A Publication of RenewaNation: Helping Children Develop a Biblical Worldview.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Greatest Hope

God gives the power to make wealth (Deut. 8), and the perilous ability to lose it.

In order for God-given standards of morality and ethics to become a reality in our civil and economic systems, there must be a real love for the Divine Person who gave us those standards in the first place. Legislators cannot produce the kind of deep-seated shift that is necessary to put our civil and economic house in order. We cannot fix our fundamental problems by passing laws. Laws don't change hearts.

This does not mean we should not enact good laws and change bad ones. We must. But something more fundamental is necessary. At the core, it isn't about doing the right thing. It's about loving the right Person. Because when we love the right Person, we'll do the right thing.

The desire to embrace God's ways does not come naturally to the human heart. It comes from a supernatural work of God's grace in our lives. This work of God takes place through an essential relationship with the One who made us, like the vine and a branch sharing the same sap. Without this essential connection, Christianity can easily turn into dead religion.

Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets."

If we truly love the Lord, we will love the things He loves. If we love Christ, we will keep His commandments because we want to. If we truly love people, we will gladly behave rightly toward them because we want to, not because the law compels us.

Where does this "want to" come from?  It comes from God Himself, who "works in us both to will and to do" His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He is our greatest hope.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

What Exactly Is The Work Of God?

Behold the work of God?

Ordinarily when we think of the Jesus doing the work His Father showed Him to do (John 5:19), we think of Christ raising someone from the dead, feeding 5,000, or healing blind beggars by the side of the road.

But have you ever stopped to consider Jesus spent the majority of His days doing carpentry work, or the work of a stonemason? (Some scholars think Jesus may have done both. Perhaps He was a general contractor.)

The question is: When Jesus did carpentry, was He doing the work of God?

Since Christ was God, He couldn't help but do the work of God, no matter what He did. But by Jesus' own testimony, He only did what His Father showed Him to do. When exactly did this arrangement start? Did it begin after He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days? Was it also the case during the 17-20 years of carpentry work He did in Nazareth?

We don’t know much about the life of Christ during His carpentry years. But we do know this: Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52), and He spent about six fold more time doing carpentry work than preacher-teacher work.

It is significant to note that when Jesus was 30 years old, at His baptism, the Father audibly proclaimed: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).” That was before Jesus healed a single person, fed 5,000, or preached to multitudes. 

The Father does not elaborate on what exactly was so pleasing to Him. Certainly Christ’s character pleased Him. But I suspect the Father was also pleased with how Jesus spent His time and energy up to that point in His earthly life, doing what His Father showed Him to do: a whole lot of carpentry.

Justin Martyr, the 2nd century historian, claimed that plows made by Jesus were still in existence around the year 120 A.D. when Martyr lived. If so, Jesus must have done superior work! But whether it was building houses or making plows, certainly Jesus understood He was doing His Father's work. This casts “the work of God” in a much different light than we ordinarily think of "the work of God."  

What exactly is the work of God? Whatever the Father shows us to do. 

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Student Video Contest

Attention high school and college students: The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics [IFWE] is inviting you to create a compelling and creative one-to-three minute video illustrating your response to questions like these: How can every choice I make glorify God? What is the connection between following God’s calling for my life and finding fulfillment? How can I effectively help the poor, even as a student? They are awarding $5,000 in prizes. See details below.

As mentioned last week, our organization, Worldview Matters, is engaged in a major project to get Theology of Work and Human Flourishing [TOWHF] embedded into the regular academic curriculum of P-12 Christian schools. Today I want to acknowledge the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics and Bakke Graduate University for their generous funding of this major initiative.

My association with Bakke Graduate University goes back to my years as a D. Min. student, where I focused on Theology of Work. Lowell Bakke and his excellent team of instructors, including Paul Stevens, Larry Peabody and Gwen Dewey, have done an outstanding job of training thousands of followers of Christ in understanding Theology of Work and its practical implications, mostly outside of the United States. If you are considering a Masters Degree, or a D. Min. Degree, do yourself a favor and check out BGU here.

We are very thankful for the funding BGU is providing for non-US schools to participate in the P-12 WRAP [see Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project]. These schools are located in Peru, Guatemala and Nigeria.  

The Institute for Faith, Work and Economics [IFWE] is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with Hugh Whelchel at the helm. Hugh is the author of the excellent book, How Then Shall We Work: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. IFWE is a Christian research organization is committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals to find fulfillment in their work and to contribute to a free and flourishing society. Vsit the IFWE site here. They are a gold mine of resources!

We are very thankful for the funding IFWE is providing for US schools in the P-12 WRAP, located in Iowa, Kansas and Virginia.

If you know high school or college students, please pass the word on about the IFWE Student Video Contest. They are awarding $5,000 in prizes. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2015. For details, click here.

If you have never viewed the outstanding video IFWE produced, "Freedom to Flourish," you're missing something inspirational! Take a look:

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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Awesome Activator

Our granddaughter, Emily, at the kitchen sink. I know she looks like an angel, but is she doing "the work of God?" Really?

I believe building a solid Theology of Work and Human Flourishing [TOWHF] into the hearts and minds of the coming generation is the next big frontier in the "faith-at-work" movement.

This is why Worldview Matters is helping Christian schools to intentionally and systematically embed TOWHF into their existing P-12 curriculum. We call it the "P-12 WRAP: Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project." [For more on this project, click here.]

But our task is not complete without active participation of parents in the home.

To help in this regard, we have developed a resource for parents (and teachers) that helps them guide young minds through a cognitive process of intentionally putting their daily work into the larger context of a biblical world-and-life-view. You might call this contextualization for kids.

We call it, The Awesome Activator. But don't be fooled. This tool works just as well with adults! Below is the layout. To get the most out of this, enlarge the images below by clicking them: 


To help young people think of specific biblical worldview truths to draw from, click here for a list of 101 biblical premises developed by The Biblical Worldview Institute, Puyallup, Washington. Go through this list and consider which of these truth statements particularly relate to washing dishes. [I once did this with a large group of parents and students, when, after considering which truths related to washing dishes, a particular student raised her hand and said: "Hell is real!"]

For a single .pdf copy of the complete dish washing example, click here.

For another example, based on the work of George Washington Carver, click here.

There is no end to the application of this tool!

How does building a bird house fit into God's purpose for humans--and birds? What meaning can such a project have beyond the shear enjoyment of building it (although this, too, is valid and biblical). Use the Awesome Activator tool to find out more reasons to build a bird house!
Is caring for a pet the work of God? How so, specifically? Use the Awesome Activator to discuss this question with your son or daughter. 

I once filled out an Awesome Activator for myself in connection with mowing my lawn. This led to putting the following reminder on the handle of my lawn mower:

Each time I mow my lawn, I am reminded of the First Commission of Gen. 1:26-28. It helps bring extraordinary meaning to my "ordinary" work.

To download a copy of The Awesome Activator for use with your children, your grandchildren, or yourself, click here. [downloaded Word file]

If you are a Christian school principal, and you would like to have an exploratory chat with me about how you can build Theology of Work and Human Flourishing into your existing P-12 curriculum, you may request a phone (or SKYPE) conversation to discuss the "P-12 WRAP: Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project" here.

If you are a parent (or a teacher), and you would like to have a personal one-on-one "coaching" session with me on how to help your child (or students) make intentional connections between the biblical worldview and their everyday work, use this link to arrange a 1-hour personal coaching session: here.

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