Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Gospel and Your Identity

This weekend, my church hosted a conference featuring Paul Tripp, author of Lost in the Middle. Based on the book, this conference addressed the issues of mid-life through the lens of the gospel. There was much said that was both helpful and thought provoking. Far more than can be touched upon in a single blog post.

But one of the points that Dr.Tripp made is particularly important to many of us engaged in the workplace. It involves the issue of personal identity. Due to remaining indwelling sin in our lives, many of us derive our identity from the position we hold or the kind of work we do. Rather than revel in our position as rescued sinners and children of the Most High, we invest our identities in our roles at work or even at home.

Like all false gods, this misplaced identity ultimately fails to satisfy. God ordained trials can expose the limitations of these idols - through failed projects, stalled career aspirations or even lost jobs. These are occasions for repentance, they are reminders of God's sovereign love. We are meant to anchor our hope in Christ alone and our identity as God's children.

What identity is more glorious than that? What hope is more enduring? If we are found in Christ, we are blessed indeed.

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 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death

Phillipians 3:8-10

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quote of the Week

"It seems natural to us all to wish to make a name and gain some note, in the circle we move in at any rate, and we wish to make that circle wider if we can... Men, in seeking after notoriety or honor, have a degree of pleasure in the search that they do not possess when they have gained their object... If you have honor or fame, accept it, but let this prayer go up, 'My God bless me indeed, for what profit were it, if my name were in thousand mouths, if You should spew it out of your mouth? What matter though my name were written in marble, if it were not written in the Lamb's Book of Life?..."

If you happen to live in obscurity, and have not entered the lists of honors among your fellowmen, be content to run well your own course and fulfill truly your own vocation."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Twenty Years Together

Kathy and I were married twenty years ago on August 19, 1989. Like many couples, we've had wonderfully good times and terribly tough times but the one constant is God's grace over our marriage.

Every since Kathy's encounter with cancer in 2001, our motto has been - "every day together is a gift from God". Sadly, I didn't always see that earlier in our marriage. But God has a wonderful way of bringing forth the sweet fruit of sanctification from a bitter seed. As two sinners living, loving and parenting together, we still have many issues but we're more aware than ever that God has been kind to give us twenty years worth of daily gifts. We're grateful.

Here's what I read recently -

"The ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exist for God's glory. That is, it exists to display God" - John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p.25

We pray that in some mysterious, inexplicable way, our marriage may fulfill its ultimate purpose.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

"God's children are strengthened by their falls. They learn to stand by their falls. Like tall cedars, the more they are blown, the deeper they are rooted.''

Sunday, August 09, 2009

God@Work - Your Calling as a Witness

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."

Luke 24:44-49

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)
We are likewise called to proclaim this message to the world around us. Check out the Two Ways to Live presentation - it's is an effective tool in communicating the gospel.

Application Questions:

When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone from your community or workplace?
What prevents you from sharing the gospel on a more regular basis?
How does meditating on the gospel help you do so?

Check out God@Work from the first session onward

Friday, August 07, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The world strongly influences us in a thousand ways to take a short view of life - eat, drink and be merry now because tomorrow may never come. Christians, on the other hand, are to take a longer, more clearheaded view of life, living intentionally and responsibly in order to make contributions to society that will last long after our individual lives in this world are over."

Monday, August 03, 2009

God@Work - Your Calling as a Worker

This post summarizes part 3 in the God@Work series and is entitled "Your Calling as a Worker". It addresses the distinctive characteristics of a Christian worker and it's my hope that you find these notes helpful.

The Gospel is Central to Our Calling as a Worker. Ephesians 2:8-10
What does Ephesians 2:8-10 have to do with the topic of vocation? When we think about our vocations, we need to start with our first and primary vocation - the call of the gospel into a life of faith. We are called into fellowship with God through the work of Christ on the cross, who reconciled us to God and, according to Ephesians 2:8-10, has summoned us to good works. These good works prepared for us are to be walked out in the various vocations, in various realms of life that we're called to - in society, in church, in family and in our workplace.

The Gospel Influences How We Work. Colossians 3:22 - 4:1
Colossians 3:22 - 4:1 offers a view of how the gospel influences the way we should work. This passage unveils five different gospel implications related to our work life -

a) We work to worship our Savior - the highest aim of our work is as an act of worship before God. Our work is an opportunity to worship and this is a uniquely Christian opportunity. Paul remind the slaves of the privilege of working "as for the Lord, and not for men"

b) We work to serve - our work is to serve our neighbor. We are accustom to the notion of serving in church, in our families and possibly in our community. However, many of us do not approach our work life with service in view. Yet, God has called us to serve in all of life. And, our service should be exemplary. Paul's exhortation to the slaves calls them to be exemplary in their service - "...obey in everything those who are your earthly masters". Our motivation for service? Simply that we serve Christ by serving our neighbor.

c) We work for a reward - Paul's encourages the slaves by pointing them to the promise of a reward from God. He reminds them that the work they faithfully performed is not in vain - they will receive a better reward from God. "Whatever you do, work heartily... knowing that from the Lord, you will receive inheritance as a reward." This isn't just about money - it's about eternal life and reward on the Last Day when we stand before God.

d) We work with accountability - the thread of accountability runs throughout this passage. God will hold us accountable for our work, either as "slave" or "master". We are responsible to give an account for not only the outcome of our work but the manner with which we work. Just a couple of questions - Do we treat our coworkers with respect and kindness? Do we work with trust toward God or self reliance on our own efforts?

e) We work with humble contentment - implicit to this passage, is an encouragement to the slaves to be content even in their work. Contentment requires faith. The work that God has called us to will result for our good and for His glory. The "good" spoken of in Romans 8:28-29 is first and foremost, about conforming us to the image of Christ.

Obviously, much more was shared but hopefully, this post offered a glimpse into why the gospel is foundational, not only to the purpose of work but to the essential distinctives of Christian work.