Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Christian in the Workplace

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is slave or free.
And you masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9)

In this passage, the apostle Paul emphasizes Christian character toward our jobs. Christ has expectations of every follower, no matter which rung of the ladder they hold. Whether the master or the slave, the employer or the employee, the boss or the one being bossed.

He tells the servants they are to work with sincerity of heart, not with eye-service as men-pleasers. This phrase talks of one who works hard when the boss is around, but is lazy and a slacker when nobody is watching. Such an individual is only worried about not getting in trouble and will do exactly the amount of work necessary, no more, no less. This worker is only interested in self, and everyone around knows it.

Paul writes that the character of a Christian is seen when he does everything to the best of his ability, no matter who is watching. The Christian recognizes he/she is in the service of God and therefore will do the work of God from the heart at all times.

However, the Master is also told to do the same thing. Just because you are the boss does not mean you get to do whatever you want without consideration of Christ. For there is no partiality with God. He will treat the master the same as the slave, the boss the same as the employee. Therefore, the heart of the master must also be focused on service to Christ, and it must show in the way others are treated.

So, does your Christian character show in the workplace?

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Uncategorized

The Challenges of “Success”

Three young brothers went to a wise old patriarch to seek his advice about how to become successful in life. As they came before him, he stated that there were many ways to meet the human standard of success; because of this, they would need to tell him the means by which they wanted to be successful.

“What is the greatest goal you would need to obtain to consider yourself a success?” The old man asked.

 “It would have to be popularity,” said the first brother.

“That is a difficult means of success,” said the patriarch. “For in order to be successful by popularity you must be willing to find what most people like and become that. Popularity will also require that you not just find what is favorable to people now, but to continuously do so in the future. It will require you to put aside your own principles, beliefs, desires, and feelings in order to blend into the framework of the majority. In order to reach your ultimate goal you will have to sell yourself to the majority, but that majority can just as quickly become the minority; so you must be willing to change at a moment’s notice. It is a very dangerous goal that can quickly lead to your demise.”

“What is your goal to consider yourself successful?” The old man then said to the second brother.

“Success would require that I be wealthy so that I may have all my heart desires,” the second brother replied.

“That is also a very difficult means of success,” the wise man assured him, “for it is an unsure and unsecured measurement of it. There are few ways to become truly rich in this world: you must have it given to you by those already wealthy, you must take it through manipulation and other dishonest means, or you must find and create or produce something that many people need and for which they will pay. As with your brother, though, you will find that the greatest challenge of all is not gaining wealth, but keeping it. You will quickly make enemies, whether by the means of your acquiring the wealth or the jealousy of it. You will also have to find ways of keeping large sums of wealth entering your pockets. This requires additional work because there will be obstacles at every turn, both from the people around you and the ventures you undertake. Make no mistake, considering success by wealth will cost you far more than you believe, both in the wealth itself and in the people you have to walk over, leave behind, and ignore or set aside in order to obtain it; and it never leaves one truly happy.”

“And you, young man?” The patriarch said to the third.

“The ultimate success would be to live forever,” responded the third brother.

“So it would,” replied the wise man with a smile, “but it is without doubt true that every man dies. That does not, however, mean that when a man dies he ceases to exist. Man has a soul, and that soul is everlasting. There are two places in which that soul can find itself after death: paradise or torments. In order to truly live in paradise for all eternity it will be a challenging endeavor, for there is but one that controls the entrance to paradise. You must be willing to set aside the menial things of this life and turn it over to another. You must take on his burdens, follow his commands, and accept his rules. This will mean that oftentimes you will be unpopular, poor, and pitiful to those on this earth, even within your own family. However, it also provides rewards beyond anything this world can imagine. For it is true that once you have lived this life in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and the reward is given, it will be there forever and will not be removed. You can then spend eternity in rest and peace. This is truly the greatest success of all, and if you secure it you will have chosen wisely, no matter what others around you might say.”

When the brothers left, they went to work in their lives seeking the measures of success they desired. The first brother changed everything he was to become what people wanted, and it worked – for a while. Eventually, though, he was unable to keep up with the changing dynamics of life and culture; but by then he had given up everything that he had ever held as important and wound up living the rest of his days angry and cynical because of his inability to remain as he desired.

The second brother sought out to become rich and managed to gain a formidable wealth for a time. The problem was that eventually the markets tumbled, everyone had what he was selling, and his enemies did not withhold any underhanded means of trying to destroy him. Eventually, the riches he thought were such a blessing became a curse. In seeking to retain his wealth he spent more and more time working. He lost his family, his friends, and eventually that all-important wealth as well. When his life ended he was as poor as when he started and he could think of nothing but all he had lost and the failure of his life.

The third brother lived his life according to the standard God gave. It meant many of the things others did with their lives were passed up by the brother. He was never rich, popular, or in any way great by the standards of men. Nevertheless, he had a life he enjoyed, a family he loved, and a peace most could not understand. When he left this life, it was not with fear, sorrow, or despair: but excitement, joy, and peace. While most of the world never knew when he came or went, those that loved him knew of his ultimate success, and the promised rest was his for all eternity.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Leave a comment

Filed under Short Stories

Pointing People to Jesus

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).” (John 1:35-42)

It is interesting to see how people came to know Jesus in the days before he started his full ministry. They did not hear his sermons, or see his miracles, they were introduced by those that already knew him.

