Monday, December 28, 2009
I love the sentiment behind this quote even if I'm not completely certain of its attribution to Einstein. What's important is that it offers two views on how to interpret the world around us. The former view is one where God is disinterested or absent while the latter view presents a God active in His creation.
I believe the latter. There are "miracles" around us all the time. There are miracles found around the corner, in your neighborhood and your workplace. These miracles are often masked in the mundane grind of daily life. They seem more evident in times of blessing. They are sometimes covered by a cloak of trial or hardship....even then, if we look with eyes of faith, God is present and active.
Do you see the invisible hand of Providence in the various situations of your life? Do you see God in the blessings you receive? Are you comforted by Him in the trials of life? Is the Almighty at work in the mundane and the ordinary of your life?
This is the essence of a practiced Christian worldview - daily seeing the fingerprints of the Almighty God in the world around us.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Friday, December 04, 2009
"Getting it done" pertains to performance. Is the individual achieving the objectives of his job? It is a reality of our working lives that performance does matter. In most jobs, there is an explicit expectation of results to be achieved, tasks to be completed and objectives to be met. We cannot escape this fact - God has placed us in the "garden" of our lives to tend, cultivate and bear fruit.
But "getting it done" isn't the whole story - it's also about "doing it right". We're called to work to the glory of God. This means both working in the right way and doing the right things. It is insufficient for us to simply complete the project on time and within budget. We're also called to do it in a way that cultivates teamwork and joyful labor. Doing the right thing means redefining what it means to succeed. Succeeding in business isn't simply about increasing revenues or profits - it's also about ethical business.
I think this framework can be doubly beneficial - not only for managers in evaluating team members but also for each of us to conduct a little self assessment as well. Are we succeeding in meeting the objectives of our job? Are we "getting it done"? How about "doing it right?" Are we working in way that brings joy and peace to our workplace? Is the way we work not only effective but life giving? I also like it because it ties in with an assertion I made recently that a culture of performance and a culture of encouragement are not contradictory but rather complementary.
What do you think? Does this approach make sense? How are you doing along each of the two axis?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thomas Watson, All Things for Good, p. 60
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I've found that how I actually deal with failure says a lot about what I really believe about God and His work in my life. While I neither seek failure nor prefer it, it's helpful to view failure with a Biblical perspective when I confront it. Here are three "good" things that can be accomplished through failure.
First, we learn of our limitations. We're limited in our talents, limited in our effort and even limited in our character. We are reminded that we're finite and God is not. God is unlimited in His ability to affect His universe:
"Our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases" (Psalm 115:3).
God never tires or sleeps:
"He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold He who keeps Israel who neither slumber nor sleep." (Psalm 121: 3-4)
Second, through failure, we are disciplined and refined. God often works in our lives more prominently through hardship and failures than through prosperity and success. Through failure, God works to free us from the siren songs of this world - particularly the love of the "praise of men". I've discovered that much of my "fear of failure" actually stems from a craving for recognition and praise. Understanding this brings forth the seed of repentance and I'm comforted that God is at work even in the midst of failure.
Finally, failure draws the Christian to God because we are one step nearer to the end of ourselves. We better understand our limitations and our weaknesses. We are not crushed by failure but humbled by it. When we experience the pain of failure, we are drawn to trust in our Savior who died a failure in the sight of men but accomplished more than anyone perceived at the time.
By responding to failure in this way, we testify to the reality of the invisible God we love and serve.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As I've explored this in my own life, I've come to consider the possibility that God will sometimes, strategically place us in such situations, in order that His greater purpose might be fulfilled in us. Here are three reasons why God may will an unsatisfying job for us -
1. Unsatisfying work can lead us to center our joy in Christ and not in our work. From my own experience, it's easy to be happy when everything is going right. It's not so easy when work is hard, projects are failing, companies are struggling. But these situations offer us an opportunity to center our joy in Jesus Christ. We learn that knowing Christ is more valuable to our souls than the best paying, most satisfying job.
2. Unsatisfying work can be a means to sanctify us. God may be seeking to teach us something through a less than satisfying job. We may discover our need for God...we may learn perseverance....we may grow in patience. All this to better fashion us in the image of His Son.
3. Unsatisfying work reminds us that we're not home yet. When we find ourselves in the midst of unrewarding work, we are reminded that in this life, our work is tinged with sin and difficulty. But it won't be like that forever. God will redeem us and bring us to a place of rich, fulfilling labor. We can cast our eyes heavenward and trust that His work in the past and currently will bring this to pass. We can be truly optimistic and hopeful when we consider the future.
