Back Into the Box…

Jesus said early in His ministry the following: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he [God] has anointed me to preach good new to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18

There are three things that all of us in this room have in common:

· We all came into this world with no position or possessions.
· We are all going to leave this world with a position but without our possessions.
· We are all going to stand before God to answer for our rebellion.

Jesus Christ tells us that if “we know the truth, the truth will set us free.” So lets look at these things more closely.

1. We all came into this world with no position or possessions. We were powerless and penniless. All we knew how to do was holler, eat and poop. Our position was attention-getter. We cried and people paid attention to us. We had no clothes except what people put on us. We had no food except what people fed us. We had no answers to life’s complex problems. We had no wisdom. We did not even know enough to know that there were questions.

2. We are all going to leave this world with a position but without our possessions. It matters not how much stuff we accumulate because it has to be left behind. Just like a game, at some point the Lord requires our life and it is over. Like the game we all go into a box. What is done is done. No more chances. No more reprieves. No more decisions. No more appeals. The score is final.

3. We are all going to stand before God to answer for our rebellion. The rebellion is revealed by one question: “What position did you take when I presented my Son the Lord Jesus to you?” When we stand before God in the final judgment and He asks us “What position did you take when I presented my Son the Lord Jesus to you?” What will our answer be? The answer to this question is going to decide our destiny in eternity. Our destiny is decided in this life. There will be no excuses of I did not know or I did not understand. Even a child can understand who the Lord Jesus is. Even a child is able to ask the Lord Jesus to come into their life. Even a child can ask the Lord Jesus to forgive his sins.

A decision to get right with God tomorrow is too late. We have no clue when God is going to require our life. A decision get right with God after we die is too late. The answer to the question of “What position did you take when I presented my Son the Lord Jesus to you?” cannot be answered after we leave this world.

There is no better time than right now to meet the Lord Jesus. Christ died on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our rebellion against God. God raised Jesus from the dead so that we may have life and not be separated from God. Do not let arrogance or pride or even worse, indifference decide your destiny today. If you do, tomorrow may be too late.

What is our standard for success?

Some well meaning Christians would say that success is egocentric and therefore not to be sought after. These same folks would also say that spirituality and worldliness are not compatible. I am convinced after 40 some years in the workforce that aligning successful business in the world system and being a Christ-one is a matter of learning the eternal perspective. Eternal perspective comes from spending time in the Scriptures under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit and then actively learning how to integrate what I have learned in the classroom into the daily activities of business. Eternal perspective is not a one time learning experience. It is learning each day under new circumstances. It is making knowledge experiential. This is the real meaning of wisdom…experiential knowledge. Experiential knowledge or wisdom is all about balance.

The world system of business management means pressing hard after the dollar. It has little time for ethics. It cares little for people. It means taking advantage of all opportunities by tipping the balance scales through lying and deceptive business practices if necessary. The Enron dive into disaster, the incredible loss of future for its faithful employees, and the trials of Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay is a real world example. Some of the best minds in business or political leadership come crashing down because they fail to learn the EAP methods [Eternal Accounting Practice] for keeping the books. Duke Cunningham, the war hero, failed to apply EAP. What would his life be like today if he had insisted doing business with eternity in mind? What if he had worked using a balanced scale checked on for accuracy by the ultimate CFO? Jail would not be his future at the end of his career. How sad.

God has designed us to work in balance. He designed us to worship Him through our daily endeavors, be they at home or the marketplace. Too often, I have seen my Christian brothers [and I include myself here] throw the balance out. Either we work as if success were all up to us and worship is a Sunday thing, or we act as if it were all up to God for our success and sit back and wait for Him to open doors. Either way, our eternity balance scale is off.

We are created as tables of clay where the Holy Spirit can write about the Light of the World for all to see. We make God look good or bad, depending upon on how we live and allow the Author to write the code of His success plan into our hearts. Success is an impression based on a perspective. If we focus on living an impression of success based on the world system of unbalance, we are sure to ultimately fail. However, if we live and work under the principle of eternity, living balanced lives, seeing success from a perspective of eternity, and living so that success is credited to the Lord of ‘all things great and small’ than we will be truly successful.

Martyrdom…

In the gathering twilight, the two mujtahid, Ahmed Abu Zeid and Dr. Sayyed Abdul-Rauf heard the loud voices outside the compound gate and then the splintering of wood as the four men on the battering ram demolished the gate.

From their shadowy vantage point behind the curtained window of the second floor overlooking the courtyard, they saw eight of the enemy running toward the front entrance below them. Simultaneously they showered deadly fire at the intruders, three immediately falling in screams of agony. The rest scrambled for shelter against the wall under their window. Five assault rifles were now aimed at the window eagerly waiting for a target.

Sitting beside the window in the darkened room, the two men were listening to a radio tuned softly to a local station.

“The still night air had a calming effect on his nerves,” whispered Ahmed. Suddenly, he grasped the Doctors arm. “Did you hear that sound?” He heard the distinct sound of metal snapping below and recognized instantly that a grenade pin had been removed. This is it he thought.

“I heard it. Allah is one…”

The radio announcer interrupted his words with: “Breaking news Jihad soldiers! In the Hadera marketplace, an explosion killed five adult Israelis, one Palestinian and injured 30 more Israeli children. Allah be praised. More infidels have been overcome by the hand of God!”

“That was my son Hassen, Doctor. Today he obtained martyrdom, my friend, just as we soon will.”

“Allah is praised. Did you remember to purify yourself this morning at the mosque?”

“Yes and I…schuss! What is that sound?”

From below, they became aware of running footsteps as two grenades landed on the floor next to them. In unison, they both began reciting: “There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is…” but a flash of light and thousands of pieces of shrapnel cut short their sentence as they were blasted into eternity.

* * * *

A grieving widow, Ruquaia Zeid sat on the floor of her brother-in-laws living room weeping. She held to her breast the only reminder of her loss…a picture of a teenager and his father both holding rifles. Many women gathered in the room weeping while the men were in the next room talking angrily.

“You can celebrate that they both died as martyrs for Allah” shouted out one of the men.

“I wanted to celebrate my son getting married and having a family!” wailed Ruquaia. “I wanted to grow old with my Ahmed. Now I have nothing!” There was bitterness in her voice and a deep-seated God-question plaguing her now.

Rachael Sauvget put her arm around her sister, weeping and rocking with her. She knew this was on of the many opportunities coming her way. “Lord Jesus,” she silently prayed, “give me strength, courage and wisdom to be your ambassador in the midst of enemy territory…”

Behind the clouds of eternity, angels were gathering around the two women, eagerly awaiting the coming celebration of a new birth…

Eternity…

The young man’s twisted body lay on the hard ground in the aspen grove. He stared with unblinking eyes at the early morning sun light filtering through the canopy of golden yellow leaves. A crimson pool of blood had spread out staining the ground around his torso. A numbing cold was replaced the searing pain.

He had made a dumb mistake trying to climb through the barbed wire fence with a loaded shotgun. Climbing through while watching intently the four-point buck running through the grove, reached back to pull the gun to him. A loose piece of barbed wire caught on the trigger. Then an ear-splitting roar and a punch that hurtled him through the air to crash into a dead tree. Now there were no responses from anywhere in his whole body to commands from his brain. Calling for help produced only silence. The cell phone was buzzing in his backpack. He tried to shout but only an ugly rattling sound came from his throat with each breath.

In his mind he could hear his Dad “preaching” to him last night that safety was a moment-by-moment conscious act…that a split second careless act could be fatal. Why had he been in such a hurry?

