Mercy is a Test

Tim Keller, in Ministries of Mercy (his least well known — but perhaps most important — book):

Both James and John use the ministry of mercy as a test.

The apostle John writes his first epistle to set forth the test by which a genuine Christian can be known. One of the tests of Christian love is the ministry of mercy. Christian fellowship must be characterized by the meeting of physical needs. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). Real love is expressed in deed as well as word.

James concludes that a profession of faint unaccompanied by deeds of mercy shows that faith to be “dead,” not genuine faith at all.

“Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:13-17).

In Proverbs 14:31 and 19:17 we are told that to ignore the needs of a poor man is to sin against the Lord. So the poor and needy are a test. Our response to them tests the genuineness of our faith toward God.

No passage is clearer on this point than Matthew 25:31-46. This describes Jesus’ examination of mankind on Judgment Day. He distinguishes those who have true faith from those who do not by examining their fruit, namely, their concern for the poor, homeless, sick, and prisoners.

How can this be? Jesus, when he says, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” is merely expanding on Proverbs 19:17 (“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord”).

He is also agreeing with James, John, and Isaiah (cf. Isa. 1:10-17) in saying that a sensitive social conscience and life poured out in deeds of mercy to the needy is the inevitable outcome and sign of true faith. By such deeds God can judge true love from lip service.

September 17, 2014 | Filed Under Christian Living | Leave a Comment 

Steve Jobs: Find Work You Love

Steve Jobs:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

September 16, 2014 | Filed Under Career | 4 Comments 

The Gospel and Money

The Gospel And Money from mattperman

This is my presentation on “The Gospel and Money” from the workshop I did at The Gospel Coalition 2008 national conference.

In this presentation, I answer three questions:

  1. How should we understand prosperity in light of the biblical texts that seem to take a wealth-negative view?
  2. Is maximizing our financial giving always the best way to serve others?
  3. Can we glorify God in spending money as well as in giving money?

And then I talk about being creative, competent, and audacious in addressing global poverty.

You can also listen to the audio:


September 15, 2014 | Filed Under Finance, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Should Employers Ban Email After Work Hours?

That’s the question asked by a new Gallup study.

If you read this blog much, you probably know that I think legislating behavior is a really, really bad idea. It usually doesn’t work, and on most non-ethical matters, it is generally a failure to treat people with dignity and respect. It is, in other words, parental. It is failing to treat employees like adults, which is far more significant issue than whether the policy is intended for employee’s “well being” or not.

So, what does the Gallup research say?

When you read the first page, it initially sounds like employees would be better off if employers did ban work email after work hours.

But then if you continue reading, you see that this conclusion results from a superficial look at the findings which fails to take into account employee engagement. 

Employee engagement is one of the most important things to manage for, and it is a wonderful thing that the Gallup study has, once again, born this out. If you have engaged employees, most other issues that companies often try to “fix” through intrusive and byzantine policies go away.

Here’s the gist of their conclusion:

These findings suggest that workers will view their company’s policy about mobile technology through the filter of their own engagement. Thus, instead of tinkering with their policies, companies would be better off developing a strategy to engage more of their employees.

And it’s worth reading the whole thing.

September 14, 2014 | Filed Under Management | Leave a Comment 

The Meaning of the Resurrection for Believers and the Need to Finish the Great Commission

This is a message I gave several years ago at a staff devotional when I worked at Desiring God and Bethlehem Baptist Church. I’m in the process of posting a lot of my messages and articles online, and thought you might find this one helpful and relevant on the doctrine of the resurrection and the completion of the Great Commission. 

Philippians 3:20:

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself.”

The purpose of these Tuesday fasts is to express our longing for the return of Christ. When Christ returns, he will raise the dead. All of the dead will be raised. I want to focus on what this resurrection means for believers.

Here is the guiding principle that we see from this passage: Jesus will transform our body to be like his glorious body. This tells us four things about the coming resurrection.

The Resurrection will be Physical

First, the resurrection will be physical. We will not be ethereal spirits throughout eternity, but will be raised with physical bodies forever. We know this because, first of all, that’s the meaning of the term resurrection. More significantly, we know this because Jesus was raised physically from the dead, and this passage tells us that our bodies will be like his. Since his resurrection was physical, so will ours be as well.

And here is a side note on this: Note that Jesus still has his body, and will have it forever. Speaking of his return – a time in the future – the text says that he will transform our body “to be like his glorious body.” Jesus still has his body now and will have it when he returns and forever. When I was a kid, I thought that when Jesus ascended into heaven he shed his body and that it went into a vault or something. If that had been God’s plan, he wouldn’t have raised Jesus physically at all. Jesus rose physically, ascended into heaven physically, and will have his body forever.

The Body that Dies Gets Raised

Second, the body that dies is the body that gets raised. We often talk of getting “new bodies.” Which does get at a truth – which I’ll cover next – but we shouldn’t understand that to mean that God ditches our bodies that we have now and starts from scratch. Our bodies will be raised, not abandoned. That’s the meaning of the term resurrection. We believe in the resurrection of the dead. The body that dies, rises.

This follows, once again, not only from the meaning of the term “resurrection,” but also from the fact that Christ’s resurrection is the pattern of our resurrection. Christ was raised in the same body that died. We will therefore also be raised in the same body that dies.

The Body that Dies Gets Raised and Transformed

Third, our bodies will be transformed. The same body that dies rises, but not to the same state. Right now our bodies are in a “lowly” state. They will be raised to a glorious state – just like Jesus’ body. Our bodies will be glorious. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, our current bodies are perishable, lowly, and weak. Our resurrected bodies will be imperishable, glorious, and powerful. And, they will be spiritual, which means fully directed and empowered by the Spirit.

After the Resurrection, We Will Always be With the Lord

Last, once we are raised, we shall always be with the Lord. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And sthe dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be tcaught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

But the Great Commission Must be Fulfilled First

The Call to Complete the Great Commission Requires Intentionality and Organization

But before this: The Great Commission must be finished. I think there is a sense in which we must be able to say that the coming of the Lord is imminent—it can happen at any time. Yet at the same time, Jesus does say that “this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Some say that that was fulfilled in a sense prior to AD 70, and Jesus was referring to the fall of Jerusalem. Maybe. But I still think that the fact is: Jesus gave us the Great Commission and we need to finish it.

This means that we need to be intentional and organized. We should not just look at that command and expect it to be fulfilled on its own. We need to be intentional, planned, and organized.

Praying for the Completion of the Great Commission

And this leads to what I would encourage you to pray about. Pray that:

September 13, 2014 | Filed Under Glorification | Leave a Comment 

How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done – Slide Deck

Here’s a slide deck to help introduce people to the theology of productivity that I give in What’s Best Next the book.

It can serve as a good refresher for those who have read the book, and also something that you can easily share with those who haven’t read the book.

Here’s the direct link to it on Slideshare.

(Note: I love slideshare! It makes it super easy to share and spread presentations.)

September 12, 2014 | Filed Under Book | 1 Comment 

Links to the Reviews of What’s Best Next

I’ve collected together into a single page on my blog all the reviews for What’s Best Next that I know of. (If I missed anything, let me know!)

Also on the page are links to interviews I’ve done on the book (written, audio, and video) and links to some excerpts from the book that have been posted.

September 11, 2014 | Filed Under Book | Leave a Comment 

Remembering Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis, one of the fathers of modern leadership thinking, died a few weeks ago. The NY Times gives a great summary of his thinking and impact. Here’s the start:

Warren G. Bennis, an eminent scholar and author who advised presidents and business executives on his academic specialty, the essence of successful leadership — a commodity he found in short supply in recent decades — died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89.

The University of Southern California, where he had been a distinguished professor of business administration for more than 30 years, announced his death on Friday. He lived in Santa Monica, Calif.

Professor Bennis wrote more than 30 books on leadership, a subject that grabbed his attention early in life, when he led a platoon during World War II at the age of 19.

“I look at Peter Drucker as the father of management and Warren Bennis as the father of leadership,” William W. George, a professor at the Harvard Business School and a former chief executive of the medical device company Medtronic, said in an interview in 2009.

As a consultant, Professor Bennis was sought out by generations of business leaders, among them Howard D. Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, who regarded him as a mentor. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan all conferred with him.

It continues:

As an educator, he taught organizational studies at Harvard, Boston University and the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

Professor Bennis believed in the adage that great leaders are not born but made, insisting that “the process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being,” he said in an interview in 2009.  Both, he said, were grounded in self-discovery.

In his influential book “On Becoming a Leader,” published in 1989, Professor Bennis wrote that a successful leader must first have a guiding vision of the task or mission to be accomplished and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failure. Another requirement, he said, is “a very particular passion for a vocation, a profession, a course of action.”

“The leader who communicates passion gives hope and inspiration to other people,” he wrote.

Integrity, he said, is imperative: “The leader never lies to himself, especially about himself, knows his flaws as well as his assets, and deals with them directly.”

So, too, are curiosity and daring: “The leader wonders about everything, wants to learn as much as he can, is willing to take risks, experiment, try new things. He does not worry about failure but embraces errors, knowing he will learn from them.”

But Professor Bennis said he found such leadership largely missing in the late 20th century in all quarters of society — in business, politics, academia and the military. In “On Becoming a Leader,” he took aim at corporate leadership, finding it particularly ineffectual and tracing its failings in part to corporate corruption, extravagant executive compensation and an undue emphasis on quarterly earnings over long-term benefits, both for the business itself and society at large.

He worried until recently about what he called a “leadership vacuum” in America, a problem he said was caused to a great extent by a lack of high-quality leadership training at the nation’s business schools.

And perhaps one of his most important points:

A dearth of visionary business leaders, he said, meant that companies were being led more by managers of the bottom line than by passionate, independent thinkers who could steer an organization effectively.

“We are at least halfway through the looking glass, on our way to utter chaos,” he wrote in “On Becoming a Leader.” “When the very model of a modern manager becomes C.E.O., he does not become a leader, he becomes a boss, and it is the bosses who have gotten America into its current fix.”

Read the rest.

September 10, 2014 | Filed Under Leadership | Leave a Comment 

Tips for New Students

David Murray has some great tips for new students going on over at his blog.

They include posts on things like “The Why of Note-taking” and recommended productivity tools such as Dropbox, Evernote, Feedly, and more. The whole series is well worth checking out.

September 9, 2014 | Filed Under Productivity | Leave a Comment 

What’s Best Next Workshop, Session 3

Here is the last session of the What’s Best Next workshop from last April. In this session I outline the process for managing workflow and getting your email inbox to zero every day.

(You can also watch the video at Vimeo instead, and here’s the book if you don’t have it already.)

September 7, 2014 | Filed Under Book | Leave a Comment 

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