Strength in Trials

“Be strong and courageous.” God speaks these words to Joshua three times in the first nine verses of this book. Three times! Do you think strength and courage are important to God? I do.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

This passage is often quoted, and, indeed, it is a favorite of mine. For context, God spoke these words to Joshua as He commissioned him to lead Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Moses had just died, and Joshua was appointed by God to take his role. This was a daunting task, a huge project, if you will. This would require strong leadership, resilient will, incredible strength and unwavering courage. This was God’s mission, assigned to Joshua to execute. This was a big deal.

These were not just marching orders from God. Notice the incredible promise God offers Joshua: “…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Do you think God expected Joshua to summon up strength and courage from somewhere deep within himself? I don’t. This verse, indeed God’s commissioning of Joshua to lead Israel across the Jordan, was God’s statement that this was going to happen. Joshua was not on his own; Joshua was God’s instrument, called, positioned and equipped to carry out His mission with God Himself alongside him, just as Moses had executed God’s mission to rescue Israel from bondage in Egypt.

“The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I take great comfort in these words. You see, this is a foundational truth. No matter where I go, no matter what I am doing, God is there. In one sense that gives me pause, as he sees the good, the bad and the ugly of me. But even through the bad and the ugly, He does not abandon me. He is with me. Always.

Several jobs ago, I was directed by an executive of the company to do something that I knew was not entirely right. But, he was an executive, he supported his direction with (worldly) reason, so I carried out his orders. After all, he had a “C” title.

An internal investigation ensued and as a result, I was dismissed from my position with that company. Yes, I was fired. As all of this unfolded, I never worried. I remember feeling that I should be worried, but I had this incredible sense of peace. Indeed, God was there. God was with me. I wasn’t leading a nation across a mighty river. I wasn’t preaching a sermon to a crowd of unsaved. I was just doing my job as directed by a superior. Do you think the executive that directed my actions stood by me through the investigation? Of course not. He was nowhere to be seen. But God did.

Most of us work in the secular world. The secular world can be tough. Sometimes we see and hear things that make us cringe. Sometimes we get dragged into uncomfortable meetings. Sometimes we are faced with temptation. But at all times, we have an opportunity to be salt and light to a dark world that desperately needs to taste and to see. We live and work among people from various walks of life with a variety of world views. The workplace is a mission field. And God is there.

As the internal investigation was drawing to a close, everybody knew what was happening. At one point, a coworker walked into my office and closed the door. He was a declared non-believer. He asked me how I was able to remain so calm and positive knowing what was happening and what was likely to come. I told him that this was not of me. I could only ascribe my sense of peace to my faith in God. He got up, left my office, and we never spoke of it again. We’ve since lost touch but I think of him often.

Friends, as you go into your workplace today, be strong and courageous, no matter what. For the Lord your God goes with you.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Be Still…

“I couldn’t start my work without sharing this…”

3:05 AM and I’m wide awake. Any of us who work in corporate America experience times like this – times when the whirlwind is fierce, activity abounds and time is demanded, even more time than we seem to have. So, in the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up, my mind is racing as I lay in bed. I’m thinking of two emails in particular that need to be addressed. I get up, make a pot of coffee and carry my work laptop up to my office. But, before I power it up I open my Bible for my morning reading and this is what God gave me:

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

Talk about an injection of healthy perspective! God reminded me this morning that He is the One of utmost importance. And as I read my Bible I kept coming back to this verse. “Be still…”

People often quote the first part of this verse and forget the second. As I ponder those words I’m reminded that God is why I’m here. This creation is His, my life is His, my work is His… No matter what the whirlwind may bring my way, I will rest in calm knowing that God is right here with me.

So – that is what I have to offer this morning. I know this is short and (hopefully) sweet, but I couldn’t start my work without sharing this. No matter how busy I am, I must always take time to be still, go to God’s Word, ponder what He has to say and give the whirlwind up in prayer. Having done that, I am best equipped to take on all this day is going to bring. Christian business man/woman, if you’re not taking time each day to “be still and know that He is God” you’re missing out on a beautiful relationship.

