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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Lost Purpose for Learning





For your free copy of this new e-book, click here.

We don't find meaning in learning, we bring meaning to learning. If we can, that is. 

“Whatever!” seems to be a common bored attitude of children toward school. Bribes, threats, and lures of a future well-paying job fail to inspire them. This is to be expected, if we fail to give them a compelling reason for their very existence. 

All sons and daughters are endowed before birth with a remarkable mandate from God. It's a mandate that brings extraordinary meaning to education. The Lost Purpose for Learning explains what that mandate is, and why it brought about such an extraordinary level of flourishing for people in the United States. 

Yet, it has been neglected for the past 150 years. This new book, The Lost Purpose for Learning, explains what the lost purpose is, and how it can be restored to education at all levels.

If you prefer a hard copy, click here.

Again, for your free (e-book) copy of this new book, click here.

Or just use the "Click to read" option below:
  

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Smelliest City Of Europe

Geneva as it looked in 1602. [Artist unknown.]

In the early 1500's, Geneva was called the smelliest city of Europe.” The walls of the city were in disrepair, the people were poor, and families were falling apart. The condition of the church was deplorable. Proof? Priests operated houses of prostitution.

The people ran the bishop of Geneva out of town in 1530. William Farel, a French evangelist, came in 1531. Preaching in the marketplace, Farel cried out, "We must reform the church in order to reform the nation!"
 
In 1535 the electors of the city voted unanimously, and courageously, to proclaim Geneva a Reformed Protestant city. I say courageously because, as Thomas Bloomer notes in Calvin and Geneva: Nation-Building Missions, "they were risking excommunication and eternal damnation."

Farel sought out John Calvin, imploring him to come to Geneva to apply the theology he had written about in Institutes of Religion: "May God curse you and your studies if you do not join me here in the work He has called you to!"

Calvin came to Geneva at the age of 27, and rebuilt the city on three principles:

1. Preaching the Gospel: "...so that people would be saved and start to be transformed and the church would be restored to biblical purity."

2. Teaching: "...so that people would know how to live, the authorities would know how to govern, and all would know how to work in their different spheres."

3. Accountability: "...so that the teaching would not just be theoretical but applied in all areas of life."

Calvin taught that a "holy vocation" included the work of the banker and the shoemaker. Bloomer writes: "Calvin told the bankers they couldn't charge high interest rates, as that was the sin of usury in the Bible….The 4 percent interest rate lasted for four centuries in Switzerland, and this practice was one of the long-term sources of Switzerland's prosperity."

Geneva became a model city for theology of work in practice. It became known as, “the city on a hill.” John Knox came to study what Calvin was doing, and took what he learned back to Scotland. England was also influenced by Geneva, and eventually brought this influence to North America.

We should all know the full story. It can be found in Thomas Bloomer’s essay, Calvin and Geneva: Nation-Building Missions, published in His Kingdom Come (YWAM Publishing). Bloomer's essay contains many lessons we could all use a refresher course on about now. Click here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Why Should Christians Value Machines?


Why should Christians value machines?

In a 4th grade test on pulleys and machines, Mrs. Curry included the following question: 

Why should Christians value work and machines?

Here are some answers she received: 

"Because they help us through life, and God gave us the material to make them."

"God wants us to use our brains to worship Him, and machines help people to worship God."

"Because God said to do work, and machines help us to do work."

"Because people can glorify God by building things that they have never built before."

"Because God made us to do work, not to just sit around and do nothing.  So when we work, we should want to do it easily if we have to do it all the time."

"Because God made us to do work and live. We should make it easier by using simple machines."

"Because it is God's purpose for us."

"God created people so people can invent machines."

I received this report from Dean Ridder, Headmaster at Isaac Newton Christian Academy, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Worldview Matters is working with Bakke Graduate University and the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics to restore a biblical concept of work, economics and human flourishing to elementary and secondary education. We do this through a specialized training program called the WRAP: Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project. Dean's school is part of this program.

Applications for the WRAP are now being accepted for the 2016-17 school year. The number of schools we can accept is limited. Early applicants have a better chance of receiving grant funding.

For details click hereTo set up a time for a personal conversation to discuss the program, use the Worldview Matters contact page, indicating the best day, time and phone number to reach you, here.

