Day 14: “Pray for Your Work”

here am IFor most of you, your work is a major part of your day. Sadly, more than half of Aussies hate their jobs but you do it for the pay check. You have difficult colleagues and supervisors. You travel and miss time with your families. You don’t earn as much as you think you’re worth. You haven’t received a raise. You might own your own business and the constant weight feels like chains around your wrists. You may be juggling more than one job; you’re under a lot of pressure.

Whatever your situation, it’s important to have a proper perspective around your work. 

Spend time praying God will guide you to the job he has for you in this season. Talk to the Lord about the hard parts and thank him for the easy ones. Ask Jesus to show you what you’re supposed to be learning each day at work.

Pray for your boss. Pray for your co-workers. See your workplace as a ministry opportunity every time you go there… you represent Christ and can impact his Kingdom through whatever earns you a living.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:9-11 NIV).

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Embracing the Grit

cleaningI hate cleaning; not solely because of the time it takes or just because I’m afraid of cancer-causing chemicals. Cleaning toilets with three boys in my house means finding wee in places it doesn’t belong; however, I hate cleaning mostly because once I start, I find out just how dirty things really are. I’ll be dusting the window ledge and then I see that the frames have little tiny black spots of mould on them. Or, I vacuum the carpet and find so many dust bunnies under the couch that I’m afraid a real rabbit might jump out of one of them! Or, what about the bathroom drawers? I am wiping the outside while finding toothpaste and hair covering the inside.

It’s just so much easier to throw in the towel than to keep cleaning. I mean, I didn’t even think about the inside of the drawers until I started cleaning the outside. Maybe I should just leave it all and live in squalor?

My Christian journey is a lot like this: I start out all gung-ho when I first experienced the presence of God. Like putting on a new pair of cleaning gloves and pulling out all the supplies, there’s excitement for what’s to come. How great will my house smell this afternoon? How shiny will the mirrors be? How exciting to dream about God giving me the desires of my heart and multiplying my blessings!

Then, I look closer at the mirror and I see that there’s actually a layer of dust all around the edges. I reach those “up-high” edges and now I glance at the top of the vanity. Uh-oh… I’ve never even seen up there and it’s covered with dust too. I clean that and then decide to look the cabinet and find a dead roach. EEW!

What was supposed to take 2 minutes has now taken 10 and I’m utterly discouraged.

Everyone at my new church was SO FRIENDLY when I first came. I wondered if these people were for real. They seemed so genuine and so kind. Then, I looked closer and realised there were some cliques. The lady who greeted me those first few weeks doesn’t even remember my name. And, the Pastor didn’t talk to me this week.

Now, that feel-good endorphin that was released when my “floral scents all-purpose cleaner” made its way across the kitchen is suddenly overridden by my disappointment that this journey with God requires some work.

Like the blinds on our windows, I find a collection of grit just under the surface. I liked that part of the Bible that told me how much I was loved and forgiven, but I’m not so sure I want to see it from the angle of “sanctification.” I like spraying the counter top and giving it a quick wipe, but don’t make me move the toaster, kettle, and canisters out of the way.

I have bad habits I need to break but I’m not even sure I want to. I hold onto anger and resentment like it’s a high school boyfriend I can’t afford to lose. I have always done it and I’m not sure who I am anymore if I stop. I’m happy to sweep or vacuum, but please don’t ask me to move the furniture or clean behind the toilet.

I’m afraid of what I might find.

I hate looking closer at myself and picking at old wounds that have scarred and crusted on my heart, covering it like soap scum covers my shower door. I like not being able to see inside myself. What I see causes me to feel vulnerable. It causes me to take responsibility for my own actions and feelings. It forces me to have grace for others and I’ve always been able to judge others and point the finger.

I must embrace the grit to experience the gloss.

Only when I put elbow grease into something can I erase what once stood in my way. No one can do it for me. Just like no one is going to come and inspect my house with a white glove and then offer to clean for me, no one is going to inspect my heart and remove the callouses. I’m the only one who can keep my eyes clear enough to see the beauty of Christ and all that he offers me. I must choose each day to not let the sediment fall on my heart, drying it up and losing all tenderness.

Becoming more like Christ is a never-ending journey. Just when I think I’ve have mastered one area, I find myself seeing three more that need work. Kind of like getting all caught up on the washing only to find some dirty PJ’s shoved under my 5 year old’s bed…

The good news is that I have the Holy Spirit on my side, empowering me and cheering me on in my daily detox. And, unlike house chores, there’s actually an inheritance awaiting me when I allow God to purify my life.

