Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 outlines your work this way: “It is good for people to … enjoy their work … And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.”
It has only been within the last few years that I’ve come to realize that work is indeed a gift from God. Did you know that? Obviously, your work helps pay the bills, provide for your family and secures your future, but did you know that what you are doing now to create income is a gift from God?
Why would that be a gift? Doesn’t it say in Genesis that man would toil in the earth all the days on earth? (Genesis 3:17).
- Work reflects the heart of God. God isn’t sitting in His heavenly lazy boy chair watching football games and soap operas. He is active in every aspect of your life. He is guiding and leading and working for the benefit of His kingdom here on earth and in heaven. By working, you are doing a God-thing.
- Work gives voice to your inner soul. If and when you find the kind of work that resonates with how you’re hardwired, if provides purpose and drive for your life. It creates a framework around which you feel alive. I spoke with someone who was transitioning out of a company and asked him if he’d go back into the same line of work. Without hesitation he said, “Absolutely! I love what I do.” This kind of resonation can take years to accomplish. I’ve heard it said that in your 20’s, you are discovering what you like to and are able to do. In your 30’s you are honing in on your skills and passions. In your 40’s you are developing a foundation and establishing your position. In your 50’s you are earning and reaping the benefits of your work. In your 60’s and beyond you are giving back and providing for the needs of others.
- Work adds value to others. The phrase “lot in life” means “what you are doing right now.” What is your work right now? Do you feel that it is adding value to others and if not, how can you change your outlook? If you work at McDonalds, your work helps feed people a meal. If you work at an office doing accounting, your work helps organize the financial situation of others. If you are in construction, your work provides refuge for others or helps provide spaces for others.
God has given you your work – what you are doing right now – as a gift. It may not be perfect. It may not be your ultimate landing place. It is, however, a good thing to work and do what you do as if you have God as your boss.
Ephesians 6:5-7 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
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I’m a string player not a wind player. Simply put, string players play instruments that use metal, hyde or woven wires to emanate sound. Guitars, mandolins and dulcimers would fall into this category. Wind players use their breath to blow into an instruments, usually utilizing reeds and stops to create sounds. Flutes, trumpets and bagpipes (areophones) would fall into this grouping. Being a ‘stringer,’ I’m often in awe of the ‘windies’ and their ability to create such beautiful tones, balanced with the perfect pressure of their breath.
What’s more fascinating, at least to me, is a method they use called ‘circular breathing.’ Circular breathing is a technique used by players to produce a continuous tone without interruption. This is accomplished by breathing in through the nose while simultaneously pushing air out through the mouth using air stored in the cheeks. So literally, one could play and entire melody line without taking a breath. On February 2000, Vann Burchfield set a new Guinness world record for circular breathing, holding one continuous note for 47 minutes, 6 seconds, surpassing the record held by Kenny G. (Watch a video on the technique HERE).
Think about that. Continuous breath. No pause. No break, just a sustained engagement with music.
For those of us who are Christ-followers, we too are circular breathers. From God’s perspective, there is no pause, no break in the movement of air He calls His Holy Spirit. His Spirit is in constant movement through the lungs of our faith. His Spirit lives and moves and breathes in and through us creating an unending melody line called our story.
You and I are circular breathers. We breathe the Spirit of God. We inhale and exhale as we walk in His Grace and there will never be a final note.
There is a tool used in a monologue of comics called “the comedic pause.” The purpose of this pause is to set up a laugh line. In essence, a comic would tell a story and right before the punch line, he’d pause, creating a sense of tension before he’d ‘drop the funny line’ – the best of the whole story.
The world is experiencing a comedic pause in the death of Robin Williams. Event details dribble out but most are stunned at the loss of such a larger than life public figure. We hear he was just a regular – brilliant – guy, riding his bike around the Bay Area and talking with adoring fans as if they were neighbors. Often, he’d be seen performing at the local comedy club for pennies of what he normally commanded.
I think that death is a comedic pause for the life of a Christ-follower. We tell our stories and our death sets up a tension until the last punch line of Christ’s return. For me, that will be a joyous, if not hilarious, day. A day when all who are in the kingdom will tell the last and final statement of victory and then let the laughter begin – for all eternity.
I don’t know, but I pray that Robin will be counted among us comedians. Can you imagine what eternity would be like with Mork walking it’s streets. I laugh even at the thought.
They didn’t know each other and we didn’t know her. Yet last Friday, we all connected.
