Come to the Gospel at Work Conference in Atlanta, January 23 – 24

I’ll be speaking at the Gospel at Work conference in Atlanta, January 23 – 24.

The conference starts that Friday night at 7:30 and goes to Saturday at 12:30. Other speakers include Greg Gilbert, Sebastian Traeger (both co-authors of the excellent book The Gospel at Work), Bob Doll, and many more.

I love the vision of this conference and am really looking forward to it. There is a growing movement of Christians who are eager to understand how their faith relates to their work. This conference is one of the best places to go to be inspired and equipped with the amazing biblical teaching on faith and work.

Here’s a brief description of the conference:

Most people spend at least 80,000 hours of their lives working. Wouldn’t you like to know how to worship God with that time?

The Gospel at Work conference will help you think biblically about your work. Speakers will provide practical wisdom on how to approach the challenges you face in the workplace and offer insight into God’s concern for your work.

You’ll also meet godly men and women from a variety of industries for a series of very practical discussions on topics like career planning as Christians, leading in the workplace and business as a mission field.

If you wrestle with questions about your work, or if you care about someone who does, this conference is for you.

You can learn more about it, and register, at the website.

(And if you aren’t able to make it to Atlanta, they are doing another Gospel at Work conference in Washington, DC, the following weekend.)

It would be great to see you there!

December 17, 2014 | Filed Under Vocation | Leave a Comment 

A Better Understanding of Why We Procrastinate

This is an excellent article, showing that the common stereotype of why we procrastinate is often wrong.

“Conventional wisdom has long suggested that procrastination is all about poor time management and willpower. But it may have more to do with how our brains and emotions work.”

Hence, the solution to procrastination is different than people often think as well.

Instead of kicking yourself (or others) for alleged poor time management, it’s two things. First, don’t beat yourself up over procrastination — that will actually make you more likely to procrastinate next time, because it creates a doom cycle of guilt.

Second, don’t “just do it,” but do “just get started.” The whole task may seem too overwhelming. But if you identify a smaller piece you can at least get started on, often that will build momentum that will keep you going.

December 16, 2014 | Filed Under Productivity | Leave a Comment 

The Vision of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Yesterday I blogged on the vision of The Gospel Coalition because I had just received a newsletter from them that communicated it so well.

Turns out I also recently received a newsletter from The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics (IFWE) which similarly lays out their vision extremely well. IFWE is also an excellent organization that is worth knowing about and following.

Here’s how Hugh Whelchel, executive director of IFWE, starts the newsletter:

“What does IFWE do?” is almost always the first question I am asked about our work at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.

Whether you read our articles every day or every week, you know that we provide perspective and practical insight on the integration of faith and work through our blog.

But did you know that IFWE also has campus programs, curriculum, and more books coming this year? To highlight some of the other resources we have developed for you, we have put together this Impact Report to share our story and the stories of those men and women who have been changed by our work.

He then links to their Impact Report, which is super helpful and worth taking a look at.

One thing worth highlighting from the report is the way they lay out their aim and distinctives in the early pages. It is very simple, and here it is:

Mission

IFWE’s mission is to inspire and educate Christians to live out a biblical theology that integrates faith, work, and economics.

Vision

IFWE’s vision is a free society characterized by greater creativity and increased human flourishing.

Core Values

  • Freedom inspires creativity and enterprise. Freedom empowers us to thrive in our work and serve others. Freedom affirms our dignity and the dignity of others.
  • Fulfillment comes when we use our God-given talents to pursue excellence in our work. Fulfillment is the mark of a life spent glorifying God, enriching others, and finding satisfaction in using our gifts as God intended.
  • Flourishing is fullness of life, wholeness, and abundance. Flourishing is the natural outflow of freedom and fulfillment. When we flourish, we contribute to the fruitfulness of our communities, the thriving of our cities, and the peace and justice of our nations.

What We Do

IFWE conducts high level theological and economic research and translates it into practical resources to help Christians integrate their faith in the workplace and empower them to become better stewards of all their God-given talents and resources.

IFWE’s message is both theologically profound and extremely practical. A robust biblical view of work and economics is intensely relevant to Christians today.

Specifically, the resources IFWE produces to equip Christians include their blog, research papers on their website, videos, e-books, events, and student programs.

A few words on IFWE’s vision. First, teaching on how to integrate our faith and work as Christians is incredibly needed right now. I am so thankful that they are doing this, and doing it so well. We spend far more time at work than at church and, usually, in any other single activity. So it is crucial that we understand how this huge segment of life relates to our faith.

Second, it is absolutely essential to think of our work in connection to economics as well. This is because our work is always carried out in a larger ecosystem — the economic environment of our nation. Good economic policies contribute to the flourishing of work; bad economic policies hinder work and its ability to improve society. IFWE makes this connection and gets it, recognizing that freedom is at the heart of all good economic policy.

Third, I’m so glad that they are not afraid to use words like “fulfillment” and “flourishing.” Perhaps because of our fear of the prosperity gospel, theologically-minded evangelicals can sometimes shrink from affirming the importance of fulfillment and flourishing. We can almost be hesitant to talk about making things go well.

IFWE is careful to understand “fulfillment” and “flourishing” in holistic terms. Hence, central to their understanding of true fulfillment and flourishing is a relationship with God. True fulfillment, in other words, has God as its center. Further, when God so calls, this can co-exist with suffering and difficulty when that is the path of obedience to him.

Yet, our ultimate aim for others is not to let suffering be, but to enable people to be fulfilled and to flourish in a truly holistic sense — socially and economically as well as spiritually. This comes through a biblical understanding of work and economics, with our aim in all things being the good of others and glory of God.

Fourth, IFWE bases all that it does on sound research and evidence. They aren’t just espousing their own ideas. They are thoroughly grounded in the Scriptures and what the evidence shows to be a proper (and biblical) understanding of economics. This is what gives ideas their power — showing that they arise from sound evidence, rather than wishful thinking.

It is worth checking out their website to learn more about IFWE, and following their blog every day.

December 10, 2014 | Filed Under Vocation | Leave a Comment 

The Vision of the Gospel Coalition

I received the December issue of The Gospel Coalition newsletter in my inbox the other day, and I thought they did such a good job stating their vision for the organization that I wanted to share it here.

Here’s how they (Don Carson and Tim Keller) put it:

We helped to found The Gospel Coalition in 2005 with three goals in mind: first, to articulate the gospel in a theologically rich way to demonstrate its relevance to all biblical revelation and to all peoples; second, to deepen thinking and living to “act in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14); and third, to spread this vision of ministry to churches around the globe.

Most of you are familiar with TGC and its vision. Yet, in another sense, I think there is a lot here that is always worth a good refresher.

For example, note the first goal. Their point is that the gospel is at the heart of the Bible. In one sense that seems obvious, but that’s only because people like Carson and Keller have been making that point so well!

Many people still think of the Scriptures as a book of moral principles or disconnected stories. While it does teach us moral principles, and does have stories, the heart of everything — the center and that which connects everything together — is Christ himself, who died and rose again for us. All Scripture points to him ultimately, and is to be understood in that way.

If Christ and the gospel are at the heart of the Scriptures, then that means that mercy is at the heart of the Scriptures. For the gospel is at root a revelation of God’s mercy. And this leads to the second point: the gospel is to affect how we live every area of our lives.

It is, first of all, significant to realize that, just as the gospel is relevant to every facet of biblical revelation, so also the gospel is relevant to every area of our life. We are to think of every area of life in relation to the gospel. But what does this mean? Since the gospel is about God’s mercy, it means that we are to have a merciful angle in how we do and think about everything.

For example, with your business practices letting the gospel be the center doesn’t mean you don’t care about profit. But it does mean that you pursue profit in a people-affirming way — in a way that doesn’t use your employees or treat customers simply as a means to making money. Instead, you see your customers (and employees) as people who are valuable in themselves and whom you exist to bring real benefit to.

It also means that you don’t justify being inhuman or overly strict to people in the name of saying “this is just business.” Letting mercy govern how you do things means you act like a real human being, with emotion and compassion, in every area of life, including business.

Business is just a small example here. To act in line with the truth of the gospel in every area of life means to see yourself as a servant of others in every area, seeking to do what is right for them rather than first seeking to do what is right for yourself.

Third, this vision of the primacy of the gospel is so significant and crucial that it is not enough simply to live it; we must also spread it. And, of course, this is God’s call to his people. We are to believe the gospel, live in accord with the truth of the gospel, and spread the gospel and the vision for life that is in line with it to the world. The chief way that TGC does this is by spreading a gospel-centered vision to churches and ministries globally.

These three principles are incredibly profound, exciting, and life transforming. They are solid principles not just for a Christian ministry, but for a Christian life.

You can learn more about TGC’s vision in their vision for ministry document, and learn more about the ministry they are doing right now by checking out the full newsletter at their website.

December 9, 2014 | Filed Under Theology | Leave a Comment 

A Highly Misguided Way to Talk About Jesus

A blog comments the other day (different blog) said this regarding Jesus’ compassion:

Yes, Jesus was compassionate when confronted with a need, pausing to help the faithful (and in a few cases we know of, non-believers)…that was to show his authority and glory.

I will be direct about this: this is a highly misguided way to talk about Jesus’ compassion. You could perhaps try to parse it in a way that is technically accurate (maybe), yet it gives the completely wrong impression. Here are two problems.

First, it downplays the depth and nature of Jesus’ compassion. By reading this, you get the impression that compassion was just not a big deal for Jesus — that he only did it “to show his authority and glory.”

But in reality, the gospels often speak of Jesus has being motived by compassion (Matthew 9:36; John 15;12-13; Romans 5:15). It was not something Jesus did just to show his authority (and why would that matter for us, anyway, if his authority didn’t exist to be used for the good of people — that is, for compassionate purposes?). It was something he did because he cared. That’s the meaning of compassion, and it is not to be downplayed in the slightest.

And in relation to Jesus’ glory, his love and compassion are themselves a large part of his glory. In other words, his compassion is itself part of what makes him glorious. We know this because the Scriptures speak of God’s grace as the pinnacle of his glory (Romans 9:23; 1 John 4:8; Ephesians 1:6, “to the praise of his glorious grace“).

Further, the author speaks of Jesus simply “pausing” to help the faithful. This makes it sound like he didn’t give significant attention to it, or that it wasn’t a chief purpose of his mission. It was something he simply “paused” to do, while he was on to other more important things.

Instead, Jesus’ own theme verse for his ministry makes compassion the very center of his ministry (Matthew 9:12-13). Everything Jesus did — to the pinnacle of his ministry of going to the cross for our salvation — was motived by compassion. Compassion is central to Jesus’ heart and way of thinking.

Second, it downplays Jesus’ ministry to non-believers. The author says that there are only a few cases we know of where Jesus helped non-believers. This is a strange thing to say about the one said that he “came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

This way of thinking contributes to setting up walls against compassion. It makes it seem as though helping non-believers is not very important, because Jesus only did it a few times.

But in fact, Jesus helped unbelievers all the time. In a very real sense, every single person that Jesus helped was an unbeliever. The reason is that, even if they were already a believer when he physically helped them, that simply meant that his Spirit had first worked in them to bring them to faith. 

And today, the gospel is going to all nations at his command, helping millions of unbelievers everywhere by bringing them to faith. 

This issue is very important because it goes to the very heart of who Jesus is. I take issue with this commenter because I am seeing this thinking more and more, and it is a very subtle thing.  Jesus is appealed to in order to almost justify a type of aloofness and separation from people’s real needs, in the name of “responsibility” or “authority.” It’s as though we think God wants boundaries more than he wants love – which is often messy.

Sometimes we even minimize Jesus’ compassion for the apparent sake of his glory. It’s as though we are afraid that acknowledging that Jesus was compassionate and loved people is going to diminish God-centeredness or something. Instead of allowing Jesus to challenge our own lack of empathy, we end up finding justification for it in him by coming to the gospels with our own preconceived notions.

This is not right, and it gives a wrong view of Jesus — which, in turn, stands in the way of people following him. Who could follow a Jesus who is not filled with compassion? We need more than that.

It is a great irony that people can miss this about the most compassionate person in all of history. And yet, it happens all the time.

 

 

December 5, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Do Hard Things

I enjoyed this post on Alex and Brett Harris at the Gospel Coalition. It starts:

“Do hard things,” Alex and Brett Harris told their fellow teenagers six years ago. Get up early. Step out of your comfort zone. Do more than what’s required. Find a cause. Be faithful. Go against the crowd.

Be better than your culture expects….

“We do hard things, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved,” Brett told me. “Our willingness to obey God even when it’s hard magnifies the worth of Christ, because in our hard obedience we’re communicating to the world that Jesus is more valuable than comfort, than ease, than staying safe.”

Indeed, we are saved by grace and created for good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

In the Harris family, “do hard things” is just a fresh way to say “do good works,” Brett said. “We’ve found it a helpful way to say ‘do good works’ because we often need to be reminded that doing good works is hard, is supposed to be hard, and puts the spotlight on God—where it belongs—because it is hard.”

I love the way they put that. “Do hard things” is another way of saying “do good works.” The rest of the article then looks at the hard things they are each doing right now, and it’s worth reading.

December 4, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

151 Secrets of the Most Productive People

Fast Company’s cover article this month.

“A senator, a chef, four CEOs, and DJ superstar Diplo reveal how, exactly, they get the most out of their days.”

If you scroll down a bit, there is a list of a bunch of other short articles on productivity as well.

December 4, 2014 | Filed Under Productivity | Leave a Comment 

Global Study Bibles for Leaders in Africa and Asia

Crossway has just launched an effort to distribute 250,000 Global Study Bibles to leaders in Africa, India, and other parts of Asia that are under-resourced.

This is an excellent initiative for meeting a massively important need.

You can learn more at their blog post and in the video below.

An Urgent Ministry Opportunity––Global Study Bibles for Leaders in Africa and Asia from Crossway on Vimeo.

December 4, 2014 | Filed Under Missions | Leave a Comment 

Ligonier’s 2014 – 2015 Resource Guide

Handpicked resources to help you grow in your faith. You can view the catalog online or get the app.

It also has helpful sections with gift suggestions for various price ranges and people.

December 3, 2014 | Filed Under Theology | Leave a Comment 

Highlights from the 2014 Global Leadership Summit

Excellent.

December 3, 2014 | Filed Under Leadership | Leave a Comment 

Next Page →