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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 30, 2011

The Video Has Over 1,211,000 Hits

It brought tears to my eyes. A computer project by the 5th grade class of a public school near the Bering Sea, in Southwest Alaska.

My sister-in-law sent me the link: a video rendition of the Hallelujah chorus of Handel's Messiah, done by the Yupiq Eskimo village of Quinhaquak, population 550. The project was done with the help of a creative schoolteacher, along with community members pitching in. As I write this post, the video has over 1,211,000 hits.

Watching this clip, I was struck afresh by the multicultural truth of the Hallelujah chorus, pertaining to all nations and peoples: The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ. For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. And He shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!

His reign shall never cease. And it's omniplicable [a word I just created, meaning "applicable to all"]. No human authority has ever risen above it, nor ever shall. Even the royal authority of King George II, who stood to his feet at a London performance on March 23, 1743, was not above it.

Did I say March? Not December? That's right. Handel's Messiah was originally written as an Easter oratorio, not a Christmas work. Although Part One deals with the birth of Christ, the Hallelujah chorus concludes Part Two of the oratorio, which describes the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.   

Yes, the Hallelujah chorus was written with Christ's resurrection in mind. King of Kings, ruling forever, and ever. Very much alive today.

What is remarkable about Handel's Messiah is that the entire score, taking nearly three hours to perform, took a mere 24 days to compose. I honestly don't think I could copy the score by hand in 24 days, let alone create it from scratch. Handel is said to have told a servant upon finishing the Hallelujah chorus, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!”

I believe it. I think this may explain my misty eyes. Like Handel, as I watched the video I saw the living Lord, not a dead one. I saw the resurrected Christ, not just an historic figure born in Bethlehem. I saw the Kingdom of our Lord proclaimed afresh, 'mid snow, ice, Eskimos and bush planes.

Hallelujah!

See for yourself: http://youtu.be/LyviyF-N23A.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

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 people 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 sense as a celebration of the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem.

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 (Acts 2:36; 10:36).

No, the Kingdom of God isn't 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) presently includes both Heaven and Earth!

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 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=II%20Cor.%205:17-20&version=NIV and Col. 1:17-20 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Col.%201:17-20&version=NIV.

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.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Inextricably Joined

My decision to accept Jesus as Lord at the age of eight turned out to be the most pivotal decision of my life. As it turns out, this decision to receive Christ as the Savior of my soul (which at the time was the main purpose for the decision), was the first step of an on-going journey.

It wasn't until years later that I realized this decision did not a disciple make. While there is nothing I could do to earn salvation (it was a gift I accepted), and I was happy to know I would not go to hell when I died, God had much more in mind.

I said last week that the Great Commission of Matthew 28 has "a fundamental connection with this present life." I said this because of the part about "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

While receiving Him as Savior is the starting point, the subsequent "observation of all things Christ commanded" is supposed to follow. Where is this "observation" supposed to take place? I suppose it is to take place on planet earth. I believe this is why Jesus concluded the Commission with the promise of His presence "until the end of the age," which is a very earthy endeavor.   

The reason our organization, Worldview Matters, focuses on the application of Christian faith in the area of work, is because work fills the majority of our waking hours on this planet. Not just work for pay, but any expenditure of energy, mental or physical, for pay or not, that rightly manages God's stuff (this material world).

This involves driving trucks, building bridges, managing money, creating music, selling real estate—not to mention washing dishes and mowing the lawn. This is what The First ("Cultural") Commission entails−the Commission in Genesis 1, to rule [govern, steward, manage] over the entire realm of God's creation. 

In this context of ruling over creation through our work, the "observation of all Christ commanded" can be fulfilled in truly significant ways. In the context of daily work the very goal of the Great Commission can be effectively accomplished. 

This is why I believe The Great Commission of Matthew 28 and The First Commission of Genesis 1 are inextricably joined.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Colson Was Momentarily Speechless

Last week, Chuck Colson related in his daily BreakPoint about speaking with a group of pastors regarding engagement of culture. "Afterward," Colson said, "the pastors had a lot of questions — but they were also a little confused. One confessed, 'I’d never heard of the Cultural Commission, and will it interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission? Isn't that our job—to win people to Christ?'"

Colson was momentarily speechless: "Of course we're called to fulfill the Great Commission," he replied. "'We're also called to fulfill the Cultural Commission.'"

He went on: "Christians are agents of God's saving grace — bringing others to Christ. But we are also agents of His common grace: We're to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews."

This exchange with a group of pastors underscores a critical issue deserving more attention among evangelicals. We have bifurcated the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28 [the "Cultural Commission"] and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, much to the church's determent, and the detriment of society at large.

This condition could go a long way toward remedy with pastors preaching a robust theology of work from the pulpits. With such leaders teaching it regularly, we could see a change in the thinking of the church at large, with respect to integration of faith and daily work.

But I don't think this will happen until the two Commissions are bonded as one in the minds of church leaders, and the integration of faith and work is viewed as essential to the fulfillment of the Gospel itself.