He had felt so grown up this morning leaving the house before dawn. His Mom had gotten up when she heard him showering and fixed breakfast for him. She had talked to him again about giving his heart to Jesus…that God had placed Eternity in his heart. “Mom, I have my whole life ahead of me…later…I’m going to be late.” He saw his mom’s eyes fill with tears and he felt a pang of remorse. He knew she loved him but his life was just starting and he wanted to be his own man. Looking away, he finished his breakfast, got up and gave her a hug. “I’m almost grown now, Mom. I can take care of myself.” He squeezed her hand, grabbed his coat and backpack and left.

Tears formed in his eyes as he realized she could not help him now. He sensed he would never see her again.

The rays of the sun seemed to be darkening. Was it getting cloudy?

His body jerked. Where was he? Had he drifted off to sleep? And what was that unnerving noise? It was unbearable screaming, wailing…voices of agony. It was so dark. He could see nothing even when he put his hand before his eyes. Had he gone blind? Was this some sort of cruel trick of God? Did He turn him blind while freeing up his body to move? He swings his arms in a wide circle, but still could not feel anything. He rubbed his eyes but could not feel them. What was wrong? He could tell he had a body but he could not feel it. The voices he heard of people sounded very close to him but there was nobody to touch.

“Mom!” he shouted instinctively. No answer. Only the incessant scream of pain. Where had they taken him? Then he knew. A flash of recognition. He was in Eternity.

“Lord, Oh God! I gave some money to the crippled man. I gave some money to the church when I had extra! I am not that bad. I’m just a kid!”

“Yes, you did. And yes, you are. My Son gave His all for you and you continually turned your back on Him.” Responded a Voice that was full of sorrow.

He cried out for just a drop of water to moisten his tongue…

Marketplace Missionary

 

During one of my times alone before God, I was reading in Acts 14:21 – 28. These first century missionaries were on their way back to Jerusalem on the final leg of their first mission trip. Jesus had commissioned some ordinary folks to carry the Gospel. I got to thinking about “missionary work” and the harvest field in the marketplace. It has been my experience over the years in many different churches across the USA that the church at large seems to relegate mission work to those special few who want to make it their vocation. If I am reading Scripture correctly, this mentality does not fit the Scriptural injunction of Jesus’ command for all of us to “…go and make disciples…” Almost without exception, it is in the marketplace where the message of the God’s Grace finds receptive hearts.

Accountants, Sales professionals, Dishwashers, Enlisted folks, Officers, Plumbers, Laborers, Mechanics, Doctors, HR Professionals and Computer Technicians (to name just a few) are all part of the Marketplace. It is so easy in a world of deadlines and increasing productivity to see people right at my elbow as faceless masses that I ask God to bless once in a while. What would it take for me to see those souls who work around me become real people in need of Christ’s saving grace?

What would happen if these ordinary folks prayed for the surrounding communities and the business driving it? What would happen if each week we prayed for individuals that are working in a specific vocation or industry?

What would happen if these ordinary folks were to start praying for those working in the marketplace and are called to the marketplace as a ministry, by name? In most churches, prayer is offered for a specific “missionary when they come on stage to talk about the ministry with which they are involved.

What would happen if a Pastor or Elder would visit members of his flock in the workplace? Is there a first-hand sense of what individual Christian’s workplace feel, act and smell like? Is it a practice of Pastors or Elders to ask specifically how they can pray for their congregation’s workplace?
What would happen if these ordinary folks were to actually commission its men and women to the marketplace in special service? Would they feel differently knowing that the body of Christ to which they are connected is praying for them regularly? Would they feel a new or renewed sense of urgency and commitment to the Great Commission?

What would happen if we created a Marketplace Mission Field Week, focusing attention on the industries and demographics that our Marketplace Missionaries represent in Daybreak Church? Most churches have a Missions Week. The focus is always on vocational missionaries and those mostly working on foreign soil.

What would happen if these ordinary folks celebrated the fact that we have Marketplace Missionaries who are working in a particular company culture that is closed to outsiders? Their access to that culture is a work visa…being hired to be of service to that organization.

Would it not increase the harvest that God says is waiting for us ordinary folks if we just did some simple things in like this?