Now – time to take on that whirlwind!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Calm in the Whirlwind

“…there are times when the volume and the pace combine to reach an almost overwhelming crescendo…”

I read this passage in a late February morning devotional. I was busy; hence, I was struggling to manage my time and maintain my priorities. I struggled with this throughout the month of March. I fell behind in my Bible reading plan, my prayer life lapsed, and I let weeks pass without posting a blog. As I read this passage, it brought me great comfort and I saved the image to share with you when I had ample time to offer my thoughts:

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4-5

My work environment is fast-paced and I generally enjoy that. But there are times when the volume and the pace combine to reach an almost overwhelming crescendo – one in which my morning devotional time is diverted to early email cleanup and weekend R&R is replaced by quiet hours in the office catching up on work. When I allow this to happen, I become distracted from that which is truly most important: my relationship with God.

Why does David seek to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold His beauty and to meditate in His temple? Because it is grounding. You see, I yearn for His presence. Being in the presence of God resets my compass. When I am dialed in to my morning routine of Scripture reading, prayer and writing, my life takes on an element of calm, even as life’s whirlwind swirls around me. Do you see God’s action here?

“He will keep me safe…”

“He will shelter me…”

“He will set me high upon a rock.”

The peace and calm that come from spending time in worship, Bible study and prayer is God’s doing, not mine. And in that calm I am best equipped to handle everything that comes my way at home, at work, in life. Indeed, everybody wins.

On a recent lunchtime walk, I gave myself a rather stern lecture. I knew I was not managing my time according to my priorities. I reminded myself that my time is a gift from God. I own it, but He has first dibs. While I am dedicated to my work and other responsibilities, I cannot allow those to rob me of my time with my Lord. As I walked, I asked God to give me the strength, wisdom and means to realign my time with my priorities. And, as usual, God answered my prayer.

Thanks to two contractors having scheduled work at my house today (April Fools Day of all days) I took a day off – well, except for a conference call this morning and answering a few emails… Between offering instructions and answering questions, I used today to catch up on my Bible reading plan, update my prayer journal, and draft a few posts for my blog.

It’s been a good day.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Communication

“As a witness for Christ in my workplace, I believe that my communications with coworkers, vendors, and customers is a key element of my witness.”

Have you ever said something, only to wish you could immediately recall the words that just escaped your lips? I sure have. Lots of times. Over the course of my life I’ve listened as several pastors prayed this verse as their sermon opening. I’ve adopted it as my morning prayer:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 NASB

As a witness for Christ in my workplace, I believe that my communications with coworkers, vendors, and customers is a key element of my witness. Indeed, I can “walk the walk” with every instant message (IM), text and email I send. Here are a few communication tips I seek to apply each day:

  • Listen. Communication does not occur if we don’t place a priority on listening to one another. I learned this wise saying at a Stephen Covey seminar: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Active listening demonstrates respect for the person with whom you are communicating while efficiently leading all parties to the most favorable outcome. One of the most meaningful compliments I’ve received in my career was the person who said, “You took the time to hear me out. Thank you.”
  • Use the Right Communication Tool. I appreciate the efficiencies offered by instant messaging, text messaging and email, and I use these tools daily. But we have all experienced occasions in which over-reliance on the written word led to misinterpretation of the message, personal misunderstanding, and even personal offense. The efficiency of these tools is lost if we seek to apply them to every communication scenario, every day, every time. While technology is grand and must be embraced, the most effective and efficient means of communication may often be a phone call or *gasp* a face-to-face conversation. I apply a two-exchange max rule to IM and text communications – if we have to go beyond that I will call you. It drives some of my younger coworkers nuts – but it works.
  • Avoid Profanity. Profanity is unprofessional, ugly and demeaning. It has no place in the workplace, and no place in my personal life either. I do not subscribe to the notion that a few strategically placed cuss words help drive the point home. Some refer to habitual profanity as “gutter mouth” or “potty mouth”. Considering some of the stuff that flows through gutters and gets flushed down toilets, I prefer to stay above that. Clean speech is elevated speech.
  • Grammar, Grammar, Grammar. A pet peeve of mine is the email rife with misspellings and poor grammar. I sometimes lament that professional writing skills seem to have diminished in importance for many. Several years ago, I became so frustrated with the poor quality of a third party provider’s written communications (many of which would be seen by my management team) I made them put the employees servicing my account through a professional writing course as a condition of retaining our business. For me, these things are a matter of corporate and personal pride. Although these are often “quick” communications, they bear my name, and that means something to me.
  • Remember Whom You Ultimately Serve. Seeking to abide by the above guidelines has served me well thus far in my career. But even more important than pleasing those with whom I work is honoring my Creator by my words and the quality of my work. If I approach my communications with this at front-of-mind, the rest actually comes rather naturally.

