Peace with God

(Originally written April, 2003)

I had just finished speaking to a large group of business leaders at a downtown luncheon and had walked back to the book table afterward, when one of the caterers asked me a question about an unusual spiritual experience. I was not able to give a totally clear answer, but I was able to make sure that she was a believer in Christ and get her address to send her a Bible, some helpful tracts, and encourage her to start attending a church near by. As a Christian leader in the business community, we all try to love and serve our co-workers, employees, vendors, and clients, and wait for an opportunity to share Christ. We as followers of Christ should always be ready to share Christ with those that we meet in the workplace or as we journey through life.  It sometimes takes years to build relationships with people in the workplace.  But, God will one day give you an open door.   When that day arrives and the Holy Spirit presents to you the opening to turn the conversation to spiritual things, what do you say?

I have found two things very helpful in sharing Christ over the years. First, you need to memorize the two questions used by Evangelism Explosion. Take the class if offered in your church.

Question #1 –   “Jim (or Jane), if you were to die tonight are you certain that you would go to heaven?”  Most people will answer either “I hope so” or “I think so” or give you a definite yes and share their salvation experience with you. Regardless of their answer, go to the next question.

Question #2 –  “Jim (o rJane),  suppose you were to die tonight (you may insert here the uncertainty of our health, safe travel, or personal examples) and you found yourself standing before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’, what would your answer be?”

Most people who do not know Christ will answer – “I have tried to live a good life.” By their response you will know whether they have based their hopes on “good works” or on the grace of God.

Next, you are ready to ask them, “Well, Jim, could I share with you what the Bible says about how we may have peace with God and spend eternity with Him?”  Most will say yes if they are ready. If they are uncomfortable, then you should wait for another time until the Holy Spirit gets them prepared.

If they say “Yes”; simply pull the Steps to Peace with God pamphlet out of your pocket, purse, or desk drawer. Read each of the steps with them. Perhaps ask them to read one or two of the verses. Ask them questions to help them understand, share an example from your own life, and let them ask simple questions which are easily answered. If you get asked a question that will take a long time to answer, just say, “That’s a great question, may we wait until after we get through this to answer it?”   Then, get right back on track with the “Steps”.

On step #4, I like to draw a line down the center of the cross and hand them my pen to show me exactly where they are. They cannot be in the middle. They must choose a side. I have been able to pray the prayer with many people over the years. Seeing a person invite Christ into their life is the greatest thrill possible on this earth. If you have not had that privilege, why not put a pamphlet in your pocket this week and ask God to give you an opportunity to share it?

You can memorize the two EE questions and practice presenting the pamphlet with a family member, friend, co-worker, another small group member, or a friend at church. Then you could even memorize the four steps and a scripture for each. That way you could share it with a friend over lunch on a napkin even if you forgot the pamphlet. (I have used a napkin many times.)

I have been able to share the gospel with three people on airplanes during the last few months. One college student received Christ. These Steps to Peace (by Billy Graham) are available in many Christian book stores. These two questions and this simple pamphlet will get you started in sharing life’s greatest treasure.

Sharing God’s Peace

Kent Humphreys

 

 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  John 14:27 (NASU)

 

Christmas Letter 2012

As I face this Christmas season, I am reminded of my experience as a 13-year-old boy in the “old toy truck”.  My parents had purchased a large used bread delivery truck.  They used this walk-in van in their small distribution business. It had the distinction to be their business vehicle after the converted “hearse” (yes, literally), and before the red Volkswagen van.  Every Saturday morning, I went with my father to our small warehouse and filled the old truck with inexpensive toys and coloring books.  I distinctly remember that there was little air flow in the old truck, whether on the cold mornings or on hot afternoons.

During the week, I painted displays in our family’s garage.  I learned how to work hard and how to build a business.  Dad then delivered these products throughout the following week to supermarkets around our state.  In the summers, I spent some of those long days with him.  We surveyed the displays in the stores and then went out into the large truck to get the toys that were needed to fill them. My job was simply to have the right items that were needed in the proper quantities to serve our customers.  I took my job very seriously and learned the basics of distribution, pricing, and sales. These were skills which would later help me run our large distribution firm.

