Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

When we pray, we recognize our dependence on Him, and we turn ourselves over to His will. When we pray in our vocations, we recognize their connection to God - to His will, His judgments and His grace. We have said that God is hidden in vocation. In prayer, we get a glimpse of Him. The mask is lifted.

Gene Edward Veith, Jr; God at Work, p. 150

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Honor of My Mother

In His good and sovereign will, the Lord called my mother home last Thursday. She was 77. In the two years preceding her death, my mom was not herself - she battled depression and various ailments including cancer.

But when we held the memorial services over two nights, we received an outpouring of grief and condolences from fellow church members. and friends who deeply loved her. They also honored her with God glorifying testimonies of how my mom was used by God.

One church leader spoke of how her ministry in her small group was instrumental in discipling other small group leaders. The senior pastor cited how her leadership gave birth to the church hospitality team - a ministry to greet and welcome visitors to the church. Many women viewed my mom as a second mother to them as she extended both loving care and godly counsel to them. Her zeal to share the gospel was noted by many - she led many to the Lord.
For me, I will remember her as a mother who poured her life into her children. When I reflect upon my life, I think of how much of my mother's influence is evident in who I am today. My love for reading was seeded by my mother's inclination to give me books, rather than toys for birthday presents. Toys, in her mind were frivolous and pointless (I didn't agree then, and I don't agree now). She was also a faithful and loving wife. She and my father were married for over 48 years - to my mind, all of them blissfully happy.

Perhaps what is most notable about her life is the transformation she experienced when she encountered Jesus Christ in her late forties. She went from being someone who was self focused, reserved and fearful to being bold, confident and generous to others. After becoming a Christian, she would have opportunity to teach the women of her church - she would be leading ministry teams - she would be discipling and caring for the younger women. Almost always, she would take any opportunity to share the gospel with unbelieving strangers and friends alike.

I am grateful for my mom and we will miss her dearly. But we are comforted by the realization that she is with the Lord and experiencing more joy than we can imagine. In some ways, she is more alive than she has ever been.

Death is a terrible thing - it's not the way it ought to be - but for the Christian, it is not the final word. Christ will have the final word at the close of the age and He will put things right in this fallen world. I'm looking forward to that Day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

Desires are the spiritual pulse of the soul, always beating to and fro and showing the temper of it; they are therefore the characters of a Christian and show more truly what he is than his actions do

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's the One Thing You Want in Times of Trouble?

Life in this fallen world is messy - jobs are lost, family members become ill, projects fall behind schedule, etc.   Even as Christians, we contend with trouble everyday.    Perhaps you're one of the many who've lost their jobs in this economic depression.  Maybe you still have a job but it's fraught with difficulties and difficult people.   Or perhaps you might be battling a long standing illness.    

Sometimes the problems of life come upon us so unexpectedly that they can overwhelm us.   All we can think of in those times is our need for relief.  How do we contend with these and other challenges in light of God's active presence in our lives?   According to Psalm 27,  David faced many difficulties.   He contended with serious enemies who threatened his very life.   

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and my foes, it is they who stumble and fall
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident

Psalm 27:1-3

Under such pressure, what did David pray for?   What is the one thing he asked of God?  Not deliverance from his enemies, nor for his own personal safety.   Not for an unbeatable battle plan, nor the destruction of his enemies.

One thing have I asked of the LORD that will I seek after
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple

Psalm 27:4

Instead, David desired the nearness of God.  For David, to inquire before the presence of God was far better than a winning strategy.   If we have one thing to ask of God, what shall we ask for?   If we have deadlines to meet and troubles of every kind looming on the horizon, where are we going to find relief?   Where will we find peace and satisfaction?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Our activity can promise us everything and make us forget God. Therefore God commands us to rest from our work. It is not work that supports us but God alone; we live not from work, but from God alone.... The Sabbath rest is the visible sign that human beings live by the grace of God and not by works."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer; I Want to Live These Days with You, p. 43

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Why We Don't Need Jesus as CEO

I was researching for articles pertaining to work and faith when I came upon a book entitled Jesus, CEO: Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership.   Admittedly, I've never read the book but somehow the title didn't sit well with me.   I'm sure the author meant no harm and in fact, she probably considered it a compliment to feature Jesus as the ultimate executive leader.   

Unfortunately, this book title serves as another example of how we can recast Jesus into the image of our own liking, ignoring the essence of who He is and what He came to do.      

Ironically, Jesus is never more popular in our modern culture than when He serves as an example.    Talk about Jesus as CEO and you'll have heads nodding in approval in the boardroom.  Share about Jesus as Savior and you're asking for trouble.   Perhaps that's why the title of the book troubled me - I'm acquainted with my sin, weakness and failure.  In the context of my work, living off leadership principles from the life of Jesus just doesn't suffice. Rather, I need to be saved from laboring in unbelief.   I need redemption from selfish ambition.   I need to be rescued from a failed project.  I need life giving hope from Someone greater than myself.  

Sometimes an example, no matter how admirable or perfect, just won't cut it.