The Biblical Nobility of Work

hackman_sweetgrassbasket

Some people think of work as a necessary evil. They’d prefer not to do it but the bills have to be payed. It’s just something that needs to be done. It might surprise us if we took a good, long look at what the Bible has to say about the subject. Not only does the Bible command us to work (2 Thess 3:12), it actually tells us work is one of the primary reasons we exist. Work is not evil. God created it and it is good.

The first time we see someone working in the Bible is Genesis 1, right in the beginning. When God created light & darkness it was called work. When He created trees, birds, and beasts it was called work. And when He created man in His own image it was called work. The first worker was God. On the seventh day, He rested and admired what He had created (Genesis 2:2).

The next time we see someone working in the Bible is Adam. God put Adam in the garden of Eden to “cultivate and keep it”. Adam was a gardener. I doubt he thought of it as a “necessary evil.” Adam was probably the most happy human worker the world has ever known besides Jesus. The reason he got so much joy from it was because he was partnering with God in building, creating, and maintaining. Of course, Adam is the only person in history who knows what it’s like to work without the effects of sin. It must have been glorious.

Time would fail for us to write all the times the Bible shows people working. It’s probably on every page of the Bible. From Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Moses, and from David to the prophets and beyond. Everyone has worked and everyone will continue to work because it’s a God given mandate for humanity.

The question is who are we working for? Are we working in partnership with our Creator or are we working aimlessly for ourselves? If we’re working for ourselves we can be assured that we won’t receive a reward from God. Jesus said that if we do our work to be seen by men, we won’t have a reward from our Father in heaven (Matt 6:1). But if we work unto our Father who sees in secret, He Himself will reward us openly (Matt 6:4). That’s probably why the Bible tells us to do everything unto the glory of God. God wants us to have a reward for everything we do. But only the labor done unto Him will be rewarded (Col 3:23-24).

Paul the Apostle gave some of the Thessalonians a shocking new perspective when he wrote his two letters to them. Some of the Thessalonians were becoming idle and lazy because of an incorrect response they had to the end-times message. Their logic might have been something like this: “If the Day of Lord is soon approaching, what’s the point of working? Shouldn’t we be storing up food, ammunition, fasting, and reading the Bible day & night?” Paul corrected their misconception by saying,

“…Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands…that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”

He went on in his second letter,

“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you…For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. (2 Thess 3:6-13).”

When’s the last time we heard a sermon on this passage?! The message of the end-times is a message to get oil in our lamps by slowing down and connecting to Jesus. It’s a call to watch and pray. It’s a call to sever ourself from anything that hinders love. But it is NOT a call to stop working. In fact, it’s a call to work for Jesus all the more. In light of the times we are living in, we should seek to do everything for the glory of God. The fact is, the Bible shows that work is one of the most noble tasks humanity has been given. Their is so much dignity and reward in it if we do it unto God.

Of course, the Bible also calls us to rest:

“Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! (Proverbs 23:4).”

But it’s a rest that glorifies God, not a rest of indulging our flesh and dulling our spirits. That type of “resting” isn’t even refreshing.

The question we should start asking ourselves is, what is work from a biblical perspective? And second, what is rest from a biblical perspective? Working is a lot more than earning a pay check and going to a job 40 hours a week. It’s a God given mandate for humanity. And rest is more than sleep, vacation, or recreation. It’s a peace that we enter into as we come into agreement with God.

The Earth’s Transition

“…You will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another…and because lawlessness will be about, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” -Matt 24:9-12

The highest court in America made a IMG_0355grievous decision last month. Homosexuality has been institutionalized and legalized. This is one of the most important moral decisions since Roe vs Wade in 1973, and once again we have decided to boldly defy God’s Word. As praying believers, Loretta & I feel the pain of this decision along with the rest of the Church. America will never be the same. Yet at the same time, we know this will be used to refine the Church. The grey zone is being eliminated. We must now decide to either stand for righteousness and suffer the consequences or to compromise. Lukewarmness cannot be played with anymore. In this new environment it will lead to a quick, spiritual death.

As we all know, the ripple effect from the court decision is everywhere. Facebook is saturated with articles about believers being penalized for refusing to acknowledge gay marriage. Professing believers are defending the supreme’s court decision as right. One thing is clear. We cannot afford to be fuzzy on this issue. We must clearly understand what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. It is not a preference. It is sin (Lev 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Cor 6:9, Jude 7). Last month, our house group went through as many Scriptures as we could find that clearly display what God thinks about homosexuality. I think it’s important that every Christian knows some of these Scriptures so that they can boldly stand for the truth. Of course, we must deliver our message of truth with mercy. These are real people with real problems. We don’t want to over simplify their struggles or gloss over their pain. These people need counseling and discipleship just like heterosexuals who struggle with immorality do. But we must stand as bold witnesses. We must demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by leading people out of deception.