Actually, there is much overlap between the First Commission of Genesis and the Great Commission of Matthew. The Great Commission is largely a re-statement of the First, with the added necessity of restoring people to a right relationship with the Lord. This relationship was broken at the Fall, not long after the First Commission was given, and this relationship is critical. But both Commissions have a fundamental connection with this present life on planet earth.

I'll pick up from here next week.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

I Am Now A Pastor/Barista, And Loving It!

The following is a guest post by Joshua Kelley, lead pastor of The Gathering, in Mount Vernon, WA, and barista at Starbucks. More information about Joshua and his book can be found at www.radicallynormal.com. Contact josh@tgcconline.com.

What does a full-time pastor of 14 years do when he realizes his church is running out of money and has to cut his salary in half?

This pastor (me) got a job at my home-away-from-home: Starbucks. I am now a pastor/barista, and loving it! The job is fun, I get to work with some great people, I like (most of) the customers, and I get to drink a lot of good coffee. After all those years of ministry, preceded by four years of college, it is good to be back in the “real world.”

But every now and again (especially at first), I doubt myself. How spiritual is making $4 lattes? What is the eternal value of blending up an extra-caramel Caramel Frappuccino? As a pastor, I have frequently taught that all work can be ministry and all Christians should be ministers wherever they are, but it’s different now that I am the one with the “regular” job! 

I distinctly remember one of these waves of doubt. I was busy mopping the lobby but mentally working on a book I’ve been writing called The Radically Normal Christian. In my book I’m attempting to correct the Christian tendency to undervalue the things of this life that God wants us to enjoy. Suddenly, I realized this applies directly to my work at Starbucks.

I was undervaluing God’s First Commission, which wasn’t “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20), but to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:26-30). In others words, God commissioned you to go and live life, to make your mark, and to fulfill your calling as someone made in his image.

By the very act of working hard to accomplish something, I am fulfilling my calling as a child of God. Now add to that all the opportunities I have to be a light here. The Holy Spirit has initiated and directed conversations with my co-workers. I am learning about the daily struggle of the real world. I am able to bestow dignity and God's love on every person who walks in, from the panhandler, to the gay couple, the businesswoman, and the retiree.  

Perhaps you are struggling with the spiritual value of your "regular" job. Be encouraged! You are serving God and bringing him glory in the manner that he has called the majority of his children to.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thank You, Lord!

It's time to lighten up a bit.

Below are scenes from our Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends at our home in Bellevue yesterday. We enjoyed such a remarkable time of fun...football...drama (the grandkids put on a skit about Squanto and the first Thanksgiving), and we consumed the most amazing meal you can imagine, prepared by our good friend, Master Chef Hal Decker, and his wife, Otgo.

The house was full to overflowing, with food, laughter and love!

All Kathy and I can say is, "Thank You, Lord!"

Bottom row from the left: grandkids Emily, Aria, Ryland, Gabriel,
Katelyn (holding her gerbil), Victoria. Next row up: Jen, wife of our
nephew Israel (sitting on edge of couch behind her), grandson Austin,
Pablo (husband of our daughter Coral), Coral holding son Christian,
our daughter Selina. Back row: Kathy's brother KC,
Matt (husband of our daughter Selina), granddaughter Kaelah (in front of Matt),
our son Rodney, Kathy, me standing behind Kathy,
our son Nathanael, Sonja (Pablo's mother) sitting on chair.

Our four adult children: Nathanael, Selina, Rodney, Coral
The grandkids.

The grandkids as they really are.

Chef Hal, dishing it out.

Emily, Katelyn and Aria with special guest gerbil.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Could A Culture That Has Swallowed Atheism Ever Spit It Back Out?

Is it possible for the Bible to be taken seriously once again in places where the Great Voice has been silenced? Once the Ten Commandments have been removed from the schoolroom walls, could they ever be put back up again? Could a culture that has swallowed atheism ever spit it back out?

During the decades Ukraine was ruled by the Soviet Union, atheism was the law of the land. The Great Voice was censored by force. But after Ukraine gained independence in 1991, some extraordinary things happened.

Thirteen years after Ukraine gained independence, I was invited by a Ukrainian school Superintendent to teach his administrative staff how to integrate the biblical worldview into the curriculum of their state-run school district. 

What!? Here was a man with responsibility for 16,000 students in a city of 125,000, wanting me to provide training in biblical worldview for the administrators of his 21 schools! When I first received the invitation, I did not believe he understood what he was asking. To make sure he understood, I spent three hours in his downtown office, going over the basic content of the courses I teach on biblical worldview.

To my amazement, I discovered this man was on a mission to restore Christianity to his culture. He had already introduced a very sound curriculum on Christian doctrine to his schools. He told me, "teaching Christianity is more important than academics."

Why? Because he saw Christianity as necessary for restoring Ukraine's moral compass. He was doing what he could to expedite this process, including having administrators of his schools implement a Christian-based "moral education" program, bringing in curriculum on Christian doctrine to restore what had been censored by force for over fifty years.

