That Strong Tower

I earned my bachelor’s degree at a small liberal arts college in Austin, Texas. Part of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod education network, it was known as Concordia Lutheran College when I was there; today it is Concordia University Texas. One of the aspects of attending Concordia that I appreciated the most was the daily chapel service. Lasting about 20 minutes, it offered a daily grounding in worship and Word as students and faculty gathered together each morning. I miss that.

“The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Proverbs 18:10 NASB

Do you sometimes feel stressed or overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world? COVID-19. Civil unrest. Divisiveness. Disunity. Joblessness. Dysfunction. Oh, and on top of all of that, it is an election year. I’m reminded of the old TV commercial, “Calgon, take me away!” Ha! (For you younger readers, the Calgon of years past is the Lush bath bomb of today.)

I have learned over the years that the things on which I focus tend to take center stage in my life. For good or for harm, they have influence. Focus on the turmoil in the world and life feels tumultuous. But, shifting that focus to God’s Word has an amazingly calming effect. Much more so than any bath bomb can offer.

What does this have to do with chapel at Concordia or the proverb quoted above? College life offers its own set of pressures and stress. As I walked into Concordia’s chapel each morning, I was entering that strong tower. That place of peace and calm. The place where we were reminded each morning, through worship and Word, of Who it is that we serve and the fact that He has a grand purpose for our lives. It was in chapel that students and faculty worshipped together, unified by the Word of God and uplifted by the examples of Christian faith all around us. And, as I departed the morning service, everything I faced, no matter what it was, took on a completely different perspective and priority.

I often wish there was a daily chapel service I could attend today. Thankfully, God comes to us through His Word no matter where we might be when we seek Him. God meets us where we are. For me it is in the quiet of the early morning, when I read and consider God’s Word, that I am most at peace. The act of posting here and on Instagram inspires me. Even if nobody ever reads this, I am reassured, regrounded and rejuvenated by having taken the time to write.

I do miss Concordia’s morning chapel. I miss gathering with other Christians to worship, receive the Sacraments, hear God’s Word proclaimed, and offer mutual encouragement. And I am thankful that He is here, with me now, in the quiet of this early morning. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App with (c) Roger Coles

(c) workisministry 2020

Is Anything too Difficult for God?

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Sometimes, important points are made through the asking of a rhetorical question.

The Bible in One Year reading plan begins in the book of Genesis. I always enjoy reading these accounts of God interacting with His people as He foreshadows His ultimate act of salvation through Jesus. Here, the context is God’s promise that Sarah, elderly and beyond normal childbearing years, will have a son from whom God will build a vast nation (Israel). What Sarah doesn’t know is that, from this lineage will come Jesus, Son of God and Savior of mankind!

I am also greatly encouraged in seeing how God does magnificent work through imperfect people; sinners like me.

Is anything too difficult for the Lord? Of course not! Amen!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit @youversion

The Importance of Listening

I call it, “the bull elephant trumpeting the herd.” Know what I mean? I’m thinking about the person who comes into a meeting at work, or worse yet, at church who has all the answers and is bound and determined to make sure everybody in the room knows it. He is not there to listen or seek to understand; he is there simply to stir the pot and leave others to clean up his mess as he makes his grand exit.

“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

Proverbs 13:10

Merriam-Webster defines strife, “(1) bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension; (2) exertion or contention for superiority.” Why does one behave this way, especially in professional and church settings? This is where pride rears its ugly head. Pride tells a person he must always be right. Pride tells a person she must always be the smartest in the room. Pride tells a person that the people in the meeting with him are of small importance and have little to offer. Pride says, “I will speak, you will listen.” In the church and in business, such behavior not only impedes progress, but it needlessly builds dissention and disunity – both of which can destroy a church and a business if allowed to take root. “Don’t be that guy,” I remind myself constantly.

In his book and seminar entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey famously said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This, my friends, is wisdom. Wisdom casts personal pride aside and puts to interests of the group first. Wisdom looks around the room, sees value in everybody present, and earnestly seeks to hear what they have to say. Wisdom says, “I know I don’t have all the answers, but these people can help me discern the right path.” Wisdom seeks truth and understanding before forming opinions about what to say or what strategy to deploy. Wisdom listens first, asks meaningful questions, and thanks the team for their contributions. “Be that guy,” I remind myself constantly.

Which Jeff will I bring to work today? The prideful, arrogant Jeff (he’s there, trust me)? Or the wise, discerning Jeff (he’s there too, thank God). I seek wisdom for my life through God’s Word and the counsel of Christian friends whom I trust. Through this, I am equipped to leave the prideful, arrogant me in the background as I seek to lead my team with kindness, love, and – yes – wisdom. Time to go to work.

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