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Unproductive Lives

Our people must not live unproductive lives. Titus 3:14

You may not be a proverbial Cretan—“liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”—but you are facing some subtle pressures that can be a by-product of tough economic times. Many things can lead to un-productivity. Let me see if I can unpack the cycle for you:

  • There is disillusionment with public officials. The only ones who seem to think that they are accomplishing things, are the politicians themselves. People simply do not believe “data” about job creation, turnarounds, and progress. Government leaders seem to be in a world of their own.
  • There is disdain for the greedy. The very people who devised many of the meaningless products, that created some of the financial mess, are being rewarded with ridiculous bonuses at the expense of taxpayers.
  • Hopelessness. People are low on hope.
  • Disempowerment. The magnitude of the mess, at home and globally, is causing people to feel, ‘I cannot do anything...
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Thinking Too Much?

He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

Have you ever noticed how unhappy people think too much? You could make a case, I suppose, that they are not thinking enough and so they do stupid things and this leads to them being unhappy. But I am thinking about smart, lots-going-for-them people who over-think and are unhappy. What could be happening here?

  • Too much time on their hands is my first guess: “He seldom reflects on the days of his life.” When you are unemployed, between careers, or just making more time for yourself there is a tendency to fill your mind space with you, yourself, the big “I” –and it is not healthy. “Lose your life and you find it.”
  • Too much focus on themselves: the thinking goes, ‘I have been so busy at work these past few years that now I need time for myself.’ Killing yourself at work for 14 hours a day will, of course, wear you...
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The Time To Reap

Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
Revelation 14:15 

The book of Revelation has perplexed many people over the years. I am no scholar of this book, but this verse strikes a chord because it ties in so well with John 4 where Jesus says, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” It is good that we live in the hope that we could be the people who see the Great Commission completed in our time. John speaks about the hope of seeing Jesus again and becoming like him. “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

It is my contention that the marketplace is one of the fields that is ripe for reaping, particularly at this juncture in history. With all the diversity in the world—and God gets glory from diversity—we...

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The Sanity Bridge

The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant. Psalm 35:27 

I have a great-nephew named Jeduthun, an unusual name. Psalm 77, an unusual psalm, was written by Asaph for another Jeduthun, a musician. But it is not one of those peace, love, and rock ‘n roll psalms. It starts off on a serious downer. “I cried out to God for help… hear me… my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned.” The first nine verses are about the sad state of the writer. Before you jump ahead I would warn you that there is no personal happy ending. 

Will the Lord reject us forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?  

These opening verses are the small picture verses, about me remembering the righteous things I did, like singing and praying and being intentional in following God, but with no apparent result. They are the “it’s...

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The Paradox

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

Uncertain economic, geopolitical, and personal times mean people around the world are learning to live with the paradox: peace and panic, lots of knowledge but little perspective, having things figured and lots of loose ends. Assurance of things hoped for, but nothing in the mailbox. Reality and faith.

For those with means, the paradox comes with the temptation to rely more on their own resources than on God. For those who have realized that their resources can be exhausted in a blink of an eye, there is a quick grasp that the only two ways are left: trust or despair. 

When the Paradox of the Potter makes mud of your life, choose trust. When it seems that your career is in a muddy spin, be still. Amidst the ooze of the whirling lump of clay is the definite feeling of His warm fingers doing something better. Focus...

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The Big IF

We have come to share in Christ if… Hebrews 3:14

Doesn’t that “IF” get our attention? I recently read The Pilgrim’s Progress and noticed how many characters in the book were there to pull the main character, Christian, off the path to the Celestial City. Pilgrim only got there if he stuck to the narrow path. The same theme recurs in movies such as Lord of the Rings. The drama builds, as sinister figures seek to hinder the mission of the main characters.

Twice in Hebrews 3, the Scripture says “IF.” The first is, “And we are his house if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6) I am not asking whether we are “still saved” if we lose our courage and hope. The context of the book of Hebrews goes beyond that to enter into all that God has for us. It is not just about “getting out” of Egypt but “getting in” on God’s agenda. I do believe we can get sidetracked...

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Some People Get It

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 59-60

The wave of business people owning their slice of societal transformation is picking up, and this encourages me. Every now and then I am reminded, however, that not everyone gets it. This will always be the case in some area or another as God moves on just enough ahead of us to keep us traipsing after him. There are those of us who, even though we know the slowness of the human heart, still want everyone on board before we will move. Until the last person is committed (which probably will mean forming a committee) we will not join the kingdom adventure. This is the curse of the lowest common denominator.

The sad fact is that many business people are still in the old modus operandi. They don’t understand the integration of work and faith, life and Jesus. They struggle with the difference between church and kingdom. Jesus has some advice: “Let the...

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Salt Heals

Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Gracious speech becomes salt. This is a strange thing. How can something full of grace actually be something that stings? 

People need grace because they are wounded. That’s what sin does to humankind. The salt that stings is also the salt that heals wounds. Jesus weeps over that damage, and He knows that the first thing that we need most often is not a confrontation, but something kind. 

Kindness becomes salt for healing, and then that same salt soon makes people thirsty. The issue is not whether we should share the gospel message, but whether our speech, our whole life, is filled with grace. Be grace, be salt, and be ready.


How can you become kind salt to those around you?

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Safe Growth

Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.  Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of the walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress on our streets.

Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144: 11-15; Psalm 3

Deep down many believe that with growth comes an increased danger of the walls being breached. Someone has said that in the world, high places are slippery places. Not so with God. He wants us to have the capacity to handle blessing, which starts with the knowledge that every sheep, pillar, ox, and field is his. Every paycheck,...

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Objections to Place – Part 4

According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for this work    Ezra 2:69 

We pulled off the busy main road onto a side street in an industrial area in Lagos. The streets had potholes where water had gathered, sidewalks were nominal, and street vendors sold evening snacks to passing pedestrians. The church where we were speaking was located in a former factory or warehouse. It was a warm evening and the expansive hall had fans whirling overheard to compensate for the absence of air conditioning. Lyn and I preached to a congregation of mostly younger people. By US standards the setting was very modest.

Two things happened as we left the building: first, the pastor handed us an envelope with a “very small token of thanks for our ministry.” The second was that they pointed out a large brick and mortar building under construction behind the hall we had spoken in. It looked to be massive. “That is our new building,” they told us. When we got...

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