Is 2:2 (ESV) It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD.
The rot starts within and manifests at the top
When we look at Africa we often see that our elected leaders can only gain their power through the availability of a large, ineffectively educated voter population available to deceive into voting for them. In South Africa, the apartheid government set up the country for democratic failure by providing a majority of people with deliberately sub-standard education. It would appear that our current president received this into his hands as a gift that allowed him to capture what he apparently thought to be a hapless nation.
However, the fact that he was democratically elected and was able to survive this long, indicates that Jacob Zuma does reflect the values of the majority of the voter population. Initially the voter population of the nation, and later the voter population that had to decide on the consecutive attempts to remove him from power. Either that, or it reflects the propensity to be deceived of the majority of voters in each of these situations.
Every system produces exactly the output it was built to produce. If the output is not what you expected, or desired, you need to change something in the system.
Two key ingredients for effective democracy
A democratic nation is won or lost firstly by the ability of the majority to think clearly and critically – and based on this to build a strong set of values by which they make judgements, decisions and choices; and secondly by the ability of the institutions within that nation to produce strong leaders that reflect the values of the majority of their society.
The church as the source of good government
The church is the perfect breeding ground for both of these. It is in the church that, through sound teaching, we can teach large groups of people to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and bad, between falsehood and truth. It is the fear of God, and faith in His omnipotence that give people the courage to then stand for what they know to be right, good, true, and just. Secondly most churches are part of large enough organisational structures that they are perfect places for people to be trained and get practical practice in leadership.
The church has the answer to the two core pillars on which a democratic nation can be uplifted.
What is your role?
For those two pillars to work, however, we need to know God’s role for each of us, because it is as we each take our rightful place in the Body of Christ, that it will function to its full potential.
I believe God is speaking to many people at this time to get involved in education – in whatever form that may take. Maybe He is calling you into leadership, or into development and mentorship of leaders. Maybe he is calling you to start an education program in your workplace that will teach people to make wise choices in the light of available evidence.
In South Africa, we have about one year before the next national elections. In other countries the timeframe might be different – but the mandate of the church in the light of government remains the same:
Develop Godly thinking.
Build Godly leaders.
Most demons spend the bulk of their time in the command centers that still control unredeemed business, education and government circles in most cities. It is precisely there where God’s power is desperately needed.
And who is already strategically positioned in those places?
Believers who are called to minister in the marketplace!
- Silvoso, Ed. Anointed for Business (p. 29).
Trying to separate the integrated
It is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that there is some kind of separation between our spiritual life and our work life. Our society structure has taught us to separate things with very clear lines. Work and family are two very distinct areas of our lives that often are so disconnected that the one is never even mentioned in the other. Similarly, many people prefer to not have “real” friends at work, but to keep friendships and work totally separate.
The consequence of this separated way of living in other areas of our lives, is that we consider it to be normal for there be to be a similar separation between the spiritual and material aspects of our lives. Spiritual stuff is for church, maybe also for family. Work is work, and at best we might throw the occasional prayer in there when things get really tough.
God did not make us as beings where our spirit, soul, and body are three separate entities with independent needs and abilities. He created us as integrated beings, with a calling and a purpose that involves our whole being, at all times, and in all circumstances.
Mistaking the core for the add-on … and vice versa
Your Christianity – your being a CHRISTian – is at the core of who you are at work, in your family, when you join friends and colleagues for a drink, and in everything else you do. God wants to work through you, at all times, wherever you are.
It is easy to see work as the core of our lives, and God, or our Christianity, as an add-on.
The truth is the other way around. God is the core of our lives, and your work is one of the most important places where God wants to be having an influence on the world through you.
It’s not work at the core with God as an add-on.
It’s God at the core, with work as part of His purpose for you.
When desire and fear come into conflict, our natural tendency is to prioritise the response to fear. Unless we consciously recognize and resist this response, the enemy can use our fear of poverty to guide our lives.
Why you must not be anxious – the reason might surprise youSometimes the headings and the way verses are broken up causes us to lose the line of thought in the Bible. I’ll use that as my excuse for never having noticed this before:
Mat 6:24 (ESV) You cannot serve God and money.
Do Not Be Anxious
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.
The “Do not be anxious” before verse 25 is a heading, and then it starts talking about not being anxious about what we will eat and drink, the grass and the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, and how God takes care of all of those.
The heading “Do not be anxious,” makes us not really take note of the first “therefore” in verse 25. “Therefore” means that what is about to come, is because of something that has just been said. What has just been said here, is that you cannot serve God and money. The “Do Not be Anxious” is just a heading. It’s not part of the original text.
Take the headings and verse numbers away, and it looks like this:
You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.
The “therefore” implies a direct cause and effect here.
Another way to write this, which is a bit more the way we would speak today, is something along these lines:
Don’t worry about the stuff you need, like food and clothing, because you cannot serve God and money.
The impossibility of serving God and money is the REASON why you must not worry about stuff for which you think you need money. God knows you need these. You cannot serve Him and money at the same time. He knows that. He just told you that He knows that it’s impossible for you to serve both.
Not worrying is not optionalSo this wasn’t really like a word of encouragement, like you say to someone before a test, “Don’t worry, you’ve studied hard and things will be OK.”
This seems to me to be more of a warning, maybe even a strict instruction.
DO NOT WORRY.
Why is it so important not to worry?
Worry is a form of fear. The moment you begin , you will begin to serve the source of your fear. If you are worried about money, and the demand of your job comes in conflict with the demand of serving God, then you will find it difficult to make the choice and do the Godly thing. The more you worry, the more difficult it becomes. If you worry enough, you will end up making the wrong decision.
