I read with interest a New York Times article titled, “The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders.” It discussed three giants of business and innovation: Elon Musk (who co-founded Pay Pal and is the brains behind Tesla automobiles and the Space X aerospace company), Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the late Steve Jobs, who turned Apple into, well, Apple.
All three men have breathed the rarified air of success at the highest levels. In their chosen fields they have achieved what many others would not have even attempted, and they were revolutionaries in their respective fields of endeavor.
However, beyond their brilliance—according to the New York Times article—the three men have one other thing in common. They are (or were) capable of being—in the opinion of people close to them—first-class jerks.
Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson says of Jobs, “Nasty was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him.” Jobs had a penchant for verbally abusing employees, for being ruthlessly hard as a boss, and frequently resorting to insults and put-downs.
The Times quoted one of Musk’s former associates as saying: “He can be so gentle and loyal, and then hard on people when it isn’t necessary.” Brad Stone, who wrote “The Everything Store,” a book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon wrote that Bezos “was capable of hyperbole and cruelty in these moments, and over the years delivered some devastating rebukes to employees.” In his review of Stone’s book, Duff McDonald wrote, “It’s hard to tell if anybody likes [Bezos].”
The following is from the aforementioned New York Times article, written by Tony Schwartz:
Mr. Jobs drove around without a license on his car, and he regularly parked in spaces reserved for the handicapped. As Mr. Ive said of his attitude, “I think he feels he has a liberty and a license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him.” Amazon employees collected examples of Mr. Bezos’s most eviscerating put-downs, including, “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” “Why are you wasting my life?” and “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”
Jobs died in 2011 at the age of 56, and if Jesus doesn’t return first, Musk and Bezos will likewise “go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2). Musk is currently worth more than 13 billion dollars, while Bezos’ personal fortune is estimated to be almost 42 billion, making him the 15th richest person on the planet, positioned on the rich list between Mark Zuckerberg, and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. But for all that, both Musk and Bezos are reportedly reviled by many of those who know them best.
Very clearly, the three men profiled in the article have more than their fair share of redeeming qualities. They are/were all outstanding businessmen who in many ways improved society and the lives of millions of people. All three have given millions of dollars to charity and have created thousands upon thousands of jobs.
Steve Jobs is now remembered for being brilliant, and a not-very-nice person. Bezos and Musk are apparently cut from the same cloth. Who wants to be remembered that way?
There’s no question that Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos will all be remembered for being visionary leaders. But in terms of character, it could be that history will not smile upon them. Theirs may well be tarnished legacies.
It’s likely—from a human perspective—that there are reasons these man act the way they do. Most of us will never know the pressure of having thousands of employees depending on your ability to keep your company ahead of the pack. Most of us will never go to bed at night knowing that the decisions we made during the day could potentially cost a lot of people billions of dollars. Your company makes a bad decision and you have to rebuild a deck or repaint a kitchen. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos make a bad decision and millions of people don’t get their orders on time or a space craft doesn’t survive takeoff. Big stuff.
However, that can’t really serve as an excuse. If it did, we’d all find reasons for the bad behavior we sometimes exhibit and we’d become more tolerant of it even as others grow less tolerant of us. How do you live in this world and operate under pressure, and still be nice?
Three Biblical principles address that question.
Kindness: 1 Peter 2:23 (NKJV) says of Jesus, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus did not retaliate or seek to get even, because he was constantly surrendered to His heavenly Father.
Submission: Psalm 141:3. “Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” It’s important to pray that God will guard your tongue and guide you in what to say.
Humility: James 4:10. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” There’s no eternal future in pride, in putting yourself above another and failing to consider the feelings and concerns as others.
We might not all rise to the heights of a Steve Jobs, but we interact with others and affect those in our circle of influence. How will you be remembered? What sort of legacy will you leave? Remember—failure now does not guarantee failure tomorrow. 2 Corinthians 4:16 states, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Romans 12:2 invites us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan, is the 19th largest country in the world. In spite of its vast amount of land, the total population of Mongolia is barely 3 million people. Would you believe that over half those people live in one city?! That city is Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Many of these inhabitants live in gers, the traditional housing of nomadic people in Mongolia, without running water and electricity.