I've found it helpful to think through these points but perhaps I'm wrong on this. Please let me know. Please share if you occasionally struggle with work that is not satisfying. How do you respond and why?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
However, I'm also convinced that a culture of encouragement and a culture of performance is neither mutually exclusive nor incompatible. In fact, mature Christian leadership involves the cultivation of both performance and encouragement. Building a culture of performance without encouragement dehumanizes the work experience - it denies our identities as image bearers of the Creator God. After all, we're not just machines measured simply by virtue of productivity. In fact, every worker uniquely bears the image of the Creator with special character, gifts and abilities.
So how do we build a culture of encouragement? A friend was helpful in formulating thoughts around this. He offered that a culture of encouragement is one where encouragement is:
But I also believe that biblical encouragement has an additional component - it brings to bear the reality of God at work in our world. It affirms the fact that each person is uniquely gifted and bears the image of God. It reminds us that God is at work in our lives - in our circumstances, plans, hopes and dreams. For the Christian, it brings the comfort of knowing that Jesus Christ has addressed our greatest need and promises that He will neither leave us, nor forsake us. This is the kind of encouragement I hope to bring to my family and workplace.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I’ve been working my way slowly through Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian. The thesis of the book is simply this – Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.
It’s a notable point simply because as Christians engaging the world around us, we can easily forget that we’re called to be different and distinct. That's understandable - after all, we want to be relatable as Christians. And truth be told, most of us prefer to comfortably “fit in” rather than “stand out”. Who wants to branded as the “religious” guy, especially at our place of work? If it's there's one place where the gospel is not welcomed today, it's in the corporate boardroom.
I was reminded of this challenge when I read Matthew 5:13-16 this week –
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The challenge: to authentically love and relate to our co-workers and neighbors while being uncompromisingly distinctive as Christians. We’re called to be distinctive in our ethics, our conduct, our motivations and our passions.
What does this look like for you everyday?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
If we're to please God in any way, we must approach Him in faith - it is a necessary condition. According to this verse, faith starts with a belief that God exists. At first glance, this would appear to be obvious and inconsequential. But it's not. That's because the existence of God is of great consequence. Believing in God isn't just mental assent - it has ultimate impact on all matters pertaining to our lives - on how we work, play, live and die.
So I'm just wondering -
How does the existence of God impact the way I do my work or engage those around me?
What does it look like for me to work with faith toward God?
Why am I so self reliant and forgetful of my need for God?
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sunday, August 09, 2009
God@Work Part 4 probably doesn't translate as well to a blog post since a good part of the session involved a general back & forth discussion about how we can be witnesses at work - ethical issues related to a work environment that may be hostile to the sharing of the gospel. But since I covered past 3 sessions, I'll finish up with a brief post on session 4 which is entitled God@Work - Your Calling as a Witness.
Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them,"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
The commission to the disciples involved being a witness of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The essence of the commission -
- that "the Christ will suffer" (v. 46)
- that he will "rise from the dead on the third day" (v.46)
- that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name" (v.47)
Friday, August 07, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Os Guinness; The Call, p.103
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
C.H. Spurgeon, Everyday Religion (sermon #1599)
Monday, July 20, 2009
I thought it might be interesting to share highlights from each of the sessions. Session 1 (Theology of Work) covered a biblical understanding of work - God's work in creation, the effect of the Fall on work, God's work in redemption. We also discussed the purpose of work in our lives. Here are some of the notes from the session -
In Genesis 1-2, we see that creation reveals the "work" of God. God is a worker and in fact, introduces the concept of work. There are three kinds of work that God is engaged in -
Providential work - this is the work that God does in governing, sustaining and overseeing the world. God never rests from this work.
Redemptive work - this is the work that God accomplishes through His Son to redeem the world to Himself. Likewise, God does not rest from this work
Creative work - this is work that we equate to labor. This is the creative work that God accomplished in creating, bringing order and completing His creation. God rested from this work and delighted in the excellence of His creation.
Since God is the ultimate worker, the act of work itself is loaded with inherent meaning, significance and dignity.
Why do we work? First, we work because we're made in the image of God - we're image bearers. As God's image bearers we are to use our God-given creativity and responsibility to use the earth for godly purposes.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
The Fall has distorted God's intention for work. Instead of being enjoyable and satisfying, the "garden" we labor in is now filled with thistles and thorns - work is now hard and marked with difficulties. The other effect of the Fall is that as workers, we lose perspective on who God is and His purpose for our lives. We no longer work to the glory of God.
Thankfully, that's not where it ends. Instead, God through the work of His Son is redeeming men and women to Himself. Those who trust in Jesus Christ are transformed from "the image of the man of dust [that is, Adam] into those who will bear "the image of the man of heaven [that is, Jesus]" 1 Corinthians 15:49. In the process, He is restoring the nature and purpose of work in the lives of those who belong to Him.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer, p49
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Anthony Selvaggio, A Proverbs Driven Life, p.59-60
Friday, July 03, 2009
Instead, let's discuss what has caught the attention of many - the substance of his apology where he invoked Christian "language" and compared himself to King David.
