Archive for February, 2010

Choosing the Right Profession

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

All work is sacred to God.  The work of a missionary is no more sacred than that of a man or woman with a secular job, such as working on an assembly line.  In both cases, if that person is using his spiritual gifts by doing the work that God designed him to do, then he will find satisfaction in his job.  Meanwhile, he will not dread going to work because he is doing what he enjoys, what he’s good at, and what glorifies God. 

Many people don’t enjoy their work.  This should be a clue that they’re not in the job that God designed them for, and they should make a change.  However, we often have problems figuring out what God has called us to do.  This is especially true for young people just entering the work force.  There are three things that can help in this process: 

1) Each of us needs to decide what we’re good at, and what we love.  Too often we simply choose a job or a career based upon how much money we can make to buy all of the toys that we want.  God has given each of us specific gifts and abilities, and if we can recognize them and put them to proper use, then we will indeed glorify God, and in the meantime we will find gratification in our work. 

2) Younger people need to be able to depend upon older people for guidance.  When I went to college, I had no real career guidance.  I decided to be a software engineer, and I believe that it’s only by the providence of God that I chose the correct career path for myself.  However, I sometimes wonder if I should have pursued an advanced degree, and spent my life in research and development.  At the same time, I wonder if I should have spent less time on my formal education, and chosen, say, diesel mechanics as a profession.  Nobody was there to talk me through these various possibilities. 

3) Once we’ve found the right position for ourselves, we need to learn not to deviate from it.  When we enter a particular career, we will notice people in other jobs.  Some make more money than we do, and others might seem to enjoy their work more than we do.  We shouldn’t deviate from the right career path by trying to make more money, or by trying to do a job that is better suited for others.  If God made you to be an assembly line worker, and you’re offered a position in management, turn it down.  Don’t compromise by trying to make more money in a job where you will be lacking the required abilities (and gratification). 

We need to decide what we love and what we can do well, and then do that thing well.  If you’re a young person, make sure that you have explored all of your opportunities.  If you’re an older person, make yourself available to younger people, so that they can learn from your experiences, and your mistakes.

For the Joy

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The Bible indicates that we should tolerate any problems that we might have by looking forward to the most important things.  Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

As God, Jesus Christ created the faith that we have in Him, along with His perfect plan of salvation, so that we can spend eternity with Him (John 3:16). 

As a man, Christ endured the shame of the cross by looking forward to the joy of sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God the Father.   

Jesus should be our example.  Whenever we encounter (relatively minor) problems, we need to think of the joy that we will have in eternity with God.

What Love Is

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Today I received one of those cute e-mails that circulates among family and friends.  It was about the responses from very young children when they were asked what love is.  I realize that we’re supposed to just appreciate these e-mails and pass them along, but this one included some very profound truths, “from the mouths of babes.”

There is a lot of misunderstanding about what love is.  However, in Biblical terms, there are three types of love:  friendship love; sexual love; and, Godly love.  The children’s responses actually addressed all three types.

Many of the children talked about love in terms of affection.  One child said, “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”  This indicates a friendship type of love, where we enjoy each other’s company, and we like to do things together, even if we have to overlook some of the faults of the other person.

Another child said, “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”  This is also friendship love, which can even exist in a young child’s relationship with his pet, as well as in his relationships with other people.

One of the children had a different kind of response when she said, “Love is when you kiss all the time.  Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.”  This indicates a sexual type of love, in addition to a friendship type of love.  This child was describing a man and a woman who love each other in a physical / sexual way, and she also noticed that they were good friends–enjoying each other’s company and conversation.

Then this e-mail addressed the type of love that the Bible refers to as Godly love (“agape”)–a mental attitude free of any bitterness or ill will.  Some of the children captured this type of love in their responses.  One said, “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”

Another child said, “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”

If you love someone, you are truly willing to pursue the welfare of that person.  This means that you want what’s best for them, to the extent that you’re willing to make sacrifices so that person can indeed have what’s best for them.  The examples about sharing food with someone you love does indeed indicate this sacrificial type of love.

The e-mail also included the following story from author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia:

A four-year-old child’s next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.  When his Mother later asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

C.S. Lewis said that when you love someone, you want to take that person’s suffering onto yourself. In fact, 1 John 3:16-17 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Perhaps the best description of Godly love was from a child who said, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

Although many people misunderstand what love is, I believe that this child definitely had the right idea.  This grandfather had a mental attitude of Godly love toward his wife.  He wanted what was best for his wife.  I’m sure that painting toenails wasn’t one of his favorite hobbies.  Like most men, he probably didn’t even understand how painted toenails could be very important at all, in the grand scheme of things.  Yet, he knew that it was important to his wife.  So, he was not only willing to perform this act of love for her, but he also did it repeatedly.  He even showed that his love for his wife was sacrificial.  Even when “his hands got arthritis too,” he endured the pain, just so that his wife could have painted toenails.

