Ultimate Hope

2020 has been one heckuva year, has it not? I often see posts and memes on social media lamenting the awfulness of this year and looking ahead, longing for something better. As a believer in Christ, I know that the “something better” for which we all long has already been accomplished.

Amidst all the noise that is 2020, this assurance rings true:

God’s goodness and love have not left the building. God is just as present in 2020 as He has ever been. He speaks to us through His Word just as He always has. And, fellow believers, we have so much to look forward to, including the incredible promise that we will dwell with Him forever.

God has much good to say to us, but we must dial in. Be in the Word. Be in prayer. Be in worship, whether online or in person. God is our ultimate hope for our life’s future and for our eternal destiny. Indeed, we can take comfort in these words from one of the most quoted chapters in Scripture, remembering that even in the darkest of days and the toughest of times, God is in control. He’s got this. And He’s got you and me cradled in His loving arms – today and for all eternity.

With that reality in mind, let’s take on this day!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Solid Foundation

When our home was flooded after Hurricane Harvey and we had cleared out all of the ruined furniture and damaged drywall, we had a structural engineer check the integrity of our foundation. We were concerned that our house had marinaded in flood waters for almost two weeks. Was our foundation still solid? Could we safely rebuild?

“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

Psalms 119:11

Early morning is easily my favorite time of the day. I enjoy getting up while everyone else sleeps, brewing that first cup of coffee, and heading upstairs to read. That first cup is the “wake up” cup. As I enjoy it I check Facebook and Instagram for the status of family and friends. Then, when I pour that second cup it is time to go into God’s Word.

I have maintained a morning Bible reading discipline for a few years now. Mind you, I’m not perfect. I miss some mornings. Especially when traveling, it is easy to miss a few days in a row. When I miss a day or several days, life feels different. There is a void; a tangible, real void. I have grown to love God’s Word, and when I miss my morning time, I really miss it.

This year, 2020, has been a strange year, hasn’t it? In mid-March, like many Americans, my employer directed us to work from home to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. Until that time, I maintained the position that working remotely simply would not suit me. All of a sudden, I had no choice. Now, nearly five months later, I am grateful and in no hurry to return to the office.

For me, what was initially a disruptive notion has become a blessing. According to my YouVersion Bible app, today marks 139 days in a row in God’s Word – my longest streak since first launching the application some three years ago. I don’t reveal that as a brag, but to emphasize a point: My day is not the same when I neglect my time with God in His Word. God’s Word is edifying, strengthening, reassuring and grounding. It is a gift to be treasured.

Spending time each day with my Bible solidifies my life’s foundation. This morning time with God has been especially important in the midst of the craziness that is 2020. In the midst of a national dialogue fraught with fear, anger and disunity, I find myself at peace. I know that all of this will pass; that God is on His throne – always has been and always will be. Indeed, as I read His Word and learn more about His character and His nature I am, at the same time, comforted. I am at peace. I am not worried, nor am I afraid. Each morning in God’s Word strengthens the foundation on which I build my life, and for that I am truly thankful.

I have in my home office a document from a structural engineer that certifies the structural integrity of our home is intact and its foundation is solid. And I have in my heart the hope of eternity with God and the strength to take on yet another day.

Do you have a daily time with God?

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion

(c) workisministry 2020

Working for God (Re-Launch!)

What do you do every day? How do you spend your time? Have you ever thought about your daily life as ministry?

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”

Psalms 90:17 NASB

I work in corporate America, for a Fortune 100 company on its risk management team. Specifically, I oversee the purchase of the company’s insurance, the management of claims, and the gathering & distribution of analytics to various stakeholders within the organization. I know. Risk management, insurance, analytics… Sound pretty dry, doesn’t it? I get it. One of my favorite movie lines is from Planes, Trains & Automobiles when Steve Martin’s character says,

“I could tolerate any insurance seminar for days. I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They’d say, ‘How can ya stand it?’ And I’d say, ‘Cause I’ve been with Del Griffith.'”1

Yep, that’s me. I geek out over this stuff. I look forward to those seminars, not only for the knowledge and insight I gain, but also for the relationships I have built over the years. I truly enjoy what I do for a living.

When I entered college way back in 1980, it was with the intent of entering the professional ministry. I was studying to become a pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS). My father worked for an insurance brokerage firm at that time, and I would work during summers and longer breaks in the firm’s mail room. After a while, my head was turned. I liked what I saw. I never enrolled in seminary.

God has blessed me with success in my career. Although traditional retirement age is approaching increasingly rapidly each year, I don’t know what I would do if I quit. I still have aspirations to grow my career and add even more value to the company I work for. Or perhaps someplace else. But, as satisfied as I am with my vocation, I have often asked the big question: “What if…” What if I had gone to seminary? What would my path have been in the LCMS? Would I even have made it? Did I ignore God’s call for the wrong reasons? A college friend told me, upon sharing my decision to forego seminary in favor of a business career, that I was abandoning God to go and serve the devil. Was he right? (Rest assured, I know now that he was so, so wrong).

I have wrestled with these questions over the years. And here is where I have landed:

God has me exactly where He wants me. God wants me in business. Not every ministry is carried out in a sanctuary, donned in clerical vestments, leading worship, preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments. Oh, make no mistake, the ministry carried out in Christ’s Church is of vital importance. I am thankful to have many friends in professional ministry in the LCMS and other Christian denominations, even in the US military. I am thankful for the faithful pastors that have nurtured me in faith over the years. Ministry was never intended to be confined within the four walls of the church. Ministry is to occur in every facet of life in every corner of the world, and the church equips us to carry it out. Indeed, ministry is to be carried out in the business world. And that is what I seek to do.

“Confirm the work of my hands…” Did you know that our daily work is important to God? That He ordains it and sanctions it? That He uses you and me, no matter where we work, to further His kingdom? He does! This truth puts my daily work into an entirely different perspective! In a way, I am as much in ministry as my friends are who serve God in His Church. My ministry is manifested in my conduct, my attitude, my outlook and my quest to always deliver top-flight work. A coworker once asked me during a particularly difficult time at a prior employer how I “did it.” Door opened. I told him that my faith in God was seeing me through. God does open doors for us to share our faith. Even at work.

A couple years ago I was thinking about daily ministry. As I walked across the pedestrian bridge that connects the two buildings that are our corporate offices, the idea hit me: Launch a blog called workisministry.com. Share the Gospel. Offer encouragement and motivation. Share your faith and how it applies to your daily work. Let your light shine. Show Jesus to those with whom you work – and beyond. And, viola! This blog was born.

I have not been completely faithful in posting here. Over the past week or so, I have come to realize that this is an important aspect of my ministry. And so, today, I relaunch. I trust God to use this blog, and to use my life, as He sees fit according to His good and perfect will. I hope you find it helpful. If you do, I hope you will consider sharing it with your colleagues and friends.

As I nurture this blog, I will continue to strive to serve the Lord in all my endeavors. The Scripture below nicely summarizes my mission here:

Soli DEO Gloria!

(c) workisministry 2020

1Hughes, J. (Producer & Director). (1987). Planes, Trains and Automobiles [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures

What Were You Thinking??

“What were you thinking??”

Have you ever asked that question of yourself or someone else? You know, when you say or do something that, in hindsight, you realize was totally wrong or stupid or harmful… I can think of many times in my life when I sit in the quiet of the morning, thinking about something I said or did the day before or even sometime way in my past, shaking my head and asking my self, “What were you thinking??”

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Psalm 51:1 NASB

The story of King David and Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11) is one of the Old Testament accounts that intrigues me the most. In summary, King David looks out the window of his palace and sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. Although Bathsheba is married, David summons her to the palace and has sex with her. Bathsheba becomes pregnant as a result, so to cover up what he had done, David sends for her husband, Uriah, from battle and suggests that he take a break and lay with his wife. Uriah refuses to do so, citing his loyalty to his fellow soldiers whom he had left behind in battle. So, David sends Uriah back into battle with a note the commander that Uriah be placed front-and-center on the battle line and, of course Uriah is killed – just as David had planned. After Uriah’s death, David takes Bathsheba as his wife.

“What were you thinking??”

The Bible tells us that God sent the prophet Nathaniel to confront David with this horrible sin (see 2 Samuel 12). He uses a parable to do so, and when David declares that the guilty man portrayed in the parable should die, Nathan announces, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). David, upon realizing his guilt before God, offers the confession recorded for us in Psalm 51.

