Thursday, May 31, 2007

Biblical Advice on How to Build Anything

This is the first in a series of short posts that I've wanted to do for a while.

Here's what I've noticed - in one way or another, we are all engaged in building. Some of us are building in a very physical, literal sense - like a craftsman building furniture. Most others are building more abstractly - like CEOs building companies, pastors building churches or parents building families. As a worker in the marketplace, to some degree, you are likely focused on building your career.

The point is simply this - we use our gifts and abilities everyday to build, create and construct. As we do this, we may not often look to Scripture as the source of advice on how to build...(well, perhaps a pastor building a church would). Yet I've found that the Bible has much to offer us and over the next couple of weeks, I'd like to briefly share what I've learned about "how to build". None of what I'm going to share is particularly profound. (Let's face it - there's nothing new under the sun and certainly, it's not likely that you'll discover anything new or profound on this blog!)

Nonetheless, I find it beneficial to remind myself of truth and my hope is that you'll find it helpful to you as well.

This post will focus on the first point: Build like it depends on God. Whatever "it" is - family or ministry or business, build with a mindset that the outcome of the endeavor really rests on God, the Sovereign Master Builder.

Here's a passage that reminds me of this principle:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

(Psalm 127:1)

What I love about this verse is the absolute humility it requires of us, to live in the good of this truth. In our culture of self reliance with its "take no prisoners, can do" attitude, this is a sharp reminder of our limitations. Unless God builds, our creativity and labor are in vain. This verse offers no consideration of how hard we might work or how much planning might go into our projects. It only makes the point that unless God blesses the work, our efforts will find no success.

This is not only humbling news, it can also be comforting. Seen in a proper light, it's strangely comforting to know that it's not up to us. We can work hard and work smart, all the while, entrusting the results to the Sovereign God, who carries His own glory and our good at the center of His will.

I also find it encouraging to know that if God blesses the work, we may accomplish far more than we thought possible. If God is leading and directing us, we can take on risky, challenging projects because we're entrusting Him to provide what's required for success.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

First Year of Blogging

It's my blogging anniversary. A year ago, the Every Square Inch blog went "live" over the Memorial Day weekend and I thought I should note the first year of this humble, little blog.

Here are a few observations on my first year of blogging -
  • God has used blogging as a means to sharpen my thinking on a number of issues. Very often that comes about as I interact with readers of Every Square Inch as well as those of a number of blogs I visit.
  • I cannot sustain more than two posts/week. When I started blogging, I had hoped to post every other day. However, I've since realized that, despite my best efforts, that particular goal just wasn't going to be attainable with all I have going on in my life...and that's ok.
  • I've come to greatly appreciate the friends I've "met" through blogging. I've been blessed whenever you've stopped by Every Square Inch with a comment or written something on your blog that pointed me to God in some way.
  • Blogging makes me appreciate fellowship in a church community. As much as I love blogging as a medium for the exchange of thoughts and ideas, there are undeniable limitations. So in a strange way, blogging has made me more appreciative of the fellowship I experience at church. There is no substitute to experiencing fellowship heart to heart and face to face.
  • I blog because I enjoy it.
Other points of interest after the first year of Every Square Inch -
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, comment or link to Every Square Inch - I'm humbled and grateful for your investment of time and interest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Thanks to the Hedonese, I'm the proud recipient of a Thinking Blogger Award. It's the first blogging award of any kind for me so I'm proudly displaying the award and patiently waiting for my cash prize which should arrive any day now.

Part of the fun of winning the award is bestowing other blogs with the award. Here are the blogs I've tagged as winners -

Ted Gossard who blogs at Jesus Community
will make you think with his daily, thoughtful posts. The one thing you'll discover as a reader is that Ted blogs with warmth and humility.

SamShua is a blog I've recently discovered. The host of SamShua is Sam Shin, a pastor on the West Coast who blogs with a heart for the gospel and a love for people. Do yourself a favor by checking out his blog.

LL Barkat, who I'm certain is a repeat winner of the Thinking Blogger Award, is a remarkably gifted writer. She's built a great community of readers at Seedlings in Stone with her insightful posts.

David Park hosts NextGenerasianChurch blog with a heart for the growth of ethnic churches in the United States. To read his blog is to expose yourself to thought provoking posts on the intersection of race, faith and culture - offered from an asian american perspective.

GoodWordEditing is a great blog for any aspiring Christian writer. My blogging buddy, Marcus Goodyear shares his wisdom as a seasoned editor and reading his blog will make you a better writer.

The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quote of the Week

"How can we love a holy God? The simplest answer I can give to this vital question is that we can't. Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands.

Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him... We can only love Him because He first loved us. To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls"

R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, p. 276

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Finding Our Vocations

In the book, God at Work, Gene Edward Veith dispels some commonly held notions about vocation and introduces new ways of thinking about the topic. Here are a couple of his major points -

Vocation involves more than your profession.

We often regard vocation and our professional life as synonymous. Yet, Veith makes the point that vocation actually cuts across our entire lives, touching upon the different spheres of responsibility that we've been called to. For instance, a man may be called to multiple vocations - a teacher, a husband, a father, a deacon and a citizen. In each of these callings, he is required by God to be faithful to his call.

"Our vocation is not one single occupation...we have callings in different realms - the workplace, yes, but also the family, the society, the church." (p. 47)

This is a wonderful perspective. Far too much of "vocation talk" is one dimensional, around professional careers, instead of seeing vocational life as multiple calls to various realms of our lives. Taking this view means seeing the woman with a call to serve as wife, mother, homemaker and Sunday School teacher no less called than the man called to serve as a father, husband, accountant and church elder.

We don't choose our vocation. Our vocation chooses us.

Veith doesn't exactly say it in that way, but it's the way I like to think about it. The essence of vocational life is this - we do not select our vocations, God calls us to our vocations.

"Despite what our culture leads us to believe, vocation is not self chosen. That is to say we do not choose our vocations. We are called to them." (p. 50)

In so doing, God's sovereign rule over our lives is revealed. Veith gives many examples where significant aspects of our vocations are chosen for us including our roles in our families, our cultural heritage and our citizenship. Still, you might say - "we chose our line of work, did we not?". Here's what Veith says in response.

" is simply not true, in the ultimate sense, that we choose our lifework. If I were to choose what I really wanted to do, I might pick something like 'Major League Baseball player.' But no matter how much I might yearn to go into that line of work, no matter how much I 'choose' it, I could never get on a Major League roster. I do not have the talent or the ability...Baseball is clearly not my vocation." (p. 52)

His point is that God shapes us and prepares us uniquely for the vocation He calls us to. He limits us in some ways and gifts us in other ways.

"The doctrine of vocation has to do with the mystery of individuality, how God creates each human being to be different from all the rest and gives each a unique calling in every stage of life." (p. 52)


Seen in proper light, this can be both humbling and liberating at the same time.

We need not strive to be something we're not.
We can resist the temptation to compare ourselves to others.
We can be content in our labor and humble in the use of our gifts.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Regardless of our performance, we are always dependent on God's grace, His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath.
..Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."

Jerry Bridges
The Discipline of Grace, p.17, p.18

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Memeing My Own Business

Marcus Goodyear who blogs at GoodWordEditing is in the middle of what he calls "Meme Week". Not being a hip blogger, I don't really know what a meme is but he's asked me to share my productivity secrets. The best I can tell, in practice, this meme thing is the blogging equivalent of a chain letter.

Marcus insists that if I do not blog on this, I will be apprehended by the meme police. I highly doubt that the meme police will find me (the blogosphere is a big place) but nonetheless, I've decided to give in to Marcus' request since he's a nice guy. The sad thing is, I don't really have productivity secrets but I'll try and make them up as I go along.

#1 - Do what you like and like what you do

Doing what you like - If you like what you're doing, you're going to be a lot more productive. So pursue work that aligns with what brings joy and root it in God. Use the gifts God has given you and you'll maximize productivity in your life

Liking what you do - Sometimes you're not going to find work that exactly matches your gifts or aligns immediately with your bliss. Still, trust God to help you find joy and purpose in what you do. You can learn to love where God has put you - the secret is to trust God. I can truly say, by God's grace, that I've enjoyed every job I've had.

#2 - Dream, be bold, take risks

Being bold and taking risks is often linked to creativity...but it also leads to productivity as well. If you're pushed beyond your comfort zone, you're going to learn new skills, work harder and trust God. I find that I become more productive with my time when I'm not coasting. Do something that requires you to trust God to "show up" for the endeavor to be successful. There are a lot of caveats to this point but I won't go into them. The whole topic of risk taking is interesting and I hope to post on it sometime soon.

#3 - Mitigate and manage risks

This seems to be counter to my prior point but it really isn't. After I'm committed to doing #2, I then manage my time with an eye to mitigate (not eliminate) risk. This is more about juggling priorities than it is about eliminating or minimizing risk. For instance, if I'm overwhelmed with work, I address what is most pressing by focusing on the items of greatest risks to the enterprise. I'm not saying that's the best approach but it seems to be the one I take.

OK, Marcus - I've done it. Here are my productivity can call off the meme police now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Quote of the Week

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasure you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

John Piper
God is the Gospel, p. 15

Friday, May 04, 2007

What's a Stay-at-Home Mom Worth?

According to, the work of a typical stay-at-home mom is worth $138,095. The research study released on Monday, noted a mother's work included that of - housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist. Your typical stay-at-home mom puts in an estimated 92 hours per week, hence leading to 52 hours of overtime. compiled the report from online responses of 26,000 stay-at-home mothers and 14,000 mothers who also work outside the home. You can read more about it here. If you're a mom and would like a more precise estimate of what your work is worth, check out's Mom's Salary Wizard. Based on personalized information you supply, it'll calculate a salary for your work.

Even if we could pay them, you know that these stay-at-home moms don't do what they do for the money. Let's face it, it's the sheer glamour of the job that appeals to them.

Seriously, when I think about how Kathy serves every person in our family with her hard work, I'm humbled. Our home wouldn't run without her. So, what are stay-at-home moms worth? In my humble opinion, they're priceless.