I am a firm believer in the notion of a “walking witness” – witness via action. I know that the words I choose and the manner in which I convey them are indicators of what really makes me tick. And maybe, just maybe, somebody will take notice and ask me about that. I hope that then that happens, I will discern the opportunity to talk about the One most important to me. In the meantime, I will pray my morning prayer and do the very best I can. For, you see, my work is my ministry.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: You Version Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

“What is it Like…?”

The question stopped me in my tracks.

The question stopped me in my tracks. It was January 6, the first Sunday of 2019. I was sitting in the pew next to my wife listening to the first sermon of the year. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when I read the title in our bulletin: “Living Under the Influence: Resolve”. Great. A sermon on New Year’s resolutions. Not exactly what I came to hear. But as our pastor spoke, I realized that my prejudgment was (as it often is) way off the mark. Preaching on a portion of Acts 14, Pastor was speaking of how critical a proper attitude is to living a life that glorifies and honors Christ as we seek to make Jesus visible to the world around us. Then he suggested we ponder this question:

What is it like to live with me every day?

Rev. Dr. Trey Little, Grace Presbyterian Church

Wow. I have never considered that. Glancing at my wife seated next to me, I wondered how she might answer that question. After all, I’m not always the easiest guy to live with. Then I thought about my coworkers at Sysco. If I were to ask them what it is like to work with me every day, how might they answer? Am I supportive? Am I approachable? Am I respectful? Am I trustworthy? Next I considered people with whom I do business – insurance brokers, claims professionals, attorneys, and various consultants. How might they answer? As I’ve pondered this over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to realize that these answers are important, but their importance is less about me than it is about Him.

My chief mission in life is to conduct myself in a manner that honors God while seeking to be salt and light to the world in which I live, just as Jesus Himself described.

“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

See why I say the answer to the question is more about Him than it is about me? I do not seek the “right” answers to these questions so I can puff up my chest and be proud of the great man everybody thinks I am. No. I seek the “right” answers to these questions because I want to be a beacon in this dark world. I want to be different from the world so God can use me to draw the lost to Him through me – by whatever manners and means He chooses to use. I want my life to glorify Him.

Ever since Pastor posed this question I’ve sensed some change. The question is written in my prayer journal to remind me to ponder it each morning. Indeed, I am God’s work in progress. I stumble every day. I say stupid things. I make mistakes. Thankfully, I know that God will not give up on me. And neither will I.

So, what say you? Does this question give you pause as it did me? If so, what are you going to do about it? As I go into my work place this week, I pray that God will equip me to conduct myself in a manner that draws others to want to know Him. How about you?

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com (2019)

Worried?

“Worry is a distraction from that which is really important.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes for me life can seem overwhelming. Between the demands of my work, my responsibilities at home, the need to work part time to repay our government loan, I am often tempted to worry. Am I making the right decisions at work? What if I’m not? I’m too tired to work through this stack of mail this evening – what if something important is there? Thanks to property damage from post-Harvey flooding, when will I be able to retire? Will I be able to retire? Where will those resources come from? Yada-yada-yada.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus: Matthew 6:34

I believe that worry is the most negative energy one can expend. Think about it. When has worry ever solved a problem? Do you ever feel better about a situation after having worried about it a while? Do you sleep better when you worry? Do you eat healthier foods or drink less alcohol when in worry mode?