Yes, this man knew what he was doing, and he was intentional about it. He understood what most Americans have yet to realize regarding what we have willingly censored in the name of pluralism, multiculturalism, and political correctness. He understood the loss of Moral Bearings.

Could other places that have silenced the Great Voice bring it back once again? Sometimes I think America is past the point of no return. But then I remember what I witnessed in western Ukraine, and I'm reminded that with God, nothing is impossible.

I invite you to take a look at what I saw in the city of Uzhgorod, where the Ten Commandments have been re-posted on state school walls: http://youtu.be/iM5OyuiTQVI.

Pass it on.

This photo was taken the day I spent several hours in the office of the Superintendent of the Uzhgorod School District going over the content of the training course in biblical worldview integration I would be providing for the administrators of his twenty-one schools, at his request. From the far left are my interpreter, Anya, the President of my board, John Taylor, myself, the Superintendent, and one of his key associates. It was at this meeting where the Superintendent said teaching Christianity to his students was more important than academics.


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Friday, November 4, 2011

I Am Making A Moral Judgment!

If we passed more and more laws to keep greed at bay in the business world, would we eventually have enough laws to contain the beast? No. As long as there are postmodern lawyers, there will be no end to "creative financing."

Our economic problems are not fundamentally economic, legal or political. They are spiritual and moral. No amount of legislation, and no amount of bailout, can do what another Great Awakening could do.

Dramatic changes in moral sensibilities have occurred in America since I was born, in 1949. What is acceptable to many today was unthinkable to most in my childhoodChristians or not.

In some respects, things are much better now. I'll never forget the day one of my elementary school teachers told our class about her trip to the South, where she encountered separate drinking fountains for whites and "Negros." Some changes in this country have been right and good.

But in making the statement, "some changes have been right and good," I am making a moral judgement! I am saying that separate drinking fountains for whites and African Americans is "wrong and bad." How dare I say this!?

I dare so on the same basis Martin Luther King did. I make this moral judgment on the basis of a Christian God and Biblical Truth that says all humans are created in the likeness and image of this God, and therefore possess equal value in His eyes.

King's dream was openly biblical. He smartly infused his message with the Prophets, and connected his cause with Scripture. [See http://dan.drydog.com/helen/the_rhetoric_of_martin_luther_kings_i_have_a_dream.html.]

Thankfully, in those days, King had an American audience with some semblance of regard for Scripture. 

This is the big difference between today's battles over "moral order" and what went on in King's day. People no longer appeal to Biblical Truth. In an era when the idea of "Truth" itself is denied, appeals to Higher Law don't gain traction. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" [Psalm 11:3] This is not to say the Bible could never be taken seriously again, for with God all things are possible, but for now, the Great Voice is muted.     

Could the Great Voice be restored? Is there enough "memory" left in our body-politic to hear it?

Unexpected things happen! Like the collapse of the Soviet Union. Who thought that was possible?

Next: Lessons from Western Ukraine.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

How Can We Hope For Any Agreement?

When it comes to explaining why it works in rural Holland and USA to have people pay for milk and firewood by putting payments into a jar, or a bowl, without a clerk on hand to monitor the transaction while in India people would take the milk, the wood and the money, Vishal Mangalwadi says the reason the West went one way and India went another is because of different belief systems, or worldviews.

Mangalwadi identifies specific biblical premises that energized the modern educational system in the West, from the time of Luther and Calvin on. Namely, beliefs about a Creator who provided a universal moral code for our good. Beliefs that people who live in harmony with this code experience good results, and people who break it experience bad results--economic and otherwise.

At the same time, Mangalwadi decries the West's rejection of the Bible as a source of Truth. He says this development is based upon rejection of the very idea of "universal Truth." Consequently, my wife and I can go out on the streets of Seattle for over an hour and find lots of people willing to go on camera to say "right" and "wrong" is a matter of personal opinion, and find no one who mentions the Book or the One behind it. (See http://youtu.be/jsHiSLgTLv4.)

To suggest, or even imply, that there is one standard for morality (a biblical standard) that is universally "right" for everyone, is now considered a very "intolerant" idea. People who venture in this direction are likely to be branded Bible-thumping, finger-wagging bigots.

So now we are in a pickle. We lament that people do selfish and (if I can even use this word) "immoral" things in the business world, with the result that some lose their life savings, many have their retirement accounts dramatically reduced, lots of people are out of work, and public protests dominate the news. Yet, I don't hear many leaders critiquing the worldview changes that brought about the massive buy-in of the West to the notion that morality is "a personal, private thing."

How can we hope for any agreement on what our moral norms should be, when we no longer share a common standard for measuring those norms? Where is this "every-man-doing-what-is-right-in-his-own-eyes" trail we've been following since the 'values clarification' movement of the 60's taking us?

To be continued.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Are Such People Increasingly Rare?

About a year and a half ago, on a sunny day in Seattle (it happens now and then), I said to my wife, “Let’s go to the Seattle Center and do some street interviews.” I wanted to ask people on the street a basic question about morality, and capture their answers on video tape.

We had done this ten years previously, and I figured it was time for an update. The question was: “How do you define ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ and how to you determine the difference?”

