Working 9 to 5

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Proverbs 16:3 ESV Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

I obtained my first job working part time during the summer when I turned 13 years old. I grew up thinking we were poor when actually my parents were frugal because they had fallen on hard times when I was born. We always had what we needed and when Christmas and birthdays came along we got some of the things we wanted. I could not wait to get a job so I could begin to purchase more wants which included some name brand jeans all my friends were wearing.

My next job was selling GRIT newspapers in front of the local Roses store when I was 14. My mother would take me there after school, weekends and summer days and man did I sell newspapers. That taste of financial freedom to me as a kid was addicting. Later at 16 I worked at Milliken, a factory, for 16 hours a week after school and on weekends.

Working was something my father did well. He worked at Duke Power which was 2 hours away from our home. He would carpool with other Duke employees from our area, then would come home and work in our garden and farm until way after dark. It only made sense that my siblings and I followed his footsteps and are hard workers today due to his example of work ethic.

The bible has a lot to say about working. Here are just a few things for us to consider as we work 9-5 each day.

Colossians 3:23 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, You may not like your boss, your co-workers or your job, but as long as you are working you should do your job as if God is your boss. HEARTILY – with all your heart.

Proverbs 14:23 ESV In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 10:4 ESV A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. We should be busy at work. If we are working and our company is successful, we profit. It could be from a promotion, raise, bonus or simply just keeping our job for another year.

Don’t associate with those who are not responsible employee: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9 ESV Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.

1 Timothy 6:10 ESV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Don’t get so obsessed with money that your family and God suffers. Some people are working 9-9 and there is nothing left for their family or God. Don’t be so busy trying to keep with the Jones that your family has every thing they want except you.

Colossians 3:22 ESV Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
Unless we are the boss or the owners of a company we are instructed to obey our supervisors. Unless they are asking you to do something unethical or illegal, we should obey. No lip service, stirring up trouble, rolling our eyes or bad mouthing our bosses or company. God did not give us a list of reasons for us to disobey our bosses. HE SAID OBEY THEM.

A few other reasons we should work as unto the Lord: So we can provide for our family members who fall on hard times, so you can give to people in need, so you can give offerings to your church to further the ministry of leading others to Christ, so you can bring honor and glory to The Lord.

Maybe you are the employee that is working too much and too long to gain man’s approval, for the money you get paid or to avoid problems at home. Maybe you are the idle person at work, not doing your fair share or working with all your heart for your employer. Just maybe you are the employee who is working as if God is your boss but are frustrated because of others in your office who aren’t.

I want to encourage you to focus on God and his promises. Keep doing good and you will be profitable in God’s time and in his ways. If you have not been a good employee then today can be a good day to change that. God forgives us when we ask HIm, so stop and ask for His forgiveness then commit to get busy changing at work right now. If you have been neglecting your family and your home, ask God and your family to forgive you then take actions to change your priorities. Ask them to hold you accountable for the time spend at work and home.

God love us. He forgives and he blesses obedience. The blessings we get from following Him are greater than any amount of money we could ever earn!

