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, December 27, 2013

"The Eyes Of All People Are Truly Upon Us"

Few would contest that Christianity played a significant role in the development of early America, and the integration of Christian beliefs with everyday work was a hallmark of the Puritan mind. This mindset was summarized by Pastor George Swinnock, who said, "The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground." 

Such was the life of John Winthrop: Puritan, lawyer, businessman, and Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for 12 years.

Winthrop is well known for an admonition he gave fellow colonizers in a sermon delivered aboard the flagship Arbella, in 1630. It was an admonition based upon the words of Jesus, who declared, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven." Winthrop's exact words were: "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."

Both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan made reference to the "city on a hill" idea, in political speeches. Kennedy was more specific than Reagan, when he stated in 1961, "...I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. 'We must always consider', he said, 'that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us.' Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities."

Yet something important is missing from Kennedy's speech, and Reagan's, too. It's what Winthrop went on to say next: "So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake."

We'll not hear this part of Winthrop's message in political speeches soon. But it describes our condition perfectly, as I see things. 

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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Greatest Christmas Gift

[This post first appeared December 25, 2009.]

One of my favorite carols is Joy To The World. The words are by Issac Watts, based on Psalm 98:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He cometh to judge the earth, with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Some say Joy To The World is not about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. They say it is about His second coming, not His first. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World.)

The joy that is sung about, then, is a future joy that will occur when Christ returns, to “make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness,” in that full expression of His Kingdom-yet-to-come. But for me, the song makes as much sense as a celebration of the first coming of Christ.

While I’m looking forward to that full and perfect expression of Christ’s Kingdom-yet-to-come, I’m also celebrating the Kingdom-already-here. Jesus is Lord of all. Today! Not just in the future, but in this present moment also (Acts 2:36; 10:36).

Of course the Kingdom of God is not fully recognized yet, or perfectly functional right now. This will happen when Christ comes the second time. But the domain over which Christ is King (that is, His King-domain) includes both Heaven and Earth today.

This is the greatest Christmas gift: Christ the King has come “to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.” Right now.

Our Savior came to make His blessings to flow through carpenters, cops and CEOs who are reconciled to God, and reconciling all things to Him, including their work things! That's the idea behind Christ's coming in the first place. See II Cor. 5:17-20 and Col. 1:17-20.

So, no more let thorns infest the ground. By God's amazing grace, let's put our work gloves on, go to our workplaces after the Christmas holiday and pull up some bramble bushes--and plant some redwood trees.

Joy to the Earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

Merry Christmas.

And now about ducks: Although I'm not a Duck Dynasty aficionado, one would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of this week's reaction to the father of the Robertson family, Phil, saying [in his own 'straight talk' way] that sodomy is a sin [along with fornication, adultery...and more]. It is rare to hear sin called sin these days, especially from pop icons. (It is becoming increasingly rare in the church.) For those who may not be aware, the Duck Dynasty television program has one of the largest audiences in the USA, with some 11 million weekly viewers, which is remarkable considering the family concludes each program with a prayer "in Jesus' name." Just in case you haven't heard, last night the family issued a statement: Robertson Family Response.

Here's Albert Mohler's comments on CNN about the matter, along with comments by Wilson Cruz, of GLADD: http://youtu.be/kqn3cwF5Zig

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Over 1.5 Million Hits

When we continue to hear about schools not allowing students to sing Christmas carols, it's refreshing to see one community that's not concerned about the P.C. police. Three cheers for the Yupiq Eskimos of Quinhagak, Alaska!

In this inspiring video, a project by the 5th grade class of the local state school, the wider community pitches in. The clip, created three years ago, now has over 1.5 million hits:


If the video does not play, click this link: http://youtu.be/LyviyF-N23A

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Friday, December 6, 2013

The Greatest Aims Of Our Faith

The most important command, Jesus said, is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." The next most important, He said, is to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:36-40).

Is your co-worker your "neighbor?" Even in Jesus' day, people were asking who their "neighbor" was. One thing's for sure, it's someone in close proximity! Today, we're usually closer to our co-workers than to our literal neighbors.

This doesn't minimize the importance of getting to know who lives across the street, but it's in the workplace where we have the most frequent and weighty opportunities to live out one of the greatest aims of our faith: to love our co-workers (and employees) as much as we love ourselves.

So what exactly does that look like at work?

We are patient with all our co-workers, and those we employ.

We genuinely care for their well-being, and express that care through action.

We affirm their abilities, and celebrate their success.

We don't try to impress them with our own success.

We are civil and polite.

We don't take advantage of them.

We are not irritable with them.

We forgive and forget their offenses.

We encourage their honesty, and discourage their dishonest ideas.

We help them lift heavy work loads.

We believe in them.

We hope for their best.

We stick with them through tough times.

We're there for them when they need us.

Does this all sound familiar? If you know your Bible it does. It was written by Paul the Apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in First Corinthians 13. (I just tweaked it a bit to apply to the workplace.)

Onward and upward.

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