So we went downtown. I set up my camera in a busy area with lots of people around. For over an hour we interviewed passersby who give us permission to record their answers and to share their responses with others.

I thought we might find a good number of people who subscribed to the prevalent idea that “what is right for one person may not be right for another--no one can judge.” I was not disappointed. This was the recurring theme. But I also thought we might hear from one or two that would appeal to the Bible, or to “Christian teaching,” as a guide for right and wrong. After all, this is America, and we heard such comments on the street a decade ago.

Is it because the Emerald City is a bastion of postmodern relativism (which it is) that we didn’t hear a single person make reference to the Bible? Nobody quoted, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We heard this a decade ago. Nobody referred to The Ten Commandments. We heard this a decade ago.

Maybe we just missed those folks this time around. Maybe if we had been on the street for another hour we might have found such a person. Maybe.

What do you think? Did we just happen to miss those who consider the Bible to be a moral plumb line for right and wrong? Or are such people increasingly rare?

Is the idea that God has written a moral code on our hearts as well as on tablets of stone still alive in your neck of the woods? If you went downtown in your area to ask the same question we did, would you come up with similar answers? Would anyone make reference to the Bible?

To view our findings, see http://youtu.be/jsHiSLgTLv4

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Root Of Our Economic Problem

When Vishal Mangalwadi first visited Holland, coming from India, he saw a level of trust that allowed a dairy owner to let people help themselves to milk and put their payments in a bowl on the windowsill. He was dumbfounded! "Where did this morality come from?," he asked. "Why isn’t my society equally trustworthy?”

Mangalwadi asserts the foundation for this morality was laid by European reformers like Martin Luther and John Knox, who created a new kind of education that made character formation a primary goal. These pioneers of modern education, Mangalwadi maintains, developed education "precisely to civilize generations that could create a new Europe."

The education developed by the reformers was much different than we generally see today. Their kind of education was rooted in Judeo-Christian premises, which Mangalwadi identifies:

1. God is holy.

2. God has given us moral laws (as in the Ten Commandments).

3. Obedience to God's Word is the source of good life.

4. Disobedience to God's moral law is sin that does not go unpunished.

5. Sinners can repent and receive forgiveness and new life.

"This good news," Mangalwadi says, "became the intellectual foundation of the modern West, the force that produced moral integrity, economic prosperity, and political freedom."

Early settlers coming from Northern Europe brought this brand of education to America, and Harvard was established just sixteen years after the Puritans landed at Plymouth.

Why is the moral integrity that Mangalwadi found in Holland not present in his native India? Because the Judeo-Christian premises upon which education was founded in Western Europe and Colonial America are not at the base of Indian society. Other worldviews prevail.

But Mangalwadi asks another important question: "If moral integrity is foundational to prosperity, why don't secular experts talk about it?"

Great question! I think it gets to the root of our current economic mess. Because the root of our economic problem is not economic, but moral and spiritual.

The reason the secularized experts don't talk about moral integrity, Mangalwadi maintains, is because the universities no longer teach the concept of "universal moral truth." Why? Because the universities have abandoned the very idea of "truth" itself!

Harvard's original motto was Veritas, Christo et Ecclesiae, Latin for "Truth, for Christ and the Church." This motto was later shortened to simply, Veritas: "Truth."

Any day now, I expect it will be changed to: "Whatever."

More to come.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Pay The Bear


Kathy and I got out of town for a couple of days last month with one of our sons, Rodney, and his friend, David. Our destination was two hours out of Seattle, in the mountains, where we pitched our tents in a campground by a lake.

Needing wood for our campfire, I noticed the campground was selling bundles for $5. But I recalled seeing a sign just off the main highway as we turned toward the lake, advertising firewood for an amount that was 20% less. Passing this location on our way back from a side-trip, we stopped to purchase firewood there.

As we pulled into an orderly establishment, we noticed a lot of wood carvings for sale, all out in the open, with no one around. I saw a large pile of wood, and drove toward it. Here we found a carved bear with a jar atop its head. The jar had “$4.00” written on it, and a sign at the bear’s feet read, Pay The Bear. No one was present to receive our money.

I helped myself to a bundle of wood, and "paid the bear." As I did, I noticed the jar was full of bills. I paid for my purchase with a smile of wonderment, and a heart of thanks for what some early settlers had brought with them across the Atlantic to this land: a foundation for the kind of moral integrity that allows such scenes to still occur in rural America.

I couldn't help but think of a similar experience of Vishal Mangalwadi, who Christianity Today calls, “India’s foremost Christian intellectual.” In the opening chapter of his great book, Truth and TransformationDr. Mangalwadi tells of his first trip to Holland, where his host said to him, “Come, let’s go get some milk.” They walked to a nearby dairy farm and entered the milk room, where no one was present. Dr. Mangalwadi’s host filled his jug with milk, then took down a bowl full of cash from a windowsill, put twenty guilders into the bowl, took some change, put the bowl back, and started walking away.

“I was stunned,” Mangalwadi wrote. "Man," I said to him, “if you were an Indian, you would take the milk and the money.”

