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Category Archives: Vocation

What is True Wellness? by John Dunlop, MD

What Is True Wellness?

9781433538124

This is a guest post by Dr. John Dunlop. He is the author of Wellness to the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.  Article adapted from: http://www.crossway.org/blog/2014/09/what-is-true-wellness/


Will I Be Well at Age 95?

Henry came to his appointment huffing and puffing using his walker to get down the hall. I, as his physician, shook his hand and asked, “How is it going my friend?” Smiling he gave me a strong handshake and said, “Praise the Lord, I’m well, thank you!”

As pleased as I was to hear his response, it caught me just a bit off guard. I was 65; he was 95! I found myself wanting to feel just as well in 30 years. All kinds of questions began to pop into my mind:

Can we truly be well at 95, even when short of breath and using our walkers?

Will I be able to say I’m well if I am still on earth at that age?

What can I do now to increase the chance of being well in thirty years?

The Concept of Shalom

The ancient Hebrews contribute to our understanding of wellness by their use of the word shalom. Whereas shalom is often loosely translated as “peace,” the true meaning is far more extensive. At root, shalom means “totality.” It is the sense of wholeness we have when every part of our lives is in a profound harmony and unity within ourselves, with those around us, and with God. Shalom leads to wellness.

Where do we find the integrating principle that brings all of our lives together? Once again the ancient Jews had the correct answer. The famous Shema of Israel says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5). We are to be a people of one God. This must be more than something we recite for we need to have him as our single focus and see all other areas of life brought together in him. We are to love him with all of our hearts, souls, and might.

Our love for God is well illustrated in the Scriptures:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. (Psalm 63:1-3)

We learn to love God with all of our beings and then find in him our fulfillment and greatest joy. In God we find what we need to be satisfied. We experience shalom through shema and that sets us on the way to true wellness.

All to the Glory of God

And yet while loving God and loving other people are wonderful—and may help us reach our ultimate purpose—they are not that ultimate purpose in themselves. To attain that ultimate goal we must go one level deeper.

Our overriding purpose in life should be to glorify God. We bring God glory in three distinct ways.

First, he is glorified in our own spirits as we find greater joy and fulfillment in him.

Second, others may give him glory as a result of something we do for them that reflects God’s love and goodness.

Third, God is glorified in his own being through our worship as we declare how much we treasure him. The apostle Paul speaks of Christians as being “the aroma of Christ to God” (2 Cor. 2:15). It is difficult to understand fully but in some way we remind God of the sacrifice of his beloved son, Jesus, and in that he is greatly pleased.

Living with a passion for God and his glory will have the following results:

(1) It will free us from worry and anxiety as we will be less focused on ourselves

(2) We will function out of a sense of fullness, not emptiness

(3) It will energize us and ignite us with passion

(4) We will fulfill our true purpose, find our niche, feel at home, and be content

(5) We will do things with eternal impact

(6) We will experience wellness in its truest sense

6 Areas of Wellness

In order to have this unified focus on God and his glory in our lives we must carefully review each area of our lives to see what changes are needed. These areas include:

(1) Physical: Are we being good stewards of the bodies he has entrusted to us? This includes eating well, controlling our weight, exercising, getting proper rest, and taking advantage of the good medical care available to us.

(2) Mental: As age approaches it is increasingly important to keep using and sharpening our minds. Dementia may intervene but even that offers opportunities for God to be glorified.

(3) Social: Relationships are more important as we get older and we need to ensure that we’re making the best of them. It’s critical that we choose a living situation where we will not be isolated but can continue to build close friendships while strengthening our family relationships.

(4) Financial: Are our finances worry-free? Rarely can we increase our resources but we can often limit our expenses. We must be good stewards of the resources God has given us, saving to meet our future needs, and leaving room to be generous.

(5) Spiritual: Our later years offer rich opportunities for spiritual growth and service. Some of the fruit of the Spirit like patience and gentleness may be late bloomers. All believers, no matter their age, are given spiritual gifts through which they can help others. Our abilities may change over the years but there will always be need for prayer and encouragement for others.