But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” (Luke 3:16-17, MSG)

Preparing the Way

Just as God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way” for Jesus on this earth, we are continually amazed at what God has and is preparing for us in Australia.  As we are stepping out to follow God’s voice for our future church plant, we have discovered some exciting things about the Hunter region where we are going.  With an approximate population of 645,000 people, this area extends from the North side of Sydney about 75 miles.  The city of Newcastle and Lift Church are going to be centrally located within this area.

When we picked the place we wanted to re-locate and plant our church, we asked God to close the doors if He didn’t want us there.  So far, there have been nothing but green lights.  We never had any super-spiritual reasons for choosing it.  We like where it is on the map in relation to Greg’s family and Sydney.  We like the population, weather, and proximity to the ocean.  That’s about it.  Well, we are continuing to be amazed by how much God is positioning us for an exciting time in the region.

While visiting Australia last month, everywhere we went, people were raving about the Newcastle economy and growth.  We found out 200,000 people are predicted to move to the Hunter region in the next decade.  Housing developments are thriving out West of Newcastle with projected growth in just one suburb already mapped out for the next seven years.  The mining industry is booming.  As a matter of fact, this was the front page of the newspaper the saturday before we left:  

The article says “the Hunter is defying an alarming industry trend to cement its position as the most productive region in Australia.”  While 53,000 people lost manufacturing jobs in 12 months across Australia, 4000 have gained a job in this sector in the greater Newcastle area during the same 12 months.

It is exciting to be in a city where there’s a buzz and energy about the future.  People love living there and are positive about the years to come.  The economy is thriving and there is an undercurrent of something great that you can “feel” in the city.

The growing economy is just one area God is touching in the region.  He is laying the groundwork and “going before us” to prepare the way for people to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ.  The Bible promises that the LORD himself goes before us and will be with us. It says he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:8).    We are continually being reminded that this endeavor is not about us. God is moving in Australia.  Revival is coming.  We are just being allowed to be a part of it.  Rather than looking at what we are doing as a way to pat ourselves on the back for our great faith, or to promote ourselves as church leaders, I am daily being humbled at the fact that God would choose us to play a small part in what He is doing in the Hunter region.  We declare the promises of Isaiah 55 that we “will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”

It’s Up to You… And God

If you are a driver personality type and tend to “make it happen,” in life, you can lean on your own understanding to get stuff done.  I have always enjoyed taking something small or non existent and working to establish and grow it.  Whether it’s growing leaders, a department at the church, or my AdvoCare business, I have a track record of strategically putting together plans and goal setting to make something successful.  I would call myself entrepreneurial, a self-starter, and a visionary.

My husband and I have worked very well together in our business for years.  We love and enjoy building people.  We have a passion for seeing them grow and find their gifts and callings to serve the Lord.  We love helping others and serving families.  All of these characteristics coupled with our training and experience over the last few years on staff at our church would lead us to believe we have the perfect “resume” for church planting.  We have the skill set and on paper, if we were placing bets, I think our odds of success would look pretty good.

There’s only ONE BIG PROBLEM:  We are dealing in the supernatural.  Last I checked, I’m not God and I wasn’t raised from the dead!  The Bible says that we plant and sow, but it’s only God who makes things grow (I Cor 3:6).  The seed itself is what holds the power to become something great.  It’s God who created the seed with all its potential.

This week’s ARC training is full of the most amazing information any church planter would ever need or want.  We feel like we are well equipped to “do” what God is calling us to “do.”  What we will DO, however, will ultimately not be what impacts lives and changes people.  It’s what God’s supernatural power that lives in us will do as we sow and water the seed God gives us.  The people in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, waiting to hear the life changing message of hope found in a relationship with Christ will find it through our efforts of providing an environment of love and acceptance.  They will find it through relationship and encouragement.  They will love our kids ministry and our church services because they will be excellent, fun and full of life.

Ultimately, the supernatural work that will be done is going to be through the Holy Spirit.  It’s Him who sets people free.  It’s Him who delivers us out of darkness and sets our feet upon the ROCK.  It’s the Lord who will make our church grow and the people inside it come into the saving knowledge of Christ.

As scary as it is to move forward in faith and step into planting a church, the pressure is really off.  We will do all of the things we have been taught.  We will work hard, that’s for sure.  We will make wise decisions and strategically put together our plans.  We will budget well and spend money responsibly.  We will cast vision and recruit strong teams.

But unless the Lord is in it, we labor in vain.  Unless we give ourselves to HIM and chase after His voice each and every day, we toil with no return.  The discerning has to come through the Spirit.  The power of God comes through His supernatural work.