I believe that the key to this Godly love is the characteristic of being unselfish.  If a husband truly loves his wife, he doesn’t find faults in her; neither in the things she enjoys, nor where she might have failed to live up to his expectations.  Instead, he unselfishly wants her to have the best things, even if he has to make sacrifices to acquire those things for her.

What Can Satan Do?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

There are about 80 verses in the Bible that reference Satan, or the Devil.  Of these, we get a pretty good idea of Satan’s abilities, as well as his limitations.  Here is a list of the things that Satan can do: 

– Incite (prompt) people to take some action (1 Chronicles 21:1, John 13:2)
– Present himself to God (Job 1:6)
– Roam the earth (Job 1:7)
– Incite God to tempt man (Job 2:3)
– Make accusations against us to God (Zechariah 3:1)
– Tempt us, and persecute us (Matthew 4:1, Revelation 2:10)
– Drive away demons that he himself sent (Matthew 12:24)
– Sow weeds among good seed (Matthew 13:39)
– Cause men to stumble (Matthew 16:23)
– Cause men to rebuke God’s Word (Luke 8:12)
– Cause disease, and physical crippling (Luke 13:16)
– Lie, be deceitful, and murder (John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 11:14)
– Possess (enter into) the hearts of the lost (John 13:27, Acts 5:3)
– Take power over people (Acts 10:38, Acts 26:18))
– Outwit men–He is smart–He schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11)
– Afflict men with demons–a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7)
– Perform counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
– Take men captive (2 Timothy 2:26)
– Possesses the power of death (Hebrews 2:14)
– He has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8)

Here are Satan’s limitations: 

– God can rebuke him. (Zechariah 3:2, Matthew 4:10-11, Jude 1:9)
– God can crush him. (Romans 16:20)
– God can bind him. (Revelation 20:2)
– He flees when we resist him (James 4:7)

We need to be aware that Satan is powerful.  However, it is often difficult to tell whether our sin is a result of our own flesh, or of the temptation of Satan.  Either way, the good news is that God possesses ultimate power over Satan, and Satan will flee from us when we resist him.

Don’t Expect Moral Leadership from Politicians

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

John Edwards recently admitted that the child of the woman he had an affair with is his child after all.  First he lied about having an affair at all, adamantly proclaiming that these accusations were false.  Then he said that he did have the affair after all (while his wife was battling cancer), but he lied about the baby, claiming that it wasn’t possible that the woman’s baby was his.  Now he has admitting to both the affair and the baby, as well as all of the bold-faced lies.  Isn’t it scary to think how close he came to being vice-president, and even president?

During the Democratic primaries for his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Edwards had the audacity to cite the failure of moral leadership among our national leaders, convincingly portraying himself as our moral savior.  Somehow, politicians (especially lawyers, it seems) have an uncanny ability to stand in front of television cameras and tell bold-faced lies (both Democrats and Republicans).

One doesn’t have to look very far to find moral failures among politicians.  Below are just the main ones among governors and senators during the last two years:

– Former vice-presidential candidate and Dem. Senator of North Carolina John Edwards admitted this affair, and fathering an out-of-wedlock child.

– Rep. Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitted an extramarital affair.

– Dem. Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois was accused of attempting to sell President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

– Rep. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was found guilty on seven federal counts of failing to report gifts received, a violation of the Ethics in Government Act.

– Dem. Governor David Patterson of New York and his wife both acknowledged extramarital affairs.

– Dem. Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York resigned from office due to a prostitution scandal.

– Rep. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested for homosexual lewd conduct in a men’s restroom, entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge, announced his intention to resign from the Senate, and then refused to resign.

Looking back a few more years, the list goes on and on:  Dem. Governor Jim McGreevey of New Jersey (extramarital affair and homosexuality); Dem. President Bill Clinton (lying in a sworn deposition, impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, sexual harassment, and numerous adulterous relationships); President Richard Nixon (resigned from office rather than face impeachment for the Watergate cover-up, accepting illicit campaign contributions, and illegal wiretaps).  Dem. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse and even leaving the scene of an accident in the suspicious death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969, although he suspiciously escaped further charges which may have included negligent driving, DWI, manslaughter, or even murder.

We cannot expect moral leadership from our government and its politicians.  Indeed, they should have live moral lives, but they have proven to us that very few do.  Sadly, it’s even becoming more difficult to expect ethical behavior from our Christian leaders.  I suppose that because of the failure of man’s flesh, we can look only to the Bible for moral leadership.

Jeremiah 7:9-10 says, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe”– safe to do all these detestable things?'”

For those of us with some moral values, it’s very tempting to just stop voting because we can’t believe any the campaign promises from our politicians.  However, of course, not casting a vote would be worse.  I suppose that we just have to decide whether we’re going to vote for lying Democrats or lying Republicans.  What a sad commentary on American politics.