Dean also relayed: 

"Our enrollment has grown by 10% since last year (and is still growing--we have families still actively participating in the enrollment process for this year). When I was asked to what do we contribute this growth when enrollment is dropping at Christian schools in our area, I had a good answer. 'People are hearing about our efforts to elevate the level of biblical worldview integration and incorporation of theology of work in our classrooms, and are responding to it.'"

Below is a clip of Mrs. Greer, 5th grade teacher at Dean's school, having a conversation with students on the topic of ecosystems and work:


video

If the video does not play, click here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

What Better Time Than This?


 Click this image to enlarge it.
 
Chuck Colson founded the "Centurions Program" in 2004 for the purpose of equipping 100 followers of Christ per year to “live out their faith authentically in the world.” I was privileged to participate in the 5th group of Centurions, in 2009, and I'm glad I did.

For many years, it was only possible to participate in the Centurions National Program, but now there are five additional Affiliate Programs as well. These Affiliate Programs are located in Washington State, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and New England. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-17 year, and I urge you to seriously consider this opportunity.  

I know the leaders who are heading up the Washington State Affiliate, and I commend them to you. This Affiliate will be meeting monthly on the campus of Northwest University, in Kirkland. The fee for the Washington Affiliate Program is $750 for the year. If you have questions about the Washington State Affiliate, contact my friend Steve Hunter at WAHunters@comcast.net, or call him at 714-501-6527.

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University, has stated: “The Centurions Program, in our view, is consistent with our mission of ‘carrying the call of God by building a learning community dedicated to spiritual vitality, academic excellence, and empowered engagement with human need.’  To this end, we see the University as not just the physical campus but the community at large. Our hoped-for affiliation with Seattle Centurions is one important way for the University to ‘carry the call of God’ to the community, while in turn drawing the community to the opportunities for enrichment offered by the University.”

Participants in the Centurions Program are exposed to a curriculum of important books and films, with access to online discussion forums with nationally-known speakers, such as Joni Eareckson Tada and John Stonestreet.

For more details, visit the Colson Fellows Program website, at www.ColsonFellows.org.

If you want to make a difference, click here for an application to the Centurions Program. 

What better time than this?
 

Friday, April 15, 2016

We Have Become Fools


Take your pick.

In the United States, serious discussion is now going on about whether or not we should allow males who think they are females to use women's bathrooms and shower rooms, and vice versa. This includes allowing students in elementary and secondary schools to make the same choice, depending on which "identity" they choose. If you live in the contemporary West, this conversation is coming to your town soon.

How did we get to this point?

The answer is found in Romans 1:18-32. The contemporary West has gone the way of the ancient Romans, who went the way of the ancient Greeks before them. We (I use the term in a general sense) have "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness" for the past 150 years, and God has now given us over to a way of thinking that can only be described as "futile," "foolish," and "darkened." These are the apostle Paul's terms.

Professing ourselves to be "wise," as the most esteemed thinkers of our age have thought themselves to be (I am referring to the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, William James, John Dewey and Jacque Derrida), we have become fools. 

A new video clip of students being interviewed on the campus of my alma mater, the University of Washington (produced by the Family Policy Institute of Washington), proves the point beyond any shadow of doubt. Among other critical issues, the video addresses the question of whether a 5'9" white man who says he is a 6'5" Chinese woman is wrong─or not. You must see it to believe it.

I think I'll be sending my sheepskin back. 

Click here.


Friday, April 8, 2016

The Unpardonable Postmodern Sin


The Church around the world just celebrated Easter. And in case you did not notice, music was a big part of that celebration.

You can tell a lot about a worldview by the kind of music it produces.

If you visit a Muslim mosque, you will not see an organ or a piano. Nor an acoustic guitar. No choir will sing, nor the congregation. Why? Because devout followers of Mohammad believe music is heram, which means "illegitimate." Some mosques make an exception for vocal sounds that come out sounding like non-melodic chants. Westernized Muslims are not as strict when it comes to music, but in traditional Islam (by this I mean "fundamentalist" Islam), music-making is intentionally absent.   

