Do You Walk Along Side or Follow?

For awhile now, I have been calling myself a follower of Jesus in an attempt to differentiate from the religious institution. I thought it was a good way to open up a conversation with others and avoid the stereotyping that goes with the word Christian. While the media and other groups like to classify all Christians in a negative light, my desire is to show that is not the narrative that Jesus teaches in the Bible. Christ loves everyone and has a desire for all to know Him. In my attempt to let others know I follow Jesus, not an institution, I realized that just following is not enough.

Following can be very easy. Following does not require any thought. Simply go in the direction the leader is heading. Go to church, listen to the sermon, worship for a few songs, go home. Read the Bible, pray and do a Bible study. It is easy to get into a rhythm of following that is, well safe. It is safe because there are others doing the same thing. It is safe because it doesn’t require anyone to take any risks. Peter exemplifies this on the night Jesus was taken to by tried. The night Jesus was captured and brought in front of the religious leaders who judged Him and found Him guilty of nothing but disrupting the religious institution of the day. What did Peter do as the guards were taking Jesus away? Mark 14:54 tells us, “Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.”

Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He didn’t want to get caught by the guards. He didn’t get too close. He didn’t let anyone else know that he knew Jesus, for three years in fact. Peter was one of the three closest friends to Jesus. Peter followed Jesus at a distance. When he got to the courtyard of the high priest, what did he do? He sat down and warmed himself with the fire. He was close to Jesus, but not too close. He was willing to accept a warm fire instead of the Spiritual fire that came directly from Jesus. One might even say that Peter looked more like the non-followers than a true disciple of Jesus. How many of us have been content to follow Jesus and follow Him at a distance? Go to church on Sunday, where it is safe. Surrounded by other believers or at least would-be believers. Then satisfied to warm ourselves by the fire during the week, not getting too close to the Spiritual fire of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to say, “I am a follower of Jesus” but does it look like Peter when he betrayed Jesus? There is another way. It looks move like Peter after Jesus raised from the dead and visited him on the beach. Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him three times. Which redeemed each of the three times Peter denied him to others. This act of forgiveness transforms Peter from a follower to someone who is waking in step with Jesus.  In Matthew 11:28-30 it says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

After Pentecost and Holy Spirit was poured out on humanity, we have a chance to walk with Jesus instead of just following Him. I love how the Message version puts it, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.” We are invited to walk with Jesus and work along side Him and Holy Spirit. We don’t have to trail along at a distance. We don’t have to be timid and wait until Sunday to come alive. We can walk with Jesus every day, watch what He is doing and be His hands and feet. We have an opportunity to BE Jesus to a hurting world. Religion may not be attractive to non-believers, but Jesus is. His love, compassion and grace draws people to Him. We can be that love, compassion and grace to everyone around us.

Today, I choose to walk with Jesus, not just follow Him. What do you think?


Mobile Church

Growing up I always thought that I needed to go to church to find God. That’s where He is right? If I wanted prayer, I go to church. If I wanted healing, I go to church or a hospital. If I wanted salvation, you go to church. All of those statements are correct, however, they are not sufficient to live out the great commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Church is a safe place to be with those who know Jesus and believe in His life giving message. Too many of us equate the building with the broader understanding of “the church.” Every believer in Christ Jesus is the church since Holy Spirit lives inside us.

I find it interesting that when I read the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2, God creates the heavens, the earth, the animals and finally man. Then in Genesis 2:8 we are told, “now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.” There were trees and rivers and flowers. There is no mention of a building. God had not wanted Adam and Eve to be restricted to a building. Fast forward to the time Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. He had them live in tents. In fact, God Himself dwelt in the tabernacle, which was a tent. A tent is a mobile building which is easily built and easily taken down. Then God had Solomon build a temple for God’s present to reside. However, it was a place to go into and then go out from. Finally, Jesus gives His life for our sins and transforms our bodies into the temple of God.

Just like the tabernacle in Moses’ time, our bodies are meant to be the mobile temple of Holy Spirit. We are not meant to restrict ourselves to a building. Church on Sunday should be a time where we can get instruction, a time to worship God as a whole body and to be encouraged. We are then to go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. He wanted us in a garden, to be outside, interacting with His creation. He wants us going to where people are sick and hurting. We are to get out and bring the gospel or good news to a world in pain.

