Illustration results for Consistency
Peter Drucker offers insightful guidance to the church when he calls leadership a peak performance by one who is "the trumpet that sounds a clear sound of the organizations’ goals." His five requirements for this task are amazingly reliable and useful for those who dare to lead churches:
(1) a leader works;
(2) a leader sees his assignment as responsibility rather than rank or privilege;
(3) a leader wants strong, capable, self-assured, independent associates;
(4) a leader creates human energies and vision;
(5) a leader develops followers’ trust by his own consistency and integrity.
H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, Pastors at Risk, Victor Books, 1993, pp. 227-228.
C. T. Schwarze has written a thesis called “The Bible and Science on the Everlasting Fire,” in which he seeks to prove the validity of the Lake of Fire. As an example, he uses the existence of midget or white dwarf stars. He points out the fact that there is general agreement among scientist that “…the temperature at or near the center of stars is between 25 million and 30 million degrees Fahrenheit!” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come: published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 560). He further points out that these stars are so dense that they are about 5000 times smaller than would be expected for their mass. Because of the tremendous heat, everything is turned into gasses. However, due to the greatness of the pressure, these “…gasses become compressed to the consistency of a liquid…” (Ibid, pg. 560). These stars are for all practical purposes, lakes of fire.
I used to work for an American bank that had the slogan "Quality Loyalty Consistency - QLC". This was drummed into its employees as a means of getting the most out of them. A colleague thought they were too demanding and countered the slogan - in private - with his own interpretation of what QLC stood for: "Quality of Life Counts!" Demetrius, I think, would have been happy to accept the original.
THE CROSS HAS BEEN SAVED--Communion Meditation
Art Toalston in The Baptist Press - Nov. 15, 2001 reported from New York and he wrote:
“The cross has been saved. That’s the cross of steel beams uncovered as workers in New York cleared away debris at the World Trade Center.
Recovery worker Frank Silecchia, who has championed the cross’ preservation, told Baptist Press Nov. 6, the cross has been designated as a memorial by the City of New York.
The cross has been moved to the front of the World Financial Center’s Building Six on West Street, Silecchia said, noting that is final location has not yet been determined.
The beams, at least 6 feet high and four feet wide, were bolted together as part of the original structure. The edges of the beams bear no marking of being cut or welded to make the shape of a cross.
The most heart-wrenching discovery was that a silver object melted onto the cross’ left side was the remains of a firefighter’s jacket who died in the blast. Firefighters say the fire-resistant jacket turned silver and took on the look and consistency of metal when it encountered extreme heat and fire. Now it is wrapped around the left arm of the cross."
No one but God could have orchestrated such a loud cry of spiritual truth from the chaos of the 9/11 events. Out of the mass destruction of an unbelievable horrible day, the cross is resurrected. From the bottom of an enormous pile of rubble comes the symbol that clearly reminds us that everything is going to be okay.
When we practice the Lord’s supper, we are resurrecting a cross in the midst of our own pile of sin and disaster. We are vividly reminded that everything is going to be okay in the end.
"Through the Son, then, God decided...
I live in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I remember back in the 1950s there was a short period of freak tides and currents around our coast that swept up great shoals of fish to the beaches. Before this phenomenon only relatively few people were interested in fishing but now it was so easy to catch fish that hundreds of people took to fishing and became champion fishermen overnight. Unfortunately, after a few days the sea conditions changed, the fish less plentiful and so did the amateur fishermen. The wave of enthusiasm had risen high, but didn’t continue. Fellowship in the Gospel is more demanding than that!
Perseverance is a vital element of the Christian life. I used to work for an American bank that had the slogan "Quality Loyalty Consistency - QLC". This was drummed into its employees as a means of getting the most out of them. A colleague thought they were too demanding and countered the slogan - in private - with his own interpretation of what QLC stood for: "Quality of Life Counts!" meaning that he wasn’t going to stir himself too much. But God expects more that from us - it must be "Quality Loyalty Consistency". That’s what Paul meant when he refers to "fellowship in the Gospel". Let’s be sure to put it into practice.
Some words of Jim Elliot, a Mission Aviation Fellowship colleague of Nat Saint who was martyred in bringing the Gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1955 are worth quoting: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
‘Grow as You Go.’ The first sermon in this series took us to Moses and his encounter with God. We were told that God had a role, an important one at that, for Moses and it was in line with God’s plan and story and not Moses’ plan and story. In other words, we ‘grow’ in our Christian faith and character as we ‘go’ along in life by remembering that the Christian story and faith is about God and not about us and though we have a role in that story and it is not the role of director.
Out next stop took us to 2 Chronicles 26 and the painful and tragic story of King Uzziah. We learned that Uzziah, who became King of Israel at a young age, governed well because he governed with the help of God who made him successful. But one day, due to an increasing belief in himself and a less increasing reliance on the Lord, Uzziah exceeded his authority and with a heart that was filled with pride and power, fell from power and afflicted with leprosy, and spent the remaining years of his life literally cut off from his people.
Uzziah’s story thus serves us as a powerful and important reminder that as we go and grow in our faith and character, we must pay attention to the gaps between our skills and our character because the latter rather than the former will undo us and cause us tremendous pain and disconnect with God.
This morning we move through the Old Testament to the book of Daniel and the person of Daniel and here we encounter the opposite of Uzziah. Here we see a man who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things. (You heard me right, Daniel is some one who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things.)
The lesson we learn from Daniel’s life as it applies to ‘growing as we go’ is, in the words of Eric Simpson, ‘what we say ‘yes’ to grants us power to what we have longed to say no to.’ Spiritual growth and development; the process of going and growing as followers of Jesus; requires us to say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to other things. Daniel’s story tells us what he says ‘no’ to, at least in this chapter of his life.
Now it is always important to place the text we examine in its context and, very briefly, here is the context of our main text this morning. Our text begins with a statement about a governmental decision being made by a new King, a new ruler, in fact a conquering king and ruler, ‘Darius the Mede.’
As we read in Daniel 5:30 and 31, the former King, Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings, was overthrown and the Babylonian empire, which had overthrown the remnants of Israel, was no more. A new empire, the Persian-Mede empire was now the top dog in that part of the world.
And by this time in his life Daniel most likely was 80 years of age. He had already served two kings, often at risk to his life and those of his friends, because of their faith and their commitment that they kept saying ‘yes’ to God while saying ‘no’ to the challenges. Now he was beginning service to a third king.
So now Darius is the new ruler and he orders some administrative changes and places Daniel and two others in key leadership positions much to the jealousy and anger of others who decide to play to the pride and power of the king and get him to make a law setting himself up as god of the nation. The result is a very serious and life-threatening challenge to Daniel, his character, and his faith.
So Daniel hears the new law, ‘For the next 30 days, only King Darius is to be worshipped and anyone who does otherwise will be cast into the lion’s den,’ and he goes home. Now there perhaps is a tendency to think that Daniel was unmoved by the turns of event because he goes home. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t.
Let’s suppose for a moment he wasn’t moved. Let’s suppose that he went home, to pray, ‘just as he had always done.’
Wow! What kind of faith! What kind of assured confidence in God that God, His God, whom Daniel had faithfully followed throughout the years, would take care of the situation.
What really moves me in this passage is that Daniel went home to pray ‘just as he had always done.’ This three times a day prayer was more than a religious ritual, it was a habit of the heart and soul, that God used to nourish and grow Daniel into the man of God that he was.
But what if Daniel went home, troubled and uncertain? What if this time he thought, ‘This might be it?’ And yet, he went home and prayed ‘just as he had always done.’
Well, as the story continues, Daniel is observed praying (he is easily seen through the open windows) and later he is arrested, charged with breaking the new law, and sentence to death in the lion’s den. But, God protects him and he survives and is vindicated by a very, very relieved and humbled king who orders that a new decree honoring Daniel’s god.
So while the fear of Moses and the pride of Uzziah serve as reminders of the struggles and temptations we deal with as we grow and go, Daniel serves us as a reminder of how to respond to those temptations and struggles by saying yes to certain things and no to others.
