Caution: Busyness is not a virtue

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV

In the Gospel of Luke, the visit of Jesus to the home of Mary, Martha & Lazarus brings about this brief but precious conversation — and an arresting statement. What is this “one thing necessary” that Jesus speaks about? busy-1446660-639x426

In directing Martha (and all of us) to turn to “the one thing necessary” our Lord points to a contrast here, that Mary had chosen better — a superior use of her time, a more important focus for her energies and cares. Jesus told Martha that she was anxious and troubled about many things. Granted, Martha was not doing anything inherently wrong; in fact she was doing much that was good! Yet, Jesus implies that her heart was tangled up, her busyness was not right. She was distracted and worried and upset in a worldly way. Our hearts can be pulled away from the Lord by busyness in respectable activities. God does not want our busyness — religious or otherwise. God wants our hearts. Indeed the greatest commandment of all of Scripture is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38). This is what Mary appears to be doing — learning at the feet of Jesus, even worshipping as she took in His words of truth and life. She put first things first and Jesus was so very pleased!

Jesus points to Mary and tells Martha (and us):  that’s the better thing, that is the one thing necessary!  Oh how the world misunderstands what God requires — and how much those who are merely religious miss the most important thing. Many people think they know what Jesus wants, but will not listen to His very words here to Martha! As a famous preacher once said, it should be our first and sole business to attend to our soul’s business!


What’s a Christian Business Owner Supposed to Do?

Mark Taylor, President of Tyndale House publishers (and son of its founders) recently wrote about the penalties the federal government is seeking to impose on Tyndale in violation of their freedom of religion and right to act in accord with their biblically informed conscience.

What’s a Christian Business Owner Supposed to Do?.

(From Justin Taylor’s Gospel Coalition blog).

Beware of “bigger barns” syndrome

Tomorrow morning I’m speaking to our Iron Man Fellowship breakfast from LUKE 12. Think about this. Ask yourself if your life aims at getting more stuff, or more of God. Jesus thought this was mighty important — He gives a rebuke, a reminder, then a parable, and warns of the judgment to come!

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
Luke 12:13-21 ESV (emphasis added)

Back to College? Beware…

One college student, with Christian convictions will not be allowed to continue her master’s program because of those convictions

“Eastern Michigan University expelled Julea Ward from itsmaster’s program in school counseling,” reports Dr Joseph Horton, “because Ms. Ward refused to undergo a reeducation program to silence her beliefs and to keep her convictions in check when counseling.”

“The flashpoint was Ms. Ward’s refusal to counsel homosexuals about relationships because such behaviors are not consistent with her religious beliefs. The dismissal of Ms. Ward’s lawsuit could have a chilling effect on religious freedom.”

READ his whole article here posted at The Center for Vision and Valuesat Grove City College.

Social justice?

“Jesus himself didn’t condemn economic inequality. Yes, he repeatedly warned about the snares of material wealth; he exploded the comfortable conventionality of the Pharisaical tendency to regard prosperity as a badge of honor and superiority; he commanded compassion toward the poor and suffering. But … in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24-30) he condemned the failure to productively use one’s God-given talents—whether many or few, exceptional or ordinary—by having a lord take money from the one who had the least and give it to him who had the most, thereby increasing economic inequality.”

In a brief article “The ‘Social Justice’ Fallacy? Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”, adjunct faculty member, economist, and contributing scholar with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College — Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson — explains, “The modern left’s ‘social justice’ strives for economic equality. It endeavors to reduce, if not erase, the gap between rich and poor by redistributing wealth. This is ‘justice’ more akin to Marx and Lenin, not according to Moses and Jesus. It is a counterfeit of real justice, biblical justice. Modern notions of ‘social justice’ are often wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

READ IT ALL HERE: The “Social Justice” Fallacy? Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson, Grove City College, PA

Our thoughts follow our affections

If you delight in something, you give yourself to it with greater joy, and greater duration. When you don’t, it becomes a drudgery to deal with it.

Puritan pastor Thomas Manton reflects on Psalm 1:2 (below), and the connection between delighting in the Word of God, and where that will lead…!