I encourage everyone to make a commitment to get out of the building and find a place to serve. The church building is important and good, but get out into the community. The good news is that search engines enable us to find places that serve areas of our passions. If you don’t know where to start, try some of these searches:

  • Place to serve <insert the name of your city>
  • Volunteer opportunities <insert name of your city>
  • Soup kitchens near me
  • Serve food to the homeless
  • Anti-trafficking organizations <insert name of your city>
  • Non-profit organizations <insert name of your city>

Once you have searched and decided on a place to serve, take the action to get involved. Share what action you are taking. I would love to hear what everyone is doing to have a positive influence on the world around you.

Plant, Water, Harvest

One of my earliest memories of my grandfather was his love to garden. I would spend summers with my grandparents and saw how many vegetables you can grow in a small amount of land. It was at their house where he learned to love to eat green beans, squash, zucchini and lima beans. Every night I had the opportunity to pick the vegetable I wanted for dinner. It was always something I would look forward to as a certain sacred honor, as these were not like ordinary beans. In fact, I would not eat green beans at any other time during the year. They had to be from B-daddy’s garden. My mom eventually got around my stubbornness and would tell me B-daddy had mailed them to us. To a seven year old, I bought it hook line and sinker. Besides, it was my mom who told me all about Santa and the Easter Bunny. So the green beans for dinner must have been from my grandfathers garden, even in the middle of winter.

While I loved to harvest my grandfather’s garden, I did not inherit the passion for growing fruits and vegetables. I don’t know the first thing about making a plant grow. I have never been able to get a seed to produce anything. Thought, I am really good at harvesting, I have never liked the idea of getting the right soil, planting the seeds and faithfully watering the ground every day. In a post a few weeks ago, I talked about the garden I now have, that came with the house. The soil was already prepared for different kinds of vegetables and fruit. So, this year we decided to buy pre-grown plants and see how they do. So far so good. The other day, I read a passage in the bible that hits right at this topic.

1 Corinthians 3:6-92 (NIV) I (Paul) planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

What I realize is I may not be any good at planting seeds when it comes to growing fruit or vegetables, but I am able to plant seeds when it comes to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am able to water the seed someone else planted. I have even been given the opportunity to harvest and see people accept Jesus as their Lord and savior. Each one of us can plant the seed, water it and harvest it, because God is the one who makes it grow. In Luke 10:20 we are told, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” God wants us to be His workers in the field. Too many of us have been waiting to be invited into the garden.

Today, plant a seed, water or harvest. This action will look very different depending on the situation.
• Pray with someone who is hurting
• Do something nice for someone and let them know God loves them
• Help someone in need with a physical or spiritual matter
• Give someone an encouraging word
It can be anything; the key is to make sure the other person knows it is from God.

Let Your Actions Speak for You

We have all heard it. A cliché that rings true but is sometimes difficult to live out. Actions speak louder than words. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms defines this phrase as “what you do is more important than what you say, because the things you do show your true intentions and feelings.” We see this concept lived out every day in every aspect of our life. How many of us have sat through a meeting at the office or someplace else and all people wanted to do was talk? Talk, talk, talk. But nothing would get done. No action, no follow through, just talk. In fact, some people call meetings just so they can talk to a captive audience.

We have all seen this “all talk and no action” concept play out. Our political system is known for politicians promising the world when they are up for re-election and then nothing gets done. Relationships also have this issue. You can tell someone that you love them all day long. However, if your actions don’t reflect what you are saying then the relationship will be hard pressed to survive. The thing is, actions are what people see. You don’t have to say a word if you are showing people the love of Christ. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us, “in the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” We want our deeds to reflect the goodness of God and shine His glory. It is never a dark day if you let the light of the Lord shine through you.

When I lived in Moscow, Russia, I had some friend who were moving apartments. They needed some help, so I offered an extra set of hands. I had a driver at the time, named Andre. I asked Andre to drive me to the friend’s apartment, not to do any of the moving labor. They were my friends and I did not want to abuse my relationship with Andre. My friends did not have that much to move, so we only needed to take one car load to the new apartment. My driver was quiet throughout the move, but I didn’t think anything about it at the time.

The next Monday, Andre thanked me because he had never seen anyone freely serve someone else like I had done that weekend. This kind of selfless act was not something Andre had ever experienced in Russia. Up to this point, Andre had heard about my faith, but that day he found out what faith in action looked like. It made a huge impact on Andre. So much so that he began asking questions about my faith and even ended up getting a Bible to learn more about Jesus.

