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In Order To Be Seen

In Order To Be Seen

2022-12-0318:33

Reactions to Black Friday and Giving Tuesday range from enthusiasm to disgust. Many just feel conflicted with the commercialization of the holidays which is intended as a time for thanksgiving, spending time with loved ones, and extending acts of mercy and generosity as the Lord graciously offers His Son for the salvation of all. How do business and nonprofit leaders who strive to serve the Lord respond to the pressure of these events?  How do consumers and patrons respond in light of their baptism in Christ?  Fr. Timothy Lowe turns to Matthew's Gospel which critiques our motivations surrounding Black Friday and Giving Tuesday in light of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.
Above Reproach

Above Reproach

2022-11-2620:46

How can the Apostle Paul call himself a "blasphemer" and the "chief of sinners" and then go on to lay out expectations for the bishops and the deacons to live above reproach? In this episode, Andrea Bakas provides an in-depth word study which unveils powerful imagery stemming from episkopos and diakonos. We look to First Timothy to understand what is expected of bishops and deacons, functional leaders of the church who are reminded to manage their households well.
Clarifying Questions

Clarifying Questions

2022-11-1919:32

What motivates our questions? Do we seek security, favor, and position when we ask that which we already know? Or do we seek  clarity and common reference in the Scripture so that we can get on with the business of doing?  The story of the Good Samaritan and the inverted question Jesus asks, "Who was neighbor to that man?" clarifies the question asked by the lawyer to tempt Jesus. The one who showed mercy clarified the work for the innkeeper to further extend mercy, and mercy abounds! "Do this and you will live," is the clear answer. Any questions? 
Paybacks

Paybacks

2022-11-1216:27

What does judgment have to do with servant leadership?  On the one hand, absolutely nothing. If judgment is the Lord's, the doulos, the servant or slave in the Lord's household, cannot stand in the place of judge. The Lord alone is Judge. On the other hand, our daily activities and responsibilities require us to exercise fairness and a certain level of judgment, right?  "We are called to do the Lord's will; no less and no more," says Richard Benton, PhD, author of Hosea: A Commentary and of Loving Language: Learning to Hear Your Neighbor.  The temptation is to overstep with paybacks, applying strictness or neglect, as we see in the Book of Joel. The Lord used the other nations as an instrument of judgment against Israel, but they have overstepped. Incapable of payback, the Lord will requite their deeds upon their own heads. And that's how we know it's fair, when everyone in every nation stands under the same judgment and mercy of One Lord.  
Beyond Basic

Beyond Basic

2022-11-0518:41

Jesus calls his followers to be exceptional. It's easy to feel exceptional when the whole room of people who look like you and behave like you express their love for you.  But Jesus isn't impressed by loving those who love you and saluting only your brethren.  That's just basic human behavior. Jesus sets a higher bar in Matthew's Gospel with instruction to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."  How is this possible? How are we to respond with the call to "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?" 
We hear early in Genesis that man is made in the image and likeness of God and given dominion over the earth. On the surface, this text might appeal to the baser side of the human ego that lusts for power and prestige. But a deeper look will acknowledge that dominion over anything, large or small, carries an important burden of responsibility. Blaise Webster, co-host of Tell Me the Story podcast, examines the original Hebrew for "image and likeness" and its serious implications for exercising dominion over the earth.  Rather than asserting possession over what God rightly owns, man is appointed like a manager entrusted with the company keys.  
We all like a fresh start. New beginnings are filled with hope and promise.  A new mission, a new ministry, a new ordination, a new role of service, a new life.  How is it that we become derailed so quickly?  The stories told in 1 Samuel hearken of hopeful beginnings in the priestly line, the prophetic line, and the kingly line, but it doesn't take long for each to go awry when motivations for a dynastic line supplant the Lord's command.  Driven by base appetites, the sons of Eli abused their priestly office and treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. We have only to read the biblical stories that provide a warning against the contempt and corruption that seep in against the Lord's righteous establishment. And we must not lose hope when we see the Lord intervening with a new beginning. 
Keeping Promises

Keeping Promises

2022-10-1519:11

Servant leaders make good on their promises. The story of Hannah in the opening of 1 Samuel demonstrates the gravity of remembrance, grace, and vows.  Hannah, barren and distressed, pours out her soul to the Lord and trusts in the blessing of promise from Eli, the priest.  The Lord remembers her, extending grace through the birth of a son. But the remembrance doesn't stop with the favor of the Lord. Hannah dedicates her young son, Samuel, to the Lord, in remembrance of her vow and the grace extended to her. Hannah exemplifies what we seek in our leaders - one who negotiates for the sake of all and makes good on her promises.      
In what ways do our presumptions and expectations cloud our vision?  Fr. Seraphim Solof opens Luke 24 for the story of Jesus who appears to his disciples on the road to Emmaus.  The disciples had just witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus; the very one they had expected to redeem Israel is now presumed dead. Unable at first to recognize the risen Jesus, their eyes were opened when the Scriptures were opened to them, culminating in the blessing and the breaking of bread. Fr. Seraphim describes, "The problem is, the God and the Jesus who we create and animate to do our bidding, whether that means instantly giving us everything we ask for in prayer, or perhaps smiting the people who don't see things the way we do, they are invariably a false god and a false messiah. They're idols of our own making, they're really just reflections of ourselves." Like the disciples, our only hope in recognizing the Lord is to open our eyes through the opening of Scripture which extends the invitation to table fellowship.  
What are our motivations for serving and leading? Upon what is hope founded? Do we strive for a prize? Or is there something greater than our own efforts and personal reward? After 40 years of leading God's people in the desert, it may seem harsh that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. The final scene in Deuteronomy makes it clear that glory does not belong to the one who serves, but to the One who provides.  The Lord provides hope through His promise for the next generation that they would hear and be faithful to His Word which itself bears the fruit of promise.  
Who Feeds Whom?