Friends

Job 2:4-5 (GW) Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! Certainly, a man will give everything he has for his life. But stretch out your hand, and strike his flesh and bones. I bet he’ll curse you to your face.”
I recently received, what some would say is, bad news about my health. Honestly, when I heard the news it was not good timing for me because I was busy with a major fundraiser for the non-profit that I work for. I was already stressed with my big event taking place in just two days. Frankly, I did not have time to be stressed by the news from my doctor. I ask if I could council with her after the fundraiser and she said yes.
I called my husband, children and some of my closet friends with the news and told them not to worry because I wasn’t worried. I promised to follow-up with them after my next visit to the doctor.
The night before my big event a very close friend of mine called me. She and her husband have friends in high places and they had made a phone call to a very reputable surgeon friend of theirs. The surgeon had agreed to see me the day after the fundraiser. I was overwhelmed with their love and concern for me. And this is where God’s work through His people began.
I had the dreaded C word. Cancer. My diagnosis was Superficial Melanoma and surgery was necessary. I was on the phone again with family and friends sharing the news and continuing to tell everyone not to worry, that everything would be ok. I honestly, trusted that God was involved and His will would be done. I really was not worried.
My surgery was last Thursday and I have been on bedrest, which is very difficult for me. What has amazed me through this whole process from getting my diagnosis to after surgery is the response by my friends.
You see as a pastors wife, it is my job to care for others. I have been doing that now for about 27 years. My husband and I have been blessed to be pastors of small to medium churches for most of our life in ministry. God sends us a lot of new Christians who aren’t your typical church people with typical church talk or church celebrations. Some years Pastor appreciation month comes and goes and there is no celebration for us. Some years birthdays and anniversaries, marriage and church, go unnoticed and uncelebrated. This is not a complaint by any means. Just a reality that I had come to accept in our ministry.
For the last three days, since my surgery, my husband and I have been overwhelmed with the kindness from our friends. I have cried every day, not from the pain but from the joy that others care about us. They have shown their love by calling, texting, facebooking, mailing cards, and bringing food. My friend and boss ask her pastor to come in and anoint me with oil and pray for me before surgery.
What I have realized through this process is that no matter what happens to me physically, I can trust God. Like Job, I do not have to curse Him because of my physical ailments. The devil lost, again! I can trust God because I know Him and I love Him. I can trust Him because even though He can not be here physically to care for me He sends His children on this side of eternity to do it for Him. My friends have been Jesus to me. Their kindness in words and deeds have inspired me to be a better person and do even more for others. My heart is bursting with love.
Through this whole process I have trusted The Lord for His healing. I pray for His will in my life and place the final outcome in His hands. For those of you who may be struggling with a crisis in your life, whether it is a death, a divorce, a health issue, a financial issue or something legal etc, I encourage you to surround yourself with Christian friends. I can now testify from a personal standpoint how important it really is. With my friends, I can survive whatever the devil sends my way. It may be hard but my load will be lighter and more bearable because of them. THANK YOU AND MUCH LOVE TO MY FRIENDS and FAMILY who love me like Jesus!!!!
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The Pressure Test

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Today’s Truth: Job 36:15 He rescues suffering people through their suffering, and he opens their ears through distress.

From My Heart To Yours:

My husband and I love to watch a television show called “MASTERCHEF”. It airs each week on the Fox TV Network and is now in its 3rd season. The show features three judges, famed award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot. The best amateur cooks, approximately 100, are brought in from all over the US to compete for the title of MASTERCHEF and a grand prize of $250,000.00.

Through several individual cooking test the total is then reduced to 18 contestants competing for the title. Individuals are then separated into two teams to compete. Members from the losing team members have to participate in a “pressure test” challenge. The amateur chefs are given a dish they have to create in a very short time. Once the time is up, the dishes are presented to the judges. The judges critique then eliminate one or more contestants.

As we were watching the losing team participates in the pressure test I began to think about the pressure tests we have to deal with throughout our lives. Like the cooks we should have the skills and knowledge to help us face the pressure test challenges we face. Job immediately came to my mind. I think he had the biggest pressure test a Christian could face. His test was given to him in a short period of time and like the contestants, he had no idea what was coming up.

All the amateurs considered themselves to be the best chef and were shocked they were even on the losing team participating in a pressure test. You know, kinda like Job. In the beginning of the book Job was riding high, on the top of world, living life large, confident in himself. As the pressure test hit him, he was a little shocked. He, like the amateur chefs, thought he was too good to find himself in the situation he was in.

Under the pressure of the clock and the food task given each chef handled the stress differently. Some wept, some cursed, some cried, some became panic-stricken and were almost immobilized, some gave up and some a combination of all. As you read further into the book of Job you see that Job too responded to his pressure test in a variety of ways.

After the pressure came the judging by the experts. This was as true for the amateur chefs as it was for Job. Job’s critics, however, were the worst kind; his friends and family. At least in the show everyone knew that the judges are going to rate your food, cooking ability, then insult you personally. Job on the other hand was discouraged when it is his very own friends who were judging him so unkindly instead of encouraging him.

From the book of Job I learned SIX ways to help us pass pressure tests we face:

1. Realize that God knows what we are going through and understands how we feel. Though Job could not begin to understand why all of these things were happening to him, he knew God knew about it. Jesus suffered while he was on the earth and because of that suffering God understands how we feel. Job told his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).

2. God is not the cause of the pressure test, but he is there to help us make it through it. God is involved in every test that we undergo and God is in charge! James 1:13 says, “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” God does not bring problems on us. He is not the source of the trials we may face, but he does allow us to be tried, and he will help us, if we rely on him.

3. Sometimes there is no clear “why”.  One of the difficult things for us to accept is that many of the sufferings we go through simply cannot be explained. The why is often a question unanswered. Bad things do not only happen to bad people. Job recognized that many times the wicked live to reach old age and even appear to prosper.

4. Trust God. It is relatively easy to trust God and believe he is in charge when things are going right. But what about when things turn upside down and inside out? It is in the midst of such perplexity and anguish that faith in God is most needed.

5. There are blessings for obedience. It is easier to quit when tough times come, to curse God and jump right back into our past life of sin. At the conclusion of the book reveals, “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (42:12). In the end, there were blessings for his obedience and for staying true to God.

6. Our trials can make us bitter or they can make us better. Once the trial passes we should have a better understanding of ourselves and of God’s mercy and grace. Whatever the trial or test, there is always growth that can be achieved. God wants us to grow and mature spiritually. Therefore, we must undergo periodic pruning to stimulate that growth (John 15:2).

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we know that even as Christians we will face pressure test in our life. Sometimes, we forget you are in control when things are turned upside down. Help us to trust you, to rely on you and stay faithful to you during these stressful times. We ask for wisdom, during these tough times, to understand what lessons we are to learn about ourselves, others and/or our relationship with you. In Jesus Name.  AMEN.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed And Something Blue

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Today’s Truth:  Ecclesiastes 3:1  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

From My Heart To Yours:

I bet when you read the title for today’s devotional you immediately thought that I was going to write about a wedding.  God is getting ready to take me on a new journey in my life and I knew that I wanted to share it with you to encourage you.  I thought of several titles and many scriptures that I could use but this morning when I awoke both of these came to my mind for this devotional.  God may be getting ready to do something amazing for you too and you are holding back because of fear.  Let me tell you that I am more afraid of not doing what God wants me to do than I am of doing it.

10 years ago I decided to retire early from a company that I had been with over 13 years, leave an industry I had worked in for over 17 years, and step down from an executive job making 6 figures.  I can assure you this was not an easy decision for me to make and I struggled for a long time before making it.  I knew for a long time that I should do this but just couldn’t make sense of it financially.  Through prayer and discussions with my husband we came to the conclusion that the time had come for me to retire and help him full-time in the new church he had been called to pastor.

That was almost 10 years ago and needless say I have been retired, semi-retired and out of retirement throughout that time.  Here I am again 10 years later struggling with what to do regarding my job.  SOMETHING OLD.  I feel that God is telling me it is time for me to retire AGAIN.  My husband and I just finished a financial class and decided that I would work until we were debt free.  We have been working on that for almost a year now and we still have a way go before reaching that goal.  Leaving a good job that pays in an economy that isn’t hiring doesn’t make sense anyway you look at it.  BUT I know this is the right “God” thing for me to do.