Slide 2 Daniel said yes to God over and over over again. That phrase, ‘just as he had always done,’ is one that we need to pay attention to. It indicates a habit, a priority, a practice, (and an intentional one at that) that Daniel did for many, many years.
He went home to pray not just because he was taught it or was told to do it. He went home, day in and day out, when it was easy and when it was hard, and prayed to God. He set his face and heart toward God because he believed in God and believed that God’s way was THE way.
This consistent practice of prayer shaped Daniel’s character. It enabled him to become the person that we read about in this book; a person of consistency, honesty, faith, and maturity. And because he did, God was honored and Daniel thrived through both difficult and quiet circumstances.
(Slide 2b) Daniel said yes to those things that helped him perform God’s agenda. In the first story of this book, Daniel makes the decision not to eat the rich and tasty food given to him and his friends. He did for perhaps two reasons. First, because the foods offered went against the Jewish dietary laws and second it would put himself in the position of becoming dependent on the King in ways that could leave him vulnerable later on.
(Another reason, based on the results of the different diet chosen by Daniel in verse 15, could have been was that it was simply not healthy for someone to eat.)
But whatever the reason, Daniel, even at this early age, said ‘yes’ to God’s ways and purposes so that he could say ‘no’ to whatever would cause him to compromise his faith.
(Slide 3) In saying ‘yes’ to God and God’s ways, he said ‘no’ to some things as well.
By saying ‘yes’ to God and His ways, Daniel had the power and the willingness to say ‘no’ to certain things that I believe we can safely say were a part of his life and experiences as recorded in the book of Daniel.
In our main text he said no to worship another human being as god. Now, it seems that we do a good job of such worship these days.
Think for a moment about the entertainment industry. Many people spend many hours and spend (and pay) much money to learn ‘the latest’ about an entertainment star. Paparazzi chase people and automobiles to the far corners of the world just to get ‘that picture’ that could tell a new and sordid story.
Now it’s one thing to admire someone for a meaningful performance or good character acting. But it is another thing to worship, to put before anything else, another human being, who seems to make more money and get more fame by being bad than being good. (The same could be said for leading sports figures.)
Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’ Some would probably say that Moses did not have a winning personality, that he was too moody, too uncertain, and probably too old. Others would have probably not picked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God used him.
Uzziah, on the other hand, had that winning personality. He was a great king who did much for his people. He was a winner! Who could ask for more in a king?
Then there was Daniel; he was probably good looking. He had talent. He could have been a bigger influence and an even bigger star if he would have joined the party more. But his character was more important than his popularity.
Daniel said ‘no’ to the very powerful and tempting offer to ‘join the crowd.’ He was more concerned about honoring God with his life than being popular and liked. He said ‘yes’ to God so that he could say ‘no’ to those things that would create the conditions for character (and spiritual) breakdown.
(Slide 3b) He said no to those things that could compromise his faith and character. As we read and re-read his story, we see Daniel consistently refusing to take shortcuts that would make life easier for him. And I truly think he did so because he had seen first hand what the wrong kind of compromise had done to his nation. A turn to chapter one reminds us that Daniel was among those taken away from his homeland and brought to the capital of the conquering nation and chosen to be education in the ways and life of the new nation.
But even while God, as the text says, gifted Daniel with the ability to understand dreams, Daniel said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to the compromises his new surroundings offered him. I just wonder if the memories of his defeated homeland remained in his mind.
So, growing in our faith in and relationship with the Lord requires us to do three important things: (Slide 4)
1. Remember that we are a part of God’s story not the other way around. This is about becoming a humble person.
2. We need to shorten the gap between our giftedness and our character. This is about becoming an authentic person.
3. We need to learn and practice saying ‘yes’ to God so that we can say ‘no’ to those things that would destroy us. Jim Kane
CHRISTIANS AND SALT
I use a saline solution for my contact lenses. It has the same salty consistency as my tears have. Without it I could not clean my lenses and putting them in would be difficult.
