Commentary on the ways in which my Christian faith influences my life, helps me grow to love God more, and produces joy

A Great Independence Day Message

Independence Day messageToday I discovered again that a theme originating in our nation’s history can resonate deeply in me and move me to tears. My pastor, Craig Hurley, preached a great Independence Day message, reminding us that our Founding Fathers recognized not only the importance of prayer but also the source of our “unalienable rights”: our Creator. In addition, Pastor noted that the Founders read specific Bible passages and offered heartfelt prayers in the Continental Congresses. On the other hand, he warned us that nothing will stop the downward trajectory of the United States and its people without true revival.

Scripture–specifically 2 Chronicles 7:14–provides the formula for revival. There God responded to one of Solomon’s prayers by giving three conditional promises to Israel. If Israel met four requirements, God would fulfill the promises. Although God intended them for Solomon and Israel, there is application for us as Christians today. For example, we can learn about what God expects from His people. Further, striving to meet those expectations can give us assurance that He will answer our prayers.

What Is the Formula for Revival?

There are four steps:

  • Humble myself
  • Pray
  • Seek God’s face
  • Turn from my wicked ways (and to God)

If we do these things, God does not have to provide revival. He does, however, promise that He will hear from heaven and forgive our sin. Moreover, we can pray that He will work to heal our land spiritually.

Pastor Hurley concludes his Independence Day message with these thoughts:

The answer to America’s problem…is found in the forgiveness and the work of Jesus Christ in each individual heart. You can’t change the heart of man by changing his environment. Man’s heart has to be changed from the inside, and it begins with God’s forgiveness of sin.

God doesn’t revive lost people; He regenerates them. God revives His own. Do you want to see God rescue America? I do! That will only come when there is a revival among God’s people.

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The Ideal Job

What is the ideal job? As one who continues to work although she has passed the age at which the typical American retires, I have given a good deal of thought about this matter. My current position provides me with a great deal of personal satisfaction and enjoyment, more than any other I have ever had. So, what makes a job ideal for me?

Education & Strengths

For me, the ideal job is one for which I have the requisite education. It is important to me that I have the knowledge necessary to excel in the tasks that my job requires. I can still remember nightmares during my years of public school teaching in which I would be assigned to teach classes in subjects about which I knew little or nothing.

It would be accurate to describe me as a perpetual student. I love learning! My choice of subjects has been eclectic:

  • Major in history, minors in music and education for my A.B. from Oberlin College
  • Secondary social studies education for my M.Ed. from Wayne State University
  • Curriculum development for my Ph.D. in Education from Wayne State University
  • Computer programming and desktop publishing courses at Macomb Community College
  • Biblical Greek and Hebrew, biblical studies, and church history courses at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Classes in Microsoft Office programs, PhotoShop, PageMaker, Quicken, and HTML at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers

It is also important that my interests and preferences are consistent with the requirements and duties of a job. One often hears of individuals who have what would normally be considered “good jobs” but are deeply unhappy because their temperament and interests do not match up with the requirements of the job. To love what one does is necessary for a job to be considered ideal.

Experience & Skills

The ideal job also is one in which I can employ the expertise and skills I have developed through my previous work experience. At each position that I have held during the more than fifty years since my first job as band librarian at age sixteen, I have gained valuable experience and learned important skills. My employment history evidences a great deal of diversity:

  • High school band librarian
  • Hospital dietary aide
  • College/university research assistant to professors of government and statistics
  • Statistics tutor/consultant
  • Secondary Social Studies teacher
  • Computer programmer and flowchart designer
  • Bible institute instructor
  • Church volunteer/office assistant
  • Professional technician doing billing, budgeting, and photo editing

The ideal job would allow me to use as many of my skills as possible for the glory of God.

Environment & Style

Recently I have come to realize that the work environment and style of leadership in the work setting are significant factors in determining how close to ideal a job is. As a Christian laboring in a Christian workplace, I would expect to find a microcosm of the Body of Christ, as the Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 12:3–5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12–27. Every member is valuable and contributes something necessary and vital to the functioning of the body; even those of lowest status (“more feeble”) are both necessary and worthy of honor.

