Sunday, August 28, 2011

Work Part 2

So with the understanding that work is good and honorable, let's look at the reasons we work. Obviously the major reason is to provide for our families. We are encouraged to do this and even worse than unbelievers if we do not. If at all possible we are not to be dependant on others. The second reason is that we will have plenty to share with others. We do not work to hoard money or to make our lives free from all worry. The last reason is to bring honor to God. This is accomplished by what we do, how we do it and through the relationships it brings.
Another aspect is the way we actually view work. The traditional view is that work is our job, what we do to make a living. But there is a wider view that I read and would like to share as I think it helps us keep work in its proper perspective. Work is "any expenditure of energy in the service of others which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God." That gives an important acknowledgment to the people who volunteer and to stay at home moms.
Lastly I would like to ponder the more esoteric notions as to what is the real purpose of work in the mind of God. Here are a few thoughts I have and I would love to hear from others any other ideas.
1) To partner with God in His creative efforts
2) To care for the earth
3) To give us an avenue to serve one another
4) That we might be dependant on one another
5) To provide a service to others
6) To provide a web of relationships to further the kingdom of God

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Work - Part 1

For LG in Sept. I am doing a series on the topic of work and how it impacts us on a daily basis. It has really been fun preparing this and I thought I would share a few of the things God has been teaching me on this subject.
The first thing that we come to is the understanding that work is not a dirty four letter word. In fact it is good and redeeming. In fact work was given to man before the fall so it is not a result of our fallen world. (See Gen 2 and 3) The difficulty of work is a result of the fall. So we were created to be people who work with God and are a part of the creative process. And as a side note which we will get to in the end, we will also be working when the new heavens and earth are formed. The other fact to understand is that God is also a worker. Obviously He worked the six days in His creative sphere, but throughout the Scriptures we see God/Jesus/Holy Spirit working in a variety of ways. John 5:17 says that God is always at work and elsewhere He never sleeps or slumbers. He is variously described as builder, gardener, shepherd, physician, etc.
So we see that work is a part of our very fiber and a necessity and later we will see the purpose and benefits of work. Of course we do not want to get carried away with the modern notion that our job is our identity, nor to denigrate those whose "job" is non paying such as our young mothers. More to come.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Enjoying Him

A few weeks ago at Lifegroup I asked the question "What is the hope you are holding on to and is driving you?" I think it is a fair question to ask and one we need to answer. But as I heard myself answering it by saying that I was looking to a new heaven and a new earth where we will have work to do that is purposeful and unencumbered by the fallen world, I started asking myself whether this was right. Now the theology of it is true but is that the hope I should be seeking?
John Piper is prone to quote Jonathan Edward's statement that the end (or purpose) of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And God is most glorified when we enjoy Him the most. As I think about this I realize that my hope should be to be in the presence of Jesus and simply enjoy being with Him. Now there is a subtle but important distinction that needs to be made. Many of us enjoy the hand of God and His gifts and are even thankful for them and that is good and right. Just last month when Jason and I were in Idaho we had many aha moments where we were just amazed at the glory of God's creation. We would just stop and worship Him. But that is different from being enthralled with Him just for who He is and not for what He has done.
This is a much more difficult thing for me to do but I am working to get there. Part of that is learning how to practice the presence of God on a continual basis. Another part of that is during quiet times when I just imagine times with Him (not as much being held by Him as that seems too feminine) such as walking through the woods or sitting on a bench in a garden. For this I love the old hymn "I Come to the Garden Alone". At other times I try to just imagine His glory and majesty and falling on my knees in His presence. This is definitely a work in progress and if any of you have any other thoughts or suggestions on this idea then feel free to let me know.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rain...and other thoughts

It is time to get back to the original intent of mine in getting into the blogging world. For too long now all I have done is post pictures of what is going on in out lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with that but my goal was to have a platform to introduce thoughts and ideas that were floating around in my brain. So it is time to get back to that. No pictures today.
Yesterday in Houston at Reliant Stadium there was a prayer gathering for the state of Texas organized by Governor Rick Perry and attended by 30,000 - 40,000 people. People there and the 1100 churches that had live streaming called out to Jesus to send us rain and also to pray for forgiveness and healing in our land. Whatever you feel about Governor Perry (and I'm not sure how I feel about him running for President), you have to admire his willingness to take a bold stand for Christ and accept the political risk involved. But my aim is not to talk about him or the event but to talk about rain, prayer and general grace.
Those of us who live in Texas and really most of the country this summer are acutely aware of the excessive heat and the drought. One or the other would be bad but both together is a bad combination. I complain about it a lot and talk to my patients about it as it is very easy to talk about since it is not very divisive. Nobody is in favor of the drought or more hot days. But in reality I am pretty buffered from the worst effects - I work in air conditioned offices, have A/C in my house and am still able to water my yard. When I am out in it running or playing tennis, it is my decision. I really feel for those whose livelihood is affected by it all and I pray especially for them.
So should we pray for rain and if so how should we do so? Can we be bold and claim it or are we just at the mercy of God or high pressure systems. It is a sad state of affairs when we are praying for hurricanes to come through our state. Is the drought a product of pure chance, of global warming or is it a punishment from God? We will never be able to answer that question so we have to move forward and do what we can. I do not find any Scripture which would say we could not pray for God to intervene in the weather. And there are certainly examples where He does (stopping the sun for several hours in Joshua, and Elijah praying for rain). But unless He gives us a special revelation that He is going to intervene, we are going to have to be content with praying fervently, in masses and with fasting, but with the realization that He may have other plans. Rain is a part of the general grace that He pours out on the just and the unjust and when it occurs we often take it for granted and do not return thanks as we should. God desires our good but that is our ultimate good and not necessarily temporal good or what we think is good for us. He calls for us to be patient, to endure hardships, to help others who are affected by this, to seek Him, to walk humbly before Him and to be thankful even in the drought. By this we can use this time of drought and heat to draw closer to Him. So when we pray for rain let us pray for the wet stuff but also for the spiritual rain of the Spirit to fall down on us individually as well as our cities, state and nation. Let it rain!!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hallie Jane Sudan

This afternoon we welcomed Hallie Jane Sudan to this world. She was a month early but healthy and 5 lbs 13 oz and 19 in. We are thankful.