As a whole, I think the earth is in transition. The spiritual atmosphere in the Nations has changed. Humanity is growing more bold about their sin. The Church is experiencing more persecution. Both the light and the darkness are increasing. As Jesus said, the wheat & the tares are growing together (Matt 13:24-30). On a smaller scale, the IHOPKC mission’s base is in transition. Lots of people who have been in the same roles are shifting positions. Many who have been here for years are venturing out to build other houses of prayer. Many departments are being downsized as we consider what is most important. And on an even smaller scale, Loretta & I ourselves are in transition. I say this hesitatingly, because I feel like we are in transition every other Month! But really, this season feels different. I am considering stepping off Laura Hackett’s worship team for a season to invest myself more in the student ministries department. If I do decide on this, I will be pastoring teenagers. It would be an exciting, but also challenging position! We are so privileged to be on full-time staff at the house of prayer here in Kansas City. As the earth goes through transition, we get to stand in the prayer room day by day, petitioning the One who is Eternal. We pray with confidence, knowing that He is sovereign. Though the nations rage and the seasons change, He is in control. And we, as the Church, have the great privilege of partnering with Him to change history through our prayers and actions. Thank you Jesus!

In the Presence of Jesus

June 2015 Newsletter

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given me; for you loved Me before the foundation img126of the world.’’ -John 17:24

My Dad went home to be with Jesus on May 2. He was an extraordinary father, a magnificent husband, and a loyal friend. Most of all, he loved Jesus well. Loretta & I were able to talk with him during his last moments. We sang songs over him, quoted scriptures, and told him how much we love him before he went home. One of his favorite worships songs was “I love your Presence”. He’s now in God’s presence with no limitations and no pain. He finished his race well and is now part of that cloud of witnesses cheering us on. We miss him so much but we know we’ll see him again soon.

Obviously, it’s not easy letting someone we love so much go. But in essence, we’re not really letting him go. He’s still alive. In fact, he’s more alive than he has ever been. That was Jesus’ promise: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)” My family and I believe it. My dad is just as conscious and alive as we are now expect for the fact that he doesn’t have a physical body. But he is still the same person. He vividly remembers his 70 year life in this age. Who knows what he’s up to now? Maybe he’s talked to Elijah, Moses, or David. Maybe he’s had a few conversations with Jesus Himself. Maybe he’s in a heavenly pottery shop doing the same things he loved to do here on earth. We know one thing. He’s not bored. He waits for the restoration of all things just like we do. But he’s on the other side now. He joined all the saints of old who eagerly wait to return with Jesus to the earth at the sound of the last trumpet. When that last trumpet sounds my Dad will get his physical body back. He will eat, work, and touch just like he used to. But it will be in a resurrected body that will never grow old! Eternity has become real to my family. This short 70, 80, 90 year age is just an internship. It’s a short speck of time compared with the billions of years we’ll live with Jesus. Yet how often we lose sight of eternity! We place so much emphasis on this short time frame and forgot that our real assignment is in the next age. My Dad always redirected people’s attention to the age to come. He always said stuff like, “this life is just a vapor”, “this is all fading away”. But now it’s more real. By the grace of God, I want to live for that age to come like the men and women of faith who’ve gone before me. We’re waiting for a city, Who’s builder and maker is God.

Our hearts are healing. Loretta, my Mom, and I were so encouraged by the body of Christ after my Dad’s passing. There was probably over 300 people who came to his memorial service, most of whom where believers. I know my Dad was smiling during the service. We sang worship songs, shared about who he was to us, and even gave a salvation call for unbelievers. The service was followed by military honors and a huge meal that our Church family helped provide. Not to mention the huge rainbow right after the service. About a week after the service our family spread his ashes over the bluffs of Lake Michigan. We couldn’t help but think of how cool it will be when those ashes come back together and his resurrected body forms. The first place he’ll be when he gets his body back is Port Washington. Though it has been difficult to not see him anymore we want everyone to rest assured that this family is filled with hope. To live is Christ and to die is gain.

Hope in Christ

April 2015 Newsletter

“But I will hope continually, and I will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord God.” -Psalm 71:14-16

I’m writing this update on a rainy day here in Wisconsin at my parents house. We’ve spent the last week having as much quality time with my Dad as possible, while helping my Mom out around the house. As many of you know, his health seems to have 03738_sunset_1680x1050declined more the last few weeks. He is now sleeping most of the day and finds it very difficult to speak. It’s painful to see a man who loves so well and who is so filled with life disabled from sickness. But even now, our family is filled with hope and is singing praise to Jesus. We know that in Christ, death always leads to life and that the valley always lead to a mountaintop.

