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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Friday, July 15, 2011

To Reconcile Not Only People But Things

One of the greatest joys of work is rest. With this in mind, I’m taking the next six weeks off from blogging!

Before signing off, I'd like to share one more helpful tool for eradicating the "SSD virus."

The Sacred-Secular Divide looks like this:

The “sacred” activities of life include things like Sunday morning worship, Bible study, prayer, witnessing, volunteering at the homeless shelter, and going on mission trips. These activities have real significance, because they truly matter to God. They have to do with the “things above,” which we should be "setting our minds upon."

"Secular” activities don’t have as much significance. They include things like mowing the grass, earning money to keep a roof overhead, and paying electric bills. These things simply aren’t as important to God. They may be necessary, but they fall under the category of “things of earth” that should "grow strangely dim" with each passing day.

Here is what to do with that way of thinking:

Substitute this:

Any sphere of human activity may be done in harmony with God or in conflict with Him; in alignment with Him, or in opposition to Him. God's game plan is to reconcile not only people but things to Him.

Things! Things on earth! (See Colossians 1:16-20.) Business things! Legal things! Artistic things! Civil things! Yes, "that in all things He may have the preeminence...." (v. 18)!

“...since there is nothing which stands outside of His authority, He is as relevant to what goes on in civil government as He is to the way business functions, to the way family members relate to one another...to the way a local church functions. In short, He is Lord of all, and no less relevant to one area of human endeavor than another..." [Assumptions That Affect Our Lives, pp. 112-113]

So let's resist withdrawing from God's physical, here-and-now world. It's all His (Psalm 24:1)! We have a responsibility toward it. By God's grace, let's engage with it rightly. Let's celebrate the dance! Please view Detachment from Matter.

But doesn’t the Bible say, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth?” And, “Love not the world, nor the things in the world?”

I’ll pick up from here in September.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

If You Read Only One Book This Summer

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I have been focusing lately on the challenge of ridding ourselves of SSD, the Sacred-Secular Divide. I liken the process to a 600-pound man losing 420, because shedding SSD takes continued focus and repeated choices. 

There are some things we can do to help the process. I recommend reading what others have to say about the problem of dualism. I have already mentioned Nancey Pearcey’s book, Total Truth. In addition, I recommend Creation Regained, by Albert Wolters, The Integrated Life, by Ken Eldred, and Job-Shadowing Daniel, by Larry Peabody. Your Work Matters To God, by Sherman and Hendricks, is also very helpful, and The Other Six Days by R. Paul Stevens, is a classic.

I also recommend Assumptions That Affect Our Lives. The seventh edition of this book is now being printed, and the feedback I continue to receive on this book has been the most rewarding aspect of my work in the past twenty-two years since writing it. 

There are few books that deal solely with the problem of SSD. That’s why I’m pleased to let you know about a new book on this topic, published by YWAM Publishing, titled, Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide. It is masterfully written by Scott D. Allen, President of Disciple Nations Alliance.

I was asked to preview Allen’s book, and below is my endorsement:

“While reading this book, at times I felt like weeping. I wasn’t sure why, until I got to the last paragraph: ‘We are living at a kairos moment in church history—a pivotal time where old paradigms are giving way and new ones are emerging.’ I then knew my spirit was weeping with God, in a rare combination of relief, joy and hope. Scott Allen has done a masterful job of pulling the important pieces together into one place. His book will remain in my top ten list of ‘game changers’ for a long time to come. My copy is highlighted throughout, with explanation points, arrows and smiley faces.”

If you read only one book this summer besides the Bible, let it be Scott Allen’s Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide. Order from Disciple Nations Alliance here.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Meaning Of Work Worth Doing

In ridding ourselves of SSD [the Sacred-Secular Divide], it helps to keep the meaning of work worth doing in mind. (Not all work is worth doing. It takes work to rob banks, but that’s not work worth doing.)

Here’s a definition of “work worth doing” that I have taped above my computer display:

“Work worth doing is any expenditure of energy, mental or physical, for pay or not, that rightly manages God’s stuff (tangible or intangible), and employs my God-given abilities to benefit others (directly or indirectly), or prepares me to do so.”

God's tangible stuff includes wood, metal, cloth, and electricity. His intangible stuff includes language, numbers and ideas (all truth is God's truth). Doctors and nurses benefit people directly, while loggers benefit people indirectly. This definition applies to children, students in school, adults in the workforce, and retired folk. It applies to work at home and work outside the home; to the kitchen as well as the courthouse. [FYI, I’ll be doing a free on-line 90-minute webinar on October 18, called, “Kitchen and Courthouse: Bring Meaning To Life.” To reserve your place, go to www.highpurpose.blogspot.com. Space is limited.]

The part about “managing God’s stuff rightly” is a reference to the First Commission of Genesis 1 (to govern over God’s creation as His vice-regents), and the part about “benefitting others" is a reference to the Great Commandment of Luke 10 (to love our neighbors as ourselves).

In short, work worth doing carries out the First Commission in keeping with the Great Commandment.

Is your work worth doing? Ask yourself: 

#1. “What part of God’s stuff (tangible or intangible) am I managing, cultivating, or governing rightly?”

#2. “How does this work directly or indirectly benefit people?”

#3."If my work does not do these two things now, how is it preparing me to do so in the future?”

Any work that benefits others (directly or indirectly) while managing God’s stuff rightly is work worth doing, whether it’s building airplanes for the Boeing Company, or cooking healthy meals for one's family.

I recommend putting this definition of work on your computer display, if you govern over language or numbers, or tape it inside your lunch box, if you govern over lumber, or drive a FedEx truck.

When it comes to bringing extraordinary meaning to ordinary work, it helps to keep the meaning of work worth doing in mind. 

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