You may be asking, “Why is the account of David and Bathsheba one of your favorites?” Here are two points to consider:

  1. David, even in spite of this horrible sin, is one of the great men of God. This story reminds me that God does great things through imperfect people; imperfect people like me and you. David, as a human, was unqualified to serve God, as am I. But God chooses to qualify the unqualified. He worked amazing things through David and, if He chooses, He can work amazing things through me and through you, too.
  2. Do you think David knew the character of God? I do. Note the three adjectives that David cites as he asks God to forgive his sins. God is gracious (merciful, compassionate); God shows lovingkindness (tender and benevolent); God demonstrates compassion (sympathetic consciousness of another’s distress with a desire to alleviate it)(i). Remember, this is the Old Testament. This is before Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins. Aside from faith in the God he knew to be gracious, kind and compassionate, David had no grounds to ask for forgiveness. But he asked. And God forgave. Not only did He forgive, but He kept His promise to David as evidenced by the birth of Solomon by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:24-25). And, as promised, David was in the lineage of Jesus, Himself (Matthew 1:6).

I find it both beautiful and comforting that God chooses to forgive us, even when we commit horrible, wicked sins. That He chooses to show mercy and grace when we fail and when we confess our failures. He did so in Old Testament times and He does so now, in these New Testament times, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Indeed, Jesus seals the deal. Through faith in Him we are assured that we will spend eternity with Him in a place called Heaven.

I am encouraged that God chooses to work through imperfect, sinful people. He chose to work through David. My hope and prayer is that God will choose to work through me, too. Of course, I’m no King David. But I do have a passion to share the Gospel. That is why I post here and on Instagram @workisministry. That is why I started the My Morning Walk channel on YouTube. I put the content out there and I trust God to use it to inspire, encourage, motivate and draw others to faith in Jesus, or to not use it according to His good and perfect will. I don’t have to know; I trust Him.

Soli DEO Gloria!

(i) Definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

Image Credit: You Version Bible App

(c) workisministry 2020

Taste and See…

Yesterday morning I emailed my work team under the subject line, “WFH Week 5” and I stopped in my tracks. Week 5!? We are going into our fifth week of working from home?? Good grief, where has the time gone? It seems it was just yesterday that my wife and I were enjoying Ramon Ayala’s performance at Rodeo Houston (it was March 8), and now, all of a sudden, here we are. Week 5.

I enjoy reading on social media about the various ways people are spending their time as they do their part to flatten the curve. Seems that crafts, puzzles, games and conversation are making a comeback. And that’s good.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

Here is something else to consider as we shelter in place: how about starting a Bible reading plan? These are strange and stressful times. Many around the world are out of work or furloughed. The COVID-19 death toll continues to rise and the economic fallout will be felt for years. People are worried. People are scared. People are angry. Fact is, we are living through a most challenging time, with many long-term ramifications. Scripture offers abundant hope, comfort and reassurance as it conveys God’s revelation of Himself to His creation. I begin every day with my Bible reading plan. And when I miss it, I miss it.

The You Version Bible App offers a plethora of reading plans of various lengths and topics from which to choose. It is also the source of the Scripture images I share here. I am currently working through Pastor Nicky Gumbel’s Bible-In-One-Year reading plan for the second time. God truly does speak to us through His Word.

Indeed, taste and see that the Lord is good. I double-dog dare you.

Soli DEO Gloria!

The Majesty of Creation

During a recent visit to the ophthalmologist for my wife’s glaucoma, the doctor used a large illustration of the eye to explain what was going on. As she explained the eye structure to us, I saw clear evidence of the Creator. There is no way the human eye evolved by chance, from nothing. No way.

I speak often about how God reveals Himself through Scripture. He also reveals Himself through His magnificent Creation. The Apostle John, in describing Jesus, says this in part, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

Want to see Jesus today? Just look around you. Consider nature and the order of the universe. Consider our environment and how it is set up to support all kinds of life. Speaking of all kinds of life…wow, such variety! To dismiss the Architect of all of this is to dismiss our Lord Himself.

