Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do You Love Your Job?

A few days ago, my old boss sent me a link to a sermon, but I didn't really find time to listen to it until today. The sermon was called: How to Get the Most Out of Your Work - Part 1. You might be thinking: "You must be some type of horrible employee to be given that link..."

You might be correct. But I don't think so. Recently, there have been some shake-ups in the workplace that left me feeling a little sad and dejected.  So, I think my old boss tried to cheer me up with a little Charles Stanley.

I'm not one to turn down help, so I put in my earbuds, and listened to it today at my desk (I multi-task). What's strange is this was also--briefly--the topic of my small group/bible study last night: Should we find purpose, meaning, and significance in our 9 to 5? I was like "I don't know about that."
Stranger still, two weeks ago I was relaxing in the National Mall (not a store, but a grassy are by the Smithsonian) with a friend and we discussed the extent to which a person can be defined by their career. And I said: "I wouldn't define myself that way."

So, this has come up three times! Maybe I need to pay attention a little. Should my thinking concerning work change?

chained to a desk? Break free!
I come from a school of thought that can be summed up in a few different ways:
Clearly, I'm joking (a little bit). I don't, by any means, hate my gig, but the stuff Charles Stanley talked about, the things that we discussed in small group, and the way my friend feels defined by his government contractor career...all felt super foreign to me.

I didn't ask my friend how he came to internalize the career as part of his identity. So, no help there.

I was super skeptical in small group (where David was our comparable) for the following "legit" reasons: 
  1. David has been called by God to his position. Anointed even. No oil has been placed on my head to anoint me as a CPA. Therefore I scientifically deduce this to be "apples and oranges."
  2. At the height of my career achievement, I think the highest title I could ever have would be something like: "Controller" or "CFO." Yet, none of those sounds as significant as "King." I think it's easier to find meaning, purpose and significance when your title is "King." I'm just saying.
  3. King of Israel, King of Pop...both great titles!
  4. We were told to seek meaning...but not all told how to find it.
So, no take aways for me right?

But maybe my thinking is extremely twisted. To the first point, if I'm on the path that God has planned for me--I might not be, but if I am--then aren't I called to the work I'm performing? To my second point, does the significance of the title matter? Lots of teachers view their careers as their identity and there's nothing prestigious about it! "Teacher" is neither royal, nor is it lofty. But the fact that I'd want to only be identified by my job title if it was "Princess of Monaco" just makes--to my third point--the answer offered by Charles Stanley even more of a bitter pill to swallow:

View Yourself As A Servant

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Why Charles, why?

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. - Colossians 3:22-24

This is the verse he hits me with. My first thought was "technically, I'm not a slave but rather an at-will employee..." but let's not mince words. I have to work somewhere, else I will be hungry. Or cold. Or hungry and cold. So though I'm not forced to work at a specific place, I am forced to work. But I don't have to view work in the ways listed up above. If I view it as a good work that God has prepared for me...won't I reverence it more? Enjoy it more? Love it more?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10

And if that's a stretch, like if the good works have to be ministerial kingdom building, then what if I just do what Colossians says and view it "as for the Lord"? That is really key. I work for men. The slaves Paul was addressing worked for men! But if we merely work for men...it will potentially suck. Paul is asking us to look past those people, and to imagine (or even to realize) that everything we do is in the service of the Lord!

I tried it today. And failed miserably. I kept repeating in my mind: "Iamaservant iamaservant iamaservant" to no avail. I kept getting mad at e-mails and auditor requests. But I'm going to pray on it and keep conditioning myself to think this way. Why? Because life would be better if I lived as if I was anointed with oil to do my job: as if a good job for my boss is a good job for Jesus. Whether it's true or not. Though...I think it's true:

...the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. - Luke 22:26

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Come As You Are

I had a conversation last week with June that went like this:

Me - I'm thinking of writing a blog called "Come As You Are"
June - Like the song?
Me - Like the scripture...duh!

However, I immediately thought "maybe that's not a scripture..." so I went on a quest for the red letter verse (I'd take black letter as well) that said: "Oh ye sinners, come as ye are...and I will give ye rest" (KJV).  Something along those lines.

RIP Hall of Famer!
But alas, there was no such divinely inspired Word. There's only an old Nirvana song and the memoria of pastors and missionaries saying "come as you are" in sermons and religious conversations when I was a kid/teenager.

While there is no specific passage that says "come as you are" we know that the concept is biblical. "Come as you are" simply means you don't have to "clean yourself up" prior to coming to Christ. It means there's no prerequisite to salvation (Mark 2:17). Which is awesome!

I went back and forth between titling this post: "Come As You Are" or "Take Me As I Am" (see Faith Hill or Mary J...depending on your musical tastes).  Why? Well, when it comes to relationships, these two phrases speak to the "dream" situation. At one point or another, we've all said that we want someone who "loves me for me." When we want someone to love us and our crap, we have a "Take Me As I Am, don't try to change me" mentality. Additionally, we bask in the idea that our crap is just so darn lovable that the other person is thinking "Come As You Are, because I wouldn't change a thing!" That would be TRUE love. Right?

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us...1 John 3:16

OH, so that's true love. Since true love is most obviously manifested in Christ's finished work on the cross, we have to ask ourselves: what is the intended end result of that love?

Be ye transformed!
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2
 Could we say brainwashed...or is that too hard to handle?

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18

Could you imagine your face changing into someone else's face in the mirror? 

...in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. - Ephesians 4:22-24

He'll take you as you are right now, but then...Extreme Makeover: Mind, Body, Soul Edition.
How is it that what we expect out of our carnal relationships is not at all what we can expect from a relationship with God? We want someone to accept us as we are instead of trying to force us to fit this image of the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/friend.  And though it's true that God wants you to "Come as you are!", He also intends for you to leave totally changed. He plans to conform you to the image of His Son. Isn't it a little freaky to think of it in those terms? We have this idea that a person can love us so much that they never try to change us. But God loves you enough to change you! To change your whole life.

...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  - John 10:10

Why is that so scary?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter, Cherry Blossoms, Poison...You Know?

I took (and edited) this picture!
It's a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. On days like today it's hard to write a blog. It's probably even harder for someone to read a blog. Especially when sunshine, blue sky, and cocktails-on-a-patio are beckoning. I've already done the Cherry Blossoms and brunch today, so now I'm literally fighting a nap, so I just have to start typing. I apologize, in advance, if this is senseless drivel.

So, over the past couple of weeks, I've been watching a lot of K-dramas (per usual) and I noticed something: sacrificial death is theatrical gold. Oh, how we cry! Last week I was watching John Q (which was preposterous), and that moment when he says "Take my heart", though ridiculous, is deeply moving. In the movies, I've always thought that it had to be excruciatingly painful for the benefactor. If someone, today, were to voluntarily die in my place...I think I'd lose it. Like, I don't think I would ever stop thinking about that person's death in exchange for my humdrum existence. It would haunt me.

Then I thought: why is the death of Jesus so different?
  1. It's not sad. It's cause for celebration. This is the one person I'm glad to know died for me.
  2. I'm not all that haunted. I don't go through every day thinking about the fact that Jesus died on the cross for my sins (and those of the whole world).
The first difference is okay, and even biblical:

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” - John 20:11-13

Mary was crying outside of an empty tomb...not understanding why it was empty. If it's empty because marauders have stolen His body to further desecrate it...yeah, that's cause for major tears. But if it's empty because 1) Christ died for her sins, 2) her sins were, in fact, taken but 3) He was powerful enough to overcome the death those sins required?!!? Then it's time to rejoice. That's a big deal.  It's never like that in the movies. In the movies, when someone dies saving someone else, it's kind of a done deal. And that's devastating.

The second difference is not okay, and that's biblical:

...and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
 - 1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Holy Communion is your haunt. It's your chance to reflect on (and publicly declare) the fact that Jesus died for you. You remember it so vividly in that moment. I often think: "Jesus died a criminal's death...for me." It gets me every time. Died like a thief. Like a murderer. For what? Let's be honest: I would never expect someone to die for me (except you Mom, sorry). I don't think it's low self-esteem to say that. I just don't think I'm a big enough deal for someone to say: "I volunteer as tribute!" Nah...that type of sacrifice is rare. Very rare. 

