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 26, 2014

The Year In Pixs: 2014

With grateful hearts for God's continued grace and direction, and with thanks for the continued support of those who helped make it possible, we share these highlights of 2014:

January began with 9 days of teaching in South Korea, including this 2-day conference for school teachers hosted by the Korean branch of the Association of Christian Schools International on the campus of Torch Trinity Graduate School. Thank you Scott Lee!

I had a wonderful week teaching graduate students at ACTS, the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission. Thank you, Joyce Park!

When you talk with your hands, you don't need an interpreter!

Teaching on contextualizing Christianity in the workplace with employees of  E-Land Group, the largest integrated fashion and retail company in Korea. 

On the cover of a Korean magazine.

Dinner in Korea!

With students at the William Cornelius Vocational High School, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, a unique Christian school devoted to preparing high school students for employment as dental assistants, computer technicians, mechanics and more. Awesome!

Here I am with the senior class at El Shaddai School, in Guatemala City, along with Pastor Mario Larios (far right). This school is one of a group of Christian schools around the globe engaged in a special Pilot Project with Worldview Matters in cooperation with Bakke Graduate University and the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics, to restore Theology of Work [TOW] to the K-12 curriculum. I'll tell you more about this project in coming posts.

Dinner in Guatemala!

This is Norma Buendia, Vice-Principal at Jesu el Buen Pastor [Jesus the Good Shepherd] Christian School in Lima, Peru. This school is also part of the TOW K-12 Pilot Project mentioned above. 

I took this photo of Miss Diana [English teacher at Jesu el Buen Pastor Christian School] with one of her students.

Lunch in Peru!

This is the administrative office of one of the K-12 TOW Pilot Project schools, Kingdom Citizens International School, in Los, Nigeria. It is built upon a rock! [Biblical, isn't it?] Training for the K-12 TOW Pilot Project is done on-line via the distance learning course we created, called, Increase Meaning: A Wholistic Approach To Christian Education, along with monthly SKYPE calls between myself and each Pilot Project school principal. In this case, Headmaster Segun Gbolagun. 

Five of the K-12 TOW Pilot Project schools are in the United States: two in Iowa, one in Kansas, one in Washington State, and one in Virginia. The school in Virginia, Grace Christian School, asked me to do a Saturday morning workshop for parents, high school students and the broader community, called, "God's Pleasure At Work: The Application of Biblical Truth to Everyday Life and Vocation." It was well attended, thank the Lord.

Invitations from other Christian schools resulted in live workshops at Tri-City Christian School, Vista, California (pictured above) and Somerset Christian School, Somerset, Kentucky (pictured below). [Not pictured are Bellingham Christian School, in Bellingham, Washington, and Word of God Academy, in Schreveport, Louisiana.]

I had a delightful time teaching on Theology of Work for four days at a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) base in Monroe, Washington. Most of these students are from South Korea. Yes, they're sending missionaries to America. Send more!

There is hunger, too, in Canada for teaching on integration of faith and work. I was blessed to speak at the Classical Learning Centre on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia. Thank you Mike Groenewold!

I was also blessed to be one of the plenary speakers at the annual NEXUS LIVE conference hosted by the Association of Christian Schools International, broadcast via satellite from Washington, D.C., to about 14,000 teachers and administrators nationwide. 

Teaching at a 3-day conference in Kiev, Ukraine, where the focus was on how to prepare young people through Christian education to make connections between biblical faith and work, getting Theology of Work into the K-12 curriculum. Hopefully some day such an event will be held in America!

Dinner in Kiev! (Keeping my weight down? Not easy!)

In the past year, we received financial support from 21 faithful donors. Thanks so very much! You helped make the above possible! The board of Worldview Matters has made it a goal to double the number of donors in the next 18 months. If any readers would like to become part of our support team, we'll gladly welcome you to "the club!" If you are still looking for a place to put that end-of-the-year donation, you may do so using the "donate" button in the RH column of this blog. Or call us at 425.246.5386. Our address is 2800 122nd PL NE, Bellevue, WA  98005.
Happy New Year, one and all! 

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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Greatest Christmas Gift

[This post first appeared on December 25, 2009, and has become a tradition, posted every Friday before Christmas.]

This statue of Isaac Watts, lyricist of Joy To The World, is in Southampton, England, the place of his birth in 1674. Having written some 750 hymns, Watts has been dubbed "The Father of English Hymnody." [Photo public domain, by Northernhenge.]

One of my favorite hymns is Joy To The World. The words are by Isaac 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 the hymn is not about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, but about His second coming. 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.

This may be what Watts had in mind, I don't know, but the song makes as much sense to me as a celebration of Christ's first coming. While I’m looking forward to that full and perfect expression of Christ’s Kingdom-yet-to-come, I’m  celebrating His Kingdom-already-here. Jesus is Lord of all. Today! Not just in the future, but in the present moment (Acts 10:36-37).

The Kingdom hasn't fully come yet, nor is it perfectly functional now. This will happen when Christ comes the second time. But the domain over which Christ is King (that is, His King-domain) presently includes both heaven and earth. 

This is the greatest Christmas gift: that Christ came “to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.” Right now, His blessings are to flow through people who are reconciled to God, and in turn reconciling all things to Him, including the things of Earth. That's the big idea behind Christ's coming in the first place. (See Col. 1:16-20, and To Reconcile Not Only People But Things.)

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 celebration, whether at home or in the community, to pull up bramble bushesand plant 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! 

Far as the curse is found.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Does It Make A Difference Where Your Grocery Gets Its Apples?

This plastic bag containing apples my wife recently purchased from a nearby grocery outlet caught my eye. The large print at the top reads: "WE BELIEVE BUSINESS CAN AND SHOULD EFFECT SOCIAL CHANGE." Below this headline, the text explains how the company, First Fruits of Washington, supports a home for girls in Mexico, builds pride in home ownership, and provides safe water systems in Kenya. That's not all you should know about this company.

When people use the term "big business" these days, it isn't usually uttered in a positive light. This is a travesty, because big business can bear remarkably positive fruit...if done in a certain way.

Broetje Orchards has over 6,000 acres of apples and cherries in my home state of Washington. On one of the largest privately held orchards in the US, First Fruits of Washington produces 15 different varieties of apples. The company has a capacity to pack about 20,000 boxes of apples per day, which is over 5 million boxes a year. During peak harvest times, 1,000 temporary workers join the company’s 1,100 full-time employees.

This sounds like big business to me! Thank God for it. Why? Because Ralph and Cheryl Broetje, founders and owners, are committed to a biblically-informed view of business, a biblically-informed view of community, and a biblically-informed view of work that would make any 18th Century Moravian smile with glee.

On the company website you'll read: "During the past 30 years our employees have become our community. Together we tend a large fruit garden that then takes care of our needs. As we have learned how to care for one another over the years, we as a community are increasingly able to extend resources and solidarity to other communities both in the U.S and internationally."

Not only is First Fruits committed to growing quality fruit in a way that models best practices for others in the industry, but in the process they truly respect those who work for them: "Our belief is that business does not have to thrive at the expense of the planet or its people, but can chart a course that provides all parties an opportunity to improve." They are addressing the poverty issue, starting right where they live.

What motivates the Broetjes? The screenshot below, from their company website, spells it out with no ambiguity [click the image to enlarge it]:

I encourage you to visit the First Fruits of Washington website yourself. It's very appealing.

Does it make a difference where your grocery gets its apples? It can. Perhaps you could send your local grocery outlet this post, along with a personal note suggesting they consider purchasing apples from First Fruits. Just a thought. The Sales Information page is here.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Intersecting Our Culture

Today's post, Intersecting Our Culture, is by my friend Dr. Larry Peabody, who teaches Theology of Work at Bakke Graduate University. It is posted here with Larry's permission, having originally appeared on July 31, 2014, in his blog, Called Into Work.  

To intersect, says Webster, is to "meet and cross at a point" or to "share a common area.” Where is that point or common area where we as Christ-followers most often intersect our culture?

Some time ago, a pastor friend said he and his church were looking for some way to build relationships with their community. Although he didn’t use the term, they were seeking a way to intersect the culture around them. But how can any church do that effectively?

In church buildings? Clearly we need to gather regularly with other believers. The New Testament, in urging us not to give up meeting together, leaves no doubt about that (Heb. 10:25). But as important as our (typically) Sunday meetings are, they are hardly an effective way to intersect the surrounding culture—for at least two reasons. First, most profess the same faith in Christ. Unbelievers, if any, are few and attend intermittently. Second, once-a-week meetings do not amount to any significant contact even with the few who may be present.

In church outreach programs? Some churches draw in hundreds of neighborhood kids for VBS summer events. Work days in the community can provide useful services. But these events come and go. They usually do not result in repeated or long-term relationships.

In our neighborhoods? One study revealed that a mere 25 percent of us know the names of those in nearby homes. In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam wrote that neighborhood relationships are "measurably more feeble now than a generation ago.”

But what about the workplace? Suppose your church includes 100 adults. Assume 60 of them work in paid jobs. On average, each of them will have 16 coworkers. Say each knows another 20 in his or her job network (customers, patients, students, vendors, and so on). In that case the workplace "salt-and-light” reach of your 100-adult congregation would total 2,160. And those on-the-job relationships will continue with some regularity week in, week out, year in, and year out.

Nearly two out of three adult believers spend 40 percent of their waking hours on the job. What proportion of our church meetings should aim at equipping them to season their workplace relationships with salt and shine light into the surrounding darkness? Has the time come to equip Christians to intersect our culture in that shared common area where believers and unbelievers constantly cross paths?

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