(6) Emotional: Are we learning to be content? That must exist in three tenses: we must be comfortable with the past, satisfied in the present, and confident of the future. As age advances depression is all too common and we must learn to effectively deal with that.

Once we get to Henry’s age it’s unreasonable to think that we will continue to be totally well in each of these areas. But, if we review each of them and carefully take stock of where we are now,we can make some corrections that will maximize the chance of true wellness as our lives progress.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).


John Dunlop (MD, Johns Hopkins University) practices medicine in Zion, Illinois, and serves as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University. He is board certified in geriatrics, holds a master’s degree in bioethics, and is a fellow of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. Dunlop is the author of Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician and Wellness to the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life. Both published by Crossway Books.

 

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Dr. John Piper: Is Your Job For The Glory of God?

How to Decide About Your Next Job

How to Decide About Your Next Job

In 1997 I put a list of Bible texts together to help folks think through what job to pursue. Below I have taken that list and added comments to flesh out more specifically what I had in mind.

My prayer is that these thoughts will help saturate your mind with the centrality of Christ in all of life. He made you to work. And he cares about what you do with the half of your waking life called “vocation.” He wants you to rejoice in it. And he wants to be glorified in it.

May the Lord position you strategically in the workplace, as only he can when his people care deeply about these kinds of questions.

12 Questions to Consider

1. Can you earnestly do all the parts of this job “to the glory of God,” that is, in a way that highlights his superior value over all other things?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

It almost goes without saying that a job that requires you to sin will not be done to the glory of God. Sin is any feeling, word, or action that implies the glory of God is not supremely valuable. So you can’t sin to the glory of God. But things are often not that clear. A job may involve me in questionable practices that are not clearly sin. Then the question becomes: Is my conscience clear? And the crucial text becomes Romans 14:23, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

2. Is taking this job part of a strategy to grow in personal holiness?

For this is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

When Paul says, “Pursue righteousness” (1 Timothy 6:112 Timothy 2:22), he does not mean: at church and home, but not work. Our work is about half our waking life. If personal holiness in all of life is our calling, then how this happens at work matters. God will be pleased if you ask the question: How does this job fit into the overall strategy of my pursuit of Christ-like character.

3. Will this job help or hinder your progress in esteeming the value of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord?

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)

Think through the demands of this job and how it may affect your pursuit of knowing and treasuring Jesus. For example, will it require you to choose between excellence in work and faithfulness in corporate worship? Will it present you with sinful images or offers, to which you are most vulnerable — that is, which lure you to treasuring this world more than Christ?

4. Will this job result in inappropriate pressures on you to think or feel or act against your King, Jesus?

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23)

The point here is bondage. All jobs constrain behavior. We must show up. We must produce these outcomes. We must follow these procedures. Constraints are not bondage if we joyfully affirm their wisdom. Will this job pressure you in ways that are in fact unduly oppressive and enslaving?

5. Will this job help establish an overall life-pattern that will yield a significant involvement in fulfilling God’s great purpose of exalting Christ among all the unreached peoples of the world?

Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

I assume every one is a goer, sender, or disobedient, when it comes to the great commission. There’s no neutral zone. We don’t all go. But we all care that there be goers. We are all world-Christians. We are all burdened by how many unreached peoples there are. And we are all thrilled with news of gospel spreading.

Some jobs may advance this life-goal significantly by involving travel or multi-ethnic interactions. Other jobs may seem unrelated. But are they? Workplaces are the source of income for giving to the cause of Christ. Workplaces are places of conversion and recruitment for the global mission. Workplaces are places of training for the kinds of things one could do for a living in another country with few Christians. Workplaces are places for speaking intelligently and wisely about the peoples of the world.

6. Will this job be worthy of your best energies?

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Nothing is to be done half-heartedly. This means that things that are not worth doing whole-heartedly should drop away from your life. Tasks don’t have to be high-impact to be worthy of high-effort. Most of the things we do in any given day are relatively low-impact. Working on an assembly line means doing hundreds of times a task that in itself seems low-impact. But if the product or the service is valuable, the cumulative effect of thousands of low-impact tasks is huge. These tasks can be transposed by an act of faith into worship. That is what it means to do them with your might and for the glory of God.

7. Will the activities and environment of this job tend to shape you or will you be able to shape it for the Christ-magnifying purposes of God?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

Know yourself. We are all more or less vulnerable to different temptations. Christians are to be shapers of the world rather than being shaped by the world. Yes, it is true that we are all shaped by our culture (language, dress, etc.). But God means for this to be reciprocal. We share the culture of this world in order to communicate that we live for a treasure beyond this world. Does this job hold out hope for that? Or, realistically, is it too resistant?

8. Will this job provide an occasion for you to be radically Christian so as to let your light shine for your Father’s sake, or will your participation in the vision of the business tend by definition to snuff your wick?

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

There are companies — increasingly so — whose policies and procedures would muzzle your voice so seriously, you would not be able to speak with truth and love without being fired. Is the acceptance of this job the acceptance of that muzzle? Is that God’s will for you?

9. Does the aim of this job cohere with a growing intensity in your life to be radically, publicly, fruitfully devoted to Christ at any cost?

If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark 8:34)

If you are in a season of serious spiritual growth, ask how a new job will affect that. There are kinds of tasks, kinds of people, kinds of pressures, kinds of schedules, that may bring that growth to a screeching halt. Is this new level of love to Christ precious enough that you will prioritize it, if necessary, above the new job?

10. Will the job feel like a good investment of your life when these “two seconds” of preparation for eternity are over?

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

God says that there is a wisdom that comes when we consider the number of our days (Psalm 90:12). Therefore, it will serve your wise choice of a new job to ask how it relates to the brevity of life. When the Lord calls for us or comes for us, we want to be found doing what pleases him. And we want to feel good that we made a wise choice in view of how short and vulnerable life is.

11. Does this job fit with why you believe you were created and purchased by Christ?

“Everyone who is called by my name … I have created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6–7). “You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

You are unique. That is amazing and true. I often marvel, in a crowded airport, that the thousands of people all look human, and they all look different. How can there be so many differences in this one kind of being? But there are. And none of them is an accident. God designed them all like unique prisms that refract his glory as only this prism can. The question is: Will this job conceal the uniquenesses of your prism? Or will it give you space to shine?

12. Does this job fit together with the ultimate truth that all things exist for Christ?

For by him all…have been created by [Christ] and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

If all things exist for Christ, can there be any wrong jobs? Yes. Because humans try to use things for purposes other than the glory of Christ. Everything God made is good. It exists to communicate something of his greatness and beauty. Will this job free you to take what he has made and turn it for uses that honor him?

I hope you can tell from this that there are few easy answers when asking about what job to pursue. The aim here is not to make it easy, but to make it Christ-centered, Christ-exalting, and Christ-empowered. If your heart is right on these kinds of questions, God will guide you. Seek him supremely in these ways, and let your heart be your guide.

About the author: John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books. This article is adapted from September 9, 2014 (http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-to-decide-about-your-next-job)

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in John Piper, Vocation

 

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Wisdom and Sabbath Rest

By Dr. Tim Keller

Tim Keller seated image

Leadership is stewardship—the cultivation of the resources God has entrusted to us for his glory. The Sabbath gives us both theological and practical help in managing one of our primary resources —our time.

In Ephesians 5, Paul invokes the biblical concept of wisdom: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” —Ephesians 5:15–17

The King James Version translates verses 15–16 as, “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Living wisely (or circumspectly) is to a great degree a matter of how we spend our time.

So what does this verse tell us? First, the word “redeem” is drawn from the commercial marketplace. It means, essentially, to “make a killing” in the market, or to spend so wisely and strategically that the returns are many times that of the investment.

