Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Happened to Demas?

A couple of months ago, I was finishing 2 Timothy, when the following words caught my attention:

Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

(2 Tim 4:9-10)

I have, on prior occasions, read these verses without paying much attention to them. Yet, this time, I was led to stop and ponder about Demas, previously noted in Philemon and Colossians among Paul's trusted companions. What happened to Demas, I wonder?

How did he go from a trusted fellow worker to a deserter?
How was he in love with this present world? Was it a love of money or an unwillingness to bear up under persecution ... or perhaps something else altogether?
Did he always harbor a faithlessness or was it some special test that exposed his love of the world?

I'm sobered by Demas. We're not told much about him but it's a hint of a cautionary tale - to hold fast our faith to the end, rather than coasting our way to the finish line. It's a reminder that there are many pitfalls along the way. For some, it's the pursuit of wealth and the pleasure that pose a challenge. For others, it's placing hope and security in their (401)K and hard earned savings, rather than in the Eternal God. A successful professional might be tempted to treasure the significance and accolades they experience at work above all else.

What does it look like in your life to "love this present world" and how do you fight to mortify its influence?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

(Phillipians 2:12-13)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quote of the Week

"The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man"

G.K. Chesterton; Introduction to the Book of Job, 1907

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Dogs Rule

The world is divided into two kinds of people - dog people and cat people. From the perspective of a dog lover, cats are fickle, selfish and undependable... while dogs are loving, brave and utterly loyal.

Confirming those stereotypes is this AP story - Dog Saves Man in Fire Blamed on Cat.

GREENVILLE, Maine (Oct. 10) - Thumper, a black Labrador retriever, is getting credit for saving a Greenville man when a fire swept through his home. Roland Cote said his wife and their 7-year-old grandson were away when the blaze started early Sunday in a converted two-story garage. He said Thumper grabbed him by the arm to wake him, leaving just enough time for him to dial 911 before fleeing the fast-moving fire. While the dog is the hero, a cat is the bad guy in this story. Cote said the fire marshal investigator believes the blaze was started when Princess, the family cat, tipped over a kerosene lantern. Cote says he and his pets escaped safely, but he says Princess did get her tail singed by the flames.

What do you cat people (you know who you are) have to say about this?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vocational Advice for Twenty Somethings

In a prior post, I've mentioned the work of Gideon Strauss, the editor of Comment. Comment is an online publication focused on promoting a Christian worldview on work and public life. In a recent issue, Gideon addresses the challenges facing 28 year old Christian professionals in big corporations. Here's Gideon's take on their dilemma -

"...some of the people.... who have the hardest time, vocationally speaking, are 28-year-olds working in big corporations. They are no longer novices....but they don't really have any significant institutional power yet.... they must conform very closely to institutional expectations if they want to keep their jobs and build their careers. They have limited opportunities to offer leadership or take initiative . . . and their dreams of changing the world—of making a difference—are turning a little stale."

In the article entitled Finding our way to great work: called to work and live in the city, Gideon solicits advice on how to sustain a vision for working and living in the city. Here's a sampling of what some of these older, wiser voices offered to the 28 year old Christian professional:

"Being salt and light in big organizations and big cities comes with all the challenges of climbing a mid-size mountain. You need a good community of close friends with you to help you make the climb...These close friends, nearby and across the miles, are committed to living a shared way of life and longing for "Kingdom come" in the face of frustrations and broken systems. With these kindred spirits I can taste the life that is really life at work, at home, and in the world."

Stephen Lazarus
Director, Civitas Programs for Leadership in Faith and Public Affairs
Center for Public Justice

"Consider yourself to be in a time of training and preparation: Life has many seasons, and it is important to grow in each one of them...There are some wonderful opportunities to thrive where you are, and build a base for future growth...You are also in an ideal time of life to learn "followership," although our fallen nature seems to cause us to fight this. Great leaders know how to follow well, and know the value of submitting to authority... Being a good follower means watching the culture of your organization and learning from its patterns, but it also means that you must never, never, never compromise your values or your faith. "

L. J. "Sam" Helgerson
Writer and consultant
Great Ridge Group, Inc.

"...I have accepted that it is not through my work that I necessarily wish to be remembered. I am, first and foremost, a husband and father, a neighbour, and a friend. These things mark more decisively who I am, and how I wish to be remembered. Gideon Strauss has a motto on his website that includes these sentences: "Enabling whole-hearted work. Equipping worldchanging organizations." For some, these two are one in the same. But for most of us, especially those in the corporate sector, they are two distinct tasks. Yes, our work matters, but we can change the world right where we are—in our homes, our neighbourhoods, our churches. "

Brian Janaszek
Computer programmer

"To the kind of person you describe, I would say the following: God has positioned you to be a salting salt in our culture, even though you may think that you presently have little scope for making a difference for his kingdom. Be faithful, and settle in for the long haul. In the mean time, seek out contact with other believers in a similar situation to yours for mutual encouragement and inspiration. "

Al Wolters
Professor of Religion & Theology, Redeemer University College and author of Creation Regained

What kind of advice would you offer a 28 year old seemingly "trapped" in a corporate environment? How can the young Christian professional find inspiration for daily work?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting and faith incarnate.
It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord's people."

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), The Duties of Parents

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Modern Day Slavery

Sadly, slavery is alive and well in our fallen world. Last night, we attended the annual fund raising dinner for Jubilee Campaign, a non-profit organization focused on helping persecuted Christians and children at risk around the world. During the dinner, we heard from speakers who drew attention to the ongoing atrocity of modern day slavery - much of it affecting children and young women.

Here are some facts about slavery, more commonly referred to as human trafficking (Research: Four Square Church) -
  • An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery worldwide, meaning there are more slaves in the world than were taken from Africa during 300 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
  • Annually between 700,000 and 4 million people are bought and sold as prostitutes, sex slaves, domestic workers, child laborers and child soldiers. This includes children as young as 4.
  • Each year, more than 1 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
  • In India, 45,000 children go missing every year
  • The U.S Department of State estimates that by 2010, human trafficking will be the #1 crime worldwide.
This atrocity is a stark expression of what humanity looks like, separated from God. Better education doesn't solve this, nor will money alone make this go away. We desperately need a Savior.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Titus 3:3-6

What's required is the gospel, actively preached and lived in the darkest recesses of this world. Jubilee Campaign is waging war against the tide of wickedness by shining the light of the gospel into the darkness of slavery. Together with in-country partners, they rescue children from brothels, care for orphans and share the love of Christ in practical ways.

I'm grateful for their work and glad to support them.