Our actions are noticed. When we profess a faith and belief in Jesus Christ, we get put under the microscope. Our actions must match the words people hear from us. Even if we don’t say a word, our actions should point others to Jesus. Others will notice and eventually ask you about your actions. The door will open to share your faith! Today, make sure your actions reflect the gospel of Jesus. Be kind to someone who is sad, give to someone who is in need, help someone who is in trouble, encourage someone who is hurting. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Bring in your neighbors garbage can, take a friend to coffee, offer to pick someone up for work, encourage someone who is down, drop school supplies off at a school. The actions are endless.

Perceptions and Your Name

Perceptions are a funny thing. How often do we meet someone and create a perception about them based on their clothes, hair, looks, or smell. We all do it. Most of the time it is unconscious and we don’t even realize we have established a perception about someone. In our mind, that perception become reality.

Now, take the same situation, same clothes, hair, looks and add a familiarity with the person’s name. A name you have heard before. A name that is well spoken of. Does your perception change? Probably! One of the best ways we can make sure there is no perception bias is by making sure we have a good name. In Proverbs 22:1-4 it says:

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,

Favor is better than silver and gold.

The rich and the poor have a common bond,

The Lord is the maker of them all. 

The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,

But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord

Are riches, honor and life.

What is your reputation? What would someone else say about you and your name? Do you know? Most of us probably don’t know for sure. We can hope others would say nice things about us. Too often we get so busy with life that we forget to step back and look at ourselves. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “what is my life saying to other people?”

I spent six years in Asia. Over that time, I had the honor of meeting many wonderful people. While we were all culturally diverse, there was an openness to learn about each other. I met individuals from India, Philippines, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. All were different and all had great stories. Each person had built a reputation and a name for themselves in the company. I knew who I should talk to about different topics, who could help him with others and who would be a sympathetic ear. I found out who had a heart for orphans, who had a love of travel and who was just plain fun to hang out with. It was a great time in my career and life.

Of course, all of these folks were able to get to know me as well. Because of the relationships that were built, I had the honor to share the gospel with many of them. One even accepted Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was a fruitful time of relationships and ministry. But it wasn’t until I was leaving Asia where I found out about my reputation. I found out what my name meant to those who he had built relationships with over a six-year period.

For my farewell party, I was given a word picture of the words my friends and co-workers felt best described me and my reputation. I was humbled to read words like trustworthy, empathic, creative, enthusiastic, kind, dynamic, genuine and passionate. It was insightful to read words like slapstick, fun, warm, poetry, jolly, sing, quiet and different. But it was honoring to read words like principled, committed, generous and Christian. Without this word picture, I would never have known what my name meant to others. It is not something we can fake. People will see through it.

So I ask again, what would others say about you? What is your reputation? Would they see Jesus in you? Is your day in, day out behavior consistently shining the light of God? Does your daily interaction with others reveal the heart of the Father who loves them? It can if you want it to. Let Jesus open your heart to a good name and a great reputation as a follower of Christ.

Today ask a few trusted friends or family to write down 5-7 words that best describe you. When you get them back do the following actions:

  • • Before you get any words back, write down what you think the best 5-7 words that describe you.
  • • Ask God to tell you how He sees you and write those words down.
  • • Read through all the words from the three lists. Are there similarities or differences?
  • • Are you surprised by the words your friends and family shared? If so why?
  • • Ask yourself, “are these the words I want to be known by?”

If you need to make any changes in your life so you can be known as a wholly devoted follower of Christ, go ahead and decide to make the changes. Ask God to help you and start being that person today. You can change your reputation!

Searching for the Heartbeat of God

1 Peter 4:7-11 (MSG) Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
I love the fact that we are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26). This means that God would have an appearance and aspects similar to a man and woman. No other creation bears His image. I think it is so cool that we look like God and that means we can be His sons and daughters. I also wonder if it means He has internal organs like we do? Does God have lungs, a liver, a stomach? Does He have a heart like ours? We know David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), however is our heart fashioned after God’s heart? It will be one of the many questions I ask when I see Him someday.

While we don’t know if God has a similar physical heart, we know He does have a heart that loves us dearly. I pray that each of us would have a heart like God’s and understand what His heart beats for. We know the normal resting heart rate for an average person at an average age is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. In contrast, the humming bird hearts can beat as fast as 1,260 beats per minute. I imagine the heartbeat of God is much more complex than a our own. It is not so important to figure out what God’s resting heartbeat is, but much more important to understand what He is passionate about.

If we align our heartbeat with His, then we will start to see and feel the world differently. In Luke 19:10, Jesus gives us a picture of what gets His heart beating. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” His greatest desire is to see every one of His children to know Him and have a relationship with Him. When we allow our heart to beat like Jesus’s heart, then we find the courage to do the things He would do.

Noelle and her family made a family budget at Christmas to make sure they did not overspend. After they had completed their purchases for the season, they realized they still had some money left over. Instead of absorbing it back into their overall budget, they felt led to give it away. So they split it up between the family members asked their children to pray about where God wanted this money to go. They wanted this offering to be Holy Spirit-led and given away when they saw an opportunity to give it to a stranger. One day, Noelle and her ten-year-old were at a fast food restaurant. Her daughter saw a man sitting in a corner and wondered what he was doing. He was disheveled and was most likely homeless. When they approached the man, Noelle noticed he was making lemonade out of the free water, lemon packets and sugar. Her daughter felt the stirring of Holy Spirit and told her mom she wanted to give her designated money to this man. The gesture moved the man to tears as he felt the love of Jesus, and in that moment Noelle’s daughter was perfectly aligned with the heartbeat of God.

Today, align your heartbeat with God’s heartbeat by looking for an opportunity to give someone hope. Maybe it is helping someone who is homeless. Maybe it is paying for someone’s meal or coffee. Maybe it is giving an extra tip to a waiter or waitress and let them know God sees them. Maybe it is helping a mother of a crying baby at the store. Maybe it is praying for someone in need of God’s intervention. Be open to the opportunity the Holy Spirit puts before you. When we seek to align our heart with God’s heart, we will see His children the way He see them. We will have compassion and be able to bring Heaven to earth and show others His heart!

Weathering the Storms of Life – part 4

Going through storms are never fun. However, they are necessary to grow our faith. Through the storm we get changed, but what do we do, once the storm has passed.  Noah gave us insight to that question.

We see the answer in Genesis 8:13-16 “By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.  By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” 

The storm has ended, and what did Noah do?  He waited on the Lord.  It must have taken a huge amount of patience to then wait almost two full months after the land was dry, before he could leave the ark.  Noah waited to hear from the Father as to when he could leave the ark.  Whenever a storm hits, I think it is easy to breathe a sigh of relief and start moving on our own once the storm is over.  But the Father wants us to also wait upon Him.

In my case, once I was able to work through the emotional components, let go of my pride, let go of my future plans, I had to be patient and wait upon the Lord.  Right now, I don’t have a job.  So I have to surrender that to the Father and wait on Him to open the door to where He wants me to go and do.  I don’t know what is next.  At best we see dimly.  And in my case, not at all.  But I will trust and wait for the Father to show me what is next in my career. I believe there is something far better on the horizon because my God is a good God and He is in a good mood.   I know the new path I am on will take me to places I never dreamed of going.

Finally, we must not forget to praise the Lord for bringing us through the storm.  In Genesis 8:20-21

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. 

Noah thanked God for bringing him through the daddy of all storms.  Just as we need to remember to thank the Father for getting us through our storms.   We can look at what Jonah prays when was in the belly of the great fish, he praised the Father in Jonah 2:1-10, and it was pleasing to Him;

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

3 You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.

4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’

5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD.”

10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah captures how many of us feel when we get hit by a storm.  He also captures his heart and love for the Father.  I pray that I can have faith like that one day.

The Father brings us through storms.  He builds our character, He refines us, He heals us, He changes us, saves us, He draws us closer to Himself.  Storms can seem like the world is going to end.  But the Father has given us some practical steps to weather the storms.

  • We lighten our loads
  • We take our bearings
  • We stay in community
  • We eat and keep our strength
  • We cut the things that anchor us
  • We wait on the Lord
  • We give Him thanks.

There is no promise that life will be easy.  We will face storms.  But we can be assured that the Father loves us and will be with us.  He will remember us when the storm hits, just like he did Noah and Paul.

A Night in Singapore

Joan placed her hand over her eyes as if she were trying to shade the sun.  I looked at her and asked if everything was all right.  She responded by telling us there was a ghost on the roof trying to get her attention and it was distracting her from our conversation.  She looked at me with the expectation that I would tell her that she was crazy.  Having lived in Southeast Asia, I had many strange encounters.  Though this was my first time to encounter this particular situation.  My response surprised my colleagues almost as much as the initial matter-of-fact announcement that there was a ghost on the roof.  I knew Joan well enough to know at she would not make something like this up.  As a Christian, I had been taught there were angels and demons, which is exactly what I shared with them.

The four of us sat at an outdoor cafe in Singapore.  I was there for business and asked my colleagues if they wanted to go out after work.  Joining me was Manish, Sam and Joan.  I had known all of them for a number of years and had built a strong friendship with them.  They knew I was a Christian, as I was not shy about my faith.  I came to understand that Joan was cursed with the ability to see into the spirit realm.  Every firstborn female in her family for multiple generations has this gift or curse, depending on how you looked at it.  She had enthralling, entertaining and sometimes scary stories about how the ghosts would talk with her in hotel rooms, restaurants and on the street.  Joan looked at this ability as a curse but had not idea of how to get rid of it. She believed there was a God, however had not accepted Jesus as her Savior.

As I shared what I knew about angels and demons, I could tell that Joan was just not able to concentrate.  With a little prompting from the Holy Spirit, I did something I had never done before.  I gathered up all the courage I could and asked if the group minded if I prayed to tell the demon to leave Joan alone.  Positive they were just humoring me, my friends agreed and I invited the Holy Spirit to join us.  Before I knew what I was doing, I started commanding the demon to leave.  I spoke out with complete faith that something would happen, though I had no idea what.  I had heard stories of missionaries delivering people from demons, but wondered if Christians had any authority to tell a demon to leave an area.

When I finished praying, Joan had a look of surprise and delight on her face.  She exclaimed that the ghost was gone.  Manish and Sam were amazed and terrified, being very superstitious.  They began asking all kinds of questions.  Before I could answer, Joan said there was one more demon across the ally and asked could I get rid of it as well.  Feeling good that God had just shown up and done a miracle, I gladly obliged.  I commanded the demon across the ally to leave, which it did.

This was the first time in my life that I had a tangible experience of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  The conversation turned to God and I spent the next three hours sharing about my faith, my God and about His immense love for them.   I don’t even remember what all I said, but I know the Holy Spirit was speaking through me.

This night was the start of a three-year conversation with Joan where she eventually accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  God knew what would happen that night and I got to be part of His bigger plan.  Before we left, Joan went to the restroom where another demon appeared to her.  It told her not to listen to anything I had to say.  When Joan told us what happened in the bathroom, I praised God with excitement.  I had strapped on my shield of faith and went to battle with Jesus.  It was a resounding victory and had the demons running scared.

That night in Singapore is one I will always remember and cherish.  Winning a spiritual battle was memorable.  However, more importantly, it was the night that started Joan on her journey to become a sister in Christ.

Journey of Unemployment – Keep Working

I know the title seems a bit of a contradiction. If I am unemployed, how can I keep working? One of the things most of us think work is the activity we get paid for. In fact, the dictionary definition of work is:

Work – wərk (noun)

1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

2. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

So we think of employment as synonymous as work. The truth is they are not the same thing. While employment requires work, work does not require employment. While most of us look at definition #2 above, when one is ‘unemployed’ we need to look at definition #1. This is not meant to demean the need for money. We all know we need money to live. But the key is to put on a new mindset.

I found I went through a series of stages when considering what work was and how I viewed it. I know it is not the same for everyone and it will be different depending on how long someone is without earning an income. So this is my journey.

Stage 1: My job is finding a job

I put myself into job finding mode as soon as the shock of loosing my job set it. It made me feel  productive. Everyday, I tried to establish a routine where every day I would search for new job openings on the web. I would then look on LinkedIn to see who I knew in the recruiting business. I would reach out and began to build my network in my new city. Each week, I would go on 2-3 coffee/lunch meetings trying to expand my network.

In the first couple of months, I must have met 20-30 people. I also spent time at unemployed networking events. Anywhere I could meet new people who could network me. The key in finding a job is to establish a broad and diverse network who will think of you when they hear about a job. I then would circle back with everyone I had met and continued to look. Until…

Stage 2: I will take something in the interim

I finally realized just looking for a job was draining and driving me crazy. It felt like I was in a drive across west Texas. For those of you who are not familiar with west Texas, it is flat and the road is straight. The same scenery for about eight hours. After a couple of months it felt like I was in a perpetual drive across the barren, unchanging landscape.