When we really stop to think about it, worry is a distraction from that which is really important. Don’t get me wrong; I often worry about important things. But I’ve learned over time that worry hinders my problem-solving abilities even as it hinders productivity. Indeed, the worried mind is a distracted mind; when we worry, things often seem worse than they really are.

I love Jesus’ instructions here. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. Deal with the circumstances of today. Focus. Seek God’s guidance and trust Him for the resources, solutions and results you need. He is reliable and He will provide. When we put our faith and trust in Him, He will not leave us hanging. We can trust Him for that.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.”

Corrie ten Boom

The author of the my 2019 Bible reading plan offered the above quote from Corrie ten Boom, and it really resonated with me. If you’ve never heard of Corrie, don’t despair; I hadn’t heard of her until this morning. What a hero! During WWII Corrie and her family defied the Nazis by helping Jews escape Nazi persecution. You can read about her heroism here.

Sometimes I wish I could simply flip off my worry switch, but it’s not always that easy. Fortunately, I can lean on my Savior when the worry bug strikes. Lifting the situation in prayer, reading His Word (such as Jesus’ words above) and trusting Him for the outcome helps put my mind at ease as it restores my focus and grants me peace of mind.

Friends, God wants to hear from us. Additionally, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes in our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). Not only is He a good listener, He is my advocate. It doesn’t get any better than that!

What is on your mind today? What worries are distracting you from the important things you need to accomplish? Why not take a pause, lift them up to the Lord in prayer, then watch expectantly to see what He does. If you need prayer support, please reach out. I’m happy to pray for you.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

In the Quiet of the Morning

“…when I take time each morning to commune with God, I am dressed for success.”

Those who know me well know that morning is my favorite time of day. I enjoy the quiet of the house when I rise before the sun. Even the dogs don’t stir as I make my way to the kitchen to pour that first cup of coffee that hits the spot oh, so well. Cup of joe in hand I head upstairs to our home office to start my day.

“In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

Psalms 5:3 NASB

As that first cup of coffee helps bring my senses to life I peruse my favorite social media sites. I visit LinkedIn searching for interesting articles, work anniversaries and career moves. My goal is to read at least one good business-related article each morning and I often email the article to myself for sharing with coworkers later. Next I check Facebook and Twitter to see what my friends outside of work are up to, send birthday greetings and seek people and situations in need of prayer support. Social media can be a two-edged sword. For me it is more blessing than curse, as my social media feeds are heavily filtered to weed out political rants, false information, and potentially harmful content.

With first cup of coffee consumed and second in hand, it is time begin the most important work of my morning quiet time. This is my time to engage my Lord in relationship. I began using the YouVersion Bible App several years ago for guiding my morning Bible study. I also use the app to create the Scripture images I post to this site and share on social media. This year I am embarking on my third reading plan to cover the entire Bible through the course of the year. Having read through the Bible entirely I can state with no doubt or reservation that the Bible is the true Word of God. No question. Every book is about Jesus. All of them. All books of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, are intertwined. They work together to inform us of our situation in sin and God’s redemptive work in our behalf through His Son, Jesus Christ. I often refer to the Bible as “the Treasure of God’s Word”. As I read and study His Word, He speaks to me and our relationship is strengthened.

Following my reading, I record in my journal at least one verse that impacted me that morning. Often that verse will inspire a post here, as this Psalm did when I read it Saturday morning. This is my third year to journal in The Christian Planner. This veteran-owned business has produced the Planner for three or four years now and I find it to be an excellent tool to help me keep focused.

With journal in hand, I next go to God in prayer. I thank Him for His amazing grace and for my faith, family, and vocation. I lift up friends in need and ask God to guide my thoughts, words and actions throughout the day. Closing with the Lord’s prayer, I am ready to take on the day.

I with I could tell you that I follow this plan every morning without fail; of course, I don’t. When I miss my morning quiet time, I really miss it. Based on my experience, when I take time each morning to commune with God, I am dressed for success. Through my time with Him, I am equipped to be the best husband, father, coworker, employee and manager I can be. My morning quiet time with God truly is the foundation on which my day is built.