When communism fell and the Soviet military left the country, one of the sad legacies of the former regime was that there were no Christians left in the land. 23 years later, only 3% of the population is Christian. Most people consider themselves as either non-religious or Buddhist.
This fact makes Mongolia one of the most interesting places to proclaim the good news of Jesus. It Is Written is excited to be part of a three year project to introduce the people of Mongolia to Jesus.
Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world. The people endure eight months of cold weather every year with an average winter temperature of -13°F.
Mongolians have traditionally been nomads who moved from place to place seeking new pastures for their herds. However, things are rapidly changing. Over the last few years people have been moving to the large city in droves with the hope of finding a better and easier life. Consequently, the majority of the country’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar.
While living in rural areas Mongolians were able to enjoy the space that was provided by the vast plains of the country. Now, though, people live in a city that has an infrastructure for a fraction of the present population. The new inhabitants live in overcrowded conditions in an area called the “Ger District.”
The term ger refers to the white circular tent that Mongolians have used as an abode for hundreds of years. It is a one-room tent with a central post and a stove in the middle, where people live, eat, and sleep. Multiple families often live in one ger. Most of the gers have no running water and so in the dead of the winter, -40°F, people have to fetch water from water stations.
The Amazing Grace, Yarmag, and Tolgoit Churches, where our teams of volunteers will be working, are located in different areas of the Ger District—ideal places for evangelism. Through medical evangelism we are hoping to make many friends for Jesus.
Over the next couple years It Is Written is organizing several medical mission trips to care for the needy and to promote a healthy lifestyle in Mongolia. The first of these trips will be this fall, from September 30 to October 11.
Mongolia needs you. Are you ready to be a blessing to a people who desperately need to know about Jesus? For more information please contact:
Two convicted murderers have dominated the news since they made an improbable escape from a maximum security prison 20 miles south of the Canadian border. Using power tools, the two men—one serving a life sentence and the other doing 25 years to life—cut through a steel plate, brick walls and pipes, and made their way through a sewer on their way to the outside world. Within days they were being pursued by 700 law enforcement officials, and a reward of $100,000 was offered for information leading to their arrest.
One former Clinton Correctional Facility inmate said that when his incarceration there he and other prisoners thought about escaping “all the time.” Something within the human heart drives us to want to be free and something in the heart of God desires that His children experience freedom.
After James was executed, the apostle Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem. It seemed that Peter’s loss of freedom was going to be followed by the loss of his life. But God had other ideas. There would be a prison break
Acts 12:5 says, “But constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” While Peter slept—bound with chains between two Roman soldiers—“an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7). Peter was led by an angel past prison guards to the prison gate, which opened before Peter allowing him to walk to freedom.
And God is still setting people free! Yet even though slavery ended in the United States 150 years ago, many people are still in bondage. Sin has made slaves of the very people Jesus died to save, people God is willing to set free—if only they are willing to be freed.
When Peter was liberated from his prison cell, it was the angel that secured Peter’s freedom. All Peter had to do was be willing to be freed, and to cooperate with the angel as the angel led the way to liberty.
The same is true in the experience of sinners today. The plan of salvation originated with God. Salvation was purchased through the death of Jesus. Forgiveness is secured through the blood of Jesus. Power for holy living is granted through the Holy Spirit. In other words, everything concerning the plan of salvation is provided for us. Those who accept what God has done and follow His leading will be led to freedom.
I remember a pastoral visit to a penitentiary to visit an inmate who had been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. I’ll never forget the feeling that gripped me when I saw the size of the tiny prison cell he called home. I recoiled at the thought of any person having to be locked away in such a small space for the rest of his or her life. But the man I visited that day had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and had experienced the freeing miracle of salvation. I knew that the majority of people living outside the walls of that prison were in fact prisoners, shut up in the prison house of sin.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus died so we might live. He offers eternal life to the world. He offers eternal life to you.