🎶 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth! 🎶

Happy Lord’s Day, time to prepare for worship!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit @youversion

Hidden in my Heart

Busy, Busy, Busy! As I wrote in my last post, I sometimes find myself so embroiled in the busyness of life that I sacrifice my morning reading and prayer time in order to get to the office a bit earlier or tend to some long-neglected household chore. I recently went through a period of this that was complicated by international travel and major changes at work. We all experience this from time to time. How does the Christian keep proper focus when life seems to be spinning at a rate faster than we can control?

I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

This verse was part of my morning reading this past Thursday and I am so thankful for this reminder. Hiding God’s Word in my heart means that I can call on certain passages of Scripture when faced with critical life circumstances or decisions. It means that I carry with me an overall understanding of who God is and what He wants for His people, all based on reading studying my Bible. I can draw from these things when the enemy seeks to lure me in a different direction. No, I’m not some freakish “super Christian” or a religious fanatic. I’m simply a man who loves his God and wants to live my life in alignment with His Word.

How does one hide God’s Word in his heart? Well, a few things come to mind:

  1. I know that I am most tuned in to God when I keep my morning appointment with Him. Getting up early, reading my Bible and praying keep me dialed in. Touching base with God each morning sets the foundation for my day, and when I allow myself to be robbed of this time, there is a distinct difference in my outlook, my attitude, and my productivity. I must cherish this time and not let anything stand in the way of my morning devotion.
  2. Memorizing passages of Scripture is another way to hide God’s Word in your heart. We all know John 3:16, right? Just in case, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” What a comfort that is to me when life seems so harrowed that the day goes by in a blur. Or when I catch myself in a sin and the guilt monster starts to eat away at my conscience. Admittedly, I could do much better here, but there are a number of verses that I know by heart so I can call on them. Sometimes, God gives me a nudge with a passage of Scripture. I love that.
  3. There is a podcast called Truth for Life that I like to listen to when I walk. Alistair Begg is an honorable man of God who is very gifted at preaching and teaching God’s Word. There are a number of other quality podcasts out there featuring teachers faithful to the intent and meaning of Scripture.
  4. Find a church home and get involved! Weekly worship is a fundamental need. In addition to participation in worship, find a way to serve outside of worship. I know many who claim that church is not a necessary ingredient to being a Christian. While this is technically correct, I believe it is misguided. We are the church. We exist to worship God, study His Word, partake of the Sacraments, and support one another. I believe this to be critically important.

The second half of this verse is important also. Why do I seek to hide God’s Word in my heart? Having God’s Word in my heart helps keep me from sinning against Him. It helps me make decisions that align with His Word. Oh, make no mistake, I sin. I sin often. The Apostle Paul referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and lamented often that he catches himself doing things (sinning) that are not pleasing to God (see Romans 7:15ff). I’m no Paul for sure, but I can sure relate to these passages. So hiding God’s Word in my heart does not make me perfect, but it often causes me to change direction or make a decision different from what I was originally considering. I want my life to please God. His Word, and His Word alone, is my moral compass.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) famously penned this prayer:

“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Book of Common Prayer

That, my dear friend, is what it means to hide God’s Word in your heart. May God richly bless you in the coming week and beyond.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Time Flies…

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” someone once said. Or, how about this: “Time flies when you’re busy at work.” Whatever the reason, time flies! It’s been almost five months since I last posted here. I was thinking about that over the weekend, and I realized that this ministry is important. But in order for God to use it, I must do the work. So, here I am. I’m back.

“So, what happened?” you may be asking. Or maybe not. In any event, I’m going to tell you. The succinct answer is, “Life happened.” What does that mean, really? It means I’ve been very busy at work, spending more Saturdays than not at the office. As of now I am reclaiming my weekends. It means I became a bit lazy in my morning routine. As of today I am reclaiming my mornings. It means I let the busyness of life interfere with this ministry. There is a proper balance here; I just need to find it. I am trusting God to help me do that.

That’s about all I have to say this morning. As you can see, the purpose of this post is not really to impart any Scriptural wisdom; that comes next. The purpose of this post is simply to get me writing again. To reengage and recommit.

I will leave you with this:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:1

Indeed, His mercy endures. Even when I’m busy. Even when I’m distracted. No matter what, He is there. And for that I am thankful.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: You Version Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

When Arrows are Flying…

Have you ever felt that you were under attack? That the arrows are coming straight for you from all sides, and as you duck and jive to avoid being struck, you can’t help but think that at some point an arrow will find its mark? I have, and it can be overwhelming – until I’m reminded that, even as the arrows fly, I am not fighting this battle alone.