Second, Paul’s phrase “the days are evil” doesn’t simply mean his readers were living in bad times. When Paul speaks of “the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4), he means the time between the first coming and the second coming of Christ. It’s the overlap between the old age and the new kingdom age, a time when Christians are spreading the gospel and being a witness to the kingdom. Thus, Christians are solemnly obliged not to waste time. Time-stewardship is a command!

However, applying the principle of “making the most of every opportunity” from a kingdom perspective may be harder today than ever. Especially in global cities, we find more pressure, fewer boundaries, and less stability in our daily work than perhaps ever before. Part of the issue is how connected we are through technology. Part of it is globalization, which creates such enormous economic pressures that everybody is pushed to their limits. Employers are trying to get so much productivity out of workers that many of us are being asked to go beyond what is really fair and right.

Even though technology and contemporary idols have created longer and longer work weeks, “do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Discern God’s will. Long ago someone told me that God does not give you more to do in a day than you can actually do, and I’ve wrestled with that for many years. We may feel there’s way too much to do, but some of it is not his will. The pressure is coming from you, or your employer, or your friends, or your parents, or someone else besides God!

SABBATH PRINCIPLES

One of the fundamental principles of the Bible when it comes to time management is the Sabbath. If we are to be an “alternate city” (Matthew 5:14–16), we have to be different from our neighbors in how we spend our time outside of work; that is, how we rest. So what is the Sabbath about?

According to the Bible, it is about more than just taking time off. After creating the world, God looked around and saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God did not just cease from his labor; he stopped and enjoyed what he had made. What does this mean for us? We need to stop to enjoy God, to enjoy his creation, to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The whole point of Sabbath is joy in what God has done.

Writer Judith Shulevitz describes the dynamic of work and Sabbath rest this way:

My mood would darken until, by Saturday afternoon, I’d be unresponsive and morose. My normal routine, which involved brunch with friends and swapping tales of misadventure in the relentless quest for romance and professional success, made me feel impossibly restless. I started spending Saturdays by myself. After a while I got lonely and did something that, as a teenager profoundly put off by her religious education, I could never have imagined wanting to do. I began dropping in on a nearby synagogue.

It was only much later that I developed a theory about my condition. I was suffering from the lack [of a Sabbath]. There is ample evidence that our relationship to work is out of whack. Ours is a society that pegs status to overachievement; we can’t help admiring workaholics. Let me argue, instead, on behalf of an institution that has kept workaholism in reasonable check for thousands of years.

Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily. This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional. The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as well as by social sanction.

In the Bible, Sabbath rest means to cease regularly from and to enjoy the results of your work. It provides balance: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:9–10). Although Sabbath rest receives a much smaller amount of time than work, it is a necessary counterbalance so that the rest of your work can be good and beneficial.

God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave—to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.

Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul. We need rest from the anxiety and strain of our overwork, which is really an attempt to justify ourselves—to gain the money or the status or the reputation we think we have to have. Avoiding overwork requires deep rest in Christ’s finished work for your salvation (Hebrews 4:1–10). Only then will you be able to “walk away” regularly from your vocational work and rest.

Sabbath is the key to getting this balance, and Jesus identifies himself as the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27– 28)—the Lord of Rest! Jesus urges us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29). One of the great blessings of the gospel is that he gives you rest that no one else will.

SABBATH “PRACTICALS”

In practical terms, how do we figure out how much time we need for Sabbath rest, and how do we spend that time? The following are a few suggestions or guidelines, by no means exhaustive.

What is the ideal amount of time off from work?

The Ten Commandments require one day (twenty-four hours) off each week. When God gave these commandments, the Hebrews had been working from sunup to sundown, but the gift of the Sabbath was to stop working at sundown on Friday and rest until sundown on Saturday.

If you look at the Scripture, there’s nothing that says you have to confine yourself to a forty- or fifty-hour work week. I suggest that to be within the biblical boundaries, you need to have at least one full day off, and the equivalent of an additional half-day off during the week.