So I agreed to help out a start up. It was new and exciting. It was like seeing a snow covered mountain after the eight hours of monotony. I started out helping about ten hours a week. As the company evolved, I spent more time helping out. After a couple of months, I realized I had set my mind on something else and I stopped networking. My job search slowed down and this new activity took away from my primary focus. Find a job that will pay the bills. You see, the interim role was part time and did not pay very well. But it was nice to feel wanted.

Stage 3: Ask God what I should work on

There came a point I had to decide if I would go full time with the start up (at a extremely low salary) or step back and re-evaluate my time. I put it to God and was told to refocus my efforts. God told me I should keep a focus on finding a job, but He also wanted me to write. So now, I see my job as writing a blog and a book. Since I can manage my own time, I will do my job search in the morning and then spend time writing.

So while I am not employed, I am working. I am working on becoming better and learning a new skill. I have a long way to go, but I am finding contentment in having goals and destinations that are varied. I can choose to blog one day and write a chapter of a book another and edit my manuscript the next day.

I look forward to the day I will go back to being employed and getting paid for the work I do. However, in the meantime, I am enjoying working on something I enjoy. I guess it is a great life lesson which Solomon understood in Ecclesiastes 8:15.

 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

Would love your thoughts.

Ugh…its Monday

Work! Just mentioning the word puts a bad taste in the mouth of many. Too many see work as a necessary evil to live. They spend the majority of their waking hours in places they hate and live under the belief this is their lot in life. Too few find their true passion or calling in their vocation. For many, work becomes their life, trying to find satisfaction in the company or the job. The obsession with the job overshadows the other parts of their life, family and faith.

Chasing the salary and the title become a singular focus for most. For the hourly worker, finding a job that pays one dollar more an hour is huge. For the executive, the goal is to get more stock and bonus. While the dollar amounts may be different, it does not matter if you are a entry level or executive as work is central to our lives. It is just too bad that 70% of Americans are dissatisfied in their jobs. The main reason, which will be explored in this series, is too many do not take a biblical view of work and working.

In order to fully explore biblical success in our jobs, we must first understand the concept of work. In some ways it is as abstract as time, emotions or faith. In other ways it is tangible and can be the heaviest weight we will ever carry. Like time, work can not be ignored. In fact, we were created to work. From the very beginning, man and women were designed to work. Look at it this way, we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Not only do we have a physical appearance similar to the creator of the universe, we are to imitate His actions. Work falls into this category. God created the universe in 6 days. He worked for six days and then in Genesis 2:2 we are told, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”

After God rested from His work, he took a day off. He did that to role model to Adam that he should work hard, but also take time to rest. In Genesis 2:15 we find that God puts Adam in the “Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” We were made to work. It is part of what were are suppose to do on earth. In John 5:16 Jesus tells us “My Father has been working until now, and I, too, am working.” Not only did Jesus work as a carpenter, he worked at his ministry for three years before His death and resurrection.

In fact, the word work, in all of its various forms, is mentioned more than 800 times in the bible. Most of the people we meet in the bible work or conducted some form of ministry. We can’t get away from the fact that work is central to living. Solomon, who was the wisest person on earth asked the question in Ecclesiastes 1:3, “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?” It is a question most of us ask at one point or another. Solomon runs the gamut when it comes to work. It is important to note that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon when he had distanced himself from God. So he wrote this book in response to what life would be like if God was not around. Which is why he frames work in the following ways:

  • Ecclesiastes 2:24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,”
  • Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
  • Ecclesiastes 4:8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!

However, Solomon comes to his senses by the end of the book and writes this in Ecclesiastes 5:18-19.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.

The good news is God is with us and He designed for work to have benefits – a gift from God. Work is not meant to be our god, meaning we give it all of ourselves. However, work is meant to have benefits. We are meant to find success in our work. As long as we keep God in the forefront.

Work is designed to have benefits for us. Proverbs 12:14 gives us a peek into this idea. “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.” Of course part of the reward is money to live on, however, it goes much deeper than that. We will look at the benefits of work later in the series. Given work is suppose to be beneficial, the question has to be how can we make work something that is good and not something to be endured?

Over the next thirty days we will explore topics such as:

  • Characteristics of a successful worker
  • Reasons and motivation to work
  • Work-Life balance
  • Working to help others
  • Core Human Resource concepts: performance management, compensation, progressive discipline, heath and safety, division of labor and mentorship
  • Benefits of working (beyond compensation)

I am excited to see where this goes and what new topics pop up. If you have any inputs or thoughts, please let me know. I will be happy to address them in future posts.