Then Mangalwadi posits: "Where did this morality come from? Why isn’t my society equally trustworthy?”

Next week: Mangalwadi's answer to his own provocative question.


Rodney (right) enjoys the campfire with David.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

To Get The Ball Rolling, Click Here

I have been careful to not use this blog as a self-promoting infomercial. But today, I'm throwing all caution to the wind, and posting some shameless plugs for events I'm involved in over the next 60 days. Join me, if you can! J

Iron Sharpens Iron Men's Conference, on Saturday, October 8, in Auburn, Washington. I will be doing a session, titled: "Truck Driving Is The Work Of The Lord." Bring a friend! Click here.

Truth Chasers Unlimited is an event for middle-schoolers and parents, designed to bring extraordinary meaning to ordinary tasks such as mowing the lawn, washing dishes, and doing homework! This event takes place 9:00am - 12:30pm, on Saturday, October 15, in Covington, Washington. Please pre-register. Click here.

"Kitchen and Courthouse: 3 Keys to Bring Meaning to Life and Work," is a national webinar hosted by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, on Tuesday, October 18. This live, 90-minute event is FREE. I'll be presenting this webinar 3:00pm - 4:30pm Eastern Time (12:00pm Pacific, 9:00am Hawaii). It is appropriate for middle-school through high school students, as well as adults. Please pre-register. Space is limited to the first 1,000. Click here.


N.W. Region Association of Christian Schools International Convention, Tacoma, Washington, October 21-22. I'll be teaching the Making the Connections workshop, a 6-hour training course for Christian school teachers on the integration of biblical worldview and academics, offered for credit through Seattle Pacific University.

Southern California Association of Christian Schools International Convention, Anaheim, California, Sunday, November 20, 1:00pm - 7:00pm. I will be presenting the Think Again! workshop. This 6-hour course is also being offered for credit through Seattle Pacific University. For information, click here.

If you are looking for a speaker for your next event [retreat, banquet, weekend conference, etc.], I'd love to serve you for 30 minutes or 3 days! To get the ball rolling, click
here.

By working together, we can help others bring meaning to life by connecting everything they do with the "bigger picture" of a biblical worldview. Since founding Worldview Matters eleven years ago, I have had the privilege of speaking to over 17,000 people, mostly in groups of 50 or less. These engagements have taken me to schools, churches, or business settings across the United States, as well as to Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

I'd love to come to your town next!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

It Happens Tomorrow Morning

Events that strengthen our ability to integrate Christian truths with daily work are proliferating. While it is good to have help in strengthening one's marriage, increasing parenting skills, practicing evangelism, and being wise in handling personal finances, it is also a blessing to have assistance in connecting the biblical worldview with our work.

One such event is a nationwide webcast with Chuck Colson, called, Doing the Right Thing: An Exploration of Ethics. It happens tomorrow morning, September 24, 8:30am - 12:30pm. In addition to Chuck Colson, other speakers include Del Tackett, known for his work with the popular Truth Project, John Stonestreet, of Summit Ministries, and Robert George, of Princeton University.

For details, including locations of participating churches and schools, click here.

Then on Saturday, October 8, Faith and Work Life, a not-for-profit organization that is committed to helping men and women connect their faith life and their work life, will present the 4th Annual Faith At Work International Conference. This free event will be held on the campus of Concordia University, in Irvine, California. Distinguished speakers include David Kim, CEO of Baja Fresh and Sweet Factory, Bob Doll, Vice Chairman of Fundamental Equities, Court Durkalski, CEO of Truline Industries, Wendy Flint, Senior Vice President Marketing & Sales, Boston Reed, and more! For details and registration, click here.

Another special event of note is the Work As Worship Conference, to be held on November 3, in Dallas, Texas. This event is for CEO's, young entrepreneurs and business leaders who are passionate about combining business with ministry. Speakers include Bill Peel, Director of the LeTourneau University Center for Faith and Work, and David Greene, CEO of Hobby Lobby, among others. For details and registration, click here.   

For those on the East Coast, consider attending the first Gospel & Culture Conference, hosted by the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City, on November 4-5. This event is the fruit of Redeemer's eight year investment in faith and work ministry (one of the few churches in the nation  that has such a program).

The focus of Redeemer's Gospel & Culture Conference is on seeing how God is at work in the world, and how His work informs the way we understand our own work. For details and registration, click here.


For those of you who live in Western Washington, note the webcast locations shown on the RH panel above. All gatherings at these locations are free. (Left-click on the image to enlarge it.)

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Paul Says The Opposite

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Col. 3:2)

How does this fit with God's First Commission to govern over the earth? (Gen. 1:26-28) Setting my mind on things above? Not on things on the earth? If I'm building houses, running a bank, or selling life insurance, I have to think about things on the earth, don't I?

But if we take a close look at the context of Col. 3:2, reading verses 1-14, we see that when Paul speaks of the "things on the earth," he is not referring to our jobs, our lawnmowers, or our checkbooks:

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, pasion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idoloatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth....Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love..." [NKJV]

The "things above," upon which we are to set our minds, are "tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering...etc."

