Posts Tagged ‘Unemployment’

Helping those in need

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. —Proverbs 28:27*

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on US and global economies. Hundreds of thousands of businesses have closed for varying pandemic-related reasons. The food service industry here at home has been hit particularly hard.  Thousands of restaurants have closed, with most having no hope of reopening. The middle class is shrinking, leaving a fractured nation that is increasingly becoming a land of haves and have nots. History has demonstrated that as the middle class shrinks and the lower class grows, civil unrest often increases.

To survive, many American families have had to dip into retirement savings, placing the future in question.  When savings are exhausted, losing a job can mean losing nearly everything.  The ability to pay a big mortgage, something common for young working couples today, often depends on the salaries of both spouses.  If even one of them loses their job, foreclosure becomes a distinct possibility! To stay afloat they must negotiate with lenders, which in the long run usually means increasing the size of their mortgages and/or tapping into short term savings and retirement accounts. Early retirement withdrawals are usually accompanied by additional fees.

On top of pandemic problems, even before COVID-19 economic globalization had given rise to thousands of large companies that are loyal to neither to their country of origin nor to their employees.   Workers, especially blue collar ones, are increasingly being treated like disposable commodities that are brushed into the trash bin like rubbish on a picnic table. Highly educated and skilled working professionals who lose their jobs and end up turning to the government for assistance are common today.  In my job working with the unemployed, I heard many lament, “I never imagined that I could end up in this situation.”  This can and must change.

Churches, especially those in large urban areas, are often unaware of the financial struggles of individuals and families in their area—even when those affected are members of the church. Many churches have lost touch with early traditions. The scriptures speak frequently about caring for those who share the faith.  This is an essential part of discipleship that helps the church set its own house in order.  In Acts chapter 6, the Apostles appointed seven deacons to assist in the distribution of food to local widows, who were followers of Christ.  James 1:27 tell us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Even clearer instruction comes straight from the mouth of our Lord in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Building a healthy church family is essential to serving those in need outside the church.  Brett Eastman has served as the small groups champion in several of the largest mega churches in the country including Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.  Eastman writes:

“If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets involved in sharing one another’s burdens—a much more personal approach than relegating the task to a committee.  The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they’re sick or something’s happened, doing childcare when someone’s in crisis and giving money when somebody’s lost a job.”

Small groups in churches set the conditions for encouraging personal intimacy and trust building—essential elements of loving Christian relationships.  Only by sharing our hopes, fears, cares and concerns do we really get to know other believers well.

Small groups also enable churches to develop outreach ministries. One way for small groups to quickly make a difference is by reaching out to Christian charities in their church’s local area.  Charities are always in need of volunteers, financial supporters, prayer warriors and other resources.  The possibilities are endless. You can’t take care of everybody, but you can take care of somebody.  The closest ministry filed for any church is the one inside its doors. The largest ministry field for every church is the one just outside the church doors.   

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. —Proverbs 19:17

*All Bible quotes are ESV.

Unemployed? Seek the Lord in Your Day of Trouble.

Prayer

In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord

Today millions of Americans are facing the challenges of unemployment or under employment. These can lead to fear, frustration, depression and even physical illness. However, they also present opportunities for growth.

When you’ve lost your job or find yourself in a job that is not self-sustaining, a whole-person approach is needed as you strive to improve your situation. I like to use the “Wheel of Life” to help illustrate this. The circles on the outside of the wheel represent six areas of one’s life that contribute to the whole we refer to as “self.” Neglecting any of these puts the entire wheel out of balance, leaving one struggling and feeling out of sorts.

Wheel of Life

 Wheel of Life

Family and Social Life.  A period of unemployment or underemployment opens the door to opportunities in each the six areas on the wheel of life. It is a good time to spend extra time with family, renew old connections with friends and build your social network (which will improve your chances of finding self-sustaining employment).  Don’t forget to have some fun!

Physical Conditioning. It also provides an opportunity to improve your physical condition through proper exercise, sleep and nutrition. It is a wonderful chance to shed a few pounds and look your best for your next interview..