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Psalm 55:22

David wrote this Psalm as he was under attack by Saul, a close acquaintance and trusted friend. David was in fear for his life even as he was disappointed in the betrayal he felt. In the first fifteen verses of this psalm, David writes of the attack and his disappointment in who it was leading the charge:

“But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend…” (Psalm 55:13)

One of my favorite movies is “My Cousin Vinny”. Joe Pesci plays a New York lawyer seeking to win his first case. His girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei, anxiously awaits that day, for Vinny has promised to marry her after that first win. Vinny’s cousin and his cousin’s best friend have been wrongfully charged with murder in Alabama. Vinny is defending them, and as the pressures of discovery and trial preparations mount, his girlfriend confronts him with the reality of her ticking biological clock. This is about all Vinny can take, and he asks in total frustration, “How much more can we pile on??”

I can relate to Vinny at times, can you?

Of course, David and Vinny are completely different people – one is real and the other fictional. They are under totally different forms of attack. And while it may be difficult to relate to the attack on David, I’m betting that pretty much all of us have experienced pressure similar to that which was piled onto Vinny Gambini’s shoulders.

Sometimes in my work role I am a deliverer of bad news. One-off bad news events are typically easy to manage through. But when “the hits just keep on coming” as I’m prone to say in times such as these, I am tempted to worry about tarnished credibility. I am tempted to worry about discussions taking place in which I am not a participant. Sometimes the arrows come from unexpected places – “out of left field” – and the pain of the news is coupled with disappointment in its source. I sometimes feel alone as the arrows come my way; my mood and demeanor are impacted and people see that. This is where my faith comes in. This is when I feel the reality of God’s sustenance.

Here is what Vinny doesn’t know, but David knew, as do I: I know that I have an Advocate; I know I have a Sustainer. I know that God is right here with me. Even as I work through some challenging issues right now, I can see past the tough times at hand and be reassured that God is in this with me. I am not in this alone. He is here, protecting my flanks from the incoming arrows and equipping me to do what I need to do as I honor my chief objective to always glorify Him. Indeed, I trust Him completely.

What battles are you facing right now? Do you know that God cares? I assure you, He does. Cast your burdens upon Him and He will sustain you, just as He has sustained me time and time again. If you have questions, please reach out. I am available and willing.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Off to RIMS!

After many years of business travel, I still very much enjoy it. As I type this, I am several miles above the earth winging my way to Boston for the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) national conference. RIMS offers risk management professionals a golden opportunity to learn, network, and meet with colleagues and business partners as we eat well and drink well in some of America’s finest cities. As I fly today, I’m looking forward to all of this, but I am also keenly aware that I have a ministry. As I enjoy the comaraderie and festivities that is RIMS I pray that my actions and my words honor my God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

David wrote these words after confessing his sins around his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. Trusting God to forgive him, he asked God to cleanse his heart and renew his spirit, seeking to start fresh serving his God and his Lord. Growing up in the Lutheran church, we sang this as part of our response to receiving words of absolution after publicly confessing our sins. It is a statement of faith that allows us to stop looking back and look ahead to better and brighter days to come, thanks to the forgiveness we know through the grace and mercy of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I hear the question now, “What in the world does this have to do with RIMS?” Well, to be fully transparent I must admit that I tend to get caught up in the festivities. I enjoy them. I hate to miss a good time. The fine food and good wine flow, sometimes to excess, and I like to be right in the middle of it all. It’s fun! But, as I grow older and more mature in my faith, my desire to honor and please God with my words and actions grows stronger. In the past I know I’ve said and done things that dishonor and displease Him. When that happens my witness is tarnished. I don’t want to offer a tarnished witness.

So, with this verse on my mind, off I go. The past is the past and I know I am forgiven for prior sins. As I look ahead to Boston, I am excited to arrive. I fully intend to make the most of RIMS 2019 as I enjoy the meetings, fellowship, relationships, food and, yes, the wine that goes along with it. My prayer is that God gives me the self-awareness and the presence to know when to say when, always remembering that I serve Him, first and foremost.

To my risk management and insurance friends & colleagues, I wish you safe travels to Boston and I look forward to catching up. Have a great conference!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019