The "things on the earth," upon which we are not to set our minds, are "fornication, uncleaness, passion, evil desire, convetousness...etc."

Paul then goes on to pen some of the most significant words in the New Testament pertaining to work on this planet: "Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men." (verse 3:23, NLV)

Rather than suggesting that we not focus our mind on our earthly work, Paul says the opposite. We are to apply our whole heart to whatever work we do, as working for Christ Himself!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Fallen Creatures In A Fallen World

"Do not love the world, or the things of the world." (I John 2:15)

How does this fit with God's command to "subdue the earth?" (Gen. 1:28) Is it wrong to love our work as helicopter pilots, car mechanics, homemakers or CEOs?

Consider four meanings for the Greek word "kosmos" in the New Testament, translated "world" into English:

1. Populated regions. As in Romans 1:8, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world [kosmos]."

2. The human race in general. As in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world [kosmos] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We have a big problem if we take the word "world" in I John 2:15 to mean "the human race."

3. The created realm. As in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world [kosmos] His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."

4. A system of thought and behavior that is contrary to the will and ways of God. As in Colossians 2:8, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world [kosmos], and not according to Christ."

If we read I John 2:15 in the context of verses 16-17, we see John is actually exhorting the reader to love not the "world system." He is talking about not loving thought or behavior that is contrary to the will and ways of God.

In verse 16-17 John amplifies this meaning of "the world" as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." It is this "world" that we are to not love.

If our work feeds lust and pride, then this is a problem. We need to change our attitude, not necessarily our job. However, in some cases, we may need change our job, too! It depends on what the job is. Work centered around ungodly pride, power or greed is a problem.

We are to be in the world [populated regions, created realm], but not of the world [that system of thought and behavior contrary to Christ].

This is the challenge of everyday work for fallen creatures in a fallen world.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

A Rainbow Of Jobs

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Why should we celebrate work? Because work is an opportunity to fulfill the role God had in mind for humans when He made us in the beginning: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…and let them rule…over all the earth.” [Gen. 1:26-28]

This remarkable responsibility (I call it, the “First Commission”), covers a lot of ground. Literally! It necessitates a rainbow of jobs: earth-moving, bridge-building, skyscraper-making, ship-building, dam-constructing, fish-managing, potato-planting, truck-driving, log-cutting, house-building, bed-making, wall-painting, car-fixing, grocery-shopping, money-managing,  coffee-grinding, cake-baking, music-making, dish-washing, lawn-mowing, hair-cutting. You get the picture.

Our great challenge is to do these things in sync with the Lord of our labor. Our Employer. It’s His stuff we are managing, grinding, mowing and molding. It’s His Commission we are living out. It’s His world we are stewardingfallen and broken though it be.

God did not abandon this planet when Adam sinned, nor did He give the world over to Satan’s ownership or authority when Adam and Eve fell from grace in the garden. The earth and all it contains remains God’s own possession [Ps. 24:1], and He continues to hold it together by the word of His power [Heb. 1:3], sustaining it through time and space [Col. 1:16-17].

Satan’s offer to give Jesus "the Kingdoms of the world” [Luke 4:5-8] has led many to think that this world was Satan’s to give away. Nothing could be further from the truth! Satan’s choice of words on that occasion was masterful. Masterfully misleading, that is! I’ll explain why I say this in coming weeks.

But before I do, I have a question for you: How can a celebration of labor fit with Paul's admonition to "love not the world, nor the things in the world?"

How can a follower of Christ really celebrate work, if that workbe it car-fixing, cake-baking or coffee-grindingis so closely associated with this present world, which we are not supposed to love?

Hummm....What gives here?

What gives is an enormous amount of confusion over the term "world." On the one hand, we have Paul exhorting us to "love not the world," and on the other we have John telling us, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."

Our confusion lies in the fact that the term "world" [kosmos, in Greek] has four different meanings in the New Testament!

Hang on. This is important. 



This is a photo of our son, Nathanael, doing the work of the Lord
by engaging in the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28
through radio-tracking tagged trout on a research project for the
State of Washington. When I say Nathanael is doing the
work of the Lord, I am totally serious. This is what God had in mind
when He created humans. This is what God still has in mind
for humans. Nathanael is fully cognizant of this role,
and loves his work. He does it in a way that honors God,
and he does it "as unto the Lord." Today, he serves Christ
as a biologist for a major power company in the Pacific Northwest,
working on the interface between power needs and fish needs.

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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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Friday, June 24, 2011

Whatever You Had For Breakfast This Morning

One way to be cured of SSD [that mental virus called the Sacred-Secular Divide] is to fully recognize God at work around us every day. I’m not just referring to Him keeping the earth spinning at 1,038 mph at the equator, but the fact that whatever you had for breakfast this morning was the result of God at work, too.

I’m not just referring to Him providing the sunshine that enabled your cornflakes to be. I’m also thinking of how He worked through so many people to get it to your bowl. You see, God could have chosen to deliver your food to your front door by Himself, fully prepared. But instead, we see a long human chain that links the farmer to the soil, the truck driver to the marketplace, and the grocery clerk to the cash register. All along the way, from one end of the chain to the other, humans are engaging in the First Commission, whether they realize it or not.