For example, if your work and commute take up almost all of your weekdays but you have a full weekend off, with church participation on Sundays, then that is probably a sufficient Sabbath. Or if you get one full day off per week, and perhaps three evenings free after 6:00 p.m, you can live a pretty balanced life. This still allows quite a lot of hours for work during the week.

What counts as time off?

Of course, ”making the most of every opportunity” is not simple. It never has been simple. Yes, two hours spent in prayer with God will produce far more spiritual benefits than watching an old Cary Grant movie; yet, recreation is something you must have! Mental refreshment is part of a balanced diet for the body and soul, so prayer cannot replace all recreation, exercise, and so on. Sabbath encompasses several different types of rest, as outlined below.

1. Take some time for sheer inactivity.
Most people need some time every week that is unplanned and unstructured, in which you can do whatever you feel like doing. If your Sabbath time is very busy and filled with scheduled activities of “recreation” and ministry, it will not suffice. There must be some cessation from activity or exertion. This pause in the work cycle is analogous to Israel’s practice of letting a field lie fallow every seventh year to produce whatever happened to grow (Leviticus 25:1–7). The soil rested so over-farming would not deplete its nutrients and destroy its ability to keep producing. Whatever came up in the soil came up. You need some unscheduled time like that every week to let come up—out of the heart and mind—whatever will.

2. Take some time for avocational activity.
An avocation is something that is sheer pleasure to you, but that does require some intentionality and gives some structure to your Sabbath rest. In many cases an avocation is something that others do for ”work,” which is analogous to occasionally planting a different crop in a field to replenish the nutrients and make the soil more fertile for its normal crop. Include these elements:

  • You need some contemplative rest. Prayer and worship are a critical part of Sabbath rest, from any perspective. Regular time for devotion, reading the Scripture, and listening to God forms the basis for inner rest and provides time away from the more exhausting exertions of life.

  • You need some recreational rest. The Puritans and others were rightly skeptical of recreations that required spending a great deal of money and time and exertion, because those types of recreations exhaust people. Be careful that recreation really refreshes.

  • You need to include aesthetic rest. Expose yourself to works of God’s creation that refresh and energize you, and that you find beautiful. This may mean outdoor things. It may mean art—music, drama, and visual art. God looked around at the world he made and said it was good, so aesthetic rest is necessary for participating in God’s Sabbath fully.

3. Consider whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.
When planning your Sabbath rest, ask yourself what really “recharges” you. This self-assessment can help you determine how relational your Sabbath time should be. Introverts tend to spend their energy when out with people and recharge their batteries by being alone. Extroverts tend to spend energy in personal work and recharge their batteries by getting out with people. If you are a real introvert, be careful about trying to maintain all of your community-building relationships during your Sabbath time. That would be too draining. On the other hand, relationship-building could be one of the greatest things a true extrovert could possibly do. Don’t try to imitate an introvert’s Sabbath rhythms if you are an extrovert or vice versa! Recognize that some avocational activities take you into solitude, while some take you out into society.

4. Don’t necessarily count family time as Sabbath time.
Do a realistic self-assessment of “family time” and how it affects you. Family time is important, but parents need to be very careful that they don’t let all of their regular Sabbath time be taken up with parental responsibilities. (Introverts especially will need time away from the kids!) Keeping all of these things in good balance may be virtually impossible when your children are very young, but this too will pass.

5. Honor both micro- and macro-rhythms in your seasons of rest.
Israel’s Sabbath cycles of rest-and-work included not only Sabbath days but also Sabbath years and even a Year of Jubilee every forty-nine years (Leviticus 25:8–11). This is a crucial insight for workers in today’s world. It is possible to voluntarily take on a season of work that requires high energy, long hours, and insufficient weekly- Sabbath time. A new physician has to work long hours in a residency program, for example, and many other careers (such as finance, government, and law) similarly demand some sort of initial period of heavy, intense work. Starting your own business or pursuing a major project like making a movie will require something similar. In these situations you have to watch that you don’t justify too little Sabbath by saying you’re “going through a season”—when in actual fact that season never ends.

