Christ is Our Only Peace as a Christian
Peace is a word frequently accompanying Christian traditions. For those who celebrate the church calendar, peace is one of the four themes of Advent. Christians worship the messiah as the “prince of peace”. Peace is a watchword for guarding Christian conduct. In the pursuit of truth and in the midst of disputes, peace is to be a priority. Blessings that are pronounced between individuals and large groups of Christians often involve the “peace of God”. Even beyond the Christian tradition of peace, there is a broader desire for peace. An absence of peace in home environments is the reason for all sorts of non-profit programs and government budgetary expenses. A lack of peace abounds where wars and violence rage. Peace is seemingly cross-cultural. Peace is a desire of humanity.
Yet, peace seems elusive in our present world. Families are torn apart by both internal and external reasons. Individuals suffer from a lack of peace regarding the past, present, and future. We have specialized words in English to describe the many multifaceted ways in which humans can experience a disruption or lack of peace.
Do you have a lack of peace regarding your future? That’s anxiety.
Is peace quickly fleeting from you? That is a disruptive disorder.
Have you lost any hope of gaining peace? That is depression.
Is your group willing to destroy peace with another group? That is a war. Is someone failing to provide sufficiently for the peace of those in their care? That is negligence. Are you deprived of peace when you seek sleep? That is insomnia.
Peace is something easily observed when present, earnestly desired when absent, and blissfully enjoyed when possessed.
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The Ordinary Means of DiscipleshipBy Mantle A. Nance — 1 year ago
Written by Mantle A. Nance |
Saturday, March 26, 2022
“The prayers” in Acts 2:42 are likely representative of the overall worship of the early church. Still today, as the church seeks the face of the Father through the mediation of the incarnate Son with the help of the Spirit, the triune God is pleased to inhabit the praises of His people to the glory of His name, the routing of His enemies, and the edification of His church (see 2 Chron. 20:22; Ps. 8:2; Col. 3:16).
In Acts 2:42, Luke provides a summary of the ways believers in the early church grew as disciples. He writes, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” According to Luke, these Christians devoted themselves to four basic means by which they were discipled. Let us consider these means and the way in which the risen Christ still uses them today in the lives of His people.
First, Luke tells us that the early disciples devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching.” We should note that Luke chooses to characterize their activity in terms of devotion. In other words, they made the hearing and the study of the truth as it is revealed in Jesus Christ a priority—a regular, nonnegotiable part of their lives. Still today, most ministers will tell you that those who do this are those who, more often than not, lead the most vibrant and fruitful Christian lives. Those who faithfully attend the public teaching of the Word with a genuine hunger for it are disciples who make disciples. When the Word is preached faithfully, boldly, and winsomely in the power of the Spirit, these disciples are equipped to be faithful, bold, and winsome influencers for Christ in every sphere of their lives.
Luke also speaks of the early disciples’ devotion to “the fellowship.” Our triune God is the God of eternal fellowship, and we, as those made in His image, were made for fellowship with Him and with one another. Our lives are deficient without genuine fellowship with others, especially with others who share our love for Christ. As we proactively encourage one another, the body of Christ is built up spiritually and, very often, numerically. When we are known by our love for one another, those who have not yet tasted and seen that the Lord is good often become curious and open to hear more about the Jesus who is at the center of all our fellowship, and, by the grace of God, become genuine partakers of that fellowship as well.
Why We Must Emphasize A Pastor’s Character Over His SkillBy Tim Challies — 6 months ago
It is the man of character whose confidence is not in the messenger but the message. It is the man of character who cries out to God in his weakness and pleads with God to display his strength. Because he cannot rely on his human skill, he must rely on divine power. And the gospel shines through his weakness.
The New Testament clearly, repeatedly, and unapologetically lays out the qualifications of a pastor. What is so remarkable yet so often overlooked is this: Pastors are called and qualified to their ministry not first through their raw talent, their finely-honed skill, or their great accomplishments, but through their godly character. Of all the many qualifications laid out in the New Testament, there is just one related to skill (he must have the ability to teach others) and one related to experience (he must not be a recent convert). The rest of the nearly 20 qualifications are based on character. What fits a man to ministry is not first accomplishment or capability but character.
We cannot emphasize this too strongly or too often. I really mean that: We cannot overemphasize the primacy of character. A great many of the problems we see in the local and global church today are caused by the failure to heed this simple principle. So many Christians could be spared so much trauma if only their churches would refuse to put a man in leadership who is lacking such character. So many congregations would be spared so much pain if only they would remove men who prove they don’t have the kind of character God demands. This failure to heed what God makes plain is a terrible blight upon the Christian church.