Buddhists view life as a cycle of suffering caused by human desire. Salvation, for the Buddhist, is escape from suffering through extinction of desire. Joy To The World is not something you would hear in a Buddhist temple. Life is not something you celebrate. There is no personal God to sing about. The closest thing to music coming out of a Buddhist's vocal chords would be a single-note drone. Some Buddhists incorporate Western-style music into their practice, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon, introduced by Westerners converted to Buddhism.

Do you know of any music stores with a section called, "Pure Hindu Hits?"

Westerners take melody and harmony for granted. But "Western" music did not spring from a vacuum. It came from a Christian motivation that viewed music as a way of worshiping the Almighty God who dresses flowers with more colors than a King's robe. It came out of a worldview of hope and joy, which produced harmony and melody as a means of praise, thanksgiving and celebration.

Yes, "Western" music came out of Christian worship. Worship that birthed single-voice melody called “Plainsong” [which later developed into Gregorian Chant] starting in the 3rd century, then in the 9th century developing into two-voice melody, and eventually polyphony [multi-voice music]. Out of this came Handel, Bach, Beethoven, and that remarkable phenomenon we now call “Western" music.  

The next time you download that favorite song from i-Tunes, you can thank a Christian monk. Better yet, thank the living God who inspired the monks who worked to develop polyphony. Then think about what this world would be like if Christ had never been born.

In this post I have committed the unpardonable postmodern sin. I have compared the Christian worldview with others, and found the others to be wanting. In postmodern times, all worldviews are supposed to be equally good. Frankly, I don't buy it. The music tells a different story. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

They Discipled A Nation



The Yanghwajin Cemetary in Seoul, Korea, was designated in 1890 as a site for burying foreign missionaries by Emperor Gwangmu, the first Emperor of the Korean Empire. [Photo by Matthew Smith, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]

In the secularist view of development today, Christianity is not always seen as a positive contributor to the cause. That’s because it is often stereotyped as “institutional” rather than community-oriented, and relegated to “private inspiration” rather than seen as a player in public life.

The history of Korea, however, tells a different story. In the late 19th Century, Korea was mostly illiterate, without roads or railways, power or sewer systems. But beginning in 1884, a movement of Christian missionaries took place, mainly coming from the USA, England, South Africa and Canada. 

These missionaries played a significant role in shaping Korean history. From the hundreds of schools these missionaries established, future leaders of Korea came.

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to visit the Yanghwajin Cemetery in Seoul. Among the 376 graves of foreigners, 145 belong to missionaries and their families. A brochure for the cemetery said: “Abandoning promising careers back home, they came to share the light of the Gospel with ‘Corea’ which was then unknown. The missionaries profoundly influenced Korean society, not only by establishing hospitals and schools, but by affecting its intangible values, thus contributing to the abolition of the class hierarchy in old Korea.”

Elmer L. Towns and Douglas Porter, in their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, report  that the missionaries required adult converts to learn to read Korean before admitting them to church membership. To distinguish Christians from collaborators with the Japanese who later invaded and occupied Korea, "the patriots required Christians to recite chapters from the Bible to prove they were Christians. The result was a 100 percent literacy rate among Christians in a largely illiterate nation. Their ability to read made Christians the natural leaders of the Korean society."

Christianity “caught on” in Korea. The Koreans took to the Bible like kids in a candy store. I’m not sure of all the reasons for this, except to say it was a move of the Holy Spirit, beyond human orchestration. Men and women of God left places of greater comfort to come to a far off land in need, and as a result, they discipled a nation. 

Now you know "the rest of the story."


I took this photo of the gravestone of Canadian medical missionary Robert A. Hardie. My guide let me know this man made a public confession of sin which started a movement of repentance among Christians in Korea known as the Wonsan repentance movement of 1903.

H. B. Hulbert is said to have "loved Korea more than Koreans did."

H. G. Appenzeller established the Pai Chai School, which "produced many capable men who served the Korean people based on the values of the Gospel." He helped with the Korean translation of the Bible.

A pioneer of Korean Christian education was William M. Baird. The school he started in his living room grew into a university.