If you must enter a season like this, it should not last longer than two or three years at the most. Be accountable to someone for this, or you will get locked into an “under-Sabbathed” life-style, and you will burn out. And during this “under-Sabbathed” time, do not let the rhythms of prayer, Bible study, and worship die. Be creative, but get it in.

BRAINSTORM IDEAS WITH OTHERS

As soon as Christian communities start defining specific rules for what everyone can and can’t do on the Sabbath (like traveling, watching television, or recreation, for example), we begin to slip into legalism. Observing Sabbath rest along with a community can be beneficial, but keep in mind that people differ widely in their temperaments and situations.

It may be helpful to find other Christians in your field of work and ask them how they handle the need for rest, leisure, and restoration. Inquire about their weekly or seasonal rhythms. You will probably discover one or two ideas that are really helpful. If you can, bring these people together to brainstorm in person.

We live in a broken world, and some employers do relentlessly exploit their employees. Dealing with situations like these is difficult, but being part of a community made up of wise Christians in your field can help you correctly assess your work situation and your alternatives.

”INJECTING” SABBATH INTO OUR WORK LIVES

I have come to see that if you develop the foundation and inner rest of Sabbath, it will not simply make you more disciplined about taking time off, but it will also lead you to be less frantic and driven in your work itself. This is perhaps the most important application of Sabbath, where we can truly act as a counterculture, and here’s how it works.

Associated with the Sabbath laws were “gleaning laws,” such as Leviticus 19:9, in which field owners were not allowed to “reap to the very edges” of their fields. They had to leave a percentage of grain in the field for the poor to come and harvest. Sabbath, then, is the deliberate limitation of productivity, as a way to trust God, be a good steward of your self, and declare freedom from slavery to our work.

In concrete terms this is the hardest thing to do, because it’s a heart matter. Personally, this has meant deliberately setting fewer goals for myself in a given day and week, rather than harvesting “out to the edges.’”

In global cities, many people are stingy with their money yet freely give their bodies away. By contrast, we Christians are stingy with our bodies and generous with our money. Likewise, many people are willing to mortgage their souls to work, but at a certain point Christians have to say, “I’m willing to set fewer goals, not go up the ladder as fast, and even risk not accomplishing as much, because I have to take Sabbath time off. And ultimately, I don’t need to be incredibly successful. I can choose this path of freedom because of the inner rest I’ve received from Jesus Christ through what he has done for me.”

You have to actually inject this Sabbath rest into your thinking and into your work life. Some of our work worlds are institutionally structured toward overwork. Sometimes you have to “pay your dues” in the early stages of your career when you’re in a season of hard work (as I mentioned previously) or are trying to gain some credibility in your field. When you’re more established in your field, you may be able to moderate your workload. However, at some point, even if that doesn’t happen, you will have to trust God and honor Jesus— who is Lord of the Sabbath—by practicing Sabbath and risk “falling behind” in your career.

It may happen that you will fall behind, and yet retain your sanity. Or it may be that God will allow you to keep moving ahead in your career despite your practice of Sabbath and the “gleaning” principle. It is up to him.

CONCLUSION

The purpose of Sabbath is not simply to rejuvenate yourself in order to do more production, nor is it the pursuit of pleasure. The purpose of Sabbath is to enjoy your God, life in general, what you have accomplished in the world through his help, and the freedom you have in the gospel—the freedom from slavery to any material object or human expectation. The Sabbath is a sign of the hope that we have in the world to come.

Source: http://www.qideas.org

 

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Being a Christian in the Marketplace

5 WAYS TO BLESS YOUR WORKPLACE by Nick Abraham

Before working at my present job, I was a cook for five years at an Italian restaurant. If you have worked in the restaurant industry, you know that it can draw an interesting and diverse crowd of employees. During that time, I became a Christian. I never thought that I would be in a more challenging work atmosphere to share and live out my faith. While my current work atmosphere is really nothing like the restaurant (I work at Fortune 500 company), I have found an entirely new set of challenges in living out my faith at work. The truth is, there are always challenges to carrying the gospel message in a fallen world, regardless of the context.