Career and Financial.  Dedicate some of your extra time towards education. You don’t necessarily need to pick up another degree or certification. Focus on learning something that will help make you more employable. Perhaps you can focus on improving your Microsoft Office software skills. There are free training courses galore on the Internet. If you need to improve your speaking skills, you could join the local Toastmasters chapter. The possibilities are endless.

Finances.  Being unemployed or underemployed is also the perfect time to work on improving your finances. Perhaps you’ve been talking about downsizing your household.  Start by selling off things you don’t really need.  Put together a new budget, trying to reduce frivolous spending. Try keeping close track of where your money actually goes. You might be surprised at how most of it gets spent.

Mental.  Take time to relax and stretch your mind.  Put down your phone, turn off the computer and TV, and pick up a challenging book that you’ve always wanted to read.  Spend some time with people who challenge your way of thinking. Visit an art gallery or museum that would not normally be of interest to you.

(Read Psalm 77: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2077&version=ESV)

Spiritual.  Lastly, Psalm 77 provides a simple, yet perfect framework for approaching the spiritual realm when you’re unemployed or under employed. When things aren’t going your way, it’s comforting to be reminded God has not and will not abandon you. The Psalmist finds comfort in reflecting on how God helped his people in the past. We should follow his example.

Pray fervently—then pray again. The Psalmist prayed throughout the entire night. He felt abandoned by God. He spoke what was on his mind. We can be totally honest and open with God, telling him about our feelings, our fears, our doubts and our desires. We can ask him any question. Because Jesus suffered every temptation we have faced and felt every emotion that we have felt, we are free to discuss our deepest thoughts and feelings with God. Through Jesus’ experiences, God the Father has firsthand experience with everything we might face in our lives (v.9-10)

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ― Oswald Chambers                                              

Recall how God has blessed you in the past. The Psalmist did not simply spill his heart out to God. He thought about everything the scriptures say regarding what God has done for his people in the past. God blesses those who have faith in him (v. 11).  Too often we dwell on what God hasn’t done for us rather than being thankful for the multitude of blessings he has provided.

Focus on the future. Think positively about your situation, hopes and desires. What is God teaching you? What is His will for your life? Make a list of Biblical promises you can identify about your future? (v. 13)

Reconsider your present circumstances. Ask God to strengthen your faith as you strive to cope with unemployment. Remind yourself that you can always trust  His promises (v. 14). Share your experience with others.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,  that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.   ―Hebrews 4:16

 

As you continue to search, remember to always follow the light!

The Risen Lord [by Arnold Friberg]

“The Risen Lord” by Arnold Friberg

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. –Psalm 61:1-2 (ESV)

Christmas day has passed, but many Christians around the world continue to celebrate the Christmas season through the day of Epiphany on January 6. The joy and hope of the Christ Child still shines brightly! Unfortunately, joy and hope will fade for many as the Christmas season passes and they return to their often mundane daily routines.

This can be a particularly difficult time for those who are already living with the fear, anxiety and depression that frequently accompany periods of unemployment. Fortunately, if we open our eyes and look we will see that God is present always in his Word, Holy Spirit and blessed sacraments.  

While you’re job hunting, networking, sending out resumes and filling out countless job applications, don’t forget to make some extra time to spend with God in prayer and studying the Word.

Spend time with other job seekers and pray with and for them. Take time to use your God given talents to help others in need. God knows your needs before you ask and He already has a plan for you. His plan will produce fruit in your life at the time He has appointed.

Meanwhile, don’t miss out on the joy today has to offer.  If you will only seek Him, God will give you joy with or without a job. Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

It is impossible for one to know what God has in store for him or her, but rest assured that He only wants the best for us all. Christians may take comfort in the knowledge that God’s love does not depend upon our success in this world. He doesn’t look at our education, work history or awards. He loves us unconditionally. While we busy ourselves with the worries and toils of this life, He is preparing us for something bigger and more glorious than we can possibly imagine.

The Bible promises that those who make seeking the Kingdom of God their top priority in life will be blessed with everything they need in this world. While you struggle with the pain of unemployment and all of the other burdens you will bear during this life, remain close to Christ and let His light show you the pathway that He would have you follow.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. So we do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. –2 Corinthians 4:6, 16-18 (ESV)

Prayer: The link below leads to a website not associated with this blog.

