this workday I humbly admit the pace of change sometimes causes anxiety. Help me lean on You and remain focused on assisting the community and caring for others as I serve in my job. Thank You, for the opportunity You have provided me, to be a public servant in ways that can bring honor and glory to You. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Lou Lassiter, M.A.
Deputy County Administrator
Chesterfield County
Chesterfield, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “much more than a religious platitude”

social justice6

January 30, 2018 – Tuesday

Reading

Isaiah 1:16(b)-17(a) [NIV] … stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.

Reflection

Unfortunately, you see it too often. Going to work. When out at lunch. Coming home from work. You might even see it with the clients and citizens you serve. The homeless. The abused. The battered. The trafficked. The persecuted. You might even witness it among your coworkers.

Should social justice be the concern of a Christian? Should social justice be a concern at work?

Scripture is very clear on this. Is it not? We are required to stop doing wrong, learn to do right, and defend the oppressed. We are required to seek justice always and in all situations. One way or another, Christians are directly involved with those who are abused by neglect and systemic oppression. That includes you and me.

But how to seek social justice? What does the application of scripture look like where you worship? What does the application of His social justice look like where you work?

Pray and follow God. Listening to the Holy Spirit and do what Christ wants you to do. You need much more than a religious platitude. You need to find ways to break dependency and victimization, and ways to open freedom and remedy for the one who suffers social injustice.

What you see and hear today – on the way to work, at lunch, and after work – requires a response consisting of much more than a religious platitude. Find His way of doing what is right.

Prayer

God, give me strength today to do what is right. Let it begin with prayer and Your word, and let it end with Your action and remedy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Chris Summers
Chaplain
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “love them you must”

loving1

January 29, 2018 – Monday

Reading

Romans 13:8 [NKJV] Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Reflection

In a recent TV interview, a top politician of one party was asked his opinion of a top politician in the opposition party. Frankly, the answer given was unexpected: “Let me tell you right now. I love him.” I echoed the interviewer as we both gasped, “What?” This politician went on to detail where he disagreed with his opponent, and argued that he would continue to support his party’s positions, but said that he would always love his opponent.

Imagine how hard that must be! It’s one thing to try to get along with people with whom you disagree, but love them? It’s sometimes hard to love your own family, let alone coworkers!

But as a Christian, love them you must! God doesn’t say following Him is easy; but it is what you and I must do to reach His Kingdom. And scripture reminds us that the task of loving is never done. There is never a point where you can say, “That’s it! I’ve loved enough!”

Furthermore, love doesn’t stop just with those with whom it may be easy to love. No; you are called to love all people. Yes; love them you must! Only by loving everyone do you show true obedience to God and fulfilling His law.

Today at work, it will not be easy to obey God. While you are called to serve Christ and His Kingdom, your coworkers may be devoted to the secular. Start with: love them for the commitment to their work. Or start here: love them when they fail at a task. Or start here: love them for the baggage they may bring to work. Regardless, love them you must!

Loving at work won’t be easy but, as that politician learned, loving is godly. Loving fulfills His law.

Prayer

Lord, at work today, help me love all those around me as You call me to do. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.

Michael Bednarczuk
Assistant Professor and Chair
Department of Public Administration
Belhaven University
Jackson, Mississippi USA

The Christian Public Servant – “godly wisdom is needed”

godly wisdom2

January 26, 2018 – Friday

Reading

Daniel 6:14 [MSG] At this, the king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix he’d put him in. He worked at it the whole day long.

Reflection

One day last week, I asked a correctional officer to do a favor for a brother. It wasn’t a major request, just something routine the brother needed before the usual time. The officer was busy, and told me just to tell the brother there were none left of the item for that day. In other words, the officer wanted me to lie to the brother. I told the officer I couldn’t lie.

Well, the officer took a deep breath, thought a bit, and then admitted lying would be wrong. So that he would not put me into that fix, and so the officer himself would not have to lie, he found the time to determine if he could comply with this one-time special request. And despite the outcome, all three of us – the brother, the officer, and me, were blessed with the truth.

Scripture reminds us that, even (or especially) in the workplace, godly wisdom is needed to help us not to rush into something we would later regret. Just as the king worked the whole day long to get Daniel out of the fix he’d put him in, we must also work not to place coworkers into a fix in the first place.

Today at work, you may or may not be able to make a difference in someone’s day. Regardless of the outcome, and regardless of time and energy, you will still be in a position where godly wisdom is needed. Don’t put anyone into a fix. Don’t put yourself into a fix. Tell the truth and do what you can.

Today, know godly wisdom is needed in making all judgments. Staying out of a fix is really very simple to do!

