vocation

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Comparing Take-Home Pay Around the WorldSwitzerland tops this list by a substantial margin while Mexico comes in dead last. The US comes in at the edge of the top third. And goodness gracious, if you think American income taxes are bad, don't move to Denmark!

2.      God's Grace for Foster ParentsI resonate with James Williams's post, "Fostering is hard. A child comes into our home, alters the norm of our everyday lives for a number of weeks or months, and then by government order leaves as quickly as he or she came. Many find it difficult that we regularly let children we’ve grown attached to go back home, usually never to see them again. People often say to us, “I just don’t know how you do it.” That bewildered statement implies that we have some special gift or ability that others don’t have, but the truth is, we don’t."

3.      7 Things to Never Say at a FuneralIt's hard to comfort those who are have experienced a death. Aaron Earls tells us not to mess it up. Top on his list are, "They're an angel now," and "I know how you feel."

4.      What Generation Z Wants to Do Before Hitting 30Aaron Earls reports on Barna's recent findings: "Fewer Gen Zers say they want to enjoy life before having responsibilities of being an adult (38 percent), find out who they really are (31 percent), or travel to other countries (21 percent)."

5.  How Involved Should Your Church Be During Elections? Kevin DeYoung with sober and timely advice.

6.     Why Are Self-Driving Cars Taking So Long? Really interesting video by SciShow that considers why it has been so hard to put self-driving cars on the road.

How God Wants You to Work

How God Wants You to Work

Over the past two weeks I’ve been making the case that work wasn’t the result of the fall – a curse that has fallen on humanity that we can only hope to escape one day. No, in fact, we were made for work. I would even make the case that we will work in heaven (free from the effects of the fall). That is a gift!

Today, I would like to get practical by offering biblical wisdom regarding work for a few specific groups of people. Those groups are students, stay at home moms and dads, those who don’t like their job, those who love their job, and retirees.

For students:

Even though you’re not paid, you do have a job right now. You do have dominion. That dominion is being a student and taking care of your home with your parents. Don’t neglect your job. There isn’t an opt-in age for dominion, meaning we can all contribute, no matter how old we are. For the youngest, that might just mean helping to put away toys and empty the dishwasher. Even a toddler has dominion and is called to exercise it faithfully. For older students, lean into your dominion. Take more, not less responsibility at home. If you have a part time job, great! Treat it like it’s your career.

No matter what your task is, you are ultimately working for God, not your parents.

Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Heaven Won't Be a Picnic

Heaven Won't Be a Picnic

The Garden of Eden was no picnic. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the Garden not to vacation, but to work. Before sin ever entered the picture, God formed Adan and Eve in his image, and called them to exercise dominion in the Garden of Eve.

We are called to create order from disorder, to cultivate, and till, and build. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden not just to sip Mai Tais and binge on Netflix (not that there is anything wrong with that!); they were put there for the sake of dominion. God wanted caretakers who would craft, build, and create order.

We were made for work. We were made for dominion.

There are some interesting studies that reveal the impact of not working. It has been well documented that there are significant negative mental and emotional outcomes for those who are unemployed.[i] Anxiety rises and self-confidence drops which leads to an increase in substance abuse and violence against self and others.[ii] Consider, for instance, the unhealthy of the lives of those whose profession is to be famous, like the Kardashians.

We were made to work.

Is Work the Curse?

Is Work the Curse?

“I do my job just to get by.”

-Three in ten American workers

 

“My job is just a steppingstone for something better.”

-Two in ten American workers[i]

Half of America agrees: work is a curse. And isn’t that what the Bible teaches? After Adam and Eve rebel, God levies this curse on Adam:

[C]ursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground…
[ii]

Work is a curse. Historian Roger Hill agrees:

 "From a historical perspective, the cultural norm placing a positive moral value on doing a good job because work has intrinsic value for its own sake was a relatively recent development… Work, for much of the ancient history of the human race, has been hard and degrading… the Hebrew belief system viewed work as a 'curse devised by God explicitly to punish the disobedience and ingratitude of Adam and Eve'… Numerous scriptures from the Old Testament in fact supported work, not from the stance that there was any joy in it, but from the premise that it was necessary to prevent poverty and destitution."[iii]

There you have it. Work is a curse. And haven’t you felt the curse of work? Haven’t you felt the thorns, thistles, and sweat?