Similarly, in an ideal work environment all who labor there view one another as valued and essential parts of the team. Although each one has a different role to play, with specific duties and responsibilities, each is esteemed and appreciated for the contributions he or she makes to the overall functioning of the organization. Status differences exist, but are not emphasized. No one disparages or ignores another’s role.

As Head of the Body, Christ is our model for the Christian style of leadership. Scripture portrays Him as Shepherd, Servant, and Savior. Of course, no human boss can fulfill the role of Savior; that position is Christ’s alone. A Christian leader can, however, model himself or herself after the shepherd and the servant.

A shepherd leads his flock with strength, love, and compassion. He provides for, protects, and is willing to sacrifice himself for those under his care. We can see these characteristics of the shepherd in Psalm 23:1–6, Isaiah 40:10–12, and John 10:1–15.

The servant leader ministers without selfishness or self-aggrandizement. He is cognizant of the importance of his leadership role, but approaches his duties with humility and recognizes that God has called him to his position (Philippians 2:3–8). He models humble, self-sacrificing service to those under his authority in order that they will likewise serve one another (John 13:3–17).

Endowment & Service

Ultimately, it is God who guides the Christian to the place He would have him serve. No matter what field of employment one enters, his job offers the opportunity to meet people’s needs, employ his God-given gifts and the skills he has acquired, and express (or explore) his deepest desires. For me, it is important to feel that God has placed me where He wants me and that I am able to serve Him and others through my job.

Evaluation & Summary

In light of all this, have I ever found the ideal job?  I would have to say, “No, but my current job comes as close as is possible in a fallen world.”

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Praise Where Praise Is Due

It occurs to me, belatedly, that I omitted the most important part of the story about Jolie Fille and her paw: the praise I owe God for the way He worked out all the circumstances for me to be able to get her to the veterinary hospital, see the right vet for the circumstances, and get prompt treatment for her condition. Without Him working out the details, this could not have been accomplished.

First came the problem of getting Jolie into a carrier. Having been bitten the first (and last) time I forced her to go where she did not want to go, I had no idea how I could manage it. I got the idea to move the carrier into a more accessible location in the area where Jolie and two other kitties spend their time. I put comfortable bedding inside. Then another thought occurred to me: sprinkle catnip on the bedding in the carrier. I did that Thursday afternoon after work. I figured I had a one-in-three chance of luring the right cat into the carrier.

Before heading upstairs for dinner I peeked in and discovered Jolie in the carrier. Even more amazing was the fact that she was still there when I returned. Too late she realized that I was going to close the door on her…and so I was able to transport her to the vet.

Upon arriving at the veterinary hospital, I requested Dr. T, a vet whom I like and the only one I knew was there on Thursday evenings. Jolie and I were shown to an exam room, where we waited quite some time. Another vet I know and like–Dr. L–passed by and greeted me. When I overheard one of the women on staff tell another client that Dr. T would be tied up for a while yet, I told her that I would be happy to see Dr. L instead.

God worked in that circumstance also. It turned out that Jolie needed surgery on her paw. I asked if Jolie could have the surgery the following day, because I knew I would never get her back in the carrier any time soon. The vet who usually does surgery on Fridays (Dr. R) had taken the Labor Day weekend off, and was not available (as she had told me herself the previous Tuesday). Remarkably Dr. L said she would step off the floor Friday afternoon to do the surgery. Had I seen Dr. T as I had initially asked, this would not have been possible since she does not work on Fridays.

All weekend I felt guilty about Jolie, thinking that something in my home had caused or allowed Jolie’s injury to occur. I worried about her coming home; would she be hurt again? When I took another one of my cats in on Tuesday, I learned the probable cause from Dr. R . . . and it had nothing to do with anything in my home environment. I had hoped to consult Dr. L about when it would be best to bring Jolie home, but she was having a much-needed day off after working the holiday weekend. I posed the question to Dr. R, who said that Jolie was doing well enough to come home any time, per Dr. L; but because I was so concerned about Jolie’s safe recovery, it might be good to wait until Friday.

I am so grateful to Dr. L for doing the surgery and caring for Jolie so well. Even more, I am grateful to God, who worked out every detail so that Jolie could get the treatment she needed. To adapt a well-known refrain:

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on my kitty, and I know He watches me.

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