The corporate world presents a unique veneer of professionalism, ethics, and propriety. But in reality, the guts of the day-to-day in a corporate job can be quite challenging. There are myriad moral conundrums that come up in an office. We are faced with temptations to gossip and engage in malicious chatter when others aren’t around. Many are faced with struggles with the opposite sex. The challenge for Christians is to represent the gospel well at any job.

So how do we represent Jesus well in the workplace? Here are a five ways to grace your workplace.

1. Be bold but smart. Consider Paul’s boldness before Felix in Acts 24 or Jesus’ words on being brought before governors and kings in Matthew 10. Just because we are at work, we are never exempt from the call on our lives to make much of him. However, we must be smart and keep in mind passages like 1 Peter 2:13: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” At work, we are subject to our bosses and to the leader or leaders of the company. So be bold, but keep in mind where you are.

2. Take risks. I realize this point somewhat contradicts the last one, but the Christian life rests in that tension between risk and prudence. Take steps in work friendships to bring up Jesus. I am a relational evangelist, meaning I like to establish some type of friendship and then bring up Jesus. I am rarely the “can I tell you about Jesus?” guy. My temptation is to never actually bring up Jesus, or to do so in softened ways. Risk a friendship, risk a promotion, risk not “fitting in,” or maybe even risk your job if God would call you to that sacrifice. Of course, we don’t want to be reckless just for the sake of being reckless.

3. Pray for your enemies. Make it a practice to pray for the people who don’t seem to like you, who you don’t really get along with, or who just always seem to have something snarky to say to or about you. This is incredibly hard, which is why you need to rely on the Spirit. You will also discover God ministering to you even as you pray. Pray for them, for their families, and for their kids. Most importantly, pray for their relationship with Jesus.

4. Use your gift(s). I am a teacher/pastor type. I usually go into a teaching or pastoral mode at some point during my faith encounters with coworkers. The church is still the church both gathered and scattered. While at work we continue to be part of the church scattered, and in the church we are called to use our gifts to build up the body. Pray about and find a way to use your gift(s). Start a Bible study; start a prayer group; take people’s prayer requests and pray for them; give of your time, talents, or treasures to those in need. Do whatever it takes to be a reconciling minister of the gospel (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

5. Work hard. Be on time, care about your job, follow the rules, get your work done, and help others. Of course, nonbelievers can be good employees, too. What makes us different is really captured in the household codes from many of the epistles. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust” (1 Pet. 2:18). We should be that “good” employee no matter whom we work for, what the conditions are, and/or whether we like the job. In sharing these sufferings of Christ, light they may be, we can make much of Christ by working hard with integrity. Never let laziness or grumbling be your calling card.

May God bless us as we seek to serve and make much of Christ in all areas of our lives!

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Col. 1:27-29)

Editors’ note: This article originally appeared at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

​Nick Abraham holds an MDiv from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Navarre, Ohio, with his wife and daughter. He and his family are praying about planting a church in the future. He currently works full-time at Smuckers (the jelly people).

Source: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org (May 23, 2014)

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Vocation

 

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A Christian Teacher’s Creed

A Teacher’s Creed with God’s Help

Justin Anderson preaching RSF

~ I will regard my teaching vocation as a call to full-time Christian service.

~ I will regard each student as precious in the eyes of the Lord and will strive to help each one with patience, love, and a real concern for him/her as an individual.

~ I will seek to help and encourage every teacher and will ever acknowledge my own dependence on the Greatest Teacher, my Lord and Savior.

~ I will cooperate cheerfully and fully in every part of the school program as long as it is consistent with my Christian commitment.

~ I will always be ready to give the “reason for the hope that is in me.”

~ I will not use my work as a teacher as an excuse to avoid responsibility in my church, but will offer the knowledge and skills of my profession in the work of the Kingdom.

~ I will enter my classroom with a prayer for the day and meet each class with a prayer in my heart for it. If occasions for discipline arise, I will – whatever the need – first ask God for help to meet the situation with love and a sense of humor. I will review each day with my Lord as with a master critic, seeking ways to improve and thanking Him for His help through the day.