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Let's Ban Porn: Ross Douthat with a bold proposal, "[W]e are supposed to be in the midst of a great sexual reassessment, a clearing-out of assumptions that that impose misogyny and impose bad sex on semi-willing women. And such a reassessment will be incomplete if if it never reconsiders our surrender to the idea that many teenagers, mostly young men especially, will get their sex education from online smut."

2.       Ten Lessons on Parenting Big(ger) Kids: Great advice from Tim Challies. All ten are good, but I particularly like his final piece of advice, " Focus more on sharing experiences than exchanging stuff. The things you and your children remember and celebrate as the years go by are far more likely to be experiences you shared together than gifts you exchanged."

3.       Wishing He Were Your Husband: Sabrina Beasley McDonald on the dangers of emotional infidelity and what to do when that wishing begins: " If you're thinking of a man right now and you're wondering if you're in danger of an emotional affair with him, then you probably are."

4.       Vocation in Retirement: Gene Veith, one of the best authors on vocation, considers what vocation means in his retirement: " Retirement underscores two important facets of the doctrine of vocation: the purpose of every vocation is loving and serving our neighbors. And the way we make our living is only one of our vocations and not even the most important one."

5.       Does the Bible Endorse Slavery? This charge is often made against the Bible by atheists and agnostistics that the Bible supports slavery? Is that true? Dr. Matthew Hall responds.

6.       Can a Christian Be Demon Possessed? Dr. Stephen Wellum says no in this helpful video.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

Happy Easter, friends! 

This week's list is Holy-week-centric with a few other fun nuggets. Enjoy!

1.       How Much is Your Vocation Trusted? Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra reports on the recent Gallup report. Pastors, in particular, took a big hit: "Less  than half of the country—just two out of every five Americans—believe clergy are honest and have high ethical standards... That level of trust has dropped steadily since 2009, down from a high of 67 percent in 1985, the pollster reported." Unsurprisingly lobbyists, car salesman, and members of congress filled out the bottom of the polls with nurses, military, and teachers on top. Did where you vocation land surprise you?

2.      What was Crucifixion Like? Got Questions answers, "Crucifixion was invented and used by other people groups, but it was “perfected” by the Romans as the ultimate execution by torture... Crucifixion was meant to inflict the maximum amount of shame and torture upon the victim."

3.      Why the Donkey was the Supporting Actor for the Triumphal Entry: My childhood pastor, Roger Barrier, with a wonderful reflection on how “God never miss[es] an opportunity to use powerful symbols throughout scripture. Jesus’ famous ride on this lowly animal reveals much about Christ’s character and purpose.”

4.       Modern Parenting and the Winter Olympics: Exit "helicopter parenting," enter "curling parenting." I love this clever little reflection by Stephen McAlpine, "Helicopters hover serenely over the landscape, seeing all with a birds-eye view that takes the frantic out of it.  It’s big picture stuff. Curling on the other hand? It’s all micro-management and frantic scrubbing of anything that might cause just that one little bump in order to arrive at the goal."

5.       How Early Christian Worship Managed to Offend Everyone: Starting with the Romans, Michael Kruger explains why this was the case, "A fundamental aspect of early Christian worship was its exclusivity. Only Jesus was to be worshiped. Whatever other religious loyalties one possessed before coming to Christ, they had to be abandoned and full devotion given to Jesus the King. One might think the Roman state wouldn’t care about such things. Wasn’t religion a private matter? Not at all. To be a good citizen, your duty was to pay homage to the Roman gods who kept the empire prosperous and flourishing." 

6.       10 Levels of Light Pollution: Cool two and a half minute video that shows that different levels of light pollution across the globe.

What is Heaven? It's Dynamic!

What is Heaven? It's Dynamic!

