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More Than a Little Wind

More Than a Little Wind

We went sailing again.

During the morning hours it rained a bit so I asked Captain Theo, if the trip was still on. He said we should be ok by the time we were ready to sail.  The rain stopped by noon – sailing time – and though the  weather forecast indicated periodic thunder showers in the afternoon, we still decided to go out.

As we pulled out into the water the skies were dark. Out in the distance there were some really black clouds which we thought were too far away from us to be problematic. There was no wind and as Captain Theo powered out I jokingly said it was the calm before the storm; Pastor Nelson started singing the Gilligan’s Island theme song (not sure if that was a good idea).When the wind finally started blowing we were able to unfurl the sails and enjoy a short time of relatively smooth sailing. After a while, Captain Theo must have sensed that it was not such a good idea to be out  so  he turned the boat around and started heading back.Then the rain began to fall. It wasn’t  much but it added another level of excitement to the trip. Sean and Pastor Nelson stayed on the deck, getting soaked.

Then the storm really hit us! The rain came down in sheets and the wind picked (later on Captain Theo estimated that the winds were about 35 miles an hour from zero a few minutes before). I was down in the cabin at the time and I became a bit concerned when I looked out the little window and saw the waves right outside. The T-Time was listing at what I estimate to be almost a 45 degree angle. I looked out and  saw Captain Theo leaning on the helm trying to keep the boat on a straight course. That’s when I decided to see how I can help so I suggested we bring the sails down. Sean climbed on the deck and manually pulled the sail down making it easier for Captain Theo to steer the boat back to the marina.

The storm didn’t last very long and probably was not as bad as we inexperienced sailors (except Captain Theo) thought it was. But I did learn a few things.

  1. There is such a thing as the calm before the storm: When we got to the marina there was a nice breeze blowing. I remember thinking that in spite of the threat of thunder showers,  the wind would give us a nice day of sailing. But as we were pulling out the wind died completely, the water was glassy calm and its only when a cruise boat passed by we saw some waves. So too, in life periods of exceptional calm may be a prelude to times of turbulence. Therefore we should be ready  when they come. Captain Theo must have realized that it would get rough so without saying anything to us, he quietly turned the boat around. I suppose it would have been harder to turn in the midst of the storm than just before it hit.
  2. Storms teach you how to adapt to your circumstances: It was the first time Sean had been on a boat like this. He is a big guy and I was a bit amused when he put on the life vest which was way too small for him. But he kept it on for the duration and when the storm hit he was all over the deck like an experienced sailor. I don’t know if he was afraid but he learned quickly and he was able to bring the sails down on his own. Sometimes you just don’t know how you will handle things until the waters get a bit rough. That’s when experience kicks in and you do whatever comes naturally. Sometimes it means that you pray.
  3. Storms are not to be trifled with: We really did not have time to understand whether we were in danger. Like kids who think everything is fun, we just enjoyed the experience. But when I looked out from the cabin at Captain Theo I noticed an expression on his face that made me realize he was taking the storm seriously. The truth is, Captain Theo was the only one who had any real sailing experience. If we were in trouble he would be the one to get us out of it. We would have done what we were told but it would be his job to take us through the storm.
    Life’s storms are also not to be trifled with.They can do real damage and you are never really adequate in handling all of them. That’s why it is important to know whom to go to; whom to call. In Mark chapter 4, when Jesus and His disciples met a storm on the Sea of Galilee, experienced fishermen though they were, they called upon Him.
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The Wind in Our Sails

(Originally posted on Grace4today.org – August 6th 2014)

It was a beautifully calm day with not much wind, so after taking the boat out of it’s mooring, Captain Theo powered out into the channel. After a while the wind picked up slightly, enough to allow us to unfurl the sails Though the sails were up and the boat was moving, there wasn’t much “sailing” involved. But it was fun anyway, and we slowly made our way past the Whitestone and up to the Throg”s Neck Bridge. Having driven over the these bridges on occasion – more than once being stuck in traffic – it was an interesting perspective seeing it from from the water.

On our way back the wind died completely, and Captain Theo had to use the engines to power back in. All in all it was a great time of fellowship and a good experience for all of us. It was clear however, that a good sailing experience requires an adequate amount of wind to drive the sails. It reminded me that in the journey of life we need some wind in our sails, as well.

In the Gospel of Mark (4:35-41), the author relates the account of the stilling of the storm. The story begins with Jesus telling His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” While on the sea of Galilee, a “great windstorm arose and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.” The disciples, fearful for their lives, cried out to Jesus, who was asleep in the boat, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and the sea saying, “Peace, be still.”

