Monthly Archives: April 2014

Just Work

I’m struggling today to work diligently. I struggled with it yesterday as well. I’ve also struggled recently to write coherent sentences on this blog or put meaningful thoughts together. The past couple of days, my work (all of my work) has felt sub-par. It’s all felt like failure.

So today I’m working on just working. And I’ll ask you to join me.

Today, all I’m asking of you and me is that we’d just work.

“Just work” doesn’t mean a lot of things. It doesn’t mean just achieve. It doesn’t mean just complete. It doesn’t even mean just create, produce, perfect, hone, or refine.

It means just work.

Just.

Work.

Just do something.

And the result may be shoddy and sloppy. It may even be disgraceful and embarrassing – a pock on your image of self. But at the end of the day it will have been work, and you will have bore the image of a great God who also works, and that’s pretty cool.

If you struggle with procrastination (like I am today), my hunch is that the hangup isn’t the work, but the fear behind the work. Fear of failure, fear of a sub-par product, fear of discomfort. We tie our identity to our work and then work become scary – because if my identity is my work, and my work isn’t very good, then I’m not very good. So I’m scared to work because, “what if?”

Can I tell you something though? Your identity isn’t your work, it never was and it never will be. Your identity is not what you can create or do or say or produce.

Your identity is found as a child of God, purchased by Jesus. You can’t earn that.

Today, you don’t have to work to be something, because you already are something. You are an heir. You are beloved.

I hope that frees you.

Today, I’ll still try to do my job well. But my goal isn’t excellence, my goal is obedience. My goal is to just work. Maybe you will join me.

Today’s bar for success isn’t output or product. Today’s bar for success is effort. Results be damned.

Chasing Fears

I know you have fears you don’t tell people about. I know that you probably even have fears you don’t like thinking about. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me explain.

Here are some things I’m scared of:
– the dark
– dogs
– that I’m not actually that smart of a person
– that I’ll never accomplish what I think I can
– that people might think I’m foolish
– that I am foolish
– that the Bible isn’t inerrant
– that Jesus didn’t get out of the grave

Those are all (very real) things I get scared of sometimes. I don’t know why I get scared of dogs sometimes, but I do. And don’t judge me about the dark thing either… you can’t tell me you’ve never sprinted into bed after turning off the light from across the room just to bundle up in your covers. (I mean, I guess you could tell me that… if you want to be a liar.)

(I’m also scared of sharing things about myself on this blog… that’s a weird one… anyways.)

When I get scared, I want to run from what I’m scared of. I want to avoid it at all costs. Maybe it’s running to my bed, maybe it’s getting in a defensive position from a dog, maybe it’s not putting myself out there, maybe it’s only taking on “challenges” I know I can conquer, maybe it’s not asking difficult questions about the Bible, maybe it’s avoiding conversations with skeptics, maybe it’s not praying for things I really care about.

Maybe I do all of those things from time to time. Maybe you do to.

My biggest fear is that Jesus didn’t actually get out of the grave. My biggest fear is that I believe in a fairy tale… a really elaborate, 2000 year old fairy tale.

Maybe it’s not the biggest fear you have, but if you believe in Jesus it should be. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, we’re all a bunch or jokes. Really sad jokes.

So what should I do with this fear? What should we do with it? We should run. We should run as hard and as fast as we possibly can. We should run until our legs are sore and our lungs ache. We should run.

Right into it.

Fear tells us that Jesus isn’t the real deal. Well if he wasn’t the real deal, I want to know about it. I don’t want to waste another minute worshiping a fairy tale.

If the Bible isn’t inerrant… if the Bible has errors… I want to know about it. Why should I trust my life to a book that isn’t true?

If I’m not as smart as I think I am, I want to know. Do I really want to live all my life trying to be something I’m not?

If there really is someone in my room when I turn off the light, I need to find out. (I mean, he might have come over to hang out and it would be rude of me to leave him hanging.)

In running toward my fears I find out if they are true or not. When I ask difficult questions of the scriptures, I find them to be up to every test. When I pray for things I care about, I find a caring God who loves me. When I turn the light back on, I find an empty room and nothing to fear. When I test the limits of my intellect, I find bounds that allow me to be who I was made to be.

We think of fear as weakness. We think that fear is this great gaping hole in us that we should cover up and hide. “No one can ever know my fears.” We think fear is embarrassing. But that’s not true. Fear isn’t a liability, it’s an asset. Fear helps us find what is important. It clarifies and focuses. Fear is healthy and good. Fear is a tool.

But only if you use it.

Running away from our fears and allowing them to live on unexplored keeps us from doing what we were made to do. It can be paralyzing and oppressive. Unexplored fears keep us from achieving and trying

But if we chase down our fears, if we explore them (which can be scary (!!)), we find them to be true or not

If we find them to be true, we can prepare and adapt – I mean: if there really is some fatally dangerous event on the horizon, I need to start preparing now

If we find them to be false, we can promptly scratch them off our list of worries and laugh in fear’s face. (I think that’s a minor superpower or something.)

But you can do neither of those if you run away from your fear.

Too often when we are faced with fear we choose to run in the wrong direction. Choose differently today.

When fear shows up, run right at it. There isn’t a fear in this world that’s better left unexplored. Not one.

Finding Your Calling

If the question is, “What should I be doing?”

The answer is, “Praying.” (tweet that)

And then, if after praying you still are asking the question, “What should I be doing?”

The answer is, “Pray more.”

I was reminded of this truth this morning by a good friend.

You and I can plan and scheme, we can think practically about our skills and likes, we can spend hours taking personality tests and working our butts off to try and figure out what we were created to do.

But wouldn’t it be easier just to ask the Creator?

Unreasonable Demands

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Believers in Christ have the capacity to be the best at anything and everything they do. Today we’ll talk about being the best at dealing with unreasonable demands (demands may come from bosses, or coworkers, or friends, or situations…)Here’s why Believers should be awesome at this: we get to practice doing it all the time.

In my job, I get assigned tasks that are impossible. I’m given an hour to complete a task that takes five, or maybe I need to write a report, but i don’t have any of the supporting knowledge or materials. If impossible weren’t hard enough, there are all the tasks we’re asked to do that may be possible… if only our instructions were clear. Often I’ll sit at my desk after receiving an assignment and think, “How do I do that? And what exactly are they asking for?”

But as a Believer, I’ve got years and years of daily experience dealing with impossible situations. You do too.

Constantly being asked to do the impossible
Christianity is pretty black and white – trust in Christ for your salvation and you’re good. It’s also a million shades of gray.You are called to provide for your family, but your boss just asked you to do something unethical or be fired. Do you quit (stay ethical but fail your calling to provide for your family) or do you do it (unethical, but providing)? Or how about the fact that you are supposed to be honest and forthright, with your yes meaning yes and your no meaning no. How do you then sign contracts – swearing and guaranteeing your word?

Our world is filled with half contraditions and sub-optimal constructions. Should I do this thing at the expense of that thing, or not?

Every. Day.

So as believers what are we to do? Walk in obedience.
(That’s not a helpful answer… let me try to do better.)

I don’t know what you’re supposed to do, nor could I prescribe a solution to the untold number of gray situations you find yourself in. But the answer to your question is: “What is obedient and faithful?”. (Yeah yeah yeah, the answer is a question. I didn’t say I’d do a good job being helpful…)
Only you can answer what obedience looks like. But once you do, you go with it.

“But what about when the answer leads me to some level of disobedience in another realm?”

Then you confess your sin – even if it’s “not your fault” or was “the only option”. Sin is sin is sin. So you repent of all sins, even the sins you “couldn’t avoid”. Because it’s your sin that created the situation in the first place. (original sin, contributory sin… let’s come back to this idea later.)

What does that mean for work?At work, we get practice. Every day. We get to work like we live.

When faced with a seemingly impossible situation, work hard and do the best you can with what you have. Then be quick to admit when you screw up or fall short. (But what if that’s scary? Let’s talk about that some other time.)

You should be more comfortable than anyone you know with being asked to do the seemingly impossible. God asks you to be holy every day, but most days you don’t make it out of bed before failing that call. So when your boss asks for a report that you aren’t sure how to put together, I bet you’ll be ok.

I’m Decidedly Anti Time Travel

When I was little I thought time travel was cool. Who wouldn’t want’t to go back to the future, or back to back to the future… or something. In college I tried to learn about historical financial events and the timelines of really successful people and companies; partly because it’s good to know those things, partly because I wanted to be prepared should I ever wake up in the 1910’s or the 1400’s. (You need to be prepared for these kinds of things, you know?)

Time travel was cool mostly because it was a fantasy. You can’t time travel back to the 1910’s.
Then I learned you could time travel, and I started to try it. Now, I time travel almost every day.
It sucks.
Last night I traveled forward in time to tomorrow (now today… “whoa”, right?), then I traveled back to 1996, and then forward again to 2024.
I thought about the day ahead, then I remembered something a teacher told me when I was in third grade, and then I worried about who I would be in 10 years.
You know what though?
Time travel sucks.
Time travel is one of the most detrimental things you could do for yourself. In our sinful nature, we’re prone to want to replay the past or pre-play the future, but it’s distracting and disorienting. It’s distracting because it literally takes our attention off of our present day actions. It’s disorienting because we were made in the image of an eternal God, and the only thing with any resemblance to eternity is the present, certainly not the past or future.
CS Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, described it this way:
“In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays… Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
The Scriptures are laden with warnings and admonishments about worrying about and planning for the future as if we could control it. “Don’t go into the future” the Scriptures say. Yet I find myself there all the time.
And what of the past? That body of experience that won’t leave you alone? Most of them have been wiped away and are no longer who you are. Your sins have been paid. Completely wiped away and separated from you in the eyes of the only judge that matters, why would you disagree with him. “Don’t go into the past” the Scriptures say. But there I go again.
We are supposed to live in the present because it’s the only place we can meet God. Surely, he is still in the past. And surely he is in the future (God’s omnipresence is a precious doctrine). But we won’t find him there… not the way wetime travel.
Focusing on the past or future keeps us from seeing God’s faithfulness to us right now, in this present moment of need. And he has never failed to provide for our present needs.

God. Has. Never. Failed. To. Provide.
It’s only in the past or the future that God fails us… and then, like time travel, it’s only in our minds.