Can we learn in heaven? According to one survey, only 18% of Americans believe that people will "grow intellectually in heaven.”[i] It makes sense. We should know everything in heaven, right? In the presence of God, won't all knowledge be ours?

And yet, we will be learners in heaven. Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.” Do you catch the presumption of active learning in heaven in that verse? God is going to show us the incomparable riches of his grace… in the coming ages!

What are the incomparable riches of his grace he will show us? The list is endless. We will certainly understand the wonder of God’s grace on the cross more perfectly, but we will also be shown more profoundly God’s grace in creation, in art, in science, in beauty!

America’s greatest theologian Jonathan Edwards rejoiced in the progressive increase of our knowledge in heaven, “The number of ideas of the saints shall increase to eternity.”[ii]

In God’s grace-filled purpose, we are built to be learners.

Why I Need You to Help Me Do What I’m Supposed to Do as a Pastor

Why I Need You to Help Me Do What I’m Supposed to Do as a Pastor

Moses was crushing it. The people loved him. He had lines out the doors for those who were hoping to hear a word from God or a word of wisdom from Moses.[i] Then his father-in-law, Jethro, showed up and told him he was leading poorly, not well.

Moses had every reason to not listen to Jethro’s advice. There were no real indicators Moses’s leadership style wasn’t working. And yet Moses heard Jethro’s advice, and humbly heeded it.

In Ephesians, Paul makes it clear that this is no mere stylistic choice for a godly leader. Healthy leadership is characterized by “equip[ing] the saints for the work of the ministry.”[ii] Did you catch that, healthy leadership isn’t characterized by doing “the work of the ministry” but rather by equipping the congregation to do the work of the ministry.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meet Jethro

Mark Zuckerberg, Meet Jethro

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, recently claimed that as church attendance declines, Facebook will become the new church for people, offering a sense of community and meaning.[i] But Facebook can’t be the church, and not just because it isn’t built on a true foundation of hope in the good news of Jesus Christ. But it also can’t be the church because it can’t effectively form a community of a people on mission, serving God and one another together for God’s transformative purpose. In other words, Facebook neither has the content nor the form that can replace the church.

My hunch is that most Christians get the content part of what makes Zuckerberg’s claim faulty. We get that we need the gospel for the church. But I think that fewer might understand the gap on the form front. In other words, what am I really missing out on if I listen to worship music throughout the week, watch clips of my favorite preachers on YouTube and then share about my faith on social media?

One thing you’re missing out on is God’s purpose for you in serving a gathered community, the church.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the unlikely encounter between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, in Exodus 18.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Prepare for 2018: Scott Slayton with a thoughtful list. I like especially his questions: “What are my roles?” What two changes will make the biggest difference,” and “What two things do I need to stop doing?”

2.       How Your Husband Defines Romance: Thoughtful advice from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, "When a man is rejected often enough, he typically internalizes his anger, his hurt, and his disappointment until such time when the rejection drives him to one of several reactions—none of them are good." This ought not to be taken as license from men who feel rejected, but as good advice for wives who want to love their husbands well.

3.       Why Being Tough as a Leader Fails: Kerry Patterson is excellent on leadership and conflict. He reflects, "“I yell at my employees because it’s the only thing that works,” say a surprising number of leaders I’ve consulted with over the years. Parents often take a similar path with their kids. “They only respond to threats. So, I mostly threaten them.” Of course, when you interview the employees or the kids, they don’t subscribe to Hunter Thompson’s theory of leadership. That is, they don’t believe that the newest and hottest motivational tools are fear and loathing. They prefer respectful reasoning."

4.       Six Times It's Time to Quit Your Job: Jeff Gilmer at Vanderbloemen asks, " How do you discern whether this is just a season, or if it’s a bigger sign that you should be looking for your next opportunity?"

5.       Protecting Children from Abuse: Tim Challies interviews  Boz Tchividjian about his important new book, The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. He begins the interview sharing this heartbreaking statistic, " Research has consistently found that approximately 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday. With 75 million children in the United States, this translates to almost 15 million children who will be sexually victimized over the next 18 years!"

6.       The Spread of Christianity: A shocking visual representation of the spread of Christianity around the globe.