This account is usually told from the perspective of Jesus calming the storms in people’s lives. From a hermeneutical point of view this is correct, but what if Jesus had not calmed the storm? What if He had allowed the disciples to sail through the storm? The disciples – Peter, James and John at least – were fishermen by profession, so they should not have been afraid of the storm. If anything, Jesus should have been more concerned (He was a carpenter). In any event, He took a nap, and left the sailing to the sailors! The disciples responded, however, the way most people would respond in a crisis – even the experts – they called for help. Jesus quickly resolved their dilemma, while chastising them for a lack of faith. Question is, did they learn anything from the experience? That Jesus would answer when they called? I’m sure they knew that! That He was Lord of the wind and the waves? They would have found that out eventually!

We need a few storms to teach us how to navigate the waters of life. There are times, I believe, when God wants us to go over “to the other side” even though He knows full well that a storm is brewing. Considering the fact that Jesus is the Lord of the wind and waves, are we to assume that He did not know a storm was coming? I think not! Sometimes we need a stiff wind to simply keep us going. Sailing in calm waters is not exciting. It is easy to think that conditions of calm, with a slight breeze, is more to be desired, but I do not think so. I believe that ultimately the people who are most successful; the ones who achieve the most in life, are the ones who struggle. The ones who fall and get up again; the people who surmount obstacle after obstacle, are the people who will go far. While it may be a bit unreasonable to pray for, or expect storms in our lives, we at least need a good wind in our sails.

I’m not a Grasshopper!

I’m not a Grasshopper!

There are about 11,000 known species of grasshoppers and they can be found all around the world. They live in the fields, eat mainly plants and vegetable matter, and are called grasshoppers because of powerful hind legs that allow them to leap great distances. Grasshoppers are from the insect family and range in size from two inches to about five inches. Though large for the insect kingdom, they are tiny animals. Calling or seeing oneself as a grasshopper may not necessarily be a flattering thing, especially in the context of the following story.*

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My Journey…so far!

My Journey…so far!

At 56  I’ve lived a lifetime!

Yet it is as if my journey has just begun. Chronologically time is short and the saying ‘so much to do, so little time’ seems apt. But I will not concern myself – too much – with what I don’t have, what I have not achieved, or where I have not gone. Instead I will focus on what I can acquire, what I can do and where I can go in the years ahead of me. For i believe it is foolish to allow time to be wasted on recriminations and lost opportunities, for in doing so other opportunities might be lost. They say that lost opportunities are seldom regained so what’s gone is gone. I will however keep my catcher’s mitt on my hands, ever  vigilant to capture those errant fastballs ( they come faster as the years grow shorter). I am fully aware that I may not catch them all, but I will be content to catch what I can.

A goodly part of my former years have been in the employ of those who wanted me to do what concerned them while I neglected what concerns me. Don’t misunderstand me because I thoroughly enjoyed the things that were required of me and in the process, I learned a lot. But there were things I wanted to do that had to wait; until now. I no longer work for the man, but I work for The Man; God is my CEO.

The work that I do for Him, I thoroughly enjoy. It is as if I have found my life’s purpose – which I have! But I have not just started to work for Him, I have been for most of my life. However, I had divided loyalties up until a few years ago. I am happy to report that He alone is my employer; I play for an audience of One!

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a child though I was never formally trained, having finished school before I was 20. But the world has been my classroom, and it continues to be so. Learning has always been a friend and we will be together till the end. Those who know say that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste’ so I will not. I have found that ‘sharpening the saw’ works to my advantage – every time! So I have enrolled in school and I am three-quarters of the way to a Bachelor’s degree…finally…yaaaay!!! Oh, and I have written a book as well – self-published of course – it’s called: The Parable of the Trees – A Study in Spiritual Leadership!

Blogging is this new adventure that I have embarked upon and I welcome the challenges it will bring. I look forward to the critique of friends – and enemies (though less of the latter) – that I may meet along the way. It is my hope that some will find it helpful to walk with me, as I walk with them; the world is a lonely place without friends of like passion.

Update

March 2, 2017

Last year (August)I turned 58 and I feel it is necessary to do an update on this post. As it stands, I am two years ahead in my journey (or two years closer to meeting Jesus, however you want to look at it. I prefer the former), and a few things have happened since then.

The main event has been the publication on Amazon’s Create Space platform my 40 day devotional – Walking with Jesus. This is a project I have been working on for a couple of years and which I ran as a small group program at Grace Ministries . The completion of this publication awoke in me the desire to write more, and to publish more (publishing is so easy these days)!  In fact I have decided to embark on a supplemental career, that of author.

