3 Things to Ask about Job Descriptions

Be encouraged. Job descriptions often read like the company is looking for a purple squirrel that bakes cookies. It is such a common thing that Wikipedia now defines Purple Squirrel as a “job candidate with precisely the right education, experience, and qualifications that perfectly fits a job’s multi-faceted requirements.”

For example. One local company wanted someone with 10 years cloud computing experience and the only person who seemed qualified was Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider who couldn’t apply because he was dead.   

This doesn’t mean to go crazy applying for jobs that you may not be qualified for – just to use common sense. Here are three questions to ask when reviewing a job description.

How old is the posting? If it is more than 30 days, it may well be an old, inactive posting that a recruiter forgot to take down or in the case with Glassdoor and Indeed, can’t be taken down.

How is the company doing? Google the company before you apply — if they’ve done mass layoffs, you will be able to find news articles reporting this easily enough. If you have connections at the company, reach out and ask them how the company has been impacted by COVID.

How many open roles are listed on the company’s site? If they only have one or two openings listed, this may actually be a good sign that means someone is actively posting and reviewing job listings. Plus these may be the most ‘critical roles’ that are needed to be filled quickly.

Jobseeker Event

Beat the Applicant Tracking Systems: In this Wake Technical Community College class you will discover how to make your resume “robot” friendly and get it past the machines to a human being, including several strategies to determine the right keywords and important formatting considerations. The class is 4.5 hours, with about 2.5 hours of independent online work and live Microsoft Teams meetings 8/6 & 8/10 from 1-2pm. Facilitated by Gail McCowan.

Students MUST register online before 8/3 at https://tinyurl.com/y2d7zfm3. Fee-waived for qualifying individuals who are unemployed, underemployed, or who have received notice of layoff or pending layoff. To determine your eligibility, contact the HRD office at hrdstudent@waketech.edu

Jobs Opportunities

Organizational Strategy and Communications Coordinator for NC State University. This opportunity supports NC State’s mission and vision by providing consistent and reliable data that informs and supports the university’s strategic decisions.

Communications Associate for Autism Society. The Coordinator is involved in all aspects of organizational content development, including writing, editing, and concept design. The job involves work with the organization’s website, social media, email marketing, and public relations.

What are your dreams?

Is it a new career? We have jobseeker packages for that.

Is it to write and publish a book? We have a package for that.

Is it to get a business off the ground? We offer packages for that too!

For a limited time, I am offering a free 30-minute consultation to encourage you toward your goals. I am also culling through the best possibilities in careers and sharing through LinkedIn, blogs, and enewsletters. If you have a job to share, let us know! We want to help connect great people to new careers.

Be Prepared

When it comes to landing a job, consider treating the effort as you would a job. Plan your day in about 4-hour increments; one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The mornings are a great time to follow-up on communications from earlier. A good rule of thumb is to reach out about once a week to people you either interviewed with or asked for support.

Use your afternoon time to research new opportunities and reach out to connections for leads. When making requests for informational interviews, be sure to treat the other person’s time with respect by blocking out time on your calendar and being in a quiet environment where you can focus on the conversation.

When applying for a job, be sure your qualifications are a good match.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break by stretching or going for a walk.

Be a friend to others by writing recommendations or helping them make connections.

Free Jobseeker Resources

Pump Up Your LinkedIn Profile: When it come to improving LinkedIn profiles, Debra Mathias is a legend in the industry. Be sure to register today for this FREE SHE NC virtual workshop on July 30 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. 

Join the “Colonial JobSeekers Virtual”: CJS meets weekly on Monday mornings via Zoom from 8:15-9:30 a.m. To receive Colonial JobSeekers weekly virtual meeting Zoom invitations, group announcements and incoming job leads, send an email request to join the Colonial JobSeekers Yahoo Group to:  colonial_jobseekers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

July’s Best Career Opportunities

Community Home Trust has an opportunity for a dynamic and effective Manager of Marketing and Communications.  The position will set and guide the strategy for all CHT communications, website, social media, public relations messages and collateral in order to consistently articulate CHT’s mission to strengthen our community with permanently affordable housing opportunities.