The two men who escaped from the prison in upstate New York aren’t expected to spend long in the outside world. Prison escapees rarely elude capture for long. That kind of prison break is destined to fail.
But if you live your life in connection with Jesus Christ, you can’t help but experience the freedom of a new life in Him. And “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Each year SALT holds two training sessions. The mission to share with others how to be a soul-winner is the same for both, but we understand that availability to receive training for each person is different. Either SALT curriculum is an excellent choice as they are similar in spirit, purpose, and content; they only differ in format and duration.
There is the main session, widely known and referred to as SALT, which is a three and one-half month training segment. Participants are taught by Southern Adventist University professors in the classroom and given hands-on training, as they work with heavy mentorship as a life-coach and evangelist each week in the field. After the program has finished participants receive a Bible-worker certification from the university!
For those not able to take such an amount of time off as SALT requires, there is the Summer SALT intensive; spanning no longer than one week. SALT staff members and guest lecturers teach summer SALT seminars, and cover many of the different facets of evangelism. Ultimately, participants are taught how to share the word of God and lead others to make a decision for Christ.
No matter your background or schedule, there are opportunities for you to be trained on how to be a soul-winner for God’s kingdom. At SALT, we look forward to you taking advantage of this training and leading others to know Jesus Christ. Remember, “You are the SALT of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).
Find out more at southern.edu/salt
The death penalty is a subject that arouses strong feelings among those on both sides of the question. According to a Gallup poll, support for the death penalty peaked in the United States in 1994, when 80% of Americans claimed to support capital punishment. In 2013, that number had dropped to 60%.
The United States is one of few countries in the world where the death penalty is enforced. Less than 20% of nations in the world carry out the death penalty.
I’ll never forget reading about a man who was executed in the United States for a crime he quite apparently never committed. At the trial the jury listened to expert testimony which claimed the man was guilty. Later testimony by other experts contradicted that earlier evidence, but by then it was too late—and the man was executed protesting his innocence.
It’s difficult to know who to trust, whose testimony is actually accurate—and lives often depend on that. There are many voices in this world vying for your attention, voices claiming to be telling the truth. But there’s only one voice you can trust one hundred percent.
2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is inspired. By God. You can trust it. Sometimes we don’t understand it, and there are times we don’t interpret it correctly. But in such cases, the problem isn’t with the Bible, but rather our understanding of it.
You can trust the Bible. It’s genuine “Expert Testimony.”
The world is full of sadness and sad news. Right now in various parts of the world there are wars being fought, floods unexpectedly taking lives, lethal heatwaves, and crippling droughts. And daily, people are dying for any number of tragic reasons.
In the past few weeks, several people I have known well have died far too soon. One was a dear friend of mine who left behind a pre-teen daughter when cancer prematurely ended her life. Another friend, It Is Written Associate Speaker Ron Halvorsen recently lost his battle with cancer. And just today Warren Judd, a long-time friend of the It Is Written ministry, has laid down his armor and gone to his rest.
Warren learned right around a year ago that he was facing health challenges. He had worked beyond retirement age, and was a picture of health: tall and lean, positive, active in life and ministry, part of a vibrant family and possessing an ardent faith in God. Not the typical cancer patient by any means, although cancer so often does what isn’t “typical.”
As the manager of the facility where It Is Written was located for many years, Warren dealt with our It Is Written team on virtually a daily basis. Warren loved people, and he loved ministry. A creative thinker, he was always kind in his dealings with others—even if they were not kind in their dealings with him. He was a gentleman. And now he rests, waiting for the resurrection.
We’re reminded yet again that life is precious, that life is fragile, that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that every day is a gift and that family and friends and faith in God are the truly important things in this world.
Over the weekend I had lunch with friends who had lost a year-old grandson to cancer. Someone asked me, “Why does the wages of sin have to be so severe?” I wondered if God—who witnessed the death of His own Son—ever considered the same thought.
