Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Your Work is a Spiritual Calling


What difference does balancing the budget and reconciling your company's bank account actually make for God? Why should you greet each customer at your shop with courtesy when you have had a rough week? How does placing people in jobs really make a difference in the world today? How can creating web sites for other businesses actually affect the Kingdom of God? Have you ever asked questions like those? I have. For years I viewed work as a way to make money to pay bills (and the church - I mean God) to survive financially, to buy a few nice things and then to get to the really important work of church. I'm talking about attending services, teaching, serving, singing, praying, learning, socializing and putting together programs to help the church grow. Worshipping and spiritual stuff, that is what we are put on earth for right? Well, maybe that isn't all of the answer.  Maybe not even the majority of the answer.


The church must rethink the role of people's employment. For many years (decades?) the church has said, in so many words, that your jobs are really to provide your needs and allow you to be faithful and serve the church.  Enjoy your work, but really, we all know that your spiritual work is more important.  As I read my Bible, it says something very different to me.

"Slaves (read employees today), in all things obey those who are your masters (read employers or bosses) on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."  Colossians 3:22-24


Our work and the way we work is actually a spiritual act! It is a form of worship to Jesus as my ultimate boss. Paul teaches us in verses 24 that if we do our work with a full heart for the good of our boss and Jesus, that we will receive the reward of the inheritance. That sounds like your work is awfully important. Your work (job) is a spiritual act of worship towards God and a way to bless others that you work with.

Let's continue on to Colossians 4 and see what is said within the context of our daily work.

"Masters, (employers/bosses), grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you to have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving...Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace as though seasoned with salk, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:1-2, 5-6

Here the context doesn't change from our place of work and how we are act.  We are to not only do our work with eagerness and joy because we are doing it for Jesus and it pleases Him, but there is more.  We are to also know that our time spent at work is one of the greatest opportunities there is to make an impact for Jesus.  At work, you have the opportunity to daily give out little samples of heaven (you can figure out what looks like :-).  These little tastes will for some, bring them to a desire to have a triple scoop cone and to come back regularly for more.  Some where along the way, you'll be able to introduce them to Jesus  and watch them be transformed by His grace and power. 




Seek Jesus' will for you at work, know that your work is essential to the Kingdom of God.  You are His ambassador, representing heaven and giving out free samples of heaven to those God places in your path.  Your work is spiritual and it is important.  Your work is a calling of God upon your life and that makes whatever you do spiritual.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Drifting

There is nothing like sitting in an innertube drifting down a lazy river in the heat of summer. The birds are singing, there are giggles and splashing that wash over your ears from others enjoying the ride. The smell of fresh air, pine trees and dirt captivate the senses. As you lay your hand in the water and draw up a few drops to cool your head you fade away into a long day dream. Drifting can be fun until you hit some rocks, scratch your legs, bruise your bottom on a rock and get wedged between two boulders. It is important to know where you are headed. In my Life Transformation Group, I have been reading in the book of Hebrews. There are a couple of passages in chapters 2 and 3 that have stood out to me. "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." Hebrews 2:1 There it is, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard. The book of James teaches us to not only be hearers of the Word of God but to put what we have heard into action. We should apply it so as to have effect in our lives. Hebrews 2 seems to say that if we do not pay close attention to what we hear and live by it, then we are prone to drift away from the truth. Drifting is such a lazy term isn't it? The author of Hebrews seems to know that slowly, silently and seductively drifting in our faith will cause a separation (in relationship) with God and then many other uglies will follow. "Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:12-13. This passage teaches us that it is possible for believers to somehow 'drift' into an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. This is not an unbelieving and falling away that includes losing ones standing with God, that is not possible, however, these are very serious matters that affect our relationship to God and His body, the church. To guard against this drifting away problem verse 13 gives us a remedy. We are to be encouraging one another every day. Too often, IF this happens it happens in spurts or on Sunday's or another 'church day'. Why do we need encouraging everyday? I think the answer is that sin is very, very deceitful. It promises fulfillment but delivers sickness, emptiness and death. If we are not built up in Jesus, we may eventually find a hardened heart, not willing to listen or deal with spiritual matters. Remember the Word of God is always right (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We must believe what we learn here, even if you are not sure it is true - be assured that it is always true. So be encouraging to those in your close community (house church, sunday school, small group etc.). Encourage them daily (as often as possible) through e-mail, text message, voice mail, phone call or over a cup of coffee. I know I need the encouragement daily. I do not want to drift away and wake up hardened heart, a buised bottom and scratched up legs. Do you have any thoughts on this topic? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

You Have Problems if You are in a Church

I was sitting in a circle of new friends in another state discussing living together in community for the glory of Jesus. In others words, we were talking about church and in this discussion it was a church that met in a home. Everyone had agreed that church is to be lived in unity (Eph. 4:1-6) where we are on mission together (Acts 4:29-31) and where the message of Jesus would be attractive to a people who live in a world with lots of pain (Matt. 11:28). I listened to stories about people wanting to make a difference in their communities and how that was fleshing itself out. There was a hunger and thirst for deeper connections with Jesus, each other and the world. These people were most excited about God, church and seeing the communities they lived in transformed for the Kingdom of God. Then something happened. The conversation seemed to change and not for the better. The excitement drained from the room and tension began to rise. Uncertainty replaced confidence and apathy filled the void of where excitement once reigned. The ‘something’ that changed the conversation was the mention of people in their churches, their quirks and the baggage that they brought to the group. Some brought the baggage of immaturity, others pain, some had affluence (which really bugged one couple) while others brought the baggage of…children (eeeek). Some thought others worked too much, others were too lazy, one couple thought people in their group were full of pride (unlike the judgment they were full of) and finally there were those who got upset because they were the only ones who would initiate anything. So, you can see that the biggest problem in any type of church is people who are around other people. So, what to do about working through these differences? Here are some simple (but hard to enact) principles that will help unity in your church. 1. Be others focused (Phil. 2:1-5). 2. Take on the attitude of a servant (Matt. 20:20-28). 3. Always be ready to give of your self to bless others (1 Cor. 14:1-3 & 26). 4. Be quick to admit when you are wrong (James 5:16). 5. Let words that encourage others roll off of your lips (Eph. 4:29 & Jms 4:11). 6. Let love be your compass (1 Peter 4:8). 7. Remind yourself that your struggles are not against people, but against darkness (Eph. 6:10-20). 8. Always work to preserve unity (Eph. 4:1-6). By the way, if your church is not currently facing difficulties, just wait about 5 minutes and it will. If you don’t have difficulties regularly, I would wager that there aren’t real people in your church ;-0
Here is a short clip that parodies what happens at times when people are together and wanting their way.