Prayer of the Unemployed

Easing the Pain of Unemployment

Jobless-not-hopelessYou take my life when you do take the means whereby I live. –William Shakespeare

In Romans chapter 12, St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV) Many churches attempt to follow his advice by hosting various support groups. There are groups for addiction recovery, divorcees, singles and those grieving the death of a loved one to name a few.

Unfortunately, there is another group in great need of support, but often overlooked by church ministries—the unemployed. Most people who become unemployed go through a series of emotional stages resembling this.

Initially, there is the shock of losing a job. This might initially give way to denial or disbelief like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” This sometimes gives way to feelings of anger or outrage towards those deemed responsible for the job loss. As the anger slowly subsides, sadness can follow. If the period of unemployment is prolonged, sadness can lead to the onset of depression. Isolation from others during this period worsens the situation.

To varying degrees, all of us derive some sense of worth from the jobs we do and the relationships we have. Losing a job can be every bit as devastating as a divorce or the loss of a loved one.

Those who have lost their jobs are in tremendous need of contact with and the support of others. This is where churches can weigh in for the unemployed. Options for helping are limited only by the imagination. The ShareFaith website published a very useful article in 2011 titled “Seven Ways to Help the Unemployed in Your Church.” You can find it at this link: http://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2011/12/ways-unemployed-church/.

I particularly like suggestion #4, “Provide free workshops.” Workshops are a fantastic way to help your church’s unemployed. But why stop there? Unemployment in your local area opens the door to a church ministry reaching beyond the pale of your own churchyard. Consider forming a job networking group reaching out to the entire community.

The north Pittsburgh area where I live has two fantastic, faith-centered job networking groups that have helped hundreds cope with unemployment over the years. Both began as ministries inside the church, but grew into nonprofit, community outreach ministries. Check them out and then start thinking about how your church can form its own job networking group. There can never be too many!

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

Man on a JourneyI know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.    —Jeremiah 10:23 (ESV)

I just completed a long journey in my life.  This particular one, an 18-month job search, was extremely wearisome.  In retrospect, however, all of the waiting was worth it.  I have been blessed with a new job that appears to be a nearly perfect match for my skills and desires.

Finding good work in the current economy is challenging, particularly for those of us who are a little gray around the temples. To make my search more difficult, I had decided to take a new direction with my work. It was therefore necessary for me to convince potential employers that my skills accumulated over some 30 years were transferable into the new line of work I was seeking in the nonprofit field.

The long journey was fraught with emotion—anticipation, hope, disappointment, rejection, self-doubt and frustration.  I applied for dozens of jobs, preparing resume after resume and spending hours online completing application after application.  Oh, that businesses would all use the same application process!

In many cases, my applications went unanswered.  For others it was rejection letters or very impersonal emails stating simply, “We have decided to pursue another candidate.”  It was a situation in which I could have easily lost hope, but I found comfort in Saint Paul’s words, from 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  (ESV)

I focused intently on trying to remain faithful, casting worry and doubt aside as I searched for employment. Of course there were lapses along the way.  I had to constantly remind myself that I was working on God’s timeline, not my own.  I found peace in the knowledge that He would provide the right job at the right time.

Sizakele Lugojolo, director of Lutheran Hour Ministries – South Africa has written that the peace of God, “is the peace we experience when we put aside the selfishness and let God be the center. This is the peace we experience when we give God the glory and not take it for our own satisfaction. This is the peace we experience when the will of God prevails, not ours.”

Just as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, during my job search I frequently prayed that God’s will might be done—that I would end up in a place where He could use me as he sees fit.  Many dear friends offered intercessory prayers for me.  I could feel their power; it sustained me from day to day.