I have felt for a while now that God wanted me to be an encourager.  Lately I have gotten confirmation on two new area’s that I believe God is leading me into.  SOMETHING NEW.  I have never written a book, however in just the last 3 days I have written titles for 3 books and outlined the chapters of those books.  AMAZING I KNOW!  I also think I am being called to public speaking for women’s events/ministries to encourage women of all ages.  I do have the gift of gab, many who know me will testify to that, lots of experiences I can share and I love to motivate and encourage women with the Good new of Jesus Christ.

During this transitional time of my life I have talked to many Christian women at different stages of their spiritual maturity and been encouraged myself.  SOMETHING BORROWED.  So many women have shared with me how God has intervened in their life with a career change that changed their life.  Through their stories I have been motivated that I have made the right choice.  I am not afraid of the financial impacts, the new career path I am taking or the what if’s.  Their stories, their prayers for me and the scriptures they shared with me have just fueled the fire and have me counting the days until my new journey begins.

I will miss my co-workers, clients and employer where I currently work.  SOMETHING BLUE.  I will miss my daily routine, dressing up to go to work each day and having my office with people around me.  Everywhere I have worked throughout my life I have made friends, along with a few friendimies, that I have to leave behind with the job.  You always leave with the greatest of intentions of staying in touch and sometimes you do, but mostly you don’t.

As I look back into the rearview mirror I see a career that I thought I would stick with for many more years to come.  God has a different plan though.  All I know for sure is that my God GPS has my new destination mapped out.  No matter how far out I take the map I can’t see where it ends.  I have my car packed though and I am ready to go wherever he takes me.  I think I am in for an awesome ride with new adventures and new challenges that with him are all possible to achieve.

Is he calling you do something that sounds crazy?  Are you miserable where are now?  Maybe God has something in store for you and He is just waiting for you to trust Him and “JUST DO IT”.  As the old bible hymn says..Trust and Obey.  I encourage you to “Just Do It”, whatever it is.

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, we know that you are in control of our lives.  Sometimes, we forget you have bigger and better plans than we could ever have planned for ourselves.  Help us to trust you, to obey you and “just do” whatever it is you are calling us to do.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Another Health Care Blog…

Countdown to Health Care Reform

Today I was a bit distracted with all the negativity in the media regarding the new health care bill. I am very concerned about what this means to me personally but I also understand how some friends of mine are supporting it. I think America will stand on one side or the other and at this point I am not convinced that either of us are wrong. My husband and I do not have insurance. I work for a small firm that has a total of 4 employees including the owner and they have chosen not to offer insurance as an option to its employees. I knew that I when I took the job. My husband is a pastor for a small church that can not afford to pay for his insurance benefits so he does not have insurance. Thankfully we are both very healthy so not having insurance has not been an issue for us. My husband and I already pay so much into taxes and live on such a tight budget I wonder how we will budget for more taxes and insurance cost? I understand the need to insure everyone, however we will now HAVE to purchase insurance and I don’t know where the funds will come from to do that.

My parents are both retired with a lot of health problems and they receive Medicare and Medicaid that don’t cover their health cost now, how will they pay the bills when these funds are reduced? How will they afford more taxes to help pay for the new bill when they are already living from check to check.

On the other side I have a few friends who this plan will probably help and they are very excited about it. One has a baby who has had health issues since he was born and has already maxed out on his lifetime coverage. This plan will help him and his parents. Another friend of mine has wanted her husband to change jobs for the last two years but he couldn’t because her child had medical issues that would be considered pre-existing conditions and with the new bill this will allow him to change jobs.

I am concerned that this is going to be yet one more division of Americans and yes even Christians. I was always taught that you should never talk politics or religion at work, well I guess we need to add health care to that list.

Christians, don’t loose focus on Jesus no matter what side of the health care debate you stand on. We need to look for things that unify us not draw us apart. If you notice someone does not support your views on this issue than talk about how America needs Jesus. You may not can count on your congressman to vote your way but you can always count on Jesus. HE is the answer to all our issues.