Paul the Apostle said something that seems to contradict what the world around us says: “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We don’t often see death as gain, it feels like loss. Of course, it is a loss for friends and family members. When someone we love goes home to be with Jesus it creates such pain in our hearts. They’re presence is no longer with us and the gap that is created by their absence seems unbearable. But truly, for a Christian, death is gain. Paul said that it’s far better to be with the Lord. We rest in the hope that when we die our spirits go to the the New Jerusalem (Heaven) where there is perfect peace and joy. All the saints of old eagerly wait there to return with Jesus to the earth at the sound of the last trumpet. The dead in Christ will be raised and receive their new and improved body. In this body we will eat, work, touch, and experience life just as we do now. But it will be so much better! No more sickness or pain. Perfect beauty. Boundless joy. In Christ, we can rejoice even in death because we know the end of the story. We will live for billions of years with Jesus as priests to our God. Hallelujah!

One highlight from this last week was the Sunday before Easter. A group of believers have been visiting my Dad weekly on Sunday afternoons with a guitar and violin to worship Jesus right there in the nursing home. It blessed us so much to see how many people love my parents. As we sang songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” the atmosphere became charged with hope. We’re so grateful for this band of believers who are loving my family so well!

Would you also join with my family in praying for my Dad’s healing? One of the Scriptures the Lord gave me as we pray for him is in the book of Daniel. It’s the response of three young Jewish men after Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18).” We have faith that God is able to heal my dad and are believing He will do it. Sickness entered the world as an enemy of God. Jesus wants us to be whole and we are standing on that promise. We’re praying for my Dad to fulfill all his days and even that his life would be extended. But no matter what happens we will continue to trust in the Lord. We will not be offended. We will trust His leadership. Some believers find it difficult to do these things at the same time. Praying in faith for healing while praising Him when nothing seems to be happening can seem painful. But this kind of faith pleases the Lord like nothing else can. We choose to hope continually and praise His name to the end. As we do so Jesus will be glorified and will strengthen our faith.

Responding to the Crises in the Nations

March 2015 Newsletter

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled. For all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another…and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:3-12

By now, it’s obvious that the spiritual 794869063atmosphere of the earth is changing. ISIS grows in numbers and power as they slaughter hundreds of innocent people. Anti-Semitism grows at an alarming rate in Europe as well as here in America, so much so that it’s starting to look like it did before World War 2. The homosexual agenda has entered much of the Church as many spiritual leaders passively condone it. Movies coming out in theaters are defiling young people’s minds with distorted views about sex, relationships, and morality. Terrorist attacks and rumors of wars are everywhere on the news. Famines and diseases continue to ravage countries throughout Africa. Christians who take a stand for Jesus are being persecuted and ostracized by society more than ever. If this isn’t the time Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24 known as “the beginning of birth pains” I don’t know what is.

The good news is that Jesus isn’t nervous as He sees all this. He is sovereign and is orchestrating everything with perfect wisdom, justice, and love. We don’t have to be afraid of the things we’re hearing and seeing on the news. In fact, that’s exactly what Jesus told us not to do,“see that you are not troubled.” But at the same time, the bad news is that this pressure and crisis in the nations isn’t going to go away. It’s going to get worse. The pressure will keep mounting until the crescendo at the end of the age when Jesus returns to the earth and sets up His kingdom. If we’re finding it hard to stand for Jesus now and maintain our stand for righteousness, what will we do when it gets worse? More than ever before, the Church needs to slow down and focus on what actually matters. Love, humility, the kingdom of God, family, Bible study, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, holiness: these are the things that matter. The newest I-phone, hollywood movie, Oscars gossip, or personality test on Facebook don’t matter much, especially in the season we’re in. We can no longer afford to waste time with these types of things. We must heed the words of Jesus, “and what I say to you, I say to all: Watch! (Mark 13:37)”

Loretta & I have felt the weight of what’s happening in the earth right now, as we believe you have. There is a new sobriety in the Prayer Room. Though our hearts are filled with joy as we see the breakthroughs of prayer, we are beginning to pray more urgently, realizing that our prayers have the power to change the destiny of our Nation. If the Church does not stand against this darkness, no one will. It’s time to wake up from our slumber and pray. It’s time to be brave and take a stand for what may be politically incorrect. Anti-semitism has been a particular concern lately. At the weekly Sunday Service last week, a video was shown on how anti-semitism is growing on college campuses. In response, our IHOPKC community gathered together in the prayer room in a “solemn assembly” to focus on praying for the people of Israel and their salvation. Like never before the Church needs to take her place as a light in the darkness. We can no longer afford to be asleep.