Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The second main section of Anthony Selvaggio’s book A Proverbs Driven Life addresses work- work as divine calling & working with integrity.  Both of these are important subjects in our day and culture.

Let’s not think simply about “job” because we work when we clean up the house, do laundry, mow the law or take on volunteer ministry tasks.  For instance, I am called (voca) to work as pastor, husband, father, homeowner, son, brother, pet owner … I think you get the point.  Each takes time and requires integrity.

Selvaggio does this by defining work as “any set of tasks to be performed in the pursuit of a particular goal.”  That is a good, broad definition.  We tend toward extremes in regard to work:  Why?! and Why stop?!  Some of us are lazy and need to get off our duffs in front of the TV and get to work.  Others of us make an idol of work, resist rest and need to slow down for the sake of our spiritual lives and family life.

When I look at how others may have ‘prospered’, I am tempted to think I’m lazy.  But CavWife reminds me that I put more time into parenting than they do.  I’m working, just at different things- things that don’t necessarily generate income.  But work is never to be measured by income alone, but by what God has called us to do.  Yet, most of us need to hear the warnings about sluggards.

“What an ironic testimony to the extent of our fallen nature!  Here the book of Proverbs calls for humanity, the very pinnacle of God’s creation, to be instructed by a mindless, soulless, tiny insect.  Man, who was placed on earth to have dominion over all creation, must sit at the feet of the ant to learn a rudimentary lesson on work.”

Oh that more of us would listen.  Notice the homes, families, businesses and churches that are in a state of serious neglect and disrepair.  But this is a gospel issue, as Selvaggio notes:

“Refusal to embrace a diligent work ethic is sinful because it violates a primary call God has given to us as Christians- to echo our Creator who works.  The sin of the sluggard (like all sin) has consequences – poverty and want.”

The gospel, when preached for sanctification, points to Christ’s work in us to apply His work for us such that we become like Him.  He works (and rests).  As we are conformed to His likeness, we will work and rest properly.

Selvaggio does not fool around.  He goes for the throat- calling out our excuses, lack of initiative, pride and idolatry.  He preaches the law to drive us to Christ in this area.

“Both (the sluggard and workaholic) are interested in avoiding responsibilities that don’t interest them.  The workaholic simply avoids things by a different technique- crowding them out of his calendar.  And where the sluggard is sure to suffer economic loss, the workaholic suffers losses that are often more relational than monetary, but nevertheless real, lasting, and painful.”

He points to Jacob to illustrate the change that can happen in a person.  Jacob was a man who lacked integrity.  After God descended and wrestled him into submission, Jacob becomes a man of integrity (though not perfectly).  We can work, by God’s grace, with integrity.  This is about working hard and working honestly.

“Greed can tempt us to seek an unfair advantage whenver we buy and sell.  Laziness or malice toward employers can tempt us to cut corners in the quality and quantity of our work. … Much of our sin is simply an effort to gain by sinful means the satisfaction or security that God has promised to give us freely.  (Make no mistake- all our grasping, selfish, Jacob-like sins are among those for which Christ died, and his forgiveness is freely available.)”

Anthony Selvaggio once again does us a service by not just summarizing the teaching regarding work from Proverbs, but by putting them within the context of the gospel.  I recommend this to all who work- which is nearly 100% of us.

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The kids have been playing “going to the Farm” and “riding on the airplane.”  I think they are ready to head north, away from the heat and humidity to spend time with grandparents and cousins galore.

I know I need a change of scenery.  I’ll continue my “search for work” while I’m up there.  It would be great to have an offer on the house and a job close to in hand by the time we return.  I should spend some time working for my brother-in-law, so I’m not sure how often I post while we are gone.  Oh, and I do need to spend time with CavWife and CavKids!

I will be preaching at the small church nearby while we’re up there.  The pastor will be taking a trip himself.  I’m undecided as to which sermon to offer.

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The last few weeks have been just that.  It has been good that I am not working because I feel like I’ve been all around central Florida.  I have taken CavSon for doctor’s appointments and testing in Lakeland and Orlando.  I’ve gone to meetings about job openings in Tampa.  Lunch with pastors in Avon Park, preaching in Avon Park.  I brought the laptop to the Geek Squad in Lakeland (reason for the decrease in the number of posts, and lack of pics of the family).  Gas is $4/gallon and I’m driving more than ever.  This weekend we all head up to Brooksville for a wedding.

CavSon may have some mild hearing loss associated with the frequent ear infections experienced by children with cleft palates.  Next week I bring him back to Orlando to make sure his left ear is healthy.  Our surgeon expressed some concern about that ear.  He has begun speech therapy (no driving, the guy comes to our home).  We are trying to work on the expulsive consonants (b, p and so forth).  He has to learn how to use the muscles in his mouth.  Much of what he says is a slur of vowels right now.

CavDaughter is going everywhere on her new bike.  A friend down the street got a new bike for her birthday, and decided to give her old, smaller bike to our daughter.  She is excited to be riding it, though she has not yet learned how to use the brakes.  This makes for some interesting moments.