M. F. Scranton, a pioneer of education for women in Korea, came to Korea at the age of 52, from the USA. She passed on at the age of 76, having dedicated herself to spreading the Gospel and the betterment of Korean women for the last 24 years of her life.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Applications For The WRAP Are Now Accepted


In school, there is no shortage of what to learn. 
The shortage is why.


Followers of Christ in the United States are coming to the sober realization that the biblical foundations for law, civil government, economics, and family that once provided commonly accepted harbor lights for society have been replaced. An incessant move toward the secularization of society and the privatization of Christianity that took place in the 20th Century was enormously successful, being expedited through elementary and secondary schools.

My biggest concern about young Christians being indoctrinated through secularized education is not that they will become atheists. My biggest concern is that they will become Christian dualists. Even inadvertently through unwary Christian schools.  

A Christian dualist is one who sees the Bible as relevant to one's personal life, or to the affairs of the church, but not relevant to what goes on in the Monday-through-Friday workplace. Christian dualists don't mix the biblical world-and-life view with driving a truck, painting a house, or managing a bank, because they didn't mix it with biology, art, or math. Regrettably, the reason many Christian schools don't practice this is because the teachers have not been taught how. It is a learned skill that is not included in the teacher training programs of universities today. 

Worldview Matters is on a mission to restore a biblical view of work and human flourishing to the Christian school curriculum, from preschool through high school, so students are equipped to engage in something grand, beyond themselves, yet in the here-and-now, by engaging in work of all kinds, both present and future, as the very work of God.

The Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project, or as we like to call it, the "WRAP," is a vigorous program for whole schools, not just individual teachers. Applications for the WRAP are now accepted for the 2016-17 school year. The number of schools we are able to accept into the WRAP is limited. Early applicants have a better chance of receiving funding. Applications are due May 1.

For more details, and to obtain a WRAP Application Form, click here.

If the links in the above document do not work for you, request another version directly from info@worldviewmatters.com.

For a short video clip about the vision and purpose of the WRAP, click here.

Feel free to pass this information on. We are accepting applications from any nation, but currently the training is only available in English. [A Spanish edition is in process, but not ready yet.]

Friday, March 18, 2016

Can the Ten Commandments Be Put Back Up?




Is it possible for the Bible to be taken seriously once again in places where it has been rejected? Once they have been removed from the schoolroom walls, can the Ten Commandments be put back up? Could a place that has swallowed secularism ever spit it out? 

If things get bad enough, the unthinkable can happen.

During seven decades, Ukraine was ruled by the Soviet Union, and atheism was the law of the land. Persecution of Christians was the order of the day. Yet after Ukraine gained independence in 1991, some extraordinary things took place.

Thirteen years after Ukraine gained independence, I was invited by a Ukrainian public school superintendent to teach his staff how to integrate the biblical worldview into the regular curriculum of their schools. Yes, a public school superintendent, overseeing 16,000 students and teachers in a city of 125,000, invited me to provide training in biblical worldview integration for leaders of the city's 21 public schools.

Was I dreaming?

When I first received this invitation, I did not believe the superintendent understood what he was asking. I figured he would be fired from his position. To make sure he understood what he was asking, I spent three hours in the superintendent's downtown office, going over the basic content of the course I teach on biblical worldview and how to embed it into academic instruction.

To my amazement, here I discovered a man on a mission to restore Christianity to the next generation. He told me: "Teaching Christianity is more important than academics."

Why? Because he saw Christianity as necessary for restoring Ukraine's moral compass. He understood the consequences of such a loss, and he knew how those bearings could be restored.

I invite you to take a look at what I witnessed in the city of Uzhgorod, in the far western reaches of Ukraine. Take a short video tour of one of these schools with me here. 



This photo was taken the day I spent several hours in the office of the Superintendent of the Uzhgorod School District going over the content of the training course in biblical worldview integration I would be providing for the administrators of his 21 schools.


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Real Deal


The United States is not the first State to experience decay mixed with hope.

Our good friend, Pastor Richard Vicknair, recently wrote:

"I have never seen a time when our nation was more divided.  All of us are aware of the current political divide, racial divide and economic divide. On all sides we are witnessing the handiwork of an unseen enemy. 'We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual forces in the unseen realm.' I sense many of us are slowly losing hope, because the situation seems utterly hopeless.  