But we’re reminded—again—that believers in Jesus have everything to look forward to. In God’s providence, this world is not where everything ends. There will soon be a great, getting-up morning. The dead in Christ shall rise. We’ll see our loved ones again. We’ll be reunited with family and friends. God is His providence has designed a perfect plan. Even death cannot prevent God’s ultimate design from being carried out.
And we’re also reminded that we possess the answers to precious few of life’s challenging questions. Why should a man of faith come down with a terminal illness? Why are some healed and others are not? Why does God not always answer our prayers for deliverance from illness? While answers are somethings hard to find, the True Answer is not. When confronted by questions like these, rather than ask Jesus for the answer, it might be better to remember that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The Bible tells us that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
And miracles come in many shapes and shades. This morning in our staff worship—as we prayed for a miracle for Warren and his family—two experiences were shared concerning people who were told they had tested positive for cancer, only to be told when surgery was performed that no cancer was present. Miracles? It would seem so Miracles, or misdiagnoses. But let’s say they were in fact miracles—which seems to be the case. Why was there not a miracle in Warren’s case?
Ah, but there was. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis to receive. And yet since Warren was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family have only radiated positivity, trust, and faith in God. Which isn’t to say a family doesn’t have challenging moments. But as the news got progressively more grim for Warren and his family, reports from Warren’s family exuded increasing faith in God and surrender to His Sovereign will. An attitude of constant faith and trust in God in the face of a brutally challenging diagnosis is as much a miracle of divine grace as healing from a difficult illness.
God doesn’t always reveal His goodness through the absence of challenging circumstances. Often, God’s goodness is experienced in the midst of challenging circumstances.
We have everything to look forward to. Keep looking forward! Jesus is coming back soon.
[photo courtesy of North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists]
On May 13, 2015, global Christian media ministry, It Is Written, purchased property at 9342 Four Corners Place in Collegedale. The ministry is relocating from California after nearly sixty years due to the sale of their former location. The ministry is currently operating out of leased office space near Collegedale, but will soon begin building a new media headquarters. A ground breaking will be announced at a later date.
“We are so excited to make Collegedale, Tennessee our new home,” John Bradshaw, Speaker/Director for It Is Written said, “We quickly felt right at home in Tennessee, and we are thrilled to continue to share the love of Jesus with the world from our new location.”
It Is Written is best known around the world for its weekly television series which has aired every Sunday for 59 years. Today, It Is Written can be seen on multiple networks including TBN, The Discovery Channel, The Hope Channel, 3ABN, and LLBN. The weekly programs feature Pastor Bradshaw and provide spiritual guidance and encouragement on a variety of Biblical subjects.
It Is Written began in March 1956, when founder George Vandeman began a then innovative concept of televising religious programing from southern California. Over the years, the ministry has had the opportunity to share the word of God with many countries including areas where there are very few Christians and where there is great resistance to the gospel.
In recent years, It Is Written has received 32 Angel awards from the Excellence in Media organization for promoting high moral values and has also received three Aurora awards and 12 Telly awards including the Silver Telly. Its most recent Telly award was received in 2014 for the “Eyes for India” television program.
It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that our beloved It Is Written associate speaker Ron Halvorsen fell asleep in Jesus on Friday, May 15. For decades Pastor Ron powerfully proclaimed the everlasting gospel. Thousands and tens of thousands of people came to know Jesus as their personal Savior thanks to his passionate ministry. Ron was truly a giant in ministry. A kind man, who relentlessly lifted up Jesus. He had a thousand stories to tell and he told them so well, always directing people to faith in Christ.
There’ll never be another one quite like Ron. When he stepped in for me when I couldn’t preach in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2013 he was having some health-related annoyances, but he didn’t let that keep him from preaching the message. He wouldn’t let anything keep him from doing that.
Ron would want us to keep doing what we’re doing with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Carol, his wife, expressed how much he loved It Is Written. “He was a wonderful person. Ministry was his life, and he was excited about the speaking appointments he had on his schedule. He had so many sermons he just couldn’t wait to preach,” Carol told me.
