The New Year is a wonderful time to let go of the past and look to the future. Most of us have past regrets we would like to let go of. And truth be told, most of us have some anxieties over the future. But God comes to us with a wonderful word of promise. God has a plan and purpose for our lives, even though we often only catch glimpses of it as it unfolds. But even more important, because of God’s presence with us, we can be confident that when we need God’s strength we can lean into his arms and trust his power and provision. The words of Jeremiah are such an encouragement, particularly for anyone with regrets over the past or anxiety over the future.
(Jer. 29:11–14 NIV11) “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “”
Lord, help me to trust your plans and purposes for my life. Help me to let go of my past and give it to you. Forgive my shortcomings and wash my life anew. Bless the seeds that I have planted that they may grow and bear good fruit for your kingdom. In all things may I be a witness for you and reflect your light in a world in need of hope that only you can truly give, amen.
We all need a time of rest. It is so easy to get over-committed doing good things. But all of us need to recognize the value of practicing Holy Rest. The scriptures teach us that God rested on the seventh day. If God needed to rest, so should we. It was not just a time to regain strength, it was also a time to celebrate the good that had been accomplished. Keeping the Lord’s Day was also part of the 10 commandments God gave Moses. Work is good, but rest is also needed to celebrate what has been accomplished, offer thanks and praise to God, and spend time with family and nurturing relationships. Make certain you are finding time to rest in the rhythm of your week and also an extended time of rest in the rhythm of your year, as you spend quality vacation time with family. When you rest you recharge your energy, re-center your life, reconnect with vital relationships, and revitalize your relationship with God. Re-discover the sacredness of rest.
Today we pause to remember those who have paid the highest sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy. May their sacrifice inspire us to strive to live out the highest aspirations of the noble ideals we so cherish. May we continue to work for liberty and justice for all. And may we seek to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good and pray for those families who will always have an empty chair at their table.
I am reminded that Moses was an extraordinary leader who was willing to risk everything to confront the powers of oppression and injustice and lead the people of Israel from bondage to freedom. May we all be willing to work for freedom, justice and equality.
Martin Luther King, Jr Day
Today we give pause to celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a great minister and humanitarian who took a stand for justice. Not unlike Moses, Dr. King was willing to face the powers of oppression and injustice and raise a voice for freedom and justice. Like Moses, he caught a vision of the Promised Land, even though he himself would not live to see its fulfilment. He had a biblical vision that peace and justice were possible together, but the pathway there might be marked by challenge and adversity. He had a deep faith in Christ that empowered him. Psalm 85.10 casts a beautiful vision:
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet,
righteousness and peace will kiss.
As we give pause to honor a great man who worked for a better world, let us look deeply at our own lives and challenge ourselves to follow Christ's command to love our neighbor regardless of race or place, to build bridges of peace and understanding, and to take a stand for justice anywhere and everywhere. Dr. King once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Let us dare to believe that all children are God's children, and dare to act as if all children were our children.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” --Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Let us be emboldened by that great vision—Dr. TJ
Moses never celebrated Christmas, or even Hanukkah, but Moses did follow the fire of God, and knew the miracle of God’s light in his life. Moses experienced the flame of God’s presence in the burning bush and then led the Israelites to follow the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as they escaped the chains of slavery and oppression in Egypt and journeyed toward the Promised Land.
One of the customs of Jews is to light the candles of the menorah as part of Hanukkah and remembering God’s faithfulness in the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.
Christians light candles remembering God’s faithfulness in the coming of Christ to bring the light of God’s hope, peace, love and joy into a world darkened by sin and brokenness.
Take time this season to allow the light of God’s love to light your life and, in turn, light your world. Share the light of God’s love this season.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas—Dr TJ
And to all my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah
As Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness, they often lacked faith and began to grumble and complain. It may have been that the root of their lack of faith began as a lack of thankfulness. The truth is thankfulness can be a wellspring of faith. Thankfulness also shapes our lives in profound and lasting ways.
Thankfulness may have been a lesson Moses had learned as he trudged across the desert the first time, fleeing Pharaoh after killing the Egyptian. Behind him lay the power and privilege of Egypt; before him stretched the stark, barren landscape of the desert. It gave Moses a lot of time to think. By the time he reached the well at the oasis in the land of Midian, he may well have been thankful for just a glass of water. It was a humbling experience. But it was part of a season that God would use to shape and mold Moses. It may have been a key to Moses standing up for the daughters of Reuel, one of whom became his wife. Later when Moses’ life and leadership were coming to a close, he would pause and recount God’s faithfulness to the Israelites as God led them out of Egypt toward the Promised Land. Moses also instructed them that after they had crossed over into the Promised Land and experienced a time of harvest and blessing that they were to share a time of celebration and thanksgiving with those in need (Deuteronomy 26:12).
This scripture may have been part of the inspiration of our forefathers and mothers sharing the first Thanksgiving feast, after a bountiful harvest, with their Native American friends who had helped them through a time of adversity and challenge.