Do you seek God each day? I promise, it is the most worthwhile investment of time you can make. For me, rising early and beginning my day with Him works best. For others it may be during lunch or just before bedtime. God wants to be in relationship with you, and He doesn’t care about time of day. God never sleeps, and He is waiting.

Here’s to a happy Monday and a great work week.

Soli DEO Glora!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

The Best Walk…

“Everything in life takes on a whole new perspective when I seek that relationship with my Lord.”

I like to walk. It is my favorite form of exercise and I find it offers a great opportunity to gather my thoughts, listen to podcasts or music, and commune with God. When I read about walking in the Bible, specifically people who the Bible says “walked with God” I become very intrigued. For example:

“…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

Genesis 6:9b

So what does it mean to “walk with God”? I picture a quiet stroll, walking side by side, talking about things of importance with a general sense of peace permeating the moment. Think about it. When we walk alongside a person important to us, we commiserate on life – what’s up, what are we doing about it, what’s next, and so on. Or maybe we walk together quietly, simply enjoying the company of a person important to us. Either way, we treasure the moment.

Why would a walk with God look any different? When I walk with God, I have the ear of the One most important to me, and He offers insight and wisdom that I can apply each and every day. Through that walk, our interests align and I am better equipped to fulfill the mission and the ministry He has given me. I come away with a more fervent desire to serve Him in all that I do. When I’m walking with God, life’s challenges become easier to manage; in fact, God sees me through those challenging times in life and at work. Everything in life takes on a whole new perspective when I seek that relationship with my Lord. I believe this is the relationship Noah shared with God, and in turn, I believe that God wants that same relationship with me and with you.

Where do we walk with God? I walk with Him through reading His Word. What a gift His Word, the Holy Bible, is to each of us! When I read my Bible each morning, God speaks directly to me through the words He inspired so many years ago. I walk with him through quiet prayer in the privacy of my room. I walk with him throughout the day, seeking His blessing on the calls I take and the meetings I attend. Friends, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Life today moves fast. I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We have demands placed upon us by our families, our bosses, our coworkers… It is vitally important that we take the time for a daily walk with our Lord. For me, it’s in the early morning. For you it could very likely be different. God doesn’t care about that. He wants that relationship, and He meets each of us where we are. Even at work.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Happy New (Work) Year!

“What was once viewed as a job is now a calling from God.”

Why do we work? Our impulsive answer to this question may be something like, “to put food on the table, numbskull!”

While that is certainly true, there is a bigger, more important reason behind the work that we do each day. Work is mentioned many times in Scripture, beginning with…the beginning:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” ~ Genesis 2:15 NIV

You see, God did not create Adam to simply exist in the beautiful world God created. Not at all. After creating Adam, God immediately gave him work to do, a vocation if you will. God put Adam in charge of His creation. Adam’s calling was to cultivate (work) the garden and keep (take care of) it. But this passage is not just about the Adam of Genesis. Did you know that “adam” is the Hebrew word for “mankind”? That’s right – this passage is about you and me, too.Have you ever thought of your daily work in this context? Have you considered the notion that God has called you to do what you do each day for a reason? That your calling, or vocation, is actually a gift from God given to you as a means of caring for His creation? This is a game changer! When we understand that our work is given to us by God, it repositions everything. What was once drudgery is now a pleasure. What was once mundane is now exciting. What was once considered unimportant is now critical. What was once viewed as a job is now a calling, a vocation, from God.Of course, none of us are in the Garden of Eden. Some of us work in office buildings, some in schools, some in restaurants, some in stores, some in warehouses, some behind a wheel, some at home, some outdoors… No matter where you work or what you do for a living, know this: You are surrounded by God’s creation. Each day presents an opportunity to make a difference. You can influence your world for Christ. At work. Every day.Next time you are in your work place, take a look around. Every person you see is a child of God. Some know it, some don’t. Let’s join together as followers of Jesus and commit our work in this New Year and beyond to Him. Let’s do all that we do knowing that He has each of us where we are for a reason. If we will work in this way, God will work through us to cultivate and reap His harvest.

Happy New Year!Soli DEO Gloria

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019 

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