Self-Help is seeking a Vice President of Marketing and Communications to join the team in Durham, NC. The VP leads the planning, coordination and implementation of strategic communications and marketing programs to increase awareness and support for Self-Help’s work among internal and external audiences. Through its credit union network, Self-Help serves over 150,000 people in North Carolina, California, Chicago, Florida and South Carolina.

What are your dreams?

  • Is it a new career? We have jobseeker packages for that.
  • Is it to write and publish a book? We have a package for that.
  • Is it to get a business off the ground? We offer packages for that too!

For a limited time, I am offering a free 30-minute consultation to encourage you toward your goals. I am also culling through the best possibilities in careers and sharing through LinkedIn, blogs, and enewsletters. If you have a job to share, let us know! We want to help connect great people to new careers.

Moving from COVID Chaos to Calm

Take the stress out of finding a job and rethink your skills to fit the new job landscape.  This process in the middle of COVID-19 chaos can feel impossible when no one knows when the economic impact will settle, but this doesn’t mean despair. It’s not good for you and certainly not good for the pencils you keep gnawing on.

It’s time to focus on your abilities, your skills, and your values. This can be fun a process to re-imagine your life. In college, I set my goals to a career in Human Resources. By the time I graduated from Meredith College with a B.S. in Business and Minor in Psychology, the HR related jobs dried up and I used my sales savvy to work in retail management then moved to mortgage sales. When my first son arrived and I wanted to work more from home, I used my creativity to launch a marketing career with a local winery. When we made a move back to North Carolina, I used my creative writing skills to launch a career as a columnist and reporter.  I switched to nonprofit leadership work for a while and then circled back to my first career passion – Human Resources.

None of the career pathways required a certification or more degrees. Pivoting in a career can be as a easy as re-imagining the skills you have, networking, and being open to opportunities that come your way.

Through my years of experiences, I discovered I am really great at transforming a vision into reality. This is the foundation of the work I do through FRS Communications.

What are your dreams?

  • Is it a new career? We have jobseeker packages for that.
  • Is it to write and publish a book? We have a package for that.
  • Is it to get a business off the ground? We offer packages for that!

For a limited time, I am offering a free 30-minute consultation to encourage you toward your goals. I am also culling through the best possibilities in careers and sharing through LinkedIn, blogs, and enewsletters. If you have a job to share, let us know! We want to help connect great people to new careers. Do you have special talent and want to join our list of consultants? Let us know that too!

July’s Best Career Opportunities

State of North Carolina Jobseeker Site: It’s easy to navigate this site with careers or locations. Top pick is Recruitment Manager that will among other things be responsible for recruiting strategies through advertising, social media, job fairs, college fairs, networking, business and employee referrals, internship programs, and/or third party assistance.

Seqirus in Holly Springs: There is a wide variety of opportunites at this fast-growing pharmaceutical company. Top pick is Senior Communications Manager

Epic Games in Cary: There are almost 50 opportunities in Cary ranging from programming, design, and marketing.  

Virtual Chat with Beth Wood at Cary Pink House

Enjoy getting to know your NC State Auditor, Beth Wood through this exclusive Cary Pink House livestream benefit event on Thursday June 30 from 7 to 8 p.m.

“Beth is sassy, classy and smart,” said Sheila Ogle, Cary Pink House owner who will moderate the livestream event. “Prepare questions to ask and learn how Beth’s strong leadership with 30 years of auditing experience has identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending during her 12 years as our NC State Auditor. Beth remains undeterred in her mission to protect taxpayers every step of the way.”

Register through the Cary Pink House Facebook Page.

“The citizens of North Carolina recognize my devotion to this office and the need for for me to complete the work I started. I want to continue to serve as your eyes and ears,” said Beth.

Listen in as Beth shares a little about the work of the NC State Auditor’s office.

Please support Beth with a $50 donation that will help her prepare for the November election.

A Note from North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood:

Growing up on the farm in Craven County, I had daily chores from an early age and my parents taught me the value of hard work. I became a dental assistant and worked my way through college at ECU to earn my accounting degree. I have worked as a Certified Public Accountant for 30 years, and for the past 22 years I have worked in the State Auditor’s office, including my three terms as North Carolina State Auditor. I work every day to protect all of our tax dollars.

As State Auditor, I have:

  • Identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending
  • Maintained objectivity and independence in the Auditor’s office
  • Produced audits with irrefutable findings
  • Aggressively presented audit reports for legislative action
  • Followed up on previous audits to ensure corrective actions are taken
  • Continued to identify abusive and wasteful spending of your taxpayer dollars

I remain undeterred in my mission to protect taxpayers every step of the way. From start to finish, I vow to safeguard how your tax dollars are spent.

About Beth Wood: Beth is a long-time public servant with over 30 years of auditing experience. The first woman elected to that office, Beth has served as State Auditor since 2009. She previously worked in the State Auditor’s Office for more than a decade and also served in the State Treasurer’s Office. Prior to state government, Beth worked with Rayovac Corporation, as a CPA with McGladrey & Pullen and was the CFO for a North Carolina-based furniture company.

FRS Communications is providing the technical and social media support for this event.

Betcha Can Create Something Fun

Board games are my addiction and one of the latest games to capture our family’s attention is Betcha Can’t! The game is fast moving and tests your ability to name common and not so common things in a short time. Sometimes you have 10 seconds to list ice cream flavors or you might have 45 seconds for arctic animals. Get your bet right and you get the card. Collect five cards and you are the winner. Challenges, time outs and proving you are the better bettor are all part of the fun.

Teen Inventors

What I like most about this game is that is created by teen entrepreneurs Lily Brown and Tait Hansen. After overcoming the hurdles of designing a game that can be mass produced by a toy company, the teens entered the game into a competition and won the chance to meet a toy manufacturer. The rest as they say is history or in this case herstory!

Think you can invent a game? Now is the time to try. Betcha Can’t! was entered into the Young Inventor Challenge that happens annually during the Chicago Toy and Game Fair in November. 

To enter, kids must first design and prototype a game or toy and create a pitch video for their product. During the Fair, kids present their products to major toy companies and, ultimately, the judges. From a pool of approximately 200 entries, a handful of winners are selected across a range of categories. Only one grand prize winner is chosen, and that winner’s product is eligible to be licensed by a major toy manufacturer (in this case Pressman Toys) and launched by Target.

Listen in as Lily and Tait talk with Eyewitness News WTVO WQRF

Book Review: “Dead Last”

Amanda Lamb takes her talent for writing compelling news stories to new heights with her first fiction “Dead Last.” Available May 12 on Amazon, “Dead Last” will captivate you from the start with the intrigue around a runner who falls during a marathon and whispers, “My husband is trying to kill me.”

It’s almost as if the years of having to trim stories to the minimal for a 60-second news sound-bite have flooded through Amanda’s  writing to deliver colorful characters in a story that will keep you reading to find out what happens next. Craftily written phrases bring images offering more clarity to the story. The lead character, Maddie Arnette, doesn’t just go visit someone. Maddie enters a neighborhood with “beautiful houses that have the power to hide the lives crumbling inside.” People aren’t crazy. They “casually wield passive aggression like a machete.”

If you are craving a great mystery that offers insights into crime reporting, pre-order your copy today and be sure to sign up for a virtual book-signing on May 14 to hear from Amanda Lamb as she reads from the “Dead Last” and answers questions.  A time will be set up soon for Amanda to sign the books for readers who join the livestream event on Facebook.

About the author:  Amanda Lamb is a veteran television crime reporter with three decades of experience. She works for an award-winning NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, WRAL-TV. She also appears on a regular basis on national news magazine programs and networks which feature true crime stories including Discovery Investigates. While Amanda has written and published nine books, Dead Last is her fiction debut and is born out of her many years of experience covering the crime beat. Amanda is the author three true crime books based on murder cases she covered for the news including: Deadly Dose, Evil Next Door, and Love Lies. She has also published four memoirs, one about caregiving and three about parenting, including: The Living Room, I Love You to God and Back, Girls Gone Child, and Smotherhood. Amanda has penned two children’s books, a story book version of I Love You to God and Back. Her newest offering is We Are Not the Same which is a labor of love for the Tammy Lynn Center, an organization that supports children and adults with disabilities.

You can catch Amanda’s juggling act daily on WRAL-TV or online at WRAL.com, on Instagram on Twitter and on Facebook.

Giving Back During COVID-19

There are so many reasons FRS Communications is a proud sponsor of Fit & Able Productions. The most obvious is the unwavering support to the community. When faced with having to cancel event after event to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this incredible nonprofit took the opportunity to highlight the needs of others.

I am proud to serve as a board member for Fit and Able and volunteer Content Strategies including videos. Check out their YouTube page that now includes workout tips you can do at home. In an email sent to the followers was the list below of the groups that need our help now more than ever.

Dorcas Ministries – “Dorcas has celebrated over 50 years of serving our local community with tools and resources to help our clients become self-reliant while addressing immediate crises. Dorcas Ministries provides compassionate assistance to area residents to empower people to become stable and self-sufficient.” Fit & Able supports Dorcas Ministries through our Threads of Hope. 

The Wake Tech Foundation – “The Wake Tech Foundation cultivates and manages an array of resources critical to Wake Tech Community College’s success. These resources allow the college to meet instructional and institutional needs and continue to offer top-quality, affordable education and training to the Wake County region.” Fit & Able supports the Wake Tech Foundation through our Fostering Footsteps for Bright Futures.

Video feature with Joe Cotton, NC State Highway Patrol

200 Club of Wake County – “The 200 Club of Wake County is an organization of concerned citizens dedicated to supporting First Responders living or working in Wake County. The primary mission of The 200 Club is providing immediate financial help for the families of First Responders living or working in Wake County who lose their lives in the line of duty.” Fit & Able supports the 200 Club through our Cozy Toes.

Life Experiences, Inc. – “Life Experiences, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that blends education, training, and the free enterprise system to create and operate businesses which provide fulfilling employment for adults with developmental disabilities, allowing them to function as independent, productive citizens while at the same time providing valuable services and products to the community.” 

The Carying Place – “Our goal is to help working homeless families achieve independent living through mentoring of volunteers providing weekly guidance in managing personal finances, seeking permanent affordable housing, and maintaining a job – breaking the cycle of poverty they have experienced.” Fit & Able helps the Carying Place raise support with the Labor Day Race for Home.

North Carolina Senior Games – “In 1983 N.C. Senior Games began with a vision to create a year-round health promotion and education program for North Carolinians 50 years of age and better. Today, there are over 60,000 participants in 53 Local Games programs that serve all 100 counties across the state. Senior Games is a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit staying fit, while enjoying the company of friends, family, spectators, and volunteers.” Fit & Able stages NC Senior Games’ annual 5K and 10K Championship.

Center for Volunteer Caregiving – “The Center for Volunteer Caregiving engages the community in providing volunteer services to improve the lives of seniors, caregivers and adults with disabilities. In everything we do, we will conduct ourselves with integrity, caring, and compassion.”

Triangle Aphasia Projected, Ltd. – “TAP Unlimited is a community based nonprofit organization that helps individuals with aphasia, their families and friends, and the community. Individuals with aphasia receive support and programming for as long as they want to, helping them return to the community with improved communicative confidence and full engagement.” Fit & Able helps TAP drive support with the Strides for Speech race.

Wade Edwards Learning Lab (WELL) – “Our Mission: Providing the student community with opportunities for achievement, enrichment, and service, in preparation for personal and academic success. How? Positive youth development is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their various social groups; recognizes and utilizes strengths of youth; and promotes positive outcomes for young people.” WELL participates in the Charity Distance Festival.

US Veterans Corps – “We are a corps of military veterans performing hands on community service with a mission deployment attitude. Our mission: to participate in community service projects and events in the military and civilian community.” Fit & Able supports the US Veterans Corps through our Fortnight Before Christmas.

Watch this video featuring Christer Berg filmed at the 2020 Mutts & Marshmallows

SPCA of Wake County

“Our Mission: To transform the lives of pets and people through protection, care, education and adoption.  Our vision is to create a humane community–and achieving that vision begins with ending the euthanasia of all healthy and treatable animals.” Fit & Able helps raise support for the SPCA with the Mutts & Marshmallows and Pups & Pastries.

Travis Manion Foundation – “Travis Manion Foundation’s mission is to empower our nation’s veterans and families of our fallen heroes to develop character in future generations in order to strengthen communities.” Fit & Able helps support the Travis Manion Foundation with the 9/11 Heroes Run. 

Horse & Buddy – “Horse and Buddy exists to help people with special needs improve balance, muscle tone, motor skills, and self-esteem. We enrich the lives of children and adults with special needs through equine assisted therapies and activities in a safe and caring environment.”

A New Lease on Life – “A New Lease on Life helps those experiencing homelessness get back on their feet through stable housing. We bridge housing opportunities with local non-profit agencies and provide an available apartment home at a reduced rate. The program offers a hand up to those in need.” Fit & Able helps support A New Lease on Life through our Leaves to Leases.

Soles for Souls – “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has partnered with Soles4Souls in an effort to wear out poverty in developing countries by providing gently worn or new shoes to those who currently do not have them. A pair of shoes provides relief in developing nations, in times of disaster, and helps bridge the economic gap.” Fit & Able helps support Soles 4 Souls at Sole Mates. 

Heart Smart Classrooms in a Pandemic Time

In The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning, Dr. Adam L. Sáenz offers a free Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) assessment designed to help teachers increase student academic performance and encourage a more positive classroom experience.

There has never been a better time to explore our personality style and vulnerability to stress than while we are self-isolated. “Students are feeling disoriented being away from the friends and activities that largely define them. Students are also sensing their parents’ stress and fear of the unknown,” from @AdamSaenzPhD.

In his latest book, Sáenz offers personal stories and struggles from his childhood and classroom experiences. His inspiration comes from two teachers who believed in his abilities to succeed.  Although the book was written as an aid in teaching in a classroom, much of the material is very applicable to a home school environment that many parents now find themselves. The foundation of the work incorporates self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, social/relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Consider taking the online assessment first and then jump to Chapter 3 in “The EQ Intervention,” How Can We Regulate Ourselves. It takes about 15 minutes to work through the questions to receive results for your psychological measure of personality and emotional intelligence called EASEL (Educator Assessment of Social and Emotional Learning).

At the end of each chapter are shortcuts and ways to improve such as learning to distinguish the urgent from the important and conflict resolution. It is not possible to manage every emotion, it is possible to maximize strengths and work on areas that need improvement.

“When students are able to identify and manage their feelings, and when they feel connected to those around them, not only are they less likely to resort to violence to express their emotions, but they are also more likely to develop healthy social bonds and to attain higher levels of academic achievement,” says Sáenz.

About the author: As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Sáenz conducts workshops across the country in the areas of stress management, the dynamics of effective relationship and team-building, and emotionally intelligent leadership. He resides in Texas.

For more information, visit www.adamSáenz.com, or follow him on Twitter at @AdamSáenzPhD.

The First Easter Sermon

By Grandpa Whit (1920)

John 20:18 “I have seen the Lord.”

In these words we have the first Easter Sermon. It will be observed that it is not by one of the twelve, nor by an apostle, nor prophet, but by a woman. And that in an age when woman’s standing was of the lowest. And this woman, Mary of Magdalene, was one who had been looked upon only with pity, if not contempt. There was not a single disciple of our Lord whom the disciples would not sooner have expected to be such an honored messenger.

Upon the first Easter morning, early, when it was yet dark in more senses of the word than one, the darkness without being nothing to the gloom with in the disciple’s hearts – Mary had made her way to the tomb, forgetful alike of womanly fears and superstitions, and horror of the darkness. Her object John does not here tell us. But doubtless it was to be near the body of her dearest Friend, the one who had brought her healing and happiness to her troubled life.

Through the darkness, Mary perceived that the stone had been rolled away. Without a gleam of hope, but rather with despair, she saw this, and bore the news to the disciples. John and Peter set out for the tomb – John, the younger, doubtless outstrips Peter and comes first to the empty tomb, where reverence detains him and he pauses looking down and in. Impulsively Peter enters, and John following they find the tomb empty. It is said of John that “he saw and believed.” What? Apparently their belief went no further than the statement of Mary that the tomb was empty. Merely an empty tomb- no matter of what emptied, or how – will furnish men with no great dynamic for preaching. Christ’s resurrection was to mean infinitely more than a mere empty tomb. They return to their homes puzzled, alarmed. Mary had not followed them into the tomb, nor did she follow them from it, but remained waiting. Why, she herself could not have told. But she waited, and her waiting was rewarded. Reluctant to leave, she stooped and gazed within, and there through the haze of her tears, she saw the messengers. 

The disciples had not seen them. The curious eyes of even these closest followers of Jesus failed to reveal what the weeping woman saw There are many things we see only through tears. The Christian on his knees sees further than the philosopher upon the house top; through what the world calls blinding tears he sees truth unseen by the keenest sight.

The angels have surprise for the woman’s tears but not comfort, for behind her in the background, they see the figure of the Master standing in the ever characteristic attitude of waiting. They know well the comfort he will bring. When Mary turns, hoping to find the gardener, she does not know him till he speaks her name, but at that sorrow and sighing flee away as clouds before the sun, and the gloom of the night of despair is changed into sunshine of the first Easter morning. And Mary receives the commission which comes with every vision, and goes back to the city to preach the first glad tidings of the resurrection in the words, “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”The meaning of the Easter Sermon. Mary in the exultation of her spirit could not estimate the full significance of the words uttered. Nor are we, after the lapse of nineteen centuries, fully able to realize the meaning of that all the resurrection means.

It means for one thing that at last death had been conquered. For the first time the power of the grave had been broken and it had given up its prey, not as a miracle by a divine command from without, but by its own overthrow. His resurrection meant the overthrow of death. He has become the captain of our salvation, and at his shout we will all respond, for he himself has won for us the battle.

Again, it proved that God accepted and placed thus his seal of approval on his work of redemption. We might not know that this was after all the Son of God, without the resurrection. Other men have given their lives for the truth, others seemed divine in the eyes of their infatuated followers, but Christ’s resurrection is the confirmation of that which we already know, that he is different.

Great and wonderful as these things are, the resurrections which Mary preached for the first time has yet another meaning. Over this we pause. Her simple statement “I have seen the Lord,” meant – though she may not have measured its significance – that the Jesus of Nazareth had become the Christ of universal experience – that the matchless Man of the first generation of the Christian era had in those hours become the Christ of all time. Death had not destroyed him or taken him away, but had rather freed him from the shackles of time and place, so that he who in his body could be in but one place, could now be every where. It is not for us to contrast the meaning of Easter, but this is not the least that Christ is risen and walks the earth.

The form of Mary’s sermon. It was the statement of a fact of personal experience. “I have seen the Lord.” There was no argument, no explanation, no citation of analogous cases, or quotation of Scriptures. No, nor any elaboration or her credentials as witness: Only – and that was enough – the plain statement, “I have seen the Lord.” This is the ideal form of a sermon and what every sermon should be, the statement of a fact. The world and men are asking for no metaphysical argument on the possibility, or defense, or explanation of the great facts of our faith. But they do demand a statement of them.

All Christians should be preachers of the resurrection. It is one of the very cardinal points of our faith. Many things are bound up with it. And we are called upon constantly to be preachers of it. Not perhaps in great cathedrals or large audiences, but nonetheless preach it. For every man or woman who takes upon himself or herself the name of Christian honestly, witnesses to a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this we must preach. We must declare that we will. Every true vision contains in it that which makes its beholder an evangelist.

But it was more than a declaration of a fact. Its objective side was there, but in the sermon, Mary there was the subjective side as well. “I have seen the Lord.” It is not the statement that the Lord has risen, great though that is, nor is it the declaration that others have seen him. It is not a second-hand information that Mary brings but her own personality is bound up with the message: “I have seen the Lord.”

Tell the needy and dying world that the Lord is not dead but is here, and that you have seen him, and hope will kindle in despairing hearts and men will rise up to serve God, saved by your vision. This is what the world needs, men and women to whom the great fact is that they have seen the Lord. This is what you must tell the world. You need not theories or argue. It cares little for your surmises, but tells that you have seen him.

Lastly, see how Mary gained her grasp of the truth that made her the preacher of the resurrection. Whenever a man or a woman has preeminently a message we know that some experience or another may be held accountable in a measure for this. We know that great heights are never gained with a struggle. And we know that in some way or another, there has been a reason. What could Mary’s be? Whatever we make out of the expression “Seven Devils,” (from Luke 8:2) we know that it was an affliction which robbed  her of respect among her friends. The most unlikely for this honor.

It was love and only love which was Mary’s claim to this high honor. It was love for this man that brought her to the tomb, while others remained home. It was love that bound her to the spot there last she saw the body of her lord. No hope had dawned in her breast. A greater love than she wrote about hope and faith being two great things in the world. But love was the greater yet. And love had outlasted hope and faith, and here, as so often, proved itself the greater and the more enduring.

The Cross and the Ordinary Man*

This Sunday begins a week at whose center stands the cross, the end of which comes Easter. Being coerced to think about the cross tempts one to insincerity and the danger is unreality instead of reality. The event which this week commemorates was terribly real. The young Prince of Glory, loving life and doubtless praying for more time in church to do his fuller work walked out instead with a cross upon his back toward Calvary and its horrors. Gethsemane and the Crucifixion were terribly real.

Just because Calvary was so dreadfully real to Jesus, however, it is likely to be unreal to us. It is so great – so terrific – that bloody cross on Golgotha with a man there broken in bleak agony and crying – My God, my God. Let us look at our lives in comparison, their ordinary preoccupations, their familiar burdens and sins.

What kinship is there between us and Calvary? There are souls which have learned that there is a kinship between themselves and Calvary in ordinary as well as extraordinary time and could not rest until they have equaled the most heroic and sacrificial deeds. But the most of us are not like that – not on ordinary days.

Let us seek some element in the experience of the cross so universal that it must become real to us in our daily life. When Jesus went to the cross, he was doing something that no one could have required of him. No law could be passed to coerce a man to sacrifice himself like that – if passed – unenforced. In going to the cross he was taking on himself something that no one could command. He was moving in the realm of unenforceable obligations. That is the practical message of the cross. If and when you experience the glory of life, it will come to you personally as you assume or realize your kinship with Calvary and move in the great realm of unenforceable obligations. 

Our ordinary life is made up of two things, enforceable and unenforceable obligations. On the one side – conduct that the law or custom of the court can command. On the other – the way of living that no law and no codes of custom can command. Even within the family some things can be lawfully demanded – but all great motherhood, great fatherhood, and beautiful family life move in the realm of the unenforceable obligations. It is true with the nation – the greatness of a nation lies in the number of its citizens who can be trusted to obey self-imposed laws. 

In our country, the importance of this might be obscured by the fact of our outrage – our lawlessness. Obviously, we would be better off if the laws we already have were observed – but that by itself alone would not make a great nation. The greatness of a nation lies in the higher realm where men and women in every relationship of life do far more than what is demanded of them. This is true in matter of common honesty. Take the case of the farmer writing to ask his Senator to vote for the Pure Food Law. The Senator surprisingly knew his practice, but the farmer wanted him to vote for the law requiring him to stop from the practice. That reveals our problem of human life – the inner difficulty of acquiring the kind of character that will yield obedience to the unenforceable obligations.

Reduced to its simplest and most universal terms, Jesus on that Good Friday was voluntarily taking on himself what no one possibly could have commanded. Consider our need for this kind of character. If with canny eyes one watches people, they fall into three general classes – lawless people; law-abiding people whose code of conduct comes from without – codes custom of society; third those people who get their criteria from within – of standards of character.

As dangerous as the lawless, the most dangerous is the second class, more of them, certainly no great society can be produced by the lawless, no more so can society – great society be sustained by those who are barely good and get by on a conduct required. So the greatness of a nation lies in the number of its citizens who yield obedience to the unenforceable laws. True artists of the nation belong to this class, must obey the inner impulse. True scientists belong to the class – must obey the inner urge. True public servants belong to this class. No law of the nation can demand what me like Washington and Lincoln endured and did.

But what I am trying to say this morning in the gift of the rays of light from the cross that EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN belongs to this class. The essence of Christian living lies in breaking free from, and rising above, all legalism and doing far more than any law can exact or any person can require.

This is the rub and marrow of the Jesus spirit and teaching. “Whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two.” That is His philosophy in a nutshell, the excess and overflowing goodwill. “If you love them who love you, what rewards have you? Do not the publicans say the same, Love your enemies?” That is something over and above what is expected of you. When you shall have done all the things that are commanded you say, “We are unprofitable servants – we have done that which was our duty to do.” So! That is the starting point in life – when we have done our duty.

Forgive not seven times but seventy times seven – said Jesus to Peter. Thus the privilege of generosity begins where the law ends. When Jesus faced and accepted the cross which no one could have commanded of him, it was the climatic expression of everything he had taught and done in his more ordinary days.

Our natural reaction to this idea of Christian living is to say, “Such is an extravagance of goodness that it can not fit in the rough and tumble of our business life.” Yet, when it is put into daily business life, we never forget it. Mark Twain was involved in a financial failure and saw his publishing house forced into bankruptcy with a large outstanding debt. No legal claim against him. But Mark Twain, voluntarily shouldered the debt at the age of 60 saying, “Honor is a harder master than the law.” At the age of 64, debt paid and he was ready to start life anew unencumbered.

Think of the influence this kind of character wields when it appears. We commonly estimate the worth of characters like David Livingstone going to Africa or Sir Wilfred Grenfell going to Labrador, in terms of service, they render.  But that is hardly half the story. The greater thing such men and women do lies in their powerful influence upon our whole philosophy of life. They shake our self complacency to pieces; they shall and subdue us by the simple fact that they undertake to do what no one could possibly demand of them. The sight of someone thus moving grandly off into the realm of unenforceable obligations is the most impressive thing in the moral world.

When you see David Livingstone in Africa, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the Christian Physician, and Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer as volunteers moving about in the real of unenforced service you behold the essential spirit of the cross in its simplest and most universal meaning. And seeing the cross in that light, you can not get away from it even on ordinary days.

Every boy and girl here, on every day in home and school can do something beyond what anybody could have demanded. Every man or woman here every day can do for someone more than one could have expected.

This amazing spiritual power, the most elevating and the most impressive in the world, is in our hands even in our ordinary hours. At the beginning the cross seemed vague and general. But now I am startled as though I hear my one name over the air – and a voice saying, “The cross means me, ordinary me on ordinary days. Every day I can do something beyond what any one has a right to demand.”

For this quality of life leads us straight to the need of personal Christianity – the kind that gets a man not from without but from within.

If we are going to move over into the realm of unenforceable obligations, something must happen on the inside – must find a potent philosophy of life within – a deep and inward propulsion of spirit must fall in love with something from within.

No man can hire or bribe or compel a man to live a life like the Apostle Paul. But Christ got Paul to do it. There is no telling how far a man will go when he loses his heart to something or someone worth following to the limit.

This inward experience can exist in many forms, but the highest and most potent form comes when a person feels that something has been done for him so great that he can never pay back the debt. His life is no longer his own. It does not belong to him anymore. He is bought with a price. The major element arrives when we feel some beauty, goodness, love, truth poured out on us by the sacrifice of others beyond our mirror or deserving, mothers, prophets, and friends put us under obligation we can never pay.

So at last, we stand before the cross of Christ and here we see one of the most towering facts in life – the realm of grace – the sacrificial gifts bought and paid for by those who did what we had no right to ask.

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Issac Watts

Were all the realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all

At that point, you move over into the realm of unenforceable obligation.

Matthew 5:41 “Whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two”

Also, The Lord’s Prayer in John 17

This blog’s worship comes from Christy Nockels, The Wondrous Cross