Along the way I came to realize that reaching one’s destination is not the prize.   The reward lies in how one handles his present circumstances—getting through each day of the journey.  For my many networking friends who are still searching I have but one piece of advice, “Let go and let God!”   As Saint Paul so eloquently wrote:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                                                             —Philippians 4: 4-7 (ESV)

With my new job begins a new journey.  Like a good soldier,  I’m calling it my mission. Oddly enough, it entails something I’ve learned a bit about over the past 18 months.  I’ll be helping recently unemployed individuals find a new job. If I can help even one person find employment in less time than it took me, I’ll feel like I’m contributing to a worthy cause.

 Once you have a mission, you can’t go back to having a job.  —Shai Agassi

 

 

 

 

Recalling Some Life Lessons

Traffic Jam

Normal is getting dressed in clothes you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.   ―Ellen Goodman

Time has been called “a great healer” because it helps ease the pain of physical and emotional wounds.  Unfortunately, time also sometimes causes us to forget some of the best lessons life teaches—lessons we ought to have held on to.

Such was the case for a life lesson I recently recalled—something I originally learned while serving as a Civil-Military Operations Officer in southern Somalia some 20 years ago.

In 1993, Somalia was engulfed in civil war, much like today.  One day I visited a refugee camp run by the United Nations. Hundreds of Bantu people were housed there in small, igloo-like huts made from long bent sticks covered with plastic sheeting.

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The Bantus were brought to Somalia as slaves in the 19th century and remain so to this day. They are a small people of very different ethnicity and appearance than the Somalis.

The Bantus I saw that day were living in absolute squalor. Yet despite their situation they seemed remarkably happy.  When I asked a UN worker about the reason for the Bantus’ apparent joy, he provided a life lesson.  “These people were once slaves,” he said, “but now they’re free, well fed and together.”  The things they held dearest were freedom, family and a full belly.  They enjoyed all of these in the squalid camp where they were living.

Over the course of my time in Somalia and several other deployments during my Army career, I learned other lessons about how little we humans truly need.  For months at a time I lived with no possessions beyond what would fit in my rucksack and duffel bag.

With no car to wash, no lawn to mow, no gutters to clean, no leaves to rake, no Internet, no TV and no long commute to work, one has freedom to discover the gift of time.  Personal productivity can increase significantly in such situations, as can relaxation and renewal.

My unscientific observations suggest that as possessions increase, freedom decreases. A multitude of possessions tend to chip away at the gift of time. While I am not a practicing minimalist, I do believe it would behoove most Americans to consider reducing their material possessions.  Garages were designed for cars, not unopened moving boxes. The primary purpose of an attic is to allow proper ventilation of a house, not to store a lot of stuff.   According to the Wall Street Journal, only about 20 percent of the clothes in a person’s closet are regularly worn. You get the picture.

Relearning Some Past Life Lessons

After each long military deployment, I returned home with renewed enthusiasm for life and a deeper appreciation for my freedom, family and the many blessings God had given us. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm and appreciation always slowly faded as I became increasingly re-engaged in the daily, mundane distractions of life and work. After awhile, many life lessons just seem to vanish.  Some of us are fortunate enough to be have an opportunity to relearn some of them.

About a year ago, two major changes in my life occurred.  First, my wife and I moved from a house in Johnstown into a condo near Pittsburgh. Then, only four weeks later, I lost my job.

I had wanted more free time and I got it.  Sometimes God has a real sense of humor!

Laughing Jesus

Two of the main reasons we moved into a condo were to reduce our material possessions and to escape the workload that accompanies owning and maintaining a house. We simply wanted more freedom to do the things we enjoy.  Losing my job wasn’t part of the plan.

However, over the course of the past year I’ve relearned some valuable life lessons, ones I should never have forgotten.

First of all, I remembered that I really don’t need a lot to make me happy.  We have a lot less space and a lot fewer possessions than a year ago, but we also have more time and more freedom to enjoy life.  It has been a great tradeoff—so much, in fact, that my wife and I are already discussing another major downsizing.

Living without abundance makes one more aware of God’s daily provisions.  Instead of asking Him for specific blessings, I’ve learned to pray each day that God will provide my family and me just enough to satisfy our needs and that His perfect will may be done in our lives.