As a son, I carefully observed my father and did exactly what was required so that he could accomplish his mission.  It was in these critical years that my dad sold his 5 & 10 cent variety stores which were losing money, transitioned into distribution to the grocery trade, and later into distribution to Army and Air Force exchanges.  Within just fourteen years, God allowed him to pay off all of his debts, invest in real estate, and semi-retire at age fifty to work with Billy Graham for next twenty-five years.  Dad attributes his success to my mother, who became his “buyer” and gave stability to the hard working optimistic entrepreneur.  He was a great salesman, who listened to his customers and was always learning what the customer needed.  Dad ran a low cost operation and the “old toy truck” symbolized this perfectly.

Two thousand years ago, another son joined His father on a mission of hope.  God the Father asked His Son, Jesus, to take the form of a helpless baby to go to very world that He had created. Jesus was tasked to model His Father’s love to the people, to equip a small band of disciples, and then to die on an old rugged cross.  Just as the “old toy truck” was a bridge in my father’s life from the tough times to times of business success, that old cross is the bridge for us to take from a life of meaningless searching to a life of peace and joy.  Through the risen Christ, each of us can be transformed into a new creature.  As you see your children and grand-children playing with toys this Christmas, just remember the old toy truck.  A father and a son were embarked on a mission to make a living and grow a business, and years ago a Father and Son embarked on a mission to provide hope for all those who would accept the gift of eternal life.  Do not let the wrappings, toys, and trinkets of the season cloud the precious gift of God’s Son to all who will receive it with joy!  May you personally experience His presence this season and throughout the New Year!

Kent and Davidene Humphreys

Teammates

(Originally written, September 1996)

The 1996 Summer Olympics are now over. Thanks to television all of us were able to tune in (live or on video) and watch the greatest athletes in the world. I think of Carl Lewis winning his 9th gold medal, the amazing double winner Michael Johnson, and the Dream Team that made it look so easy. But I was particularly impressed with the U.S. women’s teams. How can we ever forget the 7 small girls winning the gold in gymnastics anchored by Oklahoma’s Shannon Miller and the unforgettable fault of Kerri Strug? Led by Lisa Leslie, the basketball team won 60 straight games and the gold medal. In women’s softball Dot Richardson led an inspired group in winning the inaugural gold medal. The synchronized swimming team scored a near perfect 99.72 points, including 9 perfect 10’s. The ladies won both the 100 and 400 meter relays in track. Finally, Amy Van Dyken won 4 golds, leading the women’s swim team as they scored victories in all 3 relays.

The women scored a silver in the rowing competition, but that event is the embodiment of team work. It is the ideal expression of what it means to work in perfect harmony. When I think of a team, I visualize an athletic team. But “teams” for many years meant a matched group of animals like the Budweiser horses. A team can do more together than the sum of their individual efforts.

It takes pitching speed, power, and defense to put together a softball team. Basketball demands both height and quickness, rebounding and shooting, passing and strategy. In the swimming medley relays it takes four swimmers each using a different stroke to win the race. In gymnastics one may contribute more on the vault, another on the floor, still another on the bars, and even the dreaded beam. When one ahs a weakness in one area, he or she is strong in another. Not even the greatest gymnasts in the world are equally strong in each event.

The Olympics and athletes tell us a lot about life. They show us plainly that there are the great superstars that excel in individual events. However, most of us are members of a team. It could be a family, a marriage, a group at work, or a community effort. We each complement one another. We need one another. We are equal but different, similar but specialized. Together in our company, group, party, or crew we unite into one body determined to work, train, and achieve as one. As co-workers, we join with others to become true colleagues. We are comrades taking up the yokes of life, side by side, to accomplish a common goal. We don’t waste our energy criticizing our fellow workers and dwelling on their faults, but we look for their strengths and are thankful that they supply what we cannot.

As we face struggles, conflicts, and challenges in our daily relationships, let’s remember that each member of the team is invaluable. Even the smallest, quietest, and unnoticed member of the team is needed to win the “gold” in the battle of life.

Pulling together,

Kent

Failure

(Originally written, August 1991)

We live in a country that constantly emphasizes “winning” and “success”. Yet, most of us will just as often face failure. In 1990 approximately 60,000 U.S. businesses failed affecting hundreds of thousands of families. One morning last year the residents of a Florida apartment building awoke to a terrifying sight outside their windows. The ground beneath the street in front of their building had literally collapsed, creating a massive depression that Floridians call a sinkhole. Tumbling into the ever deepening pit were automobiles, pavement, sidewalks, lawn furniture, and soon their building. Perhaps you saw just last week on T.V. an entire house that was lost in a sinkhole.