What can you and I do about any of this?  

The Lord gave me a strong word of encouragement recently.  His word had nothing to do with 'doing' anything. Rather, 'the most you can do to change the world is to be the real deal in your walk with Me.'

If I am the real deal as a follower of Christ, I will do my part, wherever my walk takes me in this world.  If others are the real deal in their walk with Christ, they will do their parts, wherever their walks take them, being living examples of the right thing to say and do.  

Let me encourage you to turn your gaze away from the current distress of the world and focus on being the real deal in your walk with the Lord."  

Richard's exhortation reminded me of Athenagoras' description of Christians to Marcus Aurelius, in decedent Rome: 

"With us...you will find unlettered people, tradesmen and old women, who though unable to express in words the advantages of our teaching, demonstrate by acts the value of their principles. For they do not rehearse speeches, but evidence good deeds. When struck they do not strike back; when robbed, they do not sue; to those who ask, they give, and they love their neighbors as themselves."

Those believers, in another difficult place, took Paul's words to heart, and in due time changed history: "...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders..." (I Thessalonians 4:11-12).

This is our challenge today, just as it was for believers in Rome. It appears to me that rising to this challenge will be more critical in the immediate years to come than anyone in the United States could have imagined just one long decade ago.

Onward and upward.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Most Pressing Need For Reform



Nancy Pearcey

Last week I said there is no secular subject taught at the University of Washington. This may be a "far out" idea for some. If you're wondering about the biblical basis for such thinking, I recommend Nancy Pearcey's book, Total Truth.

Several years ago, I did a telephone interview with Dr. Pearcey, in which she elaborated on the problem of what she calls the "sacred-secular distinction." This "distinction" is commonly held among Christians and non-Christians, and it is a distinction worth deeply re-thinking.

Holding on to the sacred-secular distinction derails God's full intention for believers in this world. Getting rid of this distinction may be the most pressing need for reform in the Church today. I say this because if this human-centered perspective can be exchanged for a wholistic biblical view, it would go a long way toward addressing a host of other problems plaguing the Church today.  

Click here to watch an edited video version of this interview: 3-minutes with Nancy Pearcey

Friday, February 26, 2016

It's All God's Stuff


While some of the country is freezing, we're having an early spring in Seattle. Yesterday I head someone  mowing the lawn. Soon the cherry trees on the University of Washington campus will be in bloom. Which reminds me...    

I was once 1 of 35,000 students there. Inside every chest, a small pump expanded and contracted 100,000 times a day without a thought. These fleshy little drivers kept us all going, even during sleep, whether in class or in bed. 

Every professor's brain contained more cells than stars in the known universe. The electrochemical communication that flowed among 100 billion neurons allowed each instructor to do his or her work. Whether atheist, agnostic, or believer, each professor and student was continuously held together by the sustaining power of Christ's word (Heb. 1:1-3). He gave us all breath, 14,000 times a day. (Acts 17:25)

Christ sustained us all, both teacher and student, whether knowingly or not, quarter after quarter (Col. 1:16-17). God owned us, too. All of us. "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains. The world, and those who dwell therein." Psalm 24:1. All around me, I saw walking miracles, created in the likeness and image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

What was secular about all this? Nothing.

Evergreen trees and rhododendrons were everywhere. And the buildings! Were they human creations? Yes. Designed and constructed by image-bearers of God who could only produce such beautiful "secondary creations" because they were made in the image of the first Creator. Christ was holding those buildings together. He made and sustained the raw materials. 

I have never seen a secular building in my life. Some ugly ones, yes, because we live in a fallen world where people can do hideous things with God's stuff. But I've never seen a secular brick. It's all God's stuff.

I spent about six years at the University, earning two bachelor's degrees. One in music, and the other in German language and literature. Neither subject was a secular subject. Why? Because God created and sustains sound waves, and without this, neither music nor language can exist. God gives humans the amazing ability to think abstractly, speak and write language and song, though fallen souls distort them both. 

There is no secular subject at the University of Washington, although there is plenty of distortion going on. If it has anything to do with time, space, or matter, it's all God's stuff.