She’s trying to “sow her oats” as only a 3 1/2 year-old can.  We are having to address an increase in disrespect and demandingness.    This can make for a long day.

While I’m in my borrowed office, I try to look for work on-line.  Not terribly exciting.  It confirms my internal call as I await a new external call.  I’m trying to keep up with what is going on in the world (theological, political, sports etc.) but am falling way behind since I can’t surf at night.  Perhaps this is good for me.  I’m not reading as much as I’d like, either.

The return of rain also means the return of mowing season here in Florida.  My brown desert hath bloomed all green.  I will need to put in increased lawn time now.

Put it all together and I feel quite harried and pressured as the future intrudes on my present.  I’m looking forward to a few days away from it all for the wedding.  Perhaps it will clear my head and heart.  But until then, I’ve got to work on a homily.

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It has been a topsy-turvy week for the Cavman.  I thought I was quite close to a new position, and it ended up not happening.  So while trying to regroup I also have to rev up a job search.

This brings up some big questions for me.  Do I just “buy time” with a job that pays the bills while continuing to look for a church position that may never materialize (oh me of little faith)?  Do I shoot for something along a career path since that church position may not materialize in the reasonably near future?

I know of one guy who couldn’t find a church position and ended up at Frito Lay and relocated north.  One day a guy knocked on his door asking if he was a pastor.  “Yeah, I was.”  He wanted him to do pulpit supply for their church.  “Sure, but I’m going to shoot straight with what the Bible teaches.”  Sure.  Before he knew it, he was their pastor and they slowly became Reformed in their theological outlook.  So, stuff happens.

The future is unknown to me.  Thankfully the god of open theism doesn’t exist, so God knows what he’s going to do with me.  I don’t know and feel quite powerless at this time.  I feel like I’m dangling over a precipice.

The last time I was in this precarious position, I was single.  Now there are a wife and 2 kids to consider and care for.  That really ups the ante, if you know what I mean.

It is difficult to figure out what to do precisely because I have this sense of calling to ministry (which has been affirmed by many).  I know it isn’t rational, or make any sense, but I feel like I’m betraying God by pursuing what could be a career position.  No one said we always make sense.  But these are the inner gyroscopes that keep on course, or discombobulate us at times.  I need time, which I don’t have, to sit and think and pray.

I know God will provide, but what will He provide?  A last second call to a church that fits fairly well?  A new career that provides well for my family?  A just-get-by job to tied me over until ….?  A friend told me to think like the Israelites in Judah- settle in for the long haul rather than put life on hold.

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I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post in the next week or so.  Yesterday I went to Presbytery.  Between where I am cicumstance-wise and some decisions made, I’m pretty discouraged.  I’m not excited abou the direction our Presbytery seems to be moving.  I’ll leave it at that.

On the way home I dropped the laptop off for the Geek Squad to try and fix the problem with the screen, again.  It intermitently goes blank, like there is a short.  We need to fix this before the extended warrentee goes the way of all flesh.  But this means I can’t go on-line at home.  Office time is a bit infrequent right now as family responsibilities take up some time.

Today CavWife brings the boy to the surgeon’s office for his post-op check-up.  His stitches will be removed.  We are concerned that there seems to be a “valley” on one side of his palate.  I will stay home with the girl, listening to her pound on the wall as she rocks instead of naps.  I may try to watch The Simpsons Movie again before returning it to its rightful owner.  Or I may sit outside and prepare for the Family Study as we wrap up 1 Peter 2.

I am excited about how well the Red Sox are playing right now.  This despite the missed starts by Beckett and Papi slump (which is over thankfully), Lowell’s injury and shaky starts by Lester and Buchholz.  Ellsbury and Papi are helping the cause of dominating my fantasy baseball league. 

Congrats to KG for getting some of the recognition he deserves for making the Celtics one of the best defensive teams, which transformed them into a winning team.  To watch them in the playoffs, expecting them to win, is a feeling I have not had since the late 80’s.  And I’m loving it!

The Bruins at least made a series out of it with Montreal.  I expected the Canadians to sweep them.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The downfall of Game 7 was losing their aggressiveness.  They seemed more reactive than proactive so the Canadians just walked away with the game.  Or perhaps skated away.

The girl is currently getting her first experience of Rossini here in the office.  She seems to enjoy it despite the fact it has no lyrics (on this CD).  I have to bring her home now.

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Paul David Tripp’s latest book is A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You.  As a blog partner of WTS Bookstore, I got a free copy.  It is one of their bestselling books right now, and for good reason.

This is an easy to understand, but spiritually challenging book.  I may have to go back and read it more slowly.  The book is essentially a meditation on Matthew 6:33:  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Tripp explores the idea that our hearts, as Christians, are battle grounds between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of me.  He does this in a thorough, accessible way that brings conviction even if you are barely paying attention.  Each chapter begins with a Bottom Line and ends with a Final Question.  He wants to make you think about your life, rather than merely process abstract ideas.

He begins by tying this into the lie of Satan in the Garden.  He offered more, but we ended up with a lesser glory.  We end up becoming preoccupied with these lesser glories due to the influence of sin.

Chapters 3-7 explore life in the kingdom of me.  He talks about autonomy (a law unto ourselves), our need to control, our self-focus, wearing masks and how life shrinks instead of expands when we focus on the kingdom of me.

The rest of the book explores life in God’s kingdom focusing on the preeminence of Christ, sacrifice, our dissatisfaction with the way things are due to sin, living in harmony with God, forgiveness, loneliness, righteous anger and hope.  He in no way exhausts these subjects, but wants us to see how they fill Scripture and are important signposts letting us know if we are living for the right kingdom at any given moment.

This is a key.  Our hearts are like Europe during the Battle of the Bulge.  In any given day we will make numerous decisions, some to build God’s kingdom, and some to build our own.  Some may even have a mixture of motives.  This plays out in marriage, parenting, work.  As I parent, which kingdom am I building?  Whose kingdom and riches am I working for?  And these questions become important parts of ministry- whether formal or informal.  I’ll be preaching what is essentially a summary of these ideas on Sunday.  These ideas need to become a part of the counseling process, and ministry evaluation.  If we don’t ask ourselves, and one another, these types of questions we will plunge unhindered into the kingdom of me.  These are the ordinary means God will use to let us know we’ve gone rogue on Him.  And all of this is why I think this is an important book to read.  Tripp invites us into the mystery of our hearts to begin to reveal that mystery.  Great stuff.

The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the “romance” language.  In some ways this is an over-reaction to the over-popularization of John Eldredge (whose use of this language sounds an aweful lot like open theism).  Tripp doesn’t go into all the “God risk” blather.  He does not open a door for open theism in his discussion of romance.  But it all strikes me as odd to talk about my relationship with God that way.  He’s thinking about the passion and commitment, but I’m thinking of the unavoidable sexual overtones to the concept.  There has to be a better way.  Or maybe I’ve just been listening to too much Mark Driscoll who doesn’t want to sing love ballads to Jesus.

This is a very small part of the book.  The vast majority of the book is thought-provoking, challenging and draws upon Scripture consistently.  I was encouraged to read that he has watched Magnolia a number of times, captivated by its themes of brokenness and redemption.  Tripp wants to understand the human condition and how it plays out in ordinary lives- as well as how God interrupts our course with His grace.

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While reading Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, I was amused to discover the work conditions for the clerks of the bank which held the gold prior to shipment.  Here are the “Rules for Office Staff” posted in 1854:

1. Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.

2. The firm has reduced the working day to the hours from 8:30 am to 7 pm.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office.  The clerical staff will be present.

4. Clothing will be of a sober nature.  The clerical staff will not disport themselves in a raiment of bright color.


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I’m making a final push to finish The Heart of a Servant Leader by C. John Miller.  My slowness in reading the book of letters by Jack should not be confused with finding the book intolerable.  In reality it is a delight.  And often what I am reading hits home with my struggles or circumstances at the time.  So… the speed with which I’ve been reading this great book has more do with providence than anything else.

I was sitting in my temporary office just now feeling sorry for myself.  I was getting sucked into the hole as I consider my future.  I picked up the book, and the letter I didn’t read yesterday was entitled Do Not Take Your Identity from Your Suffering.  He was writing to a man who was abandoned by his wife.  Here’s some of what he said:

“…don’t forget the aweful blinding power of sin when it goes deep into a life, and it goes deep into all of our lives.  Such sin cannot endure suffering.  Anne has admitted that she cannot endure suffering, and she has made you suffer so terribly.”

“We do mean to urge you not to take your identity from your suffering and having been made a victim, even a mutilated one.  That is what has happened to you, but that is not your identity.  Your identity is defined in Ephesians as being in Christ.  You are first of all forever defined by your being in union with your most faithful friend, even the Son of God, who saw you perishing in your sin and blindness and then gave His precious life for you.  He sees all of us as betrayers of His love, grace, and laws.  And yet He found it in His great loving heart to die for the treasonous, faithless ones.  For me and for you.”

We seek our identity in success, relationship and any other number of things.  But in suffering such an identity seems more thrust upon us.  But slowly we begin to choose it.  We become defined by our suffering- “I am an alcoholic/addict.  I am a cancer victim/surviver.”  In my own case, it would be easy to identify myself as “pastor without call”, which is my current designation in Presbytery.  That is a temporary status (as are all the rest)- my true identity is son of God through union with the Son of God.  I need that today.


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I was looking at my Roadrunner polls again.  The question was: What is the #1 priority in your life? (71,366 respondents thus far).

66%  Family & friends

12% Religion

8%  Money

6%  Other

5%  Fun

2%  Pets (I doubt they all live in Seattle)

For a culture that focuses on family and friends as the number 1 priority, how come we have so many fractured relationships?  Why is money the primary argument in marriage?  And probably between parents and teens. 

I guess these are more aspirations than lived out priorities.  The rather low % of people putting God in a nation where 80% claim to believe in God is shocking.  I guess they don’t grasp the fact that God is our highest good, the one who alone can claim the right to be our #1 priority.  This just shows that we truly are idol factories (Calvin).

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