If we continue to follow the chain out the grocery store door, we find men and women who spend 40-80 hours a week at thousands of jobs that generate the dollars paid at the cash register. If we go back to the other end of the chain, where the farmer meets the soil, we discover things that only God can do (like creating sunshine, plants and water), but this doesn’t mean His work is done through photosynthesis alone. God does His work through truck drivers, grocery clerks and bankers.

As humans, we were created to co-work with God, by ruling over raw materials He alone sustains, shaping and molding them (as only image-bearers of God can do) into cornflakes, oatmeal and french toast. Milk comes from cows and grass that God alone sustains, but the process God uses to give you your breakfast is a delightful dance between Himself and human beings.

God sustains the milkman, and the truck. The butcher and the baker, too. These are all means by which God fulfills His purpose for food, His love for people, and His intention for human beings to govern over creation, using the gifts and abilities He provides. That’s what work is all about.

Secular jobs? Think again. The Hebrew word for "work" and "worship" is the same word. Click: avodah.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Ahhhhhhh...

I don’t think we’ll know the complete answer to why God created humans until we cross through to the other side. Then I think we’ll all look back and say, “Ahhhhhh….”

Thanks to Scripture, we know how we came to be. (Yes, I do believe God formed Adam out of dirt. That doesn’t sound very flattering. The “dust of the earth” sounds better. But not by much.) Yet, this doesn’t answer the really big question: Why did God create humans?

The answer I have heard all my life is: “We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But this answer has never fully satisfied me. So, I’d like to tweak the question a bit: What role did God have in mind for humans when He created us?

This is much easier to answer, because the Bible tells us exactly what role God had in mind for us to play. His intention from the beginning was for us to govern [steward, rule, have dominion] over Earth and all it contains. Genesis 1:26-28 doesn’t tell us much about the why, but it sure does tell us the what!

This is truly mind-boggling. God created human beings to rule over His creation! I like the way Chuck Colson put it: “On the sixth day, God created human beings—and ordered them to pick up where He left off!” That’s quite a responsibility—and a great honor. Talk about purpose!

This satisfies me. It gives me purpose in mowing my lawn, and ridding it of moles (one of the greatest challenges to human governance known to man, and a sure sign of the curse). It brings meaning to taking trash to the garbage cans, and cleaning drains on the roof. It gives me joy in writing, speaking, consulting and coaching. When I do these things rightly, I feel God's pleasure, like Eric Liddell running a race.

Of course, not every moment is a pleasure. Sometimes I bump into pain that comes with a broken world. Sweating isn't fun. Nor are moles. But I always come back to the realization that I was made for a reason, and I can engage in the call of the First Commission with satisfaction, when building a backyard chicken coop with a friend, or collecting eggs the fowl produce.

Farewell SSD.


Stewarding our four faithful egg-makers.
Which came first? The chicken!
A sure sign of the curse: moles.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Earthiness Of The Great Commission

To be cured of SSD [the Sacred-Secular Divide], it helps to take another look at the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Revisiting the Great Commission is a healthy thing to do now and then, because it defines the missional identity of the Church.

The Great Commission has a very “earthy” focus. That is, its focus is more on the here-and-now than life-hereafter. Yet, as a child growing up in the church, I translated it this way: “Go everywhere to save souls, so people can go to heaven when they die.”

The Great Commission doesn’t say “make converts,” although baptism certainly implies this necessary step. What it says is: “make disciples.” It doesn’t talk about teaching people to ask Jesus into their hearts, but “teaching them to observe all that I [Jesus] have commanded you.” This observation takes place on Earth, as we are "going."  

In the Great Commission, Christ doesn’t say, “I’ll see you in heaven,” but “I’m with you on earth—‘till the end of the age.” It is the earthiness of the Great Commission that links it so powerfully with the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28. The Great Commission of Matthew 28 focuses on what happens here, where God wants His will to be done—as it is in Heaven. Jesus is Lord of both realms at once [v. 18].

God has an earthly intention for human beings, and this intention is stated in the first chapter of the Book: to rule over all creation. This involves flying helicopters in logging operations, managing salmon, manufacturing light bulbs, designing software, cutting hair, rearing children, and making breakfast.

The Great Commission is about people everywhere [all nations] observing all He has commanded, in the context of wherever we go. For half our waking hours, this is where we work.

One of the best writings I have seen on the unity of the two commissions [the First and the Great] is in Chapter 6 of Liberating the Laity, by R. Paul Stevens: “Because man failed to keep the first mandate [Genesis 1:26-28], God gave us in Jesus the missionary mandate [Matthew 28:18-20]…But what is seldom understood is that God gave us the second mandate in order to restore the first…We are saved in order to fulfill God’s original intention.”