During the past year I also remembered how little it takes to make me truly happy.  We have adjusted to living on my military pension, something that seemed nearly impossible a year ago.  I also have remembered that it doesn’t take much more than my freedom, family and a full belly to make me happy–just like the joyful Bantu people I observed in Somalia many years ago,

Well, there is one other thing. The gift of time has allowed me to dig deeper into the Scriptures than ever before, bringing me closer to the only true source of joy. As the Rev. Dr. Sam Storms so clearly explains, “Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.”

May you find true joy and peace in your pilgrim’s journey!

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.”  —Matthew 6:19-21 (ASV)

Remaining Tenacious in Your Search

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Today’s circumstances are a part of God’s perfect plan.

I, like so many of my friends and colleagues, am currently seeking gainful employment. Having been at it for several months now, I’ve discovered that job searching is like a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs.

I really enjoy investigating new jobs and imagining how I might fit in at this or that company.  Job networking and applying for new positions are also sources of encouragement. On the other hand, rejection letters and non-responses to dozens of letters, emails and phone calls are real downers. It’s very easy to become discouraged.

Tenacity is a key ingredient in a successful job search.  The Scottish theologian Oswald Chambers described tenacity like this, “… more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire.”

A job seeker must have confidence in his or her abilities to perform the job sought. Otherwise, the search is doomed to fail. More importantly, every searcher must have faith that what is happening today is part of God’s perfect plan.     

God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)  He will not depart from you, not for your sins or any other shortcomings.  Even when you understand this, however, it is still quite easy to allow your thoughts to turn into fear.  At such times, it’s important to realize you’re listening to your own fears, not His promises.

While you might be waiting for God to do something big in your future, like giving you the perfect job you’ve been dreaming of or something else, never lose sight of what He’s doing right now. Whatever your final goal may be, remain spiritually tenacious in your search and seek joy in the present moment. God’s perfect plan for you will not be undone by your present circumstances.  Today’s circumstances are a part of His plan.

Like St. Paul and Silas singing hymns while locked in a jail in Philippi, when we learn to be confident in God’s promises we can glorify him even in the direst of circumstances.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”   —Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)


Getting on with Life

Getting on with Life

Losing a job has been compared to losing a loved one. There is an initial period of mourning that has to be gotten through before one can get on with life. You will quickly discover that life goes on, even after becoming unemployed. All of the personal and family affairs that required your attention before losing your job are still there waiting for you in the wake of your loss. Mourning is part of the healing process–it’s OK to mourn.  However, the quicker you can get through the mourning the better off you’ll be.

The 12th chapter of the book of Second Samuel describes how King David had the great warrior Uriah murdered because he lusted for Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. With Uriah out of the way, David adulterously took Bathsheba for himself. She subsequently gave birth to David’s son. Not long after the baby was born, the prophet Nathan visited David. He told him that the child would die. Only a short time later the child became ill. During the illness, David begged God’s forgiveness and mourned what he knew was God’s judgment for his sins. On the seventh day the child died. Upon hearing of its passing, David arose, bathed, put on clean clothes, went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. His example shows us it’s possible turn a period of mourning into a period of worship, repentance and restoration.

William Bartram was a 19th century American naturalist born in Pennsylvania. He traveled much of the United states, observing nature and recording what he saw. Bartram wrote of his life’s experience, “On the recollection of so many and great favors and blessings, I now, with a high sense of gratitude, presume to offer up my sincere thanks to the Almighty, the Creator and Preserver.”

If you’ve recently lost a job, resist the urge to crawl inside yourself and mourn, which only leads into a dark pit. Instead, get on with life as quickly possible. Establish a daily routine and get to work finding that next job. Meanwhile, as William Bartram suggests, pause daily to thank our Creater and Preserver for the blessings you still have in life, recognizing that all blessings come from God!

Psalm 145, God’s Majesty and Love:
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 I[a] will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.[b]
6 Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
7 They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.
10 All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
And Your saints shall bless You.
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
12 To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.[c]
14 The LORD upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.

Today’s Lenten Prayer: a prayer for those who mourn
Bless those who mourn, eternal God, with the comfort of your love,
that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty,
that nothing can destroy the good that has been given.
May their memories become joyful,
their days enriched with friendship,
and their lives encircled by your love. Amen.