Have you ever felt that your life was a sinkhole? Has that business opportunity fallen through? Has the dream collapsed? Have you also experienced trials in your personal life such as divorce, family strife, a traffic accident, or troublesome neighbors?

We all experience disappointment of one type or another in the course of our lives. The key is not what we face but how we face it. The Bible tells us of Job who lost his ranching empire, his children, and his health in a short time. His wife blurted out in despair, “Curse God and die” and he responded, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?”

Fire swept through the Laguna Canyon destroying a botanical garden containing 2000 plants and flowers. The hillside was black. Yet within five months the hills were alive with the beauty of wild flowers which had not been seen in 100 years. The beauty was still there, just rearranged. At times what we consider to be disaster is simply the hand of God rearranging and redirecting our lives.

If you have a pulse, you will have problems. Some simply aggravate us while others hurt us deeply for years. Helen Hayes expressed it well when she said, “The toughest years in life are those between 10 and 70.” That’s why James writes in the Bible “Dear Brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

So as you face failure just remember that God cares for you and others do also. And remind yourself that there is one thing more difficult to handle than failure, in fact very few survive a steady dose of it. It’s called “Success”, but that’s another letter.

May your darkest failures turn to light,

Kent

Integrity – Jacks Values #1

(Originally written, November 1994)

Value #1 – “Trustworthy with integrity” – “We will be reliable, dependable, and can be counted on to keep promises. We will do what we say we will do within the promised time frame.”

This is the first of 10 values that we at Jacks Service seek to follow professionally and personally. In the unstable marketplace of the 90’s, the quarterly income statement, the common place Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the lack of any continuity in key managerial or decision maker positions, and the consolidation and acquisition craze, have caused some to place expediency above principle. Many seem to not know or care about the commitments of yesterday, nor do they care about the effects on tomorrow. They are only concerned about the bottom line of today.

Most Americans no longer trust the institutions of yesterday. The church, the government, and even the institution of marriage have lost the influence that they had just thirty years ago. Today we no longer consider our political, social, or religious leaders as reliable. Yet how often do we take shortcuts to gain popularity, power, pleasures, or possessions? The one thing that we can count on today is that we can’t count on anything. Dependability is a rare commodity.

As a businessman, integrity means that I pay my suppliers promptly, do what I have committed to do for my customers, I treat my employees fairly and consistently, I repay my banker on schedule, and pay taxes honestly. As a husband, I must honor my wife in both the good and bad times. As a father, I must show my children that I will practice what I preach. The Bible encourages us with the story of Daniel who remained unchangeable for seventy years in the politics of a pagan land. Yet, David, who was a “man after God’s own heart”, was broken by deceit, adultery, and murder. Peter was not dependable in Christ’s hour of crisis, yet changed to be the “rock” of the early church. Only one person is perfect in integrity – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever”. He alone remains our model and only He can give us the power to put this value into our everyday lives.

Striving for Integrity,

Kent

It’s Time to Say Thank You

“It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods.  Every morning tell him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness.” Psalm 92:1, 2 (TLB)

I am usually asked several times a day about my breathing and my general health.  I normally respond that every morning I wake up and thank God that I am still breathing. I laugh about this, but for those of us who have limited breathing; it is a very serious matter. God has made it very clear my total dependence upon Him.  In this season of the year we sometimes pause for a day, a few hours, or just a few moments and give thanks to God for all of our blessings. However, God wants us to be in a constant attitude of thanksgiving for His continual blessings in our daily lives. Pause for just a moment and consider all that God has done for you.  If you are like me, then you will soon be embarrassed by His unbelievable grace to you in every area of your life.

I am thankful for my wife of forty-six years, Davidene, and the children and grand-children that God has blessed us with through these years.  My parents and brothers and sisters have been a constant encouragement to me over the years.  Our extended family of nephews and nieces continues to bring us such happiness in each holiday season.  I was so fortunate to have so many godly mentors in my life as a teen and a young man in my twenties and thirties.  I have been blessed with some really special business partners and co-workers in several companies and organizations. What a privilege to be able to work with such wonderful people every day.  The leaders from across the world that God has sovereignly placed in my path have been a model and joy for me. We have been in two great churches over the last fifty years that have provided us with a wonderful group of fellow followers of Christ to encourage and support our Christian journey.  Then there are those men and couples with whom we have been able to experience the sweet fellowship of being in a small group together over a number of years.  And God has allowed us to pray for and support the real front line warriors who are living as missionaries and ministers for Christ in various circumstances both here in the USA and around the globe.  The leaders of other workplace organizations and Christian ministries have been such a model to me as I have sought to follow Christ. As I have tried to be faithful in praying for these people God continues to remind me how important that they have been for the direction and success of my own life.