Mark first, that the Word was his delight, and then his meditation. Delight causeth meditation, and meditation increaseth delight: BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD, AND IN HIS LAW DOTH HE MEDITATE DAY AND NIGHT (Psalm 1:2). A man that delights in the law of God, will exercise his mind therein. Our thoughts follow our affections. It is tedious and irksome to the flesh to meditate, but delight will carry us out. The smallest actions when we have no delight in them, seem tedious and burdensome. … The difficulty we find in holy duties lieth not in the duties themselves, but in the awkwardness of our affections. … He that finds a heart to this work, will find a head. Delight will set the mind a work, for we are apt to muse and pause upon that which is pleasing to us.
[sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 1, p. 126]

Stop Email Insanity

How email intervals can save you from insanity

Email is unre lent ing, and when you tend to your inbox—people just reply back to you more quickly. Email will take over your life if you let it. Here’s how I fought back.

Solution: Email Intervals
Step 1: At the beginning of the day decide when you’ll check email. I suggest that you pick a time in morning and at the end of the day, and stick to only opening your inbox at those times. We’ve been trained like lab rats to keep hitting the refresh bar, but it’s silly and makes us unproductive.

Step 2: Get a timer. Email inter vals will require you to sprint through your email for a set period of time. Grab a timer…..

Step 3: Work like a crazy person for 10 minutes. Open your inbox like a horse leaving the gate — hustle. You will be surprised how much email you can get done in the first interval. In the first 10 minutes try to use what ever processing system you use to tell what is important, what is trash, and what is good to just file away.

Step 4: Take a two minute break and read a few pages. I find that I clear my mind by reading a few pages of a book. It takes me out of the suffering torment of email for just long enough to remind myself that if I hurry I can get through my entire inbox and get back to meaningful work — creating things, meeting with people, planning, building, thinking, discovering, investing in relationships…

Step 5: Repeat and then shut down your email program. When you finish your short break, get back to another 10 minutes of hustling through your email. and repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’ve done what you need to.

My findings
Most people rely on email way too much — it’s a good communica­tion tool, but it lacks emotion, can go on rabbit trails, and gives peo­ple a sense that they need to include every one in their conversation (death by cc:).

People learn quickly that if they need you immediately, they should pick up the phone. A 3 minute phone call or face to face conversa­tion can clear up a 20 email conversation, and has the added bonus of build ing a trust relationship with that person.

Government “Net dependency”

I site the following item of interest, from Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin from a speech delivered in January (note sentence in bold):

America today is not as far from the tipping point as we might think. While exact and precise measures cannot be made, there are estimates that in 2004, 20 percent of households in the US were receiving about 75 percent of their income from the federal government, and that another 20 percent of households were receiving nearly 40 percent. All in all, about 60 percent of American households were receiving more government benefits and services, measured in dollars, than they were paying back in taxes. It has also been estimated that President Obama’s first budget alone raises this level of “net dependency” to 70 percent.


The work week…

As the “work week” begins remember the biblical view and context of your labors. Tony Payne & Colin Marshall (in their new book The Trellis & The Vine) share this brief summary….

• Working is a good and fundamental part of being human in God’s world. Form the very beginning, mankind was placed in teh garden to work it and to keep it.

• This side of the Fall, work is cursed and frustrating… but it remains good and worthwhile and necessary.

• Christians are strongly motivated to work, not only because of the place of work in creation, but also because work (like any other field of life) is a theatre for our service of Christ. Whatever you do, says Paul to the Colossians, “in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

• At a deep level, when we work at any job, we work for Christ. As Paul goes on to say in Colossians 3, “Whatever you do , work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

As Christians, we do not work in order to gan self-fulfilment or fame or personal kudos. We work not for ourselves but for others, to serve them, to not be a burden to them, and to have something to share (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8)

• Secular work is thus very valuable, worthwhile and important. But like any good thing, it can become an idol. We can start to look to our work for our significance and value.

[pp. 137-138, emphasis added]