The best thing that happened during my time at the University of Washington was meeting a remarkable walking miracle by the name of Kathy Marie Carlson, whose name was changed to Overman. This brilliant woman earned her Mrs. degree in just two years! This photo was taken on the U.W. campus, under the blooming cherry trees, about four months before we tied the knot, 45 years ago.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Theology Of Work Project


A group of biblical scholars and workplace practitioners went through the entire Bible to examine what each book teaches about work.

Last week we shared a tool we use in the WRAP program, called, 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing. It's a kind of "periodic table of worklife elements." If this piqued your interest, you may want to explore the Theology of Work Project.

The Theology of Work Project pulled together teams of scholars and workplace practitioners for the sole purpose of researching the topic of work in every book of the Bible. Yes, every book of the Bible. This has been a laborious process, over multiple years, involving many writers, with peer reviews and intensive critiques, to ensure the highest standards of biblical integrity.

We recommend this resource to you, and invite you to take a closer look here.


Friday, February 12, 2016

62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing


There's more than one Periodic Table of Elements.

A few years ago, I was in the office of a school principal sharing with members of her leadership team about the need to restore theology of work to the P-12 curriculum. One of the leaders asked: "What do you mean by theology of work?"

Fair question! The short answer is: "What the Bible teaches us about work." But that answer doesn't tell anyone what the Bible teaches us about work! 

What is "theology of work?"

For the Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project [WRAP], Worldview Matters developed a 1-page reference tool that helps students─and teachers─to grasp the meaning of "theology of work." We call this document, 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing.

This reference tool is not an exhaustive treatment of "theology of work." (There is only so much one can get onto a single page!) But 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing is a representative list of bullet points to "get the juices going" in classroom conversations centering around the work students are currently doing, or will be doing in the future.

It's like a "Periodic Table of Elements" for work. Grasping these basic building blocks is an important part of the process of shaping a biblical paradigm for work in the minds of the next generation. This is part of the Worldview Matters WRAP process for redeeming and restoring the word work. (Not to mention bringing purpose and meaning to education─for students and teachers alike.)

I invite you to explore 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing for yourself. Discover God's answer to theft, and His therapy for thieves here.

http://www.biblicalworldview.com/62%20Truths%20About%20Work%20And%20Human%20Flourishing.pdf
 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Continually Rethink


Recently I blogged about the work of Paul Graves, Workplace Ministry Pastor at Cedar Park Church, in Bothell, Washington. As follow up, I did a phone interview with Paul about his God-Work 360 program. Highlights from this call are below. 

Christian Overman: How can churches help members to live out their faith in the Monday-through-Friday workplace?

Paul Graves: The church must be ambitious and courageous in making internal adjustments and creating innovations that equip members to make the God-Work connection. By "internal adjustments and innovations," I mean creating opportunities within the church’s culture — its processes, structures, routines, governance – in short, its orientation to pastoral practices, liturgy, discipleship, etc. For followers of Christ to become mature disciples in the “outside world” of the Monday-through-Friday workplace, the “inside world” of the local church must have a fully integrated approach toward nurturing faith-at-work skills in intentional, repeatable and sustainable ways. 

Christian Overman: What is the most important internal adjustment a church can make?

Paul Graves:  Most churches have a variety of internal programs already in place that share common axioms, such as the centrality of the Word of God, the role of prayer, and worship. But the idea of “vocation,” or “workplace calling” is not yet one of the essential axioms of most churches. I’m suggesting that vocation/calling be one of those essential axioms, running like a common, unifying thread through all the church programs.  

Christian Overman:  How are you doing this at Cedar Park?

Paul Graves: Rather than throw a “bomb” into the middle of the room by creating some sort of “new thing” at the church, we are finding ways to build the axiom of vocation/calling into already existing structures. For example, our church has an emphasis toward small-group programs, so we have added small groups that specifically focus on the faith-work connection. Another structure already in place is the Sunday School. By providing classes that specifically focus on the faith-work connection, we are beginning to create an awareness of the vocation/calling axiom upon which we can build.

Christian Overman: Why is all of this important?  

Paul Graves: It is important because most members of churches spend the vast majority of their lives outside the walls of the local church. For most people, this is where our vocational calling is fulfilled. If the church is going to be truly supportive of the church ‘called out/scattered,’ it has to continually rethink how it does the church ‘gathered’ – not just on Sunday, but throughout the week. This was the model for the first century church, and we need to continuously find ways to reintroduce this emphasis.