Is my job “spiritual” or just work?

Is my job “spiritual” or just work? I get up early in the morning and spend about thirty minutes having a quiet time. I read a portion of Scripture and meditate for a few minutes on its application to my life. I spend time in prayer for my family and friends. I pray for my co-workers. Many times I feel as if I am accomplishing something during this time alone with God. I walk away having learned from God through His Word and I have been obedient in up holding others before Him in prayer. I feel as if my life is anchored firmly in the Rock of Ages.

However, I arrive at work and that seems to end the “spiritual” side of my day. Rarely during the daily grind do my thoughts turn toward God in adoration or praise. Rarely do I even pause during the busyness of the workday to think about how to reach a cranky worker. The normal day consists of my attempting to accomplish the important tasks and organize the interruptions. So what is spiritual about my work? Isn’t being spiritual at work possible only for pastors or full-time ministry workers? Isn’t my teaching a class at church more spiritual and having a greater impact on eternity than the stuff I do at work?

I get frustrated because I rarely see any spiritual achievements from my work. I get good feedback from my peers about how well I get projects accomplished. I get a paycheck each week. But what does God get from my work?

I have heard it said that people I rub shoulders with in the workplace might never have the opportunity to see Christ reflected in a life except through mine. I have been meditating on Dt. 32:4, which says “He is the Rock; His work is perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!” It has occurred to me that this was a clue to my question. Jesus wants me to follow His example and be like Him in all ways.

While living amongst us as a human being, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, worked as an ordinary carpenter for over fifteen years. He acquired calluses on His hands. He priced His products fairly. What He produced was of the highest quality possible. He was faithful to the contract with customers regardless of the inconvenience. His business practices were just and withstood the scrutiny of both God His Father, and the men with whom He did business.

As I learn to reflect these same qualities, I am making my work spiritual. The pagan world is always examining Christians to line up our walk with our talk. I have the privilege in my work to present Jesus to my co-workers in the most natural setting. Oddly, I would not have chosen this method of fighting the Enemy by bringing ordinary men and women into the workplace to be witnesses to God’s Grace, but then I sometimes have trouble distinguishing spirituality from showmanship before God!

God At Work

How I can be a witness in my workplace? So many Christians I meet believe that all we have to do is get folks in the church door. There they can hear the Gospel from an expert. It appears too often that Christians see “witnessing” as a program centered in the church or as an easy-to-apply mantra for unbelievers…say this prayer and you will be saved.

I asked a friend recently what he was doing in his place of business to share the Gospel with co-workers. His immediate response was “We have a great program at church for non-Christians.” I stopped him and restated the question: “What are you doing personally to attract people to Jesus?” He really had no answer. I felt sadness because here was another encounter with an evangelical Christian who was counting on the Church to be the witness for him. He was counting on a professional Christian to bring the Word of God to his co-workers.

I believe the way for us to share our faith is to share our lives. For example, a few years ago, I was working as a temp between regular jobs. I was feeling depressed due to being caught in one of several layoffs by the company and losing good pay and benefits. I was feeling even worse at having to do temp work that was beneath my skill level…manual labor…but that was all that was available. I found myself working as a laborer in a warehouse, feeling pity for my self. The company utilizing the temps required each employee to be teamed up with a temp. So here I am working next to this young man who was incredibly uneducated.

As we worked and ate lunch together, we started sharing our lives. About two weeks into the project, we were having lunch outside one warm day at a picnic table, enjoying the view of the snow-capped mountains. He had asked me something regarding marriage; I was sharing how Kathe and I dealt with the issue. Out of the blue he blurted out that he had never known anyone who didn’t call their wife either the “old lady” or “the b—-“. At first I was speechless. Then it seemed the Holy Spirit nudged me and I suddenly realized that here was an open door to share the reason why.

What I saw as failure in my introspection, God was busy redeeming to use to further His Kingdom. I was learning to begin to see the myriad opportunities that God was putting in front of me every single day.