I’m told that too much salt is bad for you. The Bible says Christians are like salt. And we live in a world that can only take us in small doses. But our influence even in small doses is life-changing. The Bible says it’s not that too much salt is bad for you, but that if salt is mixed with too much dirt, it loses it’s flavor and its of no use.
Matthew 5:13 (NLT) says something that interests me: "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has LOST ITS FLAVOR? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless."
JFK AND JESUS
Several years ago, in the Tufts University Daily paper, Ananda Gupta wrote an article arguing that the parts of the bible that promote a belief in the resurrection were “not good history.” His based his argumento on what he called "a typical standard for reliable history -- consistency."
Curtis Chang, the Affiliate Chaplain of Tufts University, gave this reply to Gupta’s argument:
“Gupta fails most fundamentally in his article by judging the historicity of the resurrection in a way he would never judge any other historical event. If he were to apply the same standard of consistency widely, he must conclude John F. Kennedy is alive and well.
Take any four compiled accounts of JFK’s assassination. They will differ -- indeed present outright inconsistencies -- in details ranging from how many shots were fired, was there a second gunman in that grassy knoll, what were Lee Harvey Oswald’s connections to the KGB, to even a basic question of who actually was responsible for the fatal bullet?
Indeed, the rather trivial differences Gupta cites about the resurrection accounts pale in comparison. Yet, no one in his or her right mind would thus conclude that the actual key event -- the death of JFK -- never occurred.
National Enquirer adherents aside, we all believe JFK died, for ...
I was getting ready to do some research for my weekly sermon so I entered my office and flipped the light switch to the "on" position. It seemed that as soon as I had touched the toggle there was an instantaneous burst of bright light from the light bulb for a millionth of a second and then utter darkness. I had just experienced that light bulb's last bit of life.
We always expect that at the moment we throw a light switch that it is accompanied by a burst of light. But we also anticipate that the bulb will continue to glow and emit its brilliance throughout the room in which we are entering. We desire for our lives to be illuminated consistently with the flip of a toggle on the wall or the tug of a string hanging from the ceiling. We dislike those times of inconsistency when a light bulb decides to go out with a blaze of glory and then leave us stranded in the midst of darkness thus leaving us just a tad bit frustrated.
Then there's a desperate scramble that takes place in order to find a replacement bulb so that our darkened world can once again be brightly lit and our lives can move on as planned. But isn't it amazing how a tiny little piece of wire inside the confined space of a light bulb controls our ability or disability to continue our work and/or our times of recreation. Once that filament breaks and the flow of the electrical current passing through it ends, anyone nearby experiences a taste of inconsistency. I guess we could say that in order for our lives to be one of comfort within our homes and workplace, we need a ray of consistent light that seems to make our time pass a little more quickly and our day to be a little more pleasurable.
I find Jesus' word as recorded in Matthew's gospel account encouraging us to be very likeminded in our day-to-day process of spiritual transformation. As we evolve into the person that God desires for us to be, He expects consistency from us. Listen closely to Jesus' hint of our need for spiritual consistency: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." [Matthew 16:24]
Did you hear it? Did you catch that little phrase within Jesus’ statement to his disciples? Were you able to notice His call for us to practice the art of consistency as He spoke those few words, "…take up his cross daily…"?
Those are truly words suggesting consistency. Jesus' desire is not only for us to help to Him in bearing the load, but also to be more consistent in doing so: to continue to do his work peacefully, simply and together. That is stability. It is always being reliable when a need arises within the body of Christ. It's a call to uniformity within the community of faith. But the attitude of having a consistent spirit begins within each one of us that call ourselves a follower of Jesus.
John Stott writes, "To be sure, the New Testament speaks of baptism in terms of our washing away our sins, but these are examples of dynamic language which attributes to the visible sign the blessing of the reality signified. It is inconceivable that the apostle Paul, having spent three chapters arguing that justification is by faith alone, should now contradict himself, and declare after all that salvation is by baptism. No, we must give the apostle credit for consistency of thought. The baptized’s faith is, of course, taken for granted, not forgotten or denied"