For more about God-Work 360, click here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Look Beyond Europe To India



What does India share in common with the United States, and why does it matter?

Vishal Mangalwadi, a scholar and follower of Christ from India, contends that Hinduism and Secularism share much in common. In his book Truth and Transformation, Mangalwadi asserts that moral relativism leads to corruption and poverty, and this approach to morality is the product of both Hinduism and Secularism.

In Hinduism, as in Secularism, there is no "Higher Law" that applies equally to all people, because there is no Higher Lawgiver. In Hinduism, there can be no source of moral order other than that which various groups create for themselves. This leads to different moral standards for different people.

"Growing mangoes or guavas alone, could lift whole families out of poverty [in India]," writes Mangalwadi. "But if hardworking peasants grew good mangoes and guavas, the higher castes would come and take them..."

In Hinduism, there is no God who has said, "You shall not covet your neighbor's mangoes."

Both worldviews reject the idea of a rational, transcendent God who has said, "You shall not steal," or, "You shall not covet," and to whom all people in every walk of life are equally accountable. The "upper casts" in India have practiced moral relativism for years, Mangalwadi contends. The result is rampant corruption, with upper casts stealing from lower casts with no consequence or shame. Because of this corruption, poverty abounds in India.

The net effects of Secularism ["there is no God"] and Hinduism ["everything is God"] are the same, because morality in both Hinduism and Secularism can be nothing more than human conventions. "Morality" depends on who makes the rules and has the power to implement them.

In the United States today, morality boils down to a 51% vote [the tyranny of the majority]. For me, as a follower of Christ, this is a chilling prospect. Because as a Bible-believing Christian, I am part of a rapidly increasing minority.

"The West," writes Mangalwadi, "is becoming corrupt like us [in India] because it is developing a 'new spirituality' without [true] morality. This new spirituality is no different than our [Hindu] old spirituality."

If Mangalwadi is correct, then to understand where the United States is headed, we must look beyond Europe to India.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Throw The Bums Out

United we stand. Divided we fall.

U.S. citizens are in a "throw the bums out" mood. There seems to be a lot of anger about the "broken system." The economy is not the only thing broken. Congress is broken. Families are broken. Our country is divided.

What's "the fix?"

Vishal Mangalwadi, in Truth and Transformation, wrote: "Roots of corruption go deeper than individual leaders and regimes. Dethroning leaders or smashing 'the system' rarely does lasting good...Ultimately it is our inner life─our assumptions, values, worldview, desires, emotion, and attitudes─as well as our relationships, that need to be transformed." 

Such inner transforamtion, Mangalwadi contends, only happens when people embrace the Truth revealed in a book that the West no longer takes seriously: the B-I-B-L-E. 

Allan Bloom was a professor at Cornell University, the University of Toronto, Yale University, and the University of Chicago. He was not a Christian. Yet, in his book, The Closing of the American Mind, written in 1987, Bloom put his finger on our problem:

"In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united the simple and the sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and—as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible—provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book is disappearing. And fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise—as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine. Contrary to what is commonly thought, without the book even the idea of the whole is lost.”
 
Our division is the natural consequence of the loss of "the book." While we may question Bloom’s assertion it was “inevitable” that the biblical vision of the order of the whole of things would disappear, it has. Today, a vision "for the whole of things" is confined to the four walls of certain churches, and the private lives of certain individuals.

Our system is broken. Could this be the consequence of the loss of a vision for “the order of the whole of things” that Bloom said "the book" once provided?

Friday, January 15, 2016

What Is At Stake With Our Young People


This is beautiful, historic downtown Staunton, Virginia, in Augusta County, USA. One of the schools we are working with, Grace Christian School, is located here. A week before Christmas, the public schools of Augusta County were closed for a day because of possible "risk of harm to school officials" amid an angry backlash of parents over an assignment given to some high school students at Riverheads High School. The assignment was for the students to copy the Shahada in Arabic calligraphy. The Shahada is a Muslim creed, which says: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." The parental revolt made national news. John Morrison, the Superintendent of Grace Christian School, commented on this matter in his blog to parents this week. With John's permission, I am passing his words on to our readers. [Photo by henristosch, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, Wikipedia.]