Even with all the difficulties and challenges of our nation today, I still am allowed to live in a country where we are still free to worship God as we choose.  I live in a city and a state that has many others who share my biblical beliefs. Compared to all the large cities across the globe, our city gives us space to experience the joys of His creation.  We generally have safety and fresh air and clean water to drink right at the tap as we need it.  While much of the world longs just for clean water somewhere near their home.  We sleep on nice beds and wake up to a heated or air conditioned home protected from the elements of the weather.  We have communication equipment of every kind and can tap in to what is happening around the world and dialogue with those half way around the world with ease.

I have an income when many today cannot find a job. I am reminded that 50% of the people our world live on less than $2 a day and 25% live on less than $1 a day. I have savings when many are burdened with huge debts and poor spending habits.  I have freedom to live life while others struggle with addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex. I have transportation to go as I please, while most of the people around the world struggle to carry food and water to their home just to provide for their families.  Many children will go to bed tonight hungry while I may overeat.  Others will go to bed tonight lonely without the comfort of a spouse or a parent.  Some will spend the night in a hospital not knowing if they will ever be able to go home again.  Some will have gotten out of the hospital but will never again have the use of an eye, an arm, or a leg. There will be those who are limited by the function of their lungs, their heart, or their other key organs.  They do not have the physical capabilities to live life as we do.   Others will be in prison without the opportunity to get out for years. And thousands will be imprisoned in their minds by depression and despair unable to cope with daily life.

In light of all of those who are not as fortunate as us, we have been asked to take the message of hope, joy, and peace.  We must keep our eyes on our provider as we are empowered by Him to serve those around us who have great needs. Without a thankful heart, we become cold to the needs all about us.  The physical, emotional, financial, social, and spiritual needs around us are overwhelming. But, the same God that has so graciously provided for us is able to provide for them.  So, in this season let us not be ungrateful for His abundant blessings.  Let us daily and hourly humbly offer our thanks to God.  May we not be so selfish and self indulgent in His blessings that our focus is taken off of Him.  God’s chosen people in Israel time after time let their eyes be captured by His blessings and took their eyes off of Him.  I am convinced that as we as thankful for His many blessings and focus on Him that we will be about His purposes in the lives of those around us.  May we as His children exhibit a Thankful Heart as we walk through each day!

Appreciating Each Breath,

Kent Humphreys

Successful Leaders

Good leaders are as rare as eagles!  Many desire to lead, but few are willing to pay the cost of leadership. Some people are successful, and others are strong leaders; however, few are “successful leaders” over a long period of time.  As I have faced the challenges of leadership in recent years, I have longed to learn from others how to cope with the constant demands of leadership.

When a survey was taken and people were asked, “Of the successful people that you have met, which of the following is the main reason for their success?”, they responded:  hard work (40%), determination (38%), knowledge (7%), luck (5%), contacts (5%), all of the above (2%), do not know/other (3%).  Successful leadership demands diligence and persistence.  Success in any area requires a willingness to learn.  While strong leaders must be “in control”, successful leaders allow their followers to grow.  Here are five proven principles for leading others:

(1) Find the right person for the right job.

(2)  When a person accepts a job, make sure that he or she understands your vision and the mission of the organization..  

(3)  Tell the person that you trust them, and that you have confidence in them.

(4)  Clearly let them know what you expect from them in fulfilling the vision and the mission of the organization.

(5)  Leave them alone to do the work.

My friend Lorne Sanny is one of the greatest leaders that I have known.  He led a growing Christian organization for thirty years.  He states that, “Leaders bring vision, faith, and courage to coordinated effort.”

                 Vision   –                To see what ought to be done

                 Faith    –       –      To believe it can be done

                 Courage        –      To persevere until it is done

While some of us are more inclined to lead than others, each of us can lead in some area of our lives.  As successful people, all of us must learn to be followers.  Sanny gives us the four questions each of us needs to ask of our leader in order to become successful followers:

(1)    What am I supposed to do?

(2)    Will you let me do it?

(3)    Will you help me when I need it?

(4)  Will you let me know how I am doing?

Success takes hard work and determination!  May we all be lifted to a higher level of accountability both as leaders and followers.

Learning to lead successful

Kent Humphreys

 

(Originally written 7-98)