“I remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been committed to me over the next 18 months, and it is my hope that I am able to follow the example set by David in the Bible — who after his fall from grace humbly refocused on the work at hand. By doing so, I will ultimately better serve in every area of my life, and I am committed to doing so.”
The editors of New York Times noted this in a commentary entitled God and Mark Sanford. They asked five "experts" including Chuck Colson and LaShawn Barber to comment on Mark Sanford's confession/apology. It's worth checking out the different points of view.
But I found one of the most unintentionally insightful comments to come from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who does not subscribe to the Christian faith. Here's what he said -
"The paradox of American evangelicals is that they are Christian on the one hand and political conservatives on the other with utterly opposing views of redemption. Christians believe that no one is blameless and all must therefore ride the coattails of a perfect being into heaven. But conservatives espouse the gospel of personal accountability. The state cannot save them. Man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow and not by welfare alone."
It's an interesting comment because I think many Christians actually subscribe to this "gospel of personal responsibility". We may erroneously believe that if we own up to our mistakes, put accountability controls in place and try harder next time, we'll be ok. In other words, when it comes to our moral state, we might think that personal accountability can save us....but it cannot. To be sure, accountability is good thing - taking responsibility for our moral failings is foundational to true repentance. And, being accountable to others is wise.
But what we really need is a Savior, not just accountability and earnest confession. Our moral failings are first and foremost against God and apart from the person of Jesus Christ, we have no means of relating to a holy God. True repentance must be directed to Him and it must rest of what Christ has done on our behalf by bearing our sins.
Our weaknesses are greater than can be addressed by personal accountability or accountability groups. We need a Savior every single day to protect and keep us. That's why I love these words from the hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" -
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
The real gospel doesn't just feature sin and personal responsibility, it highlights a Savior who has come to save and keep us. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Trials and obstacles are part and parcel of living in this fallen world. These days it can seem like bad news is lurking just round the corner - widespread financial collapse, rising unemployment, H1N1 virus, turmoil in the Middle East, etc... Maybe your concerns are much closer to home - perhaps you're concerned about holding on to your job or you have mounting personal debt or you're dealing with a chronic illness in your family.
In times like these, it's easy to locate our confidence in the wrong place. Perhaps Psalm 33 was written in response to such mounting pressure. If you're fighting a battle, it makes all the sense in the world to put your confidence in the size and abilities of your army. It wouldn't seem altogether unreasonable to hope in the battle tested assets that might secure victory.
Yet, the Psalmist reminds himself and us of the folly of such thinking. Despite conventional wisdom, no king is saved by such things. He looked beyond the means of salvation to the source of salvation - the LORD, the eternal God who is able and willing to rescue those who fear Him.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
When you encounter the next trial or challenge - whether at work or at home, whether great or small, where do you plan to locate your hope?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Why do these conflicts occur? James 4 offers one possible reason -
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
James is saying that many fights and quarrels arise from selfish desires and from inner conflict within our hearts.
But that's not the case for every conflict. Sometimes, one or all parties in a conflict may well-intended, yet may respond sinfully in other ways. For instance, in arguing for our position on an issue, are we being dismissive of other points of view? Are we failing to acknowledge the contribution of our colleagues? Worst still, could we be sinfully judging our co-workers by assuming ill-motive on their part?
How should we respond? Better yet, how should I respond in the midst of my situation? Here are a few questions I’m pondering for my part –
How can I speak more gently when all my tendencies are to the contrary?
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
How can I encourage my co-workers by speaking hope rather than despair?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
How have I contributed to conflict by my lack of leadership or poor example?
How does this challenge help me see more clearly my insufficiency and spur me on to count on the sufficiency of Christ?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Gene Edward Veith, Jr; God at Work, p. 150
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Dietrich Bonhoeffer; I Want to Live These Days with You, p. 43
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Dorothy L. Sayers, essay entitled "Why Work?" in Creed or Chaos?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I've had the opportunity to remember her advice to me when I started working. My mother never spent a day in college and worked for over 30 years as a secretary. But she gave me one of the most important pieces of advice I've ever received - "fulfill your commitments... if you say you're going to do something, make sure you do it... if you say you're going to show up with a report on Tuesday morning, make sure you actually do it".
It may seem simple to you but it's had a profound impact on the way I work and the decisions I've made along the way. It once meant turning down a very lucrative opportunity after I'd given my word to stay at my then current company. It's also meant that I've become known as someone you can count on - "someone that will get you to the finish line" especially on a challenging assignment. I have my mother to thank for that.