I opened up my email and saw one sent from, “Quinn.” I don’t know any one bearing that name. Spam had spammed me I thought. As is my habit on these junky occasions, I hovered my cursor and right clicked – ready to send it to that folder for the abyss. Yet, in my spirit, I was prompted not to hit ‘delete’ but ‘open’.
These were the words staring back from the screen:
“We have never met before or spoken, but I just thought I would let you know how your blog, or I guess how Makenzie changed my life. You see, this weekend I am getting baptized and the reason is because of your daughter. I came across your blog and found myself very intrigued by your family’s story. After reading about Makenzie and her love for Jesus, I found myself wanting to give my life to Jesus. I just want to thank you for putting her story out there. I know it changed my life for the better and I am sure it has done that for many others.”
Once again, God used my daughter’s short-well-lived life to change someone else’s for eternity. Once again, I as the dictator of the story feel immensely humbled by it all. Once again, I thank my Lord for Hope-lived-out and His eternity breaking into Quinn’s history.
Thank you, Quinn, for letting me use your email and for following the calling of Jesus!
(Update: Quinn was baptized this past Saturday!)
Matt Stefan and Family
I’m angry this morning.
I don’t normally wake up angry yet today I am.
A friend of mine who has influence and has influenced hundreds of adults and high school students died suddenly on July 4th of a brain aneurism. Young, brilliant, creative and physical death captured him as he prepared for his day.
Funny thing is, Jesus is angry as well. In fact, the morning that my friend died, my devotional reading was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus saw what death had done to Lazaraus’ family, the original language says that he was angry at it. Many translations use the words “deeply moved” but the Greek says that it was an indignant anger. Like when a horse snorts, that is what Jesus did (so the original language says).
Get that. Jesus wasn’t angry at Lazarus’ family. He wasn’t angry at the real or hired mourners or even that he chose to wait to visit. Jesus is angry at death itself. Angry that death causes pain. Angry that death stirs up emptiness. Angry that death shreds the emotional heart of people. Jesus is angry at my friends death as well.
Yet death is necessary for life. Death is glorious for those who know Jesus. In fact, God says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”
I need to sit on that for a bit. As much as I am angry, more so God is rejoicing and meet us in our sorrow. Join me as pray for my friend’s family as I let the comfort of God’s Spirit quell my anger.
Photo by K. Karnez
I want a divorce.
I’ve been married to you for far too long. You control me. You run my life and I have no freedom. When I want to go one way you force me to go another. When I want something better, you pull me back down. When I want to help, give, support and love, you weave your way into the fabric of my generosity.
And so, I am leaving you behind. I know you will chase me. I know you will want to stay with me but I will have it no longer. I am seeking to be made new, washed clean and given life.
You are known by many names and given to fits of darkness. And so, Pride, I am divorcing you. Self-centerdness, you are moving out. Hopelessness, Depression and Grief, you and I are parting ways. I have found a new love. Someone that makes me come alive. Someone that stitches Joy and Humility together to cover me in a blanket of Love. Someone who gives me Freedom that comes from Heaven and opens up a vast new territory of Peace.
Her name is Grace. Birthed from the heart of my Savior, Jesus. Given as a gift unending. Not earned, waged or demanded, but poured out to me despite of me. A forever lover through whom I live forever. Joy is mine. Hope is mine. Love is now mine.
Yesterday, my 17 year-old daughter Maddie, dressed in her flowing pink and sparkling prom dress and led the singing at a “Frozen” party. (“Frozen” is a wonderful Disney movie recently released). 25 preschool through second grade girls (mostly) dressed up in their favorite ‘princess’ attire, danced around and sang at the top of their little lungs- word for word – all the songs from the soundtrack. It was delightful and my high school aged daughter was stellar.
As I was listening to one of the songs, it struck me that God wrote one of them. Yup. It’s right there in the title and verses. Love is an Open Door.
Here are snippets:
I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place
And maybe it’s the party talking or the chocolate fondue
But with you
I found my place…
I see your face…
And it’s nothing like I’ve ever known before!
Love is an open door!
To the pain of the past
We don’t have to feel it anymore!
Love is an open door!
Okay, the surface intent is to express the love between two lovers, but this is exactly what God promises through Christ. In Christ, we find our place. In Christ, we see God’s face. We say goodbye to the past and -inserting a verse from Revelation – He wipes away every tear.
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Implication… “I am the open door through which all people everywhere have access to a relationship with God and a new address in Heaven.
Love is an Open Door, and His name is Jesus.
By the way, here is a clip of a couple singing the song to the radio in their car. It’s my favorite: