Trust Amid the Storm

My family and I were directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. More accurately, we were impacted afterward when the US Army Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates of the Barker Reservoir sending a deluge of flood waters into my neighborhood and many, many others in the City of Houston. For thousands of Houstonians, the impact of Harvey began as the storm itself moved from our area.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 13:5 NASB

The days, weeks, and even months after we evacuated our home are somewhat of a blur, but I remember them vividly. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but the statement is accurate. Evacuating with no advance warning, we had to make quick decisions about what we took with us, heeding the instructions of the boat pilots to take as little as possible. We didn’t have time to worry about where we would go or what we would do; we just knew we had to leave.

You know what? As I look back on what I call our “Harvey Story”, my heart fills with gratitude. For through everything, from evacuation to fostering pets, from accepting vehicles on loan to a fully furnished home to live in as we cleaned ours out, from dealing with the federal government for a low-interest loan to managing through repairs (which still aren’t fully completed), we experienced God’s provision. God worked through the volunteers who helped us evacuate and later clean out our home. He worked through so many who donated cash, gift cards, cars and even a house. He honored the prayers of many friends as He offered clarity to my sometimes rather dazed mind. Indeed, amidst the tumult of the storm, God never left us. He was always there, and more importantly, He was directing everything.

As David wrote this psalm, and many others, his life was in turmoil. He sometimes felt that God had forgotten him, leaving him on his own to deal with his thoughts and circumstances (Ps 13:1-3). But, while God sometimes allowed David to experience trials and tribulations, He never left Him. And through it all, David was reminded of that which is truly important: “…my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”

I wish I could tell you that my attitude throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was always positive. I wish I could tell you that I consistently maintained my disciplines of study, worship and prayer. I wish I could tell you that I never worried, never doubted, never feared. I wish I could, but I cannot. But here is what I can tell you. I can tell you that through my lows, through my lack of discipline, through my worries, my doubts and my fears, God was always faithful. He met every single need we had as the need presented itself. God directly intervened in our lives to see us through the disaster.

Now we are faced with a sizable loan that must be repaid. I drive part time for Uber and Lyft to help make the payments. I’m sometimes tempted to worry about our financial future. Then, in the quiet of the morning, God gives me His Word. He offers this reminder that, no matter what, my eternity is sealed. My salvation is sure, thanks to His grace and mercy through His Son, Jesus. And, with that reality and His blessing, I can face anything.

What storms are you facing today? Is there turmoil in your life that you’re struggling to manage through? Do you wonder where the next paycheck will come from? Is work stressful and overwhelming? Take a moment today and read Psalm 13. It’s short, but packed with meaning. Let God remind you of that which is supremely important. And know that He hasn’t forgotten you, nor has He abandoned you. He is there. He loves you. He cares. He will see you through.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Get Some Rest!

I went to bed at 9:00 last night. 9:00! On a Friday night! I remember “back in the day” just getting ready to head out for the evening at 9:00 and now, here I am, hitting the sack! Truth is, I’ve had a busy week and I’m tired. I need some rest. I need to sleep.

By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Genesis 2:2 NASB

I find it rather fascinating that the concept of “rest” originated at creation with the Creator Himself. Here, in Genesis, at the conclusion of His creative work, God takes a whole day to rest. What did He do on that day? Why does God need to rest? As I ponder this, my mind fills itself with questions that Scripture does not answer. And I know that the fact that Scripture does not answer them means that those questions really aren’t all that important. Which leaves me with…God’s action. His example. His rest.

Do you ever feel like our society has dismissed the notion of a day of rest; that society considers taking a day to rest a waste of time? I do, sometimes, and that is a huge mistake. Scripture does offer some additional insight:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11 NASB

So now we have God’s example and we have God’s command. We are told to rest and to keep the seventh day holy. So, what does that mean? In this busy, 24/7 world in which we live, what are we to do with that?

I remember watching a movie years ago in which a Christian family of 1800’s vintage spent a Sunday afternoon sitting in chairs staring at the walls. They had gone to church, and now they were trying their best to obey God’s command to rest. They were not allowed to speak. The children, if they fidgeted, received a stern look from their father. And there they sat. All afternoon. Is that what God wants? As well intended as I believe these parents were, I think they missed the mark.

Jesus, Himself, was criticized by the Pharisees for “working” on the Sabbath day. First, His disciples had the gall to pluck heads of grain and eat them as they walked through grain fields on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1ff). Wait – Jesus and His disciples are walking on the Sabbath! Jesus rebukes the Pharisees’ rebuke and continues on to the synagogue. Inside, He encounters a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus answers with a question (I love it when He does that) and proceeds to heal the man’s hand which, of course, sent the Pharisees straight over the edge. (See Matthew 12:1-14)

I think the Pharisees would have liked that 1800’s family. But we see here that, like the 1800’s family in the movie, the Pharisees missed the mark. What we see here is so much bigger than my decision on how to spend my day of rest. Here, we see Law and Gospel. Sin and Grace. Condemnation and Redemption. Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the Law, provides the answer to my dilemma.

One of the commitments I’ve made for 2019 is to be deliberate in seeking rest; Taking one one day to unplug from work and give my mind a break from what it spends so much time doing most of the week. Just as God gave Himself a break from His work of creation, I am committed to taking a break from the toils of my daily work. I’m not staring at walls. I’m not maintaining silence. I’m doing something different.

You see, I am best equipped to do my best work when I show up in the morning well rested and reenergized. And so are you. Do you get enough rest? Are you able to unplug? It is important. When we rest from our work, everybody wins.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Finding Meaning

Drudgery. Minutia. Routine. Unimportant. Unappreciated. Boring.

Do you ever feel this way about your work? Do you ever wonder why you show up each day to do the same darn things only to have nobody notice or appreciate your efforts? Do you find yourself saying, “I hate my job,” or, worse yet, “My life has no meaning.” I know people who feel this way and my heart breaks for them.

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

If you’re feeling this way, I want you to ask yourself who it is you serve. For whom do you work? Had you asked me this question a few years ago I would have answered with the name of a company or the name of my boss. But in reading God’s Word, my perspective has changed. Yes, my employer provides a paycheck. But I work for the Lord.

The masters we serve in the world are imperfect. Executives sometimes make poor decisions. Bosses are sometimes hard to work with. We see unfairness and injustice in the world around us. And when we are touched directly by such things, as I have been, our attitude may become negative and our productivity may decrease. In contrast, the Master we ultimately serve is Almighty. He is kind, gracious and merciful. Always. In every circumstance. We are to approach everything we do as being done for Him. Because it is.

The beauty of this proverb is that its truth extends beyond our employment, and it includes a promise. “Works” here contemplates all that we do – our daily work, our morning routine, our evenings and our weekends. Indeed, this proverb reminds us that we are to commit our very lives to the Lord.

Note the promise: “…and your plans will be established.” The passive verb here is important. God doesn’t tell us that we will establish our plans. No – He tells us that He will establish our plans! Contrary to what many modern-day thought leaders will tell you, life’s purpose does not come from within. It cannot be established by reading self-help books or even through self-determination. Life’s purpose is found in the Lord. When we commit our lives to the Lord, our plans become His plans – actually, His plans become our plans. We are aligned with our Lord. The pressure is off! If that’s not a gift, I don’t know what a gift is! Praise God!

Dear friend, if you are one for whom your life’s work, or even your life itself, is unsatisfying and unfulfilling, ask God to change your heart. To whom (or Whom) are you committed? If your commitment rests with anyone but the Lord, why not consider making Him your life’s focus? Commit your works, indeed your very life, to Him. Seek Him through reading His Word and prayer. There are a plethora of Bible reading plans that can help you get started, including many in your local Christian book store and on YouVersion Bible App.

God is waiting. He is available. He will provide. He will establish your purpose. He will work it out. For you.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com (2019)

The Best Walk…

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!

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