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 12:15-23 the death of King David’s infant son
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Samuel%2012:15-23&version=NKJV

Discipline in Everything

Cupcakes

Developing discipline is neither easy nor pleasurable. Anyone who has tried to diet knows this! For most people, dieting is a struggle between the desires of the body and the needs of the spirit.

Like dieting, a good job search also requires strict discipline. The best approach is to develop a strategy and stick to it. Your strategy must be proactive. It should include networking, personal branding & marketing, lots of research and a double dose of patience and perseverance. Approach your job search like a fulltime job until you find employment. At the same time, use your period of unemployment as an opportunity to improve yourself: try to shed a few of those extra pounds; develop a fitness routine to improve your physical condition; work on acquiring some new job skills that will make you more marketable and current in your field; reach out to help others around you; and work on disciplining yourself spiritually.

Taking just a few minutes of quiet time each morning to pray, study the scriptures and reflect on the day ahead will add clarity and purpose to your day. Christians could learn a lesson from the followers of Islam. Muslims stop five times per day to pray–morning, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening. Periodically pausing for prayer throughout each day is guaranteed to help you cope with stress and worry, two challenges that you will encounter daily while unemployed.

Mark 1:35 (NKJV) tells us that, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” If this is the way the Lord began his mornings, how can we do otherwise? If you don’t currently start the day with some quiet time with God, I challenge you to give it a try during this season of Lent. A blessing awaits you.

Psalm 84, the blessedness of dwelling in the house of God
How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.[b]
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You! 

Today’s Lenten Prayer: a prayer for self-discipline
Lord, give me the wisdom to see
No good life comes without right discipline.
Give me the grace to impose it upon myself
Lest others do it for me.
Help me to discipline my tongue
That I may be clear rather than clever
Sincere instead of sarcastic
Help me to discipline my thinking and actions
To do what is right
And not what is easy
Let me get on with the job on hand
Doing the best I can
And leaving the rest to You. Amen.

Today’s Reading: Oswald Chambers – the Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance
http://utmost.org/the-discipline-of-spiritual-perseverance/

Don’t Go It Alone

Alone

Searching for employment can leave one feeling lonely, isolated and hopeless. Jobseekers need a support network to encourage and assist them on their journey. Joining a job networking group while unemployed is a good way to discover you’re not alone and your situation is not unique. It will boost your morale. There is strength in numbers and as the saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” It is a well documented fact that the vast majority of new jobs are landed through networking, not by searching and applying for jobs through Internet job boards.

Even though we are currently in the season of Lent, each Sunday is a feast day on the church calendar; today is a day to rejoice and celebrate our salvation through the Lord. Just as it is not good for jobseekers to go it alone, it is not good for “Godseekers” to go it alone either. The Sabbath is a day set aside for communal worship in God’s house. The fourth chapter of Luke’s Gospel tells us that it was Jesus’ custom to attend services in the synagogue on the Sabbath. We should need no further example to convince us of the importance of worshiping together with fellow believers.

If you haven’t attended church for awhile, I encourage you to make an effort during the Lenten season to get back into the habit of attending. It’s one habit that’s guaranteed to make you better off than before.

Psalm 25, a prayer of David:
To thee, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know thy ways, O LORD;
teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.
6 Be mindful of thy mercy, O LORD, and of thy steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, or my trangressions;
according to thy steadfast love remember me,
for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man that fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 He himself shall abide in prosperity,
and his children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn thou to me, and be gracious to me;
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh guard my life, and deliver me;
let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in thee.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for thee.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles. (RSV)

Today’s Lenten Prayer: A prayer for the lonely
Loving God,
there are times in each life
when there is no one.
No one with whom to share
a word,
a laugh,
a sad remembrance,
a gentle touch,
a fond embrace,
a kiss of love.
Bless each one who suffers
from such loneliness.
Enrich life with a friend
or gentle stranger
who will spend a moment
noticing and loving.
In those times
your love shines through,
the world is reborn,
and Christ is known. Amen.

Today’s Reading: Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus is always with us.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2028:16-20&version=NKJV