During the 70s when I was in my teens, I had written a play titled,  The Allies. It was an amateur production but well received in my local church back then. I decided to take the original story-line and convert it into a novel, which I am currently working on. I have revised the title to Allies in the Darkness.

UPDATE: 4-23-18

Recently joined the New York State Chaplain Task force (graduated 4-21-18)

https://www.nychaplaincyservices.org/

 

 

 

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership

Chick -fil-A is  a company founded by the late S. Cathy Truett on true biblical principles. To show the company’s commitment to Biblical values, their restaurants do not open on Sundays so that employees can go to church with their families. Though Chick-fil-Ahas been in the news of late, a recent  story, less publicized has also made the news. This time, according to CNN Money, the restaurant topped the list in customer satisfaction surveys. It was the first time the company made the list and it scored the highest ever in that category. I am convinced Chick-fil-A  shows the personality and values of its founder, S. Cathy Truett.

Personality is “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.” In the case of organizational entities, they too have characteristics and qualities  that come together to form the organization’s distinctive character.An organization’s  personality style is often defined along the lines of its founders or of its leaders. Why? Because the founders and / or leaders  infuse who they are into the organization. At its corporate headquarters there is a plaque stating Chick -fil-Aand its founders’ mission, “to glorify God.”  This according to an article in Forbes Magazine.

Leadership theorists have identified a number of styles of leadership that can be found organizations today.  The success or failure of an organization depends to a large part on the type of leadership at its helm. The Center for Association Leadership identifies eight common leadership styles. (I have changed the order listing servant as #8, and not #6 where it is in the article.)

  1. Charismatic – “Influences others through power of personality; acts energetically, motivating others to move forward; Inspires passion; may seem to believe more in self than in the team.” Oprah Winfrey is listed as an example of a charismatic leader.
  2. Innovative: “Can see what is not working and brings new thinking and action into play;  Grasps the entire situation and goes beyond the usual course of action.” Richard Branson founder of Virgin Atlantic is listed as an innovative leader
  3. Command and control: “Follows the rules and expects others to do the same.” Tom Couglin head coach of the New York Giants.
  4. Laissez-Faire: “Knows what is happening but not directly involved in it; trusts others to keep their word; monitors performance, gives feedback regularly.” Donna Karan founder of fashion giant DKNY is listed as this type pf leader.
  5. Pace Setter: “Sets high performance standards for self and the group; epitomizes the behavior sought from others.” Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon is listed as a pace-setting leader
  6. Situational:”Links behavior with group’s readiness; includes being directing and supportive, while empowering and coaching.” Pat Summit former head coach at the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.
  7. Transformational: “Expects team to transform even when it’s uncomfortable; counts on everyone giving their best; serves as a role model for all involved.” Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are listed as transformational leaders
  8. Servant: “Puts service to others before self-interest; Includes the team in decision-making; Provides tools to get the job done; Stays out of limelight, lets team accept credit for results”

(You can read the article here: https://www.asaecenter.org/Resources/ANowDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=241962)

The church as an organism derives its personality from Christ who is its head. It is built on a foundation of grace, mercy and love. The church or the local assembly on the other hand, sometimes derives its personality from the leader or pastor of the congregation. If the local pastor does not derive his or her personality from Christ the ultimate head of the church the personality of the local church may be skewed. In the above list, I have placed “servant” in that order because I believe it best shows the personality of leadership in the Christian church.

The term “servant leadership” seems like an oxymoron. For the most part people see leadership as being in charge, being in front, being visible and so on. And it is all that but it is also true that a real leader is one who is willing to serve. The apostle Peter in his epistle urged the “elders’ of the church to “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Jesus Himself demonstrated an example of what it means to lead by being a servant in John 13. He and His disciples had just finished eating when He stripped off His cloak, put a towel on His shoulder and grabbed a basin of water. He proceeded to wash His disciples’ feet. The practice of washing the feet of guests was customary in those days but was assigned to a servant. When Jesus started washing the feet of His disciples, some of them allowed Him to. not knowing how to respond. Peter the one who was always quick to respond, vigorously protested. He wouldn’t let Jesus, his Master wash His feet. Jesus put an end to Peter’s protestations by insisting: “If I don’t do this, you have no part of Me!” Peter relented!

When Jesus was finished He explained His actions. “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”  He concludes by saying:  “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Jesus’ ministry epitomized servant leadership. He led by serving those to whom He had come save. He explained it this way: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)

To serve one’s constituents should be the goal of every leader, for in service one finds his or her highest ideals.

CALL TO ACTION

What kind of leader are you?