Andrew learned of Jesus from John the Immerser, Peter learned of him from Andrew, his brother. In the following verses, Jesus finds Philip (sometimes thought to be the other of the two disciples mentioned here) and he finds and tells Nathaniel. Those who came to know who Jesus was in the early days were led to him by another.

The same holds true today. For the overwhelming majority of people, if they are led to the knowledge of Christ, his church, and his covenant, it is by friends and family members. Occasionally it will be by sheer will and purpose of the individual’s heart, but often it is because someone who knows that person took the time to teach them and point them to Jesus.

Who are you pointing to Jesus?

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Uncategorized

Proclaiming Christ in Times of Trouble

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice” (Philippians 1:12-18)

During Paul’s imprisonment there were many things that he could have spent his time considering. He could have worried about his situation, grown depressed over why these things were happening to him, or grown angry at the unfairness of being imprisoned simply because he proclaimed the truth. Instead of any of these things, he rejoiced because, through his imprisonment, the Gospel of Christ was being proclaimed in every corner of Rome.

The brethren were more bold in proclaiming the Word. Even those who did not accept the truth of Christ and were only speaking with ill will were talking about it. Either way, Christ was being proclaimed.

We need to remember that the times when it seems we are going through the most are when our proclamations of the Gospel have the greatest effect. The world watches the measure of our faith far more in times of trouble than when all is well. Therefore, we should be like Paul and rejoice – even in times of trouble, that the opportunity is present to bring glory to our Savior in his service.

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Uncategorized

Do You Love Me More Than ______?

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”” (John 21:4-15)

After his resurrection, Jesus will come to the apostles on a number of occasions while making the final preparations for his ascension. The third occasion is described here.

Peter, John, and others are out fishing, and have not had anything to show for it. Jesus tells them to cast their net out the right side of the boat and immediately the net is filled to overflowing with more than 150 fish.

When Peter and the others come to the shore, knowing that it is Jesus waiting for them, they prepare to sit down and eat with him. While they are eating, Jesus asks Peter a question: “Do you love me more than these?”

The question is both interesting and important. He uses the Greek word “agape” for love. It means to love in a self-sacrificial, revering way enough to put another first. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him enough to give up the fish, which he had caught as his work and livelihood his whole life.

Peter responds: “Yes, Lord; you know I love (The Greek word “phileo”) you.” Peter says that he has such an emotional, brotherly attachment to Jesus, and that he will do so for the Lord. As the conversation continues in the next few verses, Jesus shows Peter just how much he will give to follow Christ.

However, the question Jesus asked of Peter is still asked of us today. Jesus is still asking man: “Do you love me more than _____?” Do we love him more than our job, money, possessions, friends, family, or life? Are we truly willing to move all that behind him and make him first in our lives? Do we love him?

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Uncategorized

The Priest

I see the man lying on the side of the road.

His harsh, wounded features a sight to behold.

The closer I get, the worse the man looks.

He is bloody and beaten, his clothing they took.

The stranger had been left for dead, I could see,

And only men’s hands could this brutal be.

I know I should help him, I say in my mind.

But I’m already late, my schedule’s behind.

I feel for the man. He needs help, that I see.

But I am a priest, I have places to be.

 

I see her quite often, she knows who I am.

We exchange pleasantries, like acquaintances can.

I know she is dealing with terrible strife,

The unenviable strain of the trials of life.

I know I should help her, show her the way,

To lean on the one who is there every day.

But I have so many things on my plate,

And it seems that I always am running late.

So I leave her alone to despair in her strife,

Because I am a priest, I have my own life.

 

The first verse of this poem considers an illustration of what the priest could have been thinking in Jesus’ story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-36). The priest of Jesus’ day was a servant of God who was supposed to be devoted to taking care of the people’s spiritual needs through sacrifice and service. However, priests were not perfect, they were human like everyone else and prone to mistakes in judgment and priorities. While the priest in the story should have stopped to help, there are many conceivable reasons why he might not.

The second verse considers the same kind of reaction in God’s priests today. Under Christ, all Christians are priests (Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5) and are responsible for the service of God and the spreading of the Gospel to mankind. Yet, how often can we be found guilty of being the priest in Jesus’ story? We see those around us who need our help, but instead of acting we leave it for someone else.

The next time you see someone in the ditches of life, whether physically or spiritually, remember the priest and don’t pass them by.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poems, Uncategorized

God Hears His People

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah. But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4)

Among the many comforts the righteous servant of God enjoys is the blessing of knowing God is always present and engaged in our lives. Consider the terms used in this psalm and the confidence David shows in his relationship with God.

“You have given me relief when I was in distress.” God’s relationship with man is built on trust. God never promises men that bad things will not happen, but he does promise he will be there with us when it does. It should be a great comfort and relief to know that we have a God who does not leave us during the tough times.

“The Lord has set apart the godly for himself.” God has a special place for his people. They receive a special place in his loving care. The security to be found in the shelter of his love is wonderful to behold.

“The Lord hears when I call to him.” It is wonderful to know that with God the line is never busy and he is never out of touch. We have a constant open line to the Father. It isn’t just for emergency use, but constant lines of communication to the Creator of the universe.

This psalm serves as a great blessing for the child of God. It shows both sides of the relationship with God and reminds us that God is always engaged with his people.

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Uncategorized