Being and Acting

By Linda Tancs

Prophesying, casting out demons and performing mighty deeds are all activities that Jesus delineated as marks of discipleship (Mark 16:17). Yet in chapter seven of Matthew’s gospel, he rejects some of those who claim to perform those very activities in His name and disavows even knowing them (Matthew 7:22-23). Does that seem confusing? Is Jesus rejecting service in His name? Of course not. What He’s getting at is the difference between being and acting. You may invoke His name in all that you say and do, but does His presence dwell in you? Jesus wants disciples who know more than just how to act; he wants followers who know the right way to be.

Our work is ultimately to believe in the person behind the Word (Romans 1:17). Oftentimes people place their confidence in regular church attendance and service on committees but don’t understand Jesus or the work of Jesus inside them—that is, the Holy Spirit. You can’t “work” your way to heaven. Works are a sign of faith but should not replace faith. Those who do otherwise are the false kind of disciples that Jesus is criticizing in Matthew’s gospel because they fail to recognize that it’s their faith in Jesus that makes them acceptable to God and not their performance. Resolve to keep Him present in all that you say and do.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

 

Opt Out

By Linda Tancs

How many emails do you receive in any given day? I’ll bet the number is in the hundreds. Thankfully, we’re constantly invited to “opt out.” After all, we don’t need to be in the center of everything. Jesus tells us the same thing, as related in chapter 14 of Luke’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14). In that chapter, Jesus tells a parable at a Pharisee’s dinner party about invitees who jockey for position at the place of honor at the table. His advice is to opt out, take the lowest place at the table; don’t think yourself too special. Similarly, he continues with a parable about only inviting those to a party who have the capacity to return the favor. His advice? You guessed it—opt out. Don’t give in to the adage, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Open your door to those who have no capacity to help you in return. Be a giver. When was the last time you opted out?

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

The Heart of Things

By Linda Tancs

The renowned Trappist monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton once remarked, “The things that we love tell us what we are.” Another way of putting it is to say that your treasure and your heart are inextricably connected; where your treasure is, there your heart will be (Matthew 6:21). Depending on what you love, you’ll have a heart of stone or a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

What do you love? Money, fame, valor, acclaim? If so, you might be in danger of a hardening heart, particularly if you’ll rationalize or excuse any behavior to get what you love. Do you love virtue, generosity, kindness or other admirable traits (Philippians 4:8)? There’s good reason why the apostle Paul exhorts the Philippians to think on such things. Simply put, it’s good for your heart. Loving the right kind of things opens your heart to the promptings of the Spirit, which leads to a greater understanding of the Word. It’s time to get to the heart of the matter.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

A Seat at the Table

By Linda Tancs

Most everyone is undoubtedly familiar with the term “having a seat at the table.” It’s a metaphor for inclusion, particularly as it relates to the ability to exercise power and influence. As the Scriptures make clear, the Pharisees wouldn’t let just anybody have a seat at the table. Even sections of the temple precinct were off limits except for those carrying the proper “credentials.” Just like today, it was all about who you know. Then came Jesus, the master table-turner. Literally. He overthrew the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). He turned the tables around in other ways as well. He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:11). He made a seat at the table for the lame, the poor, the crippled and the blind (Luke 14:12-14). He prepares a table for the faithful in the presence of their enemies (Psalm 23:5). Indeed, anyone willing to hear His voice has a seat at the table (Luke 14:23; Revelation 3:20). Like the servant in the parable of the great banquet (Luke 14:15-24), you’re commissioned to make a seat at the table available for anyone, not just those who think, act or look like you. Make room at your table.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

True North

By Linda Tancs

Did you know that the North Star (also known as Polaris) holds nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it? It’s been used for centuries as a navigational tool because it marks the way true north, located nearly at the north celestial pole around which the entire northern sky turns.

We often hear about folks trying to find their “true north.” It’s popularly thought of as your own internal compass, the point around which you define yourself at your deepest level. Being unique individuals, you’re going to end up with many variants of true north. But just as there’s only one Polaris, there is only one Truth (John 14:6; Psalm 119:160). Let it be your fixed point in this spinning world.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

Nobility Obliges

By Linda Tancs

The phrase “noblesse oblige” means “nobility obliges.” It’s a principle commonly extended to those of royal and noble birth, expressing their obligation to act nobly and responsibly toward others. If you aren’t in that category, don’t count yourself out. Through baptism, we become part of God’s royal household, made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). We’re all sons and daughters of the King (2 Corinthians 6:18). That means we’re all noble in the highest sense; the principle of noblesse oblige applies to all of us, not just those with crowns, medals or tiaras.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

A Time Like This

By Linda Tancs

It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is wearing on people’s nerves. Recently, a local business owner exclaimed to me, “Why do I have to live through something like this!”

The Old Testament story of Esther immediately came to mind. In that book, Esther’s cousin Mordecai persuades her to exert influence over her husband, the Persian king, to foil a plan hatched by the king’s minister Haman to annihilate the Jews throughout the empire. Although any such request could’ve resulted in her own death, Mordecai reminded Esther that, as an upright Jewish woman, perhaps she came to her position on the throne for just such a time in her people’s history (Esther 4:14).

Like Esther, we’re all enduring this trial for God’s purpose. Don’t bemoan your endurance during this historical time. Embrace it. What can you do to alleviate suffering during this time? Can you shop for someone? Make masks? Offer encouragement or prayer?

You were destined for such a time as this.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

Choices and Consequences

By Linda Tancs

Poet W.H. Auden said, “Choice of attention—to attend to this and ignore that—is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.” Indeed, choices and consequences have followed us since the Fall in the Garden.

What choice are you making, inwardly or outwardly? To be needy? Greedy? Jealous? Angry? Self-centered? You’re not alone, as Paul reminded the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). God will show you how to make better choices. In fact, He’s given you a manual—the Bible—to guide you (Romans 15:4).

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

The Art of Conversation

By Linda Tancs

French philosopher Jean de La Bruyère observed, “The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you.” It’s a great act of humility to let others shine, to take a back seat in the conversation (Philippians 2:3). You might even call it a challenge. After all, we live in a “selfie” culture, where everyone is obsessed with their own importance, their own light.

What kind of conversationalist are you? Do you hog the limelight? Do you need to get a word in edgewise? Try a different approach.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

 

Enjoy the Ride

By Linda Tancs

There’s a poster that reads “enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going.” For some, it may seem impossible to enjoy the present moment. Maybe you’re having a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual challenge that renders a sentiment like that meaningless to you. But here’s the catch: if you cry and lament your way through your present circumstances, then when you’ve “arrived” at your breakthrough you’ve really only escaped what came before and won’t truly enjoy where you ended up. It’s the patient endurance of the journey that reaps a genuine harvest (James 1:2-4). You might need a seat belt, but enjoy the ride.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.