Fulfilling our commitments and keeping our word - that's one way we reflect God in the way we work.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
The truth is that most of us are averse to risk - we hate it, we avoid it, we mitigate against it. We do everything we can to eliminate it. "Risk avoidance" is the secret idol in the hearts of most middle class Christians, myself included. We play it safe. We're not inclined to put our 401(K) plans at risk, much less our physical well being. We're so concerned about fitting in at the workplace that we're blending into the background. No risk of us being perceived as an irrational, fanatical Christian.
Yet, God calls us to pursue him whatever the cost. In fact He demands it. He calls us to do hard things like start God-glorifying ventures, take on risky projects, write books, share the gospel with our unreceptive co-workers and impact the world around us even at the cost of our reputations, money or in extreme cases, our lives.
Because of the gospel, Christians are better positioned to take risk than anyone else - we have the least to lose and the most to gain. Here's how the apostle Paul viewed his life in terms of risk and loss -
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him...
His capacity for risk taking was enhanced by two factors - counting what he had as loss and counting what he stood to gain as immeasurable treasure. May God help us do the same.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The event was kicked off by Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making. His big point was simply this - you don't change culture by critiquing culture or condemning culture or consuming culture. You change culture by making culture.
Simple but profound. If you buy off on his premise, it really highlights a huge limitation with the state of Christian activism today. It would appear that a lot of energy is expended to generating more boycotts of certain companies rather than building businesses that make a positive impact. Many Christians are swept up with concern about the anti-Christian bias in media rather than about developing new creative content that reflects the glory of the Eternal God.
Creating culture, not just consuming it or condemning it - that's how culture changes.
Do you agree? Is changing culture even something Christians should be concerned with? What do you think?
Friday, April 03, 2009
CH Spurgeon 1834-1892
Thursday, March 26, 2009
What does godly ambition look like to you?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Gene Edward Veith, Jr ; God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life , p. 50
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I'd like to share and extend the discussion on this blog post by addressing the first question - "is ambition wrong?" Ambition is often defined as "an earnest desire for achievement or distinction...and a willingness to work for its attainment". Many would equate that achievement to wealth, fame or power but does it really have to be so? For Christians, the seeds of ambition are often the dreams, desires and goals that God places in our lives. Seen from that perspective, ambition isn't just "not wrong" - it's normal.
However, the Bible does warn us about certain kinds of ambition that are unfruitful or even sinful. Two kinds of wrong ambition come immediately to mind -
1. Selfish ambition - where we measure opportunities (think: career , ministry, etc...), primarily in terms of "what's in it for me". James 3:16 warns us of negative consequences when selfish ambition is played out in real life.
"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice."
2. The pursuit of wealth - where we measure opportunities, primarily in terms of material gain. The reality is that many of us might not even consider the "desire to be rich" a problem to grapple with. Yet scripture couldn't be more plain in 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."
Here's the main point of this post -
"Ambition isn't wrong but there is such a thing as wrong ambition and scripture warns us to be on our guard against it"
In the next post, I'll share our discussion about what godly ambition looks like
Have you wrestled with ambition in your life?
Have you identified the presence of selfish ambition?
What does the pursuit of wealth say to the world around us about the value of Jesus Christ?
Please share your thoughts on this
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
Friday, March 06, 2009
"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe "
Do you want to be distinctive as a Christian in the workplace? Would you like to shine in a dark and confused world? Simple - don't grumble or complain or be argumentative.
This verse is striking because of what it doesn't prescribe as a path to being distinctive. For instance, it doesn't cover the really "serious" sins -"don't commit adultery" or "don't murder". It doesn't suggest that the path to shining in a dark world is to " end world hunger" or "fight poverty" or even "reshape your culture" - all worthwhile pursuits.
Instead, here's what we get from the apostle Paul - "do everything without complaining or arguing". It's simple, mundane but it's right where we live everyday. If you believe this verse, just doing our daily work without complaining is precisely what can make us stand out as a people called by God.
That's because "not complaining" takes a trust in God. Consider this - how can we preserve peace in our hearts when things don't go our way or when we don't get what we want? We live in peace and maintain hearts of joy by trusting God. We remind ourselves that He is supremely in control of the situation, yet in accordance with Rom 8:28, He has our best interests at heart.
Just doing whatever we're called to do without complaining or being argumentative - that's how we shine.
Monday, March 02, 2009
The Bible speaks of dominion, not in the sense of conquest but in the sense of stewardship. After all, how does God exercise dominion? How does God demonstrate hospitality in creation and providence?... In the kingdom of God, to have dominion is to care for the well being of others
Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God's World p.31