In one of my dramas, this chick drank a cup of poison that was meant for her fiance. She KNEW it was poison. She knew it! She saw the drink get poured, but at the last moment, she switched their cups. And I was thinking: "NOOOO! Dummy, just pour the drink out!" Like, why drink it? Because someone had to. "No thanks" wasn't an option in that situation. Someone had to drink. 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
 - Romans 5:6

I was praying earlier about "drinking my cup." I don't know what it is that God has purposed for my life, but I know I've spent a lot of years being afraid of it. What's in my cup? Is the boogie man in my cup? I feel like I'd be better positioned to drink it if I knew what it was. Jesus knew what was in his cup. I was literally praying this prayer--complaining that JC knew what was in His cup while I am oblivious, when it hit me: It wasn't even His cup. It was mine!

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed about "this" cup. 
...“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”  
...He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” - Matthew 26: 39, 42

I love this. This isn't His cup, but He knows that what's in the cup can only be dealt with by Him drinking it. If He drinks it, I won't have to. If He drinks it, you won't have to! I felt somewhat ashamed for my lame prayer. Like, whatever is in my cup is not nearly as bitter as what Jesus drank. He drank my cup. He drank my poison. And that's Easter dude! I think it's amazing when you think of how fun we've made Easter. I have a whole day planned after church: Easter brunch, maybe a hike, blah, blah, blah. I need to make sure I set aside time to truly ponder my cup. Do I have struggles? Yep. Do I have probs? Of course. But that cup...is empty. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Haiku Movie Review: Noah

Biblical account
Drowned in the filmaker's flood
But...lesson still learned

NOAH (2014)

It's hard, as a Christian, to objectively review a movie that is based on a biblical account. When creative license is taken with a book that is the basis of your entire worldview, you can become a little bit "testy." However, since it's billed as a "biblically-inspired fantasy" that is what you should go in expecting. If you go looking for the Bible story you learned in Sunday school, you'll mutter "this is garbage" like the ladies seated behind me in the theater. They experienced an almost-sacrilegious reinterpretation of the story they know and love. However, if you go for a biblically-inspired fantasy, you'll get an interesting twist on an age-old story with some surprises and plot maneuvers that, though not at all scriptural, will ultimately land you in the same spot: Divine destruction with a select group of survivors left to replenish the Earth.

Fun Things: 
  1. Noah - I thought Russell Crow did an excellent job portraying an emotionally conflicted-but-spiritually-resolved-to-carry-out-God's-will-no-matter-what version of Noah. He definitely needed to be thrown overboard. 
  2. The Rock Monsters - they were fallen angels, punished for helping humans after their ejection from Eden (totally made up - there is only one angelic fall recorded in scripture and it had nothing to do with "good intentions").  The Rock Monsters helped build the ark (cutting down the 100 year production period in the Bible to a few months). They also protected Noah from the onslaught of people desperate to be stow-a ways.
  3. Methusaleh - Who doesn't like an Anthony Hopkins sighting? 
  4. Miracles - there were a number of miracles performed in the film that definitely pointed towards faith and divine provision. They were good moments. 
  5. Shem was a hottie.
Stupid Things: 
  1. Jennifer Connelly in JEANS the whole movie. It was...too much. 
  2. The super-involvement of God to destroy the place juxtaposed against His hands-off approach to ensuring Noah's understanding of His full will.
  3. The movie definitely seemed to have a PETA-inspired* message that animals were innocent and deserving of rescue... well, at least 2 of each. God was clearly fine with killing the rest of the many billions of "innocent" animals (or maybe only two of each happened to be innocent...)? 
I thought the movie did a rather good job of portraying one biblical truth:

Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 
- Genesis 6:11-12

This wasn't just God's opinion (though His is the only one that counts), but Darren Aronofsky made the world seem corrupt to my eyes. The utter depravity of man, and the selfishness with which humans lived out their lives, in response to eviction from the garden was very interesting and (imo) true to the Bible. 

The movie was an action-packed thriller raising evocative points regarding destiny and how much of it God has put in our hands. We like to believe that we direct our own destiny...but do we direct ourselves, inevitably, towards destruction?

All, in all, I was entertained.

Recommended if you don't mind that's it's only a biblically-inspired fantasy full of preposterous, made-up things.
Not recommended if you would mind any of the above; you need your bible movie to be accurate.

*I think animal cruelty is wrong, and as a plus, the movie only used CGI animals.