While Christian parents at that particular school may have been justifiably concerned about the teacher's assignment, I believe they have missed the deeper, more fundamental issue. And that issue is simply this: what is the basic religious worldview that their children are being taught everyday in public school, and is the content of that worldview perhaps far more alarming than the assignment this public school teacher gave to her students?

The following quotation from our dear friend, Dr. Christian Overman, founder of Worldview Matters, articulates my concerns quite succinctly:

"If it is a religious matter to teach or imply that the Bible provides a standard for moral order, is it not also a religious matter to teach or imply that it does not? If it is a religious position to say, 'Jesus is Lord of all, and by Him and through Him all things exist,' is it not also a religious position to say in so many words, or lack thereof 'Christ and the Bible are irrelevant to our discussion on biology, art and math?' Are not both statements religious statements?

To teach students that Christ and the Bible are irrelevant to biology, art and math can be done very effectively without telling them this directly. A teacher does not have to stand in front of a class and say 'the Bible has nothing to do with our discussion' to communicate the message that the Book is irrelevant.

If we think the current U.S. system of education is religiously neutral, we must think again. If state schools were indoctrinating children in Buddhism, Islam or Native American Animism, many Christian parents would hit the ceiling. Maybe. But when it comes to the indoctrination of children in John Dewey's so-called 'Common Faith,' which he referred to as a non-theistic faith, Christian parents are curiously passive."

Because of what is at stake with our young people, I am not overtly concerned about stepping on toes with the above comments. We should not be surprised at the devastation of our national values and those of our young people that are largely the outcome of secularist education! 

We cannot throw out long-standing traditions of Christian education as practiced by the Church down through the centuries, by turning our children over so secularist educators, and then expect them to stand in our faith.

Previous generations clearly understood this. What will it take to awaken ours?


Friday, January 8, 2016

A Workplace Ministry Pastor


Engraving of Jonathan Edwards by R. Babson and J. Andrews. (Public domain)

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a pastor, a missionary to Native Americans, and the third President of Princeton University. Among his descendants came scores of pastors and missionaries, 120 college professors, 110 attorneys, 60 authors, 30 judges, 13 college or university presidents, 3 congressmen, and one Vice President of the United States.

But there's more to the story.

While doing eight years of Ph. D. research on Jonathan Edwards, Dr. David Scott discovered something remarkable:

"One day…I came across the discipleship curriculum that the puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards had been trained in by his church in how to have a God-filled work life. They even had a name for it…'technologia,' a Latin term for their little-known method of teaching the art of God-centered work.... Edwards and his fellow students—future pastors and merchants alike—were tested in it in order to graduate from early Yale. The Puritans knew what it meant for the church to purposely pastor people in their work. We do not.” [For more, see "A Church Without A View: Jonathan Edwards And Our Current Lifeview Discipeship Crisis."]

The English Puritan Pastor George Swinnock said: "The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground." No doubt this was because the Puritan view of work was systematically built into the minds of "pastors and merchants alike" through the church. This was normative.

Yet today, for the most part, a "systematic worklife discipleship" effort by the church has gone the way of men's powdered wigs.

But things are slowly changing. Though small in quantity, an increasing number of pastors are making "systematic worklife discipleship" a priority. Tom Nelson, author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship To Monday Work, the Pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, is a good example. Tim Keller, author of Every Good Endeavor, and Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, continues to be a leading voice in this matter.   

A local church in our area, Cedar Park Church, has placed a man on staff to serve as a Workplace Ministry Pastor. Paul Graves' total focus as Workplace Ministry Pastor is to help members of Cedar Park Church to discover their calling at work. Paul, a good friend of mine, has created GodWork 360 to restore a "systematic approach" to worklife discipleship through the local church.  

For more, see: http://www.cedarpark.org/ministries/workplaceministry/.

Paul Graves, Workplace Ministry Pastor at Cedar Park Church, Bothell, Washington, USA, heads up GodWork 360. The hair is different than Edwards', but the heart is the same.