Who Feeds Whom?

2022-09-2417:58

The shepherd and flock imagery used in Scripture create a rich paradigm to consider servant leadership.  Leadership isn't about gaining success on the backs of those you serve, but bending your back to serve those entrusted to your care.  Dn. Henok Elias, host of the Tewahido Bible Study podcast, opens Ezekiel 34 where leaders are criticized for growing wealthy, fat, and clothed, on the backs of those they are supposed to shepherd. 
What would our work loads look like if we put as much time actually doing the work as we do creating excuses for avoiding the work at hand? More importantly, what would our communities look like if we actually put as much time doing the Lord's work as we do creating excuses in sin? The calling of Moses provides insight into this common human inclination to argue, make excuses, and wrangle out of responsibility to the work the Lord provides.  When Moses provides a litany of excuses, the Lord provides the plan, the mouth, and the words, eliminating all excuses.  As Fr. Timothy Lowe suggests, the question is whether to submit, and the rest is details, trusting in the Lord's provision. 
Who Am I?

Who Am I?

2022-09-0322:51

When the Lord commissions Moses to bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt, Moses questions, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?" We learn it's not about, "who am I?" but it's about the One who sends Moses. "I AM WHO I AM" is the God who acts as the Father to His people.  When faced with a difficult task, leaders may ask that question even today, "Who am I?"  Does the question come from a sense of fear? excuse and avoidance? false humility? perhaps genuine humility? The motives can be analyzed, but at the end of the day, it's not about "who am I." The servant of the Lord can avoid an ontological crisis by serving the Lord's instruction. 
A Foundational Calling

A Foundational Calling

2022-08-2716:05

Simon Peter, in obedience to the Master's instruction, cast his net into the deep.  One might think he'd won the lottery with so much fish that it broke the fishermen's nets and began to sink their boats!   Instead, Simon Peter acknowledges his own sinfulness and falls at the knees of Jesus.Fr. Timothy Lowe reminds us that only the mercy of the Lord, in light of our own sinfulness, lays the foundation for a good beginning.  Whatever education and expertise we think we bring to our life's calling, we are challenged by Simon Peter who was willing to leave everything - his boat, nets, and fish - to follow his Lord. But it's only a beginning. And a good beginning doesn't make a hero. After baptism, there's more to the story.
Reference Points

Reference Points

2022-08-2020:00

Whom do you seek to please? Whom do you fear? A powerful leader seeking to please himself, King Herod desired to kill John the Baptist for referring to God's law above Herod. Fearing the people, Herod at first refrained from killing John because the people considered him a prophet. Seeking to please his unlawful wife's daughter and his dinner guests, Herod finally ordered John's head on a platter. Herod's reference points were whimsical, multiple, and self-serving.Fr. Timothy Lowe shares the story of Herod and John the Baptist, reminding us that our reference points matter. We are called to refer to One Lord, serving and fearing only Him.
Sober Up

Sober Up

2022-08-1317:56

Leaders would rather lead change and preach repentance and mercy. But what happens when time has run out? Standing in the Lord's presence, the prophet Isaiah cries, "Woe is me! I am undone!"  and charged with a confounding message of coming judgment and destruction.  Fr. Timothy Lowe, in a study of Isaiah 6, suggests it's time to sober up in the midst of utter devastation.  Our only hope is in the seed of the Lord that might sprout from the burned and fallen stump. 
Leaders make sacrifices everyday, putting aside their interests for the sake of serving others.  Fr. Jeremy Davis, author of Welcoming Gifts: Sacrifice in the Bible and Christian Life suggests that the fullness of sacrifice isn't realized in loss and suffering, but in joy, hospitality, and faithful relationship.  Christ demonstrates how to move beyond mere symbolic gestures of sacrifice and embrace the sacrificial life in faithful obedience to God and love to humankind. 
Just the Crumbs

Just the Crumbs

2022-07-3017:29

We may think the Canaanite woman offers a leadership example of persistence and humility, content with the crumbs that fall from the Master's table.  But the lesson is far beyond successful negotiation. As an outsider, the Canaanite is like a dog compared to those who feast at the Master's table within the religious community. Jesus honors her great faith which stands in stark contrast against the disciples and religious leaders who reflect such little faith throughout Matthew's Gospel. The challenge presented even today is whether those who presume to feast at the Master's table are willing to offer even just a crumb to those in need. 
What motivates your leadership? The Apostle Peter understands the temptations of compulsion, greed, and domination, as he exhorts his fellow elders to shepherd the flock entrusted to their care.Fr. Ian Pac-Urar explores the example we find in the Apostle Peter. Even by identifying himself as a "fellow elder" in his first epistle, the Apostle Peter demonstrates what it means to serve the flock, not by lording over them, but by submitting to the example set by Christ.
Deposit of Faith

Deposit of Faith

2022-07-0920:19

What does it mean to guard the deposit of faith? If the deposit of faith is given free of charge, those who receive it are charged to invest in its practice and share it freely with others. Fr. Barnabas Powell of Faith Encouraged Ministries attends to the treasure entrusted in St. Paul's letter to Timothy. He challenges us to allow Christ's message to confront us - our mindset and behavior - so that we shift focus to that which is eternal over the temporary. What we truly value will be evident on the Last Day when we are called to account for this precious deposit of faith. 
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