From a human perspective, it’s not difficult to understand why the church gets this wrong. We are naturally drawn to people of remarkable charisma and outstanding talent. We love to listen to naturally-skilled communicators and to be led by accomplished leaders. We rejoice to bask in the residual glory of respected men and their noteworthy achievements. We convince ourselves that our measure of success is undeniable proof of God’s blessing. We are willing to overlook character if only we can have results.
Perhaps we need to ask why it is that God so values character. Why is it that God entrusts his church to men of character rather than men of talent or achievement? Why would he prefer that his church be led by unremarkable men instead of accomplished ones? Why would he choose an undistinguished but honorable man over a talented man who is known and celebrated for his many skills?
Between a Blackrock and a Hard Place: The Consequences of Corporate Social ActivismBy Richard D. Kocur — 5 months ago
Written by Richard D. Kocur |
Monday, October 17, 2022
Disney faced pressure from gender equity activists and employees for not doing enough to oppose the bill. Then, after coming out in opposition, Disney faced blowback from parents who believed the company should simply focus on providing family entertainment. On that issue, Disney management spun around more than a rider on the theme park’s iconic Teacup ride. And why? Because of ill-conceived social activism on an issue that was irrelevant to the primary role of the business. Now Blackrock finds itself in a comparable position as a result of a similar activist pursuit.
With the stock market down nearly 20% year-to-date in 2022, investors are paying close attention to the financial performance of their portfolios: seeking to protect 401Ks, looking for safe havens, and trusting that their fiduciary asset managers are making the right decisions with ever-shrinking nest eggs. The last thing any investor would want now is for asset managers to be investing in companies for any reason other than to maximize financial return.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock Inc., is doing through an emphasis on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing. This mode of corporate social activism has placed Blackrock in a difficult position, however, as pressure from both sides of the ESG issue close in on the company. Blackrock has become the latest example of a company experiencing the consequences of corporate social activism.
The movement to emphasize ESG within corporate structures and as corporate objectives first emerged in the early 2000s. ESG-focused investing directs capital to companies with stated goals on issues like climate change and social justice. Financial returns are a secondary concern to those who want to support or pressure companies to commit to ESG standards and enact policies to reach those standards.
With approximately $10 trillion in assets under management, Blackrock wields substantial power over where their assets, and by extension the assets of anyone invested in Blackrock, are placed. An August 16 editorial in the Wall Street Journal noted how Blackrock pressured companies to “avoid investing in fossil-fuel assets … and reduce emissions to achieve net zero by 2050.” In essence, putting pressure on the companies in which Blackrock invests to adopt ESG standards. If Blackrock’s blackmail is resisted, proxy shares are voted against management. This approach puts activism above shareholders’ returns. But Blackrock is beginning to see a backlash.
In late summer 2022, attorneys general from 19 Republican states sent a letter to Blackrock CEO Larry Fink seeking answers about potential conflicts between the firm’s ESG investing practices and his company’s fiduciary duty. In addition, states such as Texas and Louisiana have begun to bar state investment in any Blackrock fund that pushes ESG standards. With billions in state pension dollars and the investments of individual citizens at stake, the AGs and state comptrollers are calling Blackrock on the carpet.
In addition to this political reaction, market forces have also stepped into the ESG fight. A new investment alternative to ESG funds was recently launched by Strive Asset Management. Strive created a fund that mirrors Blackrock’s U.S. Energy Index Fund (IYE) but with a commitment to pursue non-ESG policies.
If pressure from those in opposition to ESG was not enough, Blackrock is also facing pushback from ESG advocates. In late September 2022, officials responsible for the public pension funds in New York City sent a letter to Fink pressing Blackrock to recommit to achieving net-zero emissions across its investment portfolio and to vote more in line with climate-related shareholder initiatives. Blackrock manages approximately $43 billion in investments for three New York City pension funds, according to a September 2022 article in the Wall Street Journal.
Blackrock could take a lesson from the investment adage, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” In the case of corporate social activism, past performance is a guarantee of future results. One only needs to look back to the mess in which the Walt Disney Corporation found itself because of its stance on Florida’s Parental Rights bill.
First, Disney faced pressure from gender equity activists and employees for not doing enough to oppose the bill. Then, after coming out in opposition, Disney faced blowback from parents who believed the company should simply focus on providing family entertainment. On that issue, Disney management spun around more than a rider on the theme park’s iconic Teacup ride. And why? Because of ill-conceived social activism on an issue that was irrelevant to the primary role of the business. Now Blackrock finds itself in a comparable position as a result of a similar activist pursuit.
Pressured from both sides of the ESG issue, they have now put themselves between a Blackrock and a hard place.
The author thanks Alex Heisey for his help in gathering research for this article.
Dr. Richard D. Kocur is an assistant professor of business at Grove City College. This article is used with permission.