Paul’s poignant words in 2 Timothy 4:7 best describe Pastor Ron: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Please join us in praying for Pastor Ron’s family at this difficult time. And also join us in looking forward to that wonderful day when Jesus returns.
One short story: after I learned of his death, the very first person I told said to me, “He preached at our church a few years ago. My sister had been out of the church for 35 years. The Holy Spirit spoke to her through Pastor Halvorsen’s preaching, and she came back to the Lord. Now she’s bringing others to Jesus.”
“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
—Pastor John Bradshaw and the staff of It Is Written
It Is Written programs with Ron Halvorsen:
If you would like to make these programs a part of your collection, follow the links below.
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Visits have been made, the special lunches, breakfast in bed, long-distance phone calls, family gatherings… and hopefully the glow hasn’t yet worn off. My family and I were traveling this Mother’s Day, and we overheard many Mother’s Day phone calls between various people and that special mother in their lives.
In 2 Samuel 20, the Bible talks about a “wise” mother in Israel. The city of Abel-bethmaachah was in jeopardy. A rebel loyal to the former King Saul was being pursued by Joab, the leader of David’s armies, and the rebel—Sheba—was hiding there. Joab arrived in town determined to kill Sheba, and as long as he was in Abel-bethmaachah, the entire city was in danger.
An un-named mother in Israel realized that her life was in danger, her city was in jeopardy, and therefore her own children were imperiled. What do you do when your children are in danger? This mother, like most mothers would, decided that she’d do whatever it was she had to do. And so she said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.”
Grim, for sure, but think about what had to have gone through her mind. “This Sheba’s a scoundrel, and he’s endangering us all. And the only way we’re going to turn this around is by convincing Joab that the man is dead. And we won’t be able to convince him without proof. And so that means…” You can imagine her thinking this through, and she realized how awful this was going to have to be. Mothers give life, they don’t take it. For anyone to take a life… you’ve got to cross some pretty significant mental and emotional bridges in order to make it happen. This wasn’t a warrior in Israel, or a soldier in Israel. She was a mother in Israel, but her people were in danger. Her children were in danger, so what did she do? She did what she had to because she was a mother.
Notice how verse 22 puts it. “Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people” The details of what had to have been a difficult conversation aren’t recorded in the Bible, but the end result is. “And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab.” We’re not told how she communicated this to the people, but by the time this episode is over, Sheba has met with a very unfortunate end. And after all this, Abel-bethmaachah was safe. Joab never entered the city, and the people—including the children—were left in peace.
That was a tough call. And very obviously I’m not recommending anyone imitate what this woman did. But this was a desperate time and it called for desperate measures. And it was a mother in Israel who stepped forward and said, “We have to preserve our people, our children, and I’ll do whatever needs to be done to make that happen.”
And that’s what mothers do. They nurture their children in a thousand different ways, they give and give and give of themselves, they aren’t paid for what they do as mothers and their work is more often than not unrecognized. They’re the glue that keeps thousands of school committees and volunteer organizations and children’s groups and sports clubs and who-knows-what-else held together, when they often don’t have time and when they could be doing other things or pursuing other interests. Mothers do what they do because… well, because they’re mothers. It’s what mothers do. That’s what God has placed in their hearts.
My own mother is a phenomenal human being who raised seven children, and was simultaneously a nurse, counselor, chauffeur, mediator, psychologist, companion, caterer, financier, doctor, tailor, playmate, motivator, nurturer, educator, decorator, referee, chef, and a thousand other things. True, Dad played a major role, too. I was blessed with two parents who were very involved in my life. But I only had—and thank God, still have—one Mum. Among all she has been, “friend” is probably the greatest of all.
So we recognize mothers a day a year. But we can do better than that, surely. Along with buying flowers or cooking breakfast or taking Mum out to dinner or whatever it might be on Mother’s Day, make sure that’s not the only time you do it. And tell your mother often, “I love you and appreciate you and don’t say thank you often enough.”
Adapted from “A Mother in Israel”, from It Is Written television. Watch it here http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9719