~ I will endeavor to live each day in such openness and obedience that God can speak through my life as well as through my words to student, parents, colleagues, and the community around me.

~Author Unknown

 

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Extraordinary Help For Gospel Productivity

Extraordinary Help for Gospel Productivity

By Jon Bloom

Does God care about how productive we are? He does. Deeply. Consider:

  • Our fruitfulness reflects on Jesus: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

  • We are to live purposefully and manage our time: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16).

  • We are not to let the less important tasks crowd out the more important: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41–42).

  • Our productivity can be an indicator of our faithfulness: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. . . . You wicked and slothful servant!” (Matthew 25:21, 26).

Being productive doesn’t just come naturally. Just like any other area of the Christian life, we have to learn it. The Bible gives little instruction on how to do this because the Bible was written for many kinds of people in many cultures living in many eras of technological diversity. So we are called to do the hard work of thinking biblically and experimenting faithfully in our own day.

How Desiring God Became a Web Ministry

But thank God he provides resources so we don’t all have to keep re-inventing the wheels. And Matt Perman is such a resource. His new book titled What’s Best Next is, as John Piper describes it, “simply extraordinary.”

I have known Matt for 16 years. And for 13 of those years, we labored together in the mission of Desiring God. Matt’s contributions to our outreach were many. But there is one particular thing that Matt accomplished that will continue to bear fruit for years to come: the Desiring God website.

In 2004, we delegated the oversight of the site to Matt. He jumped in with both feet and poured countless hours into understanding the principles of how websites worked. And then, with his team, he built a new site from the ground up. When we launched that site in 2006, we had, for the first time, all of John Piper’s recorded and written sermons and articles available online, free of charge, and organized in a way that was easy to use. The day that new site launched, Desiring God really became a web ministry. And Matt Perman is the original architect of this remarkable resource.

Make the Best Use of Time

But an amazing and wonderful thing is that the book What’s Best Next also had its genesis in those intense, often grueling days. As Matt learned how to design websites, he also felt the need to learn how to “make the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:16). So now there’s another lasting legacy.

What makes this book extraordinary is that Matt 1) synthesizes and modifies the best common-grace productivity practices out there (I know of no one as widely read or reflective in the discipline of productivity), and 2) grounds it all in a gospel-saturated theology. I don’t know how to adequately describe it. It’s sort of like Jonathan Edwards meets Peter Drucker meets David Allen, written in a clear, accessible style.

The book is full of helps. It provides us with the biblical “why’s” for productivity and lots of practical “how’s.” If you like Matt’s system, he will walk you through it from start to finish.

Doing Good and Advancing the Gospel

But most importantly, Matt helps us understand that ultimately, a gospel-driven pursuit of productivity is an act of love towards God and others. It is a way of counting others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Repeatedly Matt drives home this point: “Good planning and productivity practices exist to make us more effective in doing good and advancing the gospel” (83).

And so, I commend this book to you as a way to help you live out Ephesians 5:15–16. It was forged partly in the foundry of Matt’s hard work at Desiring God. And as it releases, we share the prayer John Piper expresses at the end of his foreword:

May God give this book wings for the glory of Christ and for the good of the world, and may it bring a blessing back on Matt Perman’s head with wholeness and joy in every corner of his life. (12)

Amen.


SOURCE: http://www.desiringgod.org/MARCH 17, 2014. For more about What’s Best Next, see the helpful reviews by Tim Challies and Fred Sanders, and read the entirety of John Piper’s foreword in the post by Justin Taylor.

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.

 

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11 Life Lessons From Noah’s Ark

Noahs Ark

Life Lessons I learned from Noah’s Ark…

ONE: Don’t miss the boat.

TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat.

THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re sixty years old, someone may ask you to do something big.

FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on the job that needs to be done.

SIX: Build your future on high ground.

SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.

TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic by professionals.

ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

 

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