Prayer

Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for loaning me godly wisdom so I can make the best decision and not place anyone into a fix. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
death row
Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “strive to be perfect, just as He is perfect”

exercise2

January 25, 2018 – Thursday

Reading

Matthew 5:46-48 [NLT] If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Reflection

Like many, I exercise around my work-schedule – before work, at lunch, or after work. And when it’s cold outside, I exercise at an indoor facility. During my cool-down stage, walking around the indoor track, I seldom speak to others. I just do my business, and let others do theirs.

But one day, I found myself walking in my lane at the same pace as someone in the next lane. She moaned from the ache of her work-out, as I moaned from mine, and this lead to a conversation. New to town, she had a lot of questions and, after several cool-down laps, this led to a mutual focus: prison ministry. I provided local information about that ministry but, more importantly, I provided the local Body of Christ to someone new.

The tendency in today’s world is not to talk with strangers. Yet scripture requires more of us. On that indoor track, I may nod at those I know. But on this day, He led me to greet a stranger. In doing so, He led me to strive to be perfect, just as He is perfect. And both, this new friend and I, were blessed by that effort!

At work today, and perhaps at your exercise facility, you will encounter more strangers than friends. Do not act like a corrupt tax collector. Do not engage like the pagans do. Instead, take the opportunity to strive to be perfect, just as He is perfect.

Today, receive the stranger as Christ as receives you. And both, you and your new friend, will be blessed by that effort!

Prayer

Father God, thank You for giving me courage to strive to be more like You want me to be. Give me eyes to see the stranger, and heart to receive the stranger in ways that glorify You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

James D. Slack, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Professor
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi USA

 

The Christian Public Servant – “pay attention to Him”

paying attention2pay attention1

January 24, 2018 – Wednesday

Reading

Proverbs 15:3(a) [NASB] The eyes of the LORD are in every place

Isaiah 46:4(b) [NASB] and I will carry you

1 Thessalonians 5:24(a) [NASB] Faithful is He who calls you

Reflection

Seems like yesterday and, at the same time, forever ago. The phone rang at work. It was the babysitter: “Come home. Your son was killed.” Dusty was just four years-old, ran out in front of a truck, and suddenly my universe changed. Going through a divorce at that time and, despite my six-year-old daughter, I felt all alone. And then came the transfer that took my job hundreds of miles away from my daughter. I became depressed. I thought my life had ended. And I knew I was all alone. Throughout all of this, I did not see God. I was sure He wasn’t paying attention to me. I was certain He did not care about me.

It wasn’t until decades later, when I became a practicing Christian, that I started to figure things out. God was there, and He was paying attention to me. He was watching over me when He called my son Home. He was paying attention when He had my company transfer me into a totally new setting. He even introduced me to a wonderful church in my new town. He made it possible for my daughter to visit, and eventually come to live with me. He was paying attention when He surrounded me with caring friends. He did pay attention to me, but I did not pay attention to Him – right up to the time I accepted Jesus as my savior. And now, I understand a lot about how He is carrying my son, my family, and me.

Whatever crises face your family – wherever the job forces you to go – scripture reminds you that God is paying attention. You are not alone. You just need to pay attention to Him!

Today at work, that phone may ring for you. Whatever the message, know He is watching you. Know He is carrying you. Know He is faithful to you. Whatever the crisis, pay attention to Him.

Prayer

Dear Father, thank You for always being there and paying attention to my problems. Thank You for the courage to pay attention to You. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Michael A. Slack
retired and paying attention to Him
Fort Meyers, Florida USA

The Christian Public Servant – “this cycle of self-deception”

lying2

January 23, 2018 – Tuesday

Reading

Proverbs 28:13-14 [ESV] Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Reflection

It is so common today in most workplaces. Lies concerning budget-needs are viewed as “strategic moves.” Important issues are omitted from meeting agendas allegedly because of “time constraints.” Subordinates simply go through the motions while claiming otherwise to supervisors. In the middle of it all, hearts become hardened and calamity follows.

Scripture reminds us that, when hearts harden, sin is almost always understood to be private. That is, you think God does not see your sin. And what a terrible mistake! In this deception, you move further away from God – no matter how religious you are perceived by others.

The only remedy to this cycle of self-deception, and certain spiritual death, is to acknowledge God knows all your sin – as He knows all my sin. So, we must confess we know He knows our sinful habits, and then work with the Holy Spirit to gain courage and strength to forsake our sin.

Before going to work today, know a healthy work-life in Christ is always honest, open, and an on-going relationship in the spiritual disciplines with God.

Today at work, pledge to break this cycle of self-deception. Confess and forsake your transgressions. Do not let your heart be hardened when coworkers conceal their own transgressions.

Yes, break this cycle of self-deception and walk toward God!

Prayer

Father, today in my work, fill me with confession and strength to walk toward You and away from personal sin and the things of this world. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Chris Summers
Chaplain
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA