Working As To The Lord When Your Boss Is Dung

Most of us have to work to pay the bills.  In doing so, we often have to work for bosses who are either difficult or haven’t a clue on how to be a boss.

When I read what the Bible says about working in Colossians 3:23 I can’t help but to laugh.  Here’s what it says:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

So this basically says we are supposed to work our jobs as if we are working for the Lord.

Ummm…dear God…have you met my boss?

Throughout my long career I have worked for many bosses.  Some good and some bad.  The worst was one that was in a different mood every day.  You never knew what mood she would be in.  She would tell you one thing then fuss you out later for doing the thing that she told you to do.  That kind of boss really stresses you out more than the job itself.
So how can you “work unto the Lord” when your boss is a pile of dung?

Let me start by stating the obvious – it isn’t easy.  First and foremost, you have to control you.  Be consistent regardless of how you are being treated.  Do your job and be good at it.

Have someone you can vent to.  You will need someone to talk to about it.  Preferably not someone you work with because you don’t want to be tempted to gossip or stir up dissension where you work.  Talk to your spouse or best friend.  You need to talk about it if you are going to get through it.

Pray about the situation.  God can change things.  I am a believer in this because it happened with the supervisor I mentioned above.  I prayed that God would either move me or move her.  He moved her.  Just remember if you pray for change that you know what you are praying and that you are willing to accept the change.

It isn’t easy to work for a jerk as a boss.  I know how it is to pray for change and not see it happen right away.  It takes some incredible patience to continue to work for somehow who makes life miserable.  Some people aren’t meant to be a boss over anyone.  The challenge is to keep them from stealing your peace.  The only way you can maintain that peace is to keep your mind and heart in line with God.  If you can’t find a quiet place to pray, take a walk and talk to God about it.  He can calm your frustration over the situation until He makes the change.

I don’t understand why people can’t act right and be decent.  It is in every workplace but it is important to continue to do good even when you are not being treated good.

And if you are the boss, think about how you are treating people who work for you.  Are you treating them as you would like to be treated?  If you were your boss would you like you?  If not, make the changes to do it right and treat people with respect.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine your flesh and blood boss to be the same as the Lord but make the effort and practice patience.  Keep your integrity even if you boss isn’t the example of that.

Can You Be A Believer And Not Attend Church?

The answer to this question is not as easy as you would think.  It is a different answer depending on who you are and what you need.  The avid churchgoer would answer this question with a resounding NO and back up their argument with the verse “Forsake not the gathering yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25) along with other facts to support that answer.  The people who either aren’t regulars or even attend church at all will answer that they don’t need church or some story about how they were hurt by the church. 

So what is the answer?  What do you want the answer to be?  Are you waiting to pounce on my own answer to contradict it to line it up with the answer you want it to be?

Consider this….why is church important if you attend or not so if you don’t attend?

In my own personal experience, I attended church regularly for years.  Yes, I was one of those who some would say “cut their teeth on the church pews” although I always hated that reference.  It would bother me greatly if I ever missed a single church service.  Going to church was engrained into me so much so that going to church seemed to gauge my relationship with God.  Going to church was religious more than relationship.  It even got to the point where I was miserable and often left church feeling worst than when I got there.  

I guess you can figure out my answer.  I do not attend church now.  I will give some of you a moment to gasp and shake your head in disbelief.  

Don’t worry.  I’m okay and my relationship with God is strong.  

If you attend church faithfully I do not discourage it.  Everybody is different.  I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t be going to church.  That’s something between you and God.  Let’s not tune out from this article now and pass judgement on either side.  I have heard the sermons before about not being a spiritual Lone Ranger and how much we need the church.  I understand that completely.  

Some people need to go to the church building and be a part of a bigger group. That’s the way that they stay accountable and encouraged.  There’s no problem with that at all.  The problem is when we use church attendance as a barometer on how close we are to God.  Some act as if God is keeping roll for some heavenly spiritual attendance award.  I know.  I was there and I have done that in the past.  

I will admit to you that not attending requires someone with strong self discipline.  I’m not the model of self discipline but I have been able to maintain my personal relationship with God without attending church.  Certainly, it is hard to keep it up on your own.  When you are basically on your own, you have to do like David did and encourage yourself.  (1 Samuel 30:6). To stay spiritually in synch you have to keep communication open with daily prayer.  When you fail to pray you are setting up for failure.   In this time of technology and social media, there are many things available to help keep you spiritually sharp.  If you need to listen to a sermon, you can subscribe to a podcast or access a library of sermons.  If you need uplifting spiritual music, you have that available too.  If you need to be with a group of believers, you can do that online or meet with people in your life who are also believers.  

Church attendance is important but it isn’t a sin NOT to attend either.  I won’t say that I will never attend church again in the future.  I just don’t foresee myself ever being part of a church at this time in my life.   I grew up as a preacher’s kid and had been a part of the church for most of my life and have seen the good, the bad and a lot of the ugly about church.  Some might say that I am burnt out.  I would disagree with that but people will think what they want to think.  The turning point for me was a week I spent  in a monastery.  It was something that spiritually opened a new world for me.  Instead of the loud, Pentecostal environment I had been a part of, I learned the importance of being quiet and reverence of silence before God.  It was something I needed and gave me a better understanding of God than I had ever had before.   

That’s just me.  I’m not saying it is the same for you.  I know many pastors who genuinely care about people and have churches because they want to help people in their relationship with God.  

So, as you can see, the answer to this question is very objective.  It depends upon your need as a believer.  We all have to work out our own way in this life.  

God’s Got Your Back

Have you ever been betrayed?

It hurts right to the heart.  It may be a family member, a spouse or someone you thought were your friend.  Whoever it is, it’s a difficult thing to overcome.  

God understands this pain.  It’s probably a good thing that He never gave us the ability to throw fireballs at people who wrong us or we would certainly be tempted to us it.  He’s also a God that won’t usually hurt the person that has hurt us.  

Most people want to immediately plot their revenge or be tempted to talk about the person who wronged you.  It’s very difficult not to.  We usually feel that we have some sort of right but we really don’t.  The Bible says to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) but you know that’s not so comforting when we are fresh from the betrayal.  

The best medicine for being “stabbed in the back” as we call it – is to let God heal us.  And exactly how is He able to heal us?

First we need to take it to Him.  Vent to Him about what happened.  Sit quietly and regroup.  If you retaliate then you are usually the one who looks worse in the end.  

Silence works.  Just don’t fuel it and don’t repay something wrong with doing something wrong.  God knows your hurt.  

Listen to spiritual songs that speak to you.  Many times in the past one song that I always go to is “Made Me Glad” by Hillsong.   I like the chorus when it says:

“You are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliverer, my shelter, strong tower.  My very present help in time of need.”

Sometimes it’s hard to pray or talk to God about our hurt.  He also understands our tears.  Our tears speaks words that we can not say verbally.  

Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to do good to people who do us wrong.  It’s never easy to just eat it and press on.  Even more is when the wrongdoers act like they haven’t done anything wrong in the first place.  We want to hold people accountable for their actions but the reality is that people do get away with things.  Their actions go unchecked and their betrayals are never repaid.  If we don’t recover then we will find ourselves stuck reliving the betrayal and continue to be hurt. 

I have often been stuck on the verse that says God is our ever present help in time of need.  (Psalm 46:1)  I often read that as meaning God will fight back for me but it doesn’t mean that at all.  It means He will be present to help me and heal me.  He gives me a chance to take a timeout from the situation. 

I am not one that agrees we should make allowances for someone else’s bad behavior.  I have a hard time letting go when someone needs to be held accountable.  Life just doesn’t always even the score and it’s hard to accept that.  The longer something like this lingers, the harder it is to get over it.  

Somehow, some way we have to rise above the betrayal.  If someone hurts us we have to be good at taking the hit and continue living.  The emotional wounds may heal but sometimes they will leave scars.  The scars serve as a reminder that we live in an imperfect world with hurting people.  

God’s got your back.  He knows all about betrayal and pain.  

What If God Had A Delta Force?

book coverToday I have released my new e-book.  The book is a Christian fiction novelette about a secret paramilitary group called “Gideon Force”.   Gideon Force is an elite tactical unit led by Commander Gabriel Morrison called to help missionaries around the world by rescuing them from persecution they face from radical groups and governments. The unit is equipped with a futuristic military-style armada to assist them in their mission. Members of the Force are hand-picked by God to serve their fellow man in protecting those who are called to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the biblical story of Gideon and his army, God had Gideon further test their readiness and thinned the army down to 300 men. That night, Gideon gave each man a trumpet, a torch and a clay jar. They surrounded the enemy camp, with each torch hidden inside the jar. At Gideon’s signal, every man blew his trumpet and broke his jar. The confused Midianites turned on one another, with the survivors fleeing the camp. Gideon and his courageous 300 men won the battle against a larger and more powerful army.  

Although this novelette is a work of fiction, the reality is that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today.  Many are being jailed and killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  While many Christians in the United States are not persecuted to the extent of believers in other countries, it is certain this will come before Christ’s return.  This book has not been written to condemn other countries or other religious beliefs but to show the extent of the persecutions being suffered by believers in Christ.

So exactly what is meant by persecution?

Persecution is the hostility in any form to believers because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  It can range from verbal harassment to beatings, torture, confinement and death.  Today, approximately 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions.  In over 60 countries, Christians face persecution from governments because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

So what is so threatening about Christians and believing in Jesus Christ?  The threat is from the fact that belief in Christ is based on grace and not on works.  This theology takes the power out of the hands of the leaders in other religions.

Consider this:

  • 322 Christians are killed each month because of their faith
  • 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed each month
  • 722 forms of violence are committed against Christians

(Source:  OpenDoorsUSA.org)

I originally wrote this story as a series in a local church newsletter.  I thought I had lost these several years ago but recently found them and decided to self-publish them in an e-book format.  I felt strongly that this was the appropriate time and platform to release them.  The e-book is now available in Kindle format from Amazon for 99 cents.  Please download it, read it and review it.  

Click here to purchase Gideon Force

Thank you for your support. 

 

 

Praying For Other People

I have said before that one of the hardest prayers to pray is for other people.  As much as we want to see the person change, there is nothing we can to do make it happen – not even prayer.  But, that doesn’t mean not to prayer.  The problem is that we want to see them change in the time and way that we want them to change.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  I have seen people pray for years that their spouse or family member would become a believer only to see that it becomes a routine request on their list.  Can prayer change things and people?  Yes, absolutely.  With God anything is possible but as I have said many times, even God won’t impose His will on people by force.  

For me, I have prayed for people in my life and believed in my prayers only to see them die and the prayer never answered.  Is it frustrating?  Yes.  Honestly, some people are so stubborn that they resist our prayers or God moving in their lives to a better change.  Even with the unanswered prayer, I continue to pray for people.  No, I don’t lay hands on them or try to preach to them. I pick my spots and try to use wisdom on what to say and what to do when the opportunity presents itself.  

Things to remember when praying for people:

Be Patient – It takes incredible patience to pray for people.  It can take years before anything happens or it may never happen.  You have to prepared to stick with it for a long time.  

Don’t try to fix it yourself – This is what happens when you are impatient. Doing your own thing could really mess it up.  Pray and leave it to God.  Don’t impose your will.  

Remember it is according to God’s Will not yours – As painful as it is, you have to understand that God sees more into people than we can.  Sometimes we don’t have all of the information.  

Always be open to forgive – If the person finally opens their heart, don’t put conditions on it.  If you prayed and they are changing, don’t try to get your “say” or feel that you’re owed some kind of compensation for all of your prayers.  

Realize that some people will never respond to your prayers – This is the hardest of all.  You can pray, fast and do all the things you know to do and the person may never respond.  Just remember that praying for someone is never a waste of time.  

Remember the story of Pharaoh and Moses?   Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.  It took plagues to finally break him down to let Israel go but he still changed his mind back and pursued them.  Even when God convinces someone to open up, they can still give into their own will.  

Continue praying for people in your lives and keep believing in God’s ability to work in their lives.  Whether it is for salvation or to restore a relationship, people are worth it.  

Keep The Faith

For Easter my wife got me this necklace and it has meant a lot to me.  The message to “keep the faith” is now more of a reminder than ever before.  It also means a lot that she knows how important keeping the faith is to me.

So what does it mean to keep the faith?

It means to always strive to live a life that is pleasing to God and keeping my faith in Jesus Christ.  Now I know today people cringe and look at you sideways when you say the name of Jesus Christ but a life with Jesus means hope.  It never means I am perfect.  I am far from that.  I need God’s grace and mercy everyday.  That also means I need to show it to others which can be a challenge.  Keeping the faith doesn’t mean that I have the license to condemn other people or lifestyles that I don’t agree with.  It means that I live the best life that I can live because I can’t possibly live someone else’s life or debate anyone into living their life in a certain way.

There are challenges of keeping the faith.

It isn’t easy to keep the faith. The most difficult times are when you are trusting God when everything is going against you or what you are praying for.  Those times are the toughest of all.  Praying for people is the most difficult challenge for me because no one can force another person to change. God can’t even make someone act or do a certain thing.  As much as I want to reconcile with a person in my life, I can’t make it happen or pray enough to force God’s hand.  That’s not how it works.

It’s also difficult to be consistent in keeping the faith everyday.  I will be honest and admit that I get tired of praying sometimes. It’s not easy to pray when nothing changes or when things go totally in the opposite direction and when God doesn’t speak to me audibly.  He never has.  So, yes, the keeping part loses a little steam at times.  But, when those times come, I have to find ways to encourage myself which, for me, it comes from a song or the silence of mediation.

I will always, always remember the time that my Pa Pa said he liked my testimony at a surprise birthday celebration we had for him many years ago.  He said he liked my ability of sticking with God.  That has encouraged me many times over the years through some of the darkest times of my life.  Sticking with something means you have to put forth the effort.  It’s not a passive experience to keep the faith.

Keeping the faith doesn’t mean I have always had it easy.

It bothers me when I hear other believers complain of experiencing setbacks that is common to us all.  Just because we are believers doesn’t mean we won’t have a flat tire or have to deal with sickness.  Stuff happens regardless how strong our faith is. Sometimes it is a test but most of the time it’s just life.  Instead of asking WHY, I have learned to ask God HOW to get through it.   No, I don’t always get it right but I do the best I can.

Keeping the faith has always been who I am.

My parents did a good job raising me and teaching me how to act.  I developed my own faith from the foundation they poured for me.  Although our relationship has suffered setbacks in my adult life, I am eternally grateful for what they started in me.

I have always believed in God differently than most others do.  Unfortunately, I had to unlearn some things that the institution of the church taught which made God more like a perfectionist than one who is a loving father.  I was once a part of a church that focused more on keeping their rules and laws than a God that could be my friend.  It took a while to reboot my thinking and find a God that lives in the silence rather than the noise that I grew up with.  I learned that you don’t have to holler and scream to get God’s attention but that it comes with a quiet and listening mind.  

People may think I am crazy enough to believe that God can still perform miracles and do the impossible.  Sorry but I won’t apologize for it, that’s who I am.  One person even told me to my face that God doesn’t do things the way I believe that He can.  I guess they have their God in a neat, tiny box.  God can do whatever He wants to do whenever He wants to do it.  No one will ever take that away from me.

Keeping the faith means that I strive to be an anchor for my wife and family.  It took some hard times to get here but I am thankful for a God who has given me a second chance to be a better man and a woman who fits God’s description of a helpmeet.

So, I wear this necklace with determination and commitment.  I am not ashamed to do so.  It’s funny now wearing this necklace that speaks of my life’s statement would have been against the church teachings in my past.

Throughout my life I have been driven to keep the faith.  From times when I faced the lowest parts of my life and even wondered about living life at all to the times when keeping the faith has led me to what a good father God has been to me.

No, it’s not an easy thing to keep the faith but I can assure you that for me it has been worth it.

Can God Talk?

Deaf womanI heard a podcast recently where the speaker made a comment to not limit God to speak in an audible voice.  I can understand the speaker’s point but can’t God still speak audibly at all? He apparently did it in the Bible but I often have wondered why He doesn’t speak that way today.  Not that I want to limit God but I would just like to hear him speak to me in a voice like we do with everyone else.

So why do people say that God doesn’t speak in an audible voice?  Here are some opinions I found when I put the question in Google:

“God really has spoken. And this Word is living and active. It is not a dead Word. He really speaks today through the inspired Scriptures.”  (John Piper)

So this explanation suggests that God has spoken in the Bible and that’s it.  Again, I understand this explanation and it’s true that God does speak through is Word but isn’t that still limiting God too?  Honestly, sometimes I think this “well God speaks through the Bible” can be a cop-out for an explanation.

From one of the most popular websites, gotquestions.org, it answers with:

“There is no biblical reason why God could not speak to a person audibly today.”  

But it goes on to add that God also can speak in other ways such an inner voice or mental impression.  Which is true but, still, at what place does a person get to where God speaks in an audible voice?

As eager as we would want God to speak in our voice, the fact is that we simply can’t force God to do it.  It is totally His choice when or if He does it.  We can’t orchestrate circumstances or manipulate situations to make it happen.

He has never spoke audibly to me although I have deeply desired for Him to do it.  At one time, I was obsessed with hearing his voice but no matter how much I wanted it to happen, it never did.  Instead it left me frustrated and confused.  I learned that I could never be good enough or spiritual enough to make it happen.  Nothing I could do was going to force God’s hand.

I mean, you would think that if people heard God’s voice that they would easily believe and never doubt Him again.  I know of a man that heard God’s voice and his life was changed but he eventually fell away.   You would assume that if someone actually heard the voice of God that they wouldn’t need anything else.  Sadly, that’s not true.  That didn’t even happen in the Bible.

So when does God speak in an audible voice to us?

I guess He would if He had a good reason to do it.  If there is a divine purpose or something that you are supposed to do, I would think that would be when He would speak if you are going to play a key role in God’s purpose.

Of course, I know you and I have met people who claim that God “speaks” to them all the time.    Yeah, I do the eye roll too.  Sure, He speaks to you about EVERYTHING.  I wouldn’t think that God would speak routinely to people.   Unfortunately I have found that these people seem to say that God speaks to them in order to manipulate people around them or to come across as some super-spiritual person.   I met one minister who said that when God speaks, it isn’t a negative word.  I guess he never read the Old Testament.

So can God speak in a real voice to us?  Absolutely He can.

He won’t waste it and won’t do it to prove anything to us.  Yes, I know you would think if He spoke that it would be easier for people to believe and proof to some people that God exists.  I don’t know why He doesn’t do that but He doesn’t seem to work in that way.

Regardless of the way God chooses to “speak” to us today, remember that He will not contradict His Word.