Cicero wrote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Thankfulness is also the mark of a life of faith, and a great attribute for positive leadership. Discover thankfulness. Let thankfulness be one of the hallmarks of your life.
Living in abundance—Dr. TJ
It isn’t too often that we get to celebrate the 500th anniversary of something, and even less often when anything is worth celebrating 500 years later. No so with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther igniting the Protestant Reformation by nailing the 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door. Luther was willing to follow a spiritual pilgrimage that took him to a new personal discovery of faith in the grace of God in Christ. He had the discipline to investigate scripture and the plumb the depths of his own heart, mind and conscience. It took courage and fortitude to take a stand for what he knew was right.
It reminds us that Moses was also a man of conscience and courage as he faced Pharaoh and demanded that the Israelites be freed from slavery and oppression. Moses too had his time of spiritual struggle and awakening in the desert and the burning bush. He was willing to answer the call of God and stand for what is right.
It begs the question to each of us: where is God calling us? Where would God have us take a stand for what is right? Where do we need to be men and women of integrity and courage? Today resolve that you will have the courage and integrity to stand for what is right whether in business or church, at home or at school, in your community or around the world. Be willing to take a stand.
Blessings –Dr. TJ
Moses’ mother had a dream. Long before Moses had a dream of leading the people of God from slavery and oppression to freedom and promise, Moses’ mother had a dream that her child would live. Pharaoh had ordered a decree that all male Hebrew babies be killed. But Moses’ mother could not bear to kill her child. Knowing her own life as well as that of her family was in jeopardy from disobeying Pharaoh’s decree, she took a step of faith. She made a basket of reeds and waterproofed it by covering it with pitch, then put the baby in the basket and placed it on the edge of the Nile River. Unable to watch, she had Moses’ sister keep watch. The most amazing thing happened. Pharaoh’s daughter, saw the basket and had one of her entourage go and bring the basket and little baby to her. Her heart was touched by the small child. Moses’ sister seized the opportunity and went to Pharaoh’s daughter and asked her if she would like her to find a nursemaid for the child. She agreed, and unbeknown to Pharaoh’s daughter, it was Moses’ own mother. Moses’ mother would now have the chance to tutor him in the ways of the Hebrew God in the very household of Pharaoh. Perhaps it was Moses’ mother who planted the seed in Moses that would one day become the dream blessed by God to lead the Hebrews from slavery and oppression to freedom and promise.
God wants us to dream great dreams--dreams that use our gifts and talents to serve God and others. Take time to listen to your heart and see the needs of the world around you. Dream great dreams that will serve others and glorify God, and never underestimate the importance of instilling a dream in others, especially our children.
Blessings –Dr. TJ
August is a time we often think of returning to school for children and teens in our families. It reminds us that we need to be leaders in our families before the job or marketplace. Our spouse and our children should not get the leftovers after we have finished a hard day at work. Families deserve our “A” game just as much if not more than our work.
With that in mind some good questions for us to ask ourselves are: What is our plan to spend quality time with our spouse and children? What can we do this week to show them we care? Have we told them today that we love them and we are there for them? Do you know what struggles your child is having in class or with their classmates? Have you talked to them this week about what the most important things in life are? How well have you set a good example?
Determine this week to up your game plan for a better home and family and ask God to help you live it out.
Blessings –Dr TJ
June is a great month for Father’s Day and summer vacations. Fathers often consider themselves most valuable in the workplace. Often the roles we consider most important are as provider and protector. We often become too absorbed in doing good things outside the home, and forget that our role as father and spouse are even more important than our role as leader in business or the community, or even the faith community.
Moses, like so many of us, learned this lesson the hard way. He was so busy his wife took their children and went to stay for a time in her parent’s home. Later, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, offered Moses wise counsel: “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you” (Exodus 18:17ff NIV). Jethro goes on to offer Moses excellent wisdom on delegating and sharing his workload.
An even more important lesson than the importance of delegating and teamwork is the priority of being a good father and family man.
I encourage each of us in the summer months, not only to find time to rest and relax, but also find a season to spend quality time with family whether at home or on the road taking your favorite family vacation.
I am taking my daughter on a vacation out west visiting some of the great national parks our country has to offer. We have been planning the trip for months and she has had considerable say in our itinerary. We plan to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and enjoy spending time with each other.
I hope you will have a great summer vacation as well. Blessings --Dr. TJ
Dr TJ Jenney, PhD
Dr. T. J. Jenney, Ph.D. is a seasoned pastor and leader who has served churches as well as served as a campus minister and chaplain for police and fire departments as well as the Air Force Auxiliary. Dr. Jenney also served as a faculty member at Purdue University, serving as an adjunct professor in Organizational Leadership. His experience includes serving as a president and CEO of non-profit organizations. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Higher Education Administration from Purdue and an M.Div and an S.T.M. from Yale University. He served as a contributing editor of William B. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (1989) and Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000), as well as written articles for journals.