This leaves no room for the Sacred-Secular Divide.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

The Most Important Occupation Jesus Could Have

When it comes to ridding ourselves of SSD [the Sacred-Secular Divide], it would be helpful if the First Commission [Genesis 1:26-28] was given as much weight by Christian writers, singers, teachers and preachers as the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20]. Yet, making this suggestion may cause me to be viewed by some as a heretic.

I can hear it now: “Which is more important, Overman? Flying helicopters to lift trees out of forests so logs can be cut into lumber for building homes, or saving souls?”

But positing this question dichotomously as an "either-or" proposition is like asking, as Al Erisman, co-founder of the Center for Integrity in Business, does: “Which wing of an airplane is more important?”

I still hear push-back: “Which is more important, a house built of wood, or mansion in heaven?”

My response is: “More important to whom?

If I answer the question from the perspective of my own self-interests, a mansion in heaven is more important than a house on Earth. But if I consider the question from the perspective of God’s wholistic interests, I come up with a different answer.

What am I getting at? I suggest we remember Mary’s words to the servants at the wedding of Cana: “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.” Isn’t that our sacred task? As those servants filled pots with water, were they not doing the Lord’s work? 

For eighteen years, the most important occupation Jesus could have was to build furniture and plows, because this is what His Father showed Him to do. Justin Martyr, in the second century, said plows made by Jesus were still being used in Martyr's lifetime. Good workmanship!

The work God wants us to do includes earth-tending and culture-creating. For some, the work of God may be preaching, for others it may be sawing logs into lumber. That's because God wants people to be protected from the elements, and He uses humans to make the shingles. He wants lumber to be moved from point A to point B, and uses truck drivers to do the transporting.

Perhaps the most helpful thing in ridding ourselves of SSD is to view the First Commission and the Great Commission as a single unit. As Paul Stevens wrote in Liberating the Laity: “God gave us the second mandate in order to restore the first.”

We’ll pick up from here next week.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

How Flying Helicopters Is A Way To Really Serve The Lord

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a young man in my office I’ll call “Jason.” He is in his early 20s, a committed follower of Christ, and a graduate of Bible school.

Jason loves to participate in street evangelism. His greatest thrill in life is to lead someone to the Lord. Wonderful! A remarkable young man.

When I ask him what profession he wants to pursue, Jason turns his head to the side, looks up at the ceiling, utters the words "Forgive me Lord,” and then (looking me straight in the eye), declares: "I want to fly helicopters."

Flying really interests Jason, and he's particularly fond of helicopters. He loves everything about them. He tells me he wants to lift logs out of forests, in logging operations. Yet, it is evident Jason feels tension in his life because he doesn’t see how flying helicopters is a way to really serve the Lord.

I ask Jason if he is aware of the First Commission. He says he hasn’t heard of the First Commission, so I turn his attention to Genesis 1:26-28. Here is how it reads in The Message:

God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
      reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
      the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself..."
     He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
     "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!..."

The Amplified Bible translates verse 28 like this: “And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]…”

I shared with Jason how flying a helicopter in logging operations fits beautifully into the fulfillment of our job description, to steward God's creation. He could directly serve God and indirectly love people by lifting trees from forests so they can be hauled to mills and cut into lumber for building homes.

Jason's face lit up. He had an epiphany. "I never thought of that!" he said. He suddenly saw a way to participate in the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28 and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Both. 

He seemed to shed 420 pounds in an instant.

Using all its vast resources in the service of God and man...Take charge!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Like Shooting A Few Sacred Cows

The Sacred-Secular Divide is a mental problem that affects us more than we realize. Mark Greene calls it, “SSD.” Sounds like a disease, doesn’t it? Dr. David Scott, a professor of theology at Southern Evangelical Seminary, calls it a “mental virus.” See his essay, A Church Without A View.

It doesn’t sound very nice to say it, but we really do have a mental problem. The “virus” is so deeply embedded in our brains that we assume the Sacred-Secular Divide is a normal, natural, and even necessary way of thinking.

This is a huge part of the problem. We think this way of thinking is normal! Some may even like the Sacred-Secular Divide. It might feel good to be known as a person who is “in full-time Christian ministry.” It has a nice ring to it. Many have done a lot, given up a lot, or paid a lot to earn that distinction. Others dream about it. “Someday,” they think, “I will quit my job (or retire) and go into the ministry.” 

Go into the ministry? What does that mean? Aren't we "in the ministry" wherever we go?

Was Jesus "in the ministry" during the eighteen years He spent as a carpenter? Was He doing what His Father showed Him to do during those years as much as the last three? Actually, Jesus was in the ministry of carpentry. And this is no joke.

Nearly 500 years ago, Martin Luther tried to rid the church of the notion that some people have “special” calls: “Monastic vows rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfill only the commands; but there is simply no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.”

For Luther, such common tasks included milking cows and changing babies’ diapers. These things, too, are “the Lord’s work.” But if you or I were to ask one hundred Christians to give six examples of “the Lord’s work,” I doubt if milking cows would be mentioned.

Speaking of cows, I’m convinced that ridding ourselves of SSD requires some hard decisions, like shooting a few sacred cows. While the thought of shooting cows may be unpleasant, I think it's necessary.

To be continued.

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