God knows this.
So He gives us an instruction to protect us against it.
The command is: Do not be anxious. Don’t worry.
He then continues to give us a serious of thoughts to focus on, instead of the worry – namely to look around us at how God is providing for nature – and filling our hearts and minds with the abundance we see there.
If you are prone to worry, memorise this whole piece of scripture, and let God free you to serve Him alone.
As they conducted business, it was natural for them to present the gospel to the people they encountered. Marketplace people played a vital role in the emergence, establishment and expansion of the Early Church—in fact, most of Jesus’ followers remained in full-time business while simultaneously conducting full-time ministry. This was possible because they saw the marketplace as their parish and their business as a pulpit. To them witnessing was not an occasional activity but a lifestyle.
- Silvoso, Ed. Anointed for Business (p. 16). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I am many people
Christianity cannot be separated from the marketplace and government because as people we cannot separate ourselves from ourselves.
Pull yourself toward yourself
There is, however, something that is constant across all of these:
I am human, and as such, made in God’s image to be God’s representative on earth.
This to me represent the core of who I am and what I was created to be. All my roles must be pulled into and built around this core concept.
The unifying questions
This really simplifies my approach to many of the challenges of life in that I only have a few questions to ask that can guide all my decision making:
1. What would “Loving God with all my heart, mind and strength” look like in this situation? Or to make that question more practical:
“What does God want me to be doing, and how does he want me to be doing that (with what attitude and emotion and underlying thoughts) in this situation?
2. What would “Loving my neighbour as myself” look like in this situation? What do people around me need, and what do I have that I can give and contribute in the best possible way?
The disciplines that help us answer those questions
To answer both of those questions, there are really only two things I need to do:
1. Spend a little bit of time every day reading and studying the Bible, and just becoming quiet before God, listening for His voice and just moving my heart closer to His.
2. Stay in an attitude of prayer as I move through the day, constantly asking God to show me what He wants me to see, hear what He wants me to hear, notice what He wants me to notice – and then respond in the way He wants me to respond.
From there, I trust Him for the grace, strength and provision to act accordingly.
For me, this is really a summary of what it means to be a Christian.
When we are integrated, God’s kingdom is the same everywhere
And to get back to where we started:
When we live like this, whether we are at work, at church, or at home; and whether work is full time ministry, government work, non profit work, teaching, or working in the marketplace in a normal company, or even running your own company – it is all built on the same foundation. The questions are the same. The purpose remains the same.
If God is with you and me, what does that mean for the people we spend time with every day?
Mat 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (ESV)
John 17: 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (ESV)
Every day you go to work, and you spend time amongst your colleagues – many of whom do not know God, and have very limited and probably profoundly erroneous ideas of who He is and what He is like. I do not claim that we have it all figured out, but as Christians we know that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, and that now God is with us. Immanuel – God with us – as the Spirit of Christ dwells within us.
The question then is this. If God is in you and with you, are you living in a way that that through you, God is also with them?
Picture: My children and I enjoying the beauty of ancient agriculture in the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain massif – part of the range that forms the eastern foothills of the Himalayas. There are few places in the world where the execution of our calling to “work and take care” is more beautiful than in these ancient mountain villages.
Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Work is work
I believe that there is a major move of God coming through the workplace – a move that will become known as the workplace revival. Therefore, in many of the posts I will be posting in the future, I will be talking about the blessing of work, and how God wants to restore that to us. In the process, you will notice that I seem to sometimes refer to “normal” work – i.e. the work most of us do every day to earn a living, and sometimes to “spiritual work”, such as ministry, but also having a regular quiet time, reading your Bible, going to church, and maybe ministering on the side. Now you probably will also notice that I seem to sometimes distinguish these two, as I have done in the previous sentence, but at other times I use them almost interchangeable, and may even seem to be confusing them, or blurring the line of differentiation between them.
This is not the result of some inner confusion I have not been able to resolve. It is done very deliberately, and here is why: When God first created the Garden of Eden, we see a process whereby He started working – He started creating this creation. He then created mankind in His image, and handed over some of His work to Adam, then noted the need for a helper, and created the helper. Now we had team work, and the social and relational element was introduced into work.
And then we see that God came in the evening after the fall, walking in the garden. Remember the garden was the workplace – the place that God had given them to take care of. It would appear from the text in Genesis that this was not an unusual thing to do, and it is described in a very pleasant and intimate way. The picture of walking in the cool of the evening, through this beautiful garden, and He calls to this partner that He has created – the man who was supposed to now be doing part of the work.
Our work and our relationship with God is inextricably intertwined
So I see that God’s relationship with us, and the work we should be doing, is very closely intertwined – they are not separate things. Therefore all the work we do, have a spiritual element to them. Similarly, Adam’s relationship with Eve became that of husband and wife but it was also very much a relationship of worker and helper – of a partnership in this work from God. She was given to him by God, to do this work.
And so the work relationship between them also has this characteristic of a relationship between two people, but that relationship is intertwined with the work relationship they also have with God, who gave them the work, and gives them this place to work, and gives them to each other to work with.
So as we move forward through the next chapters where we are going to look at the blessing of work, and our relationship with God with regards to work, you will notice that I keep spiritual work and “normal” work very close to each other. I believe that the restoration of the blessing that God wants work to be in our lives, is inseparably intertwined with our relationship with Him. You cannot experience the blessing of work without also answering the call of God walking in the cool of the evening and saying, “Adam, Adam, where are you?”
To find God's blessing in your work, you must respond to His call
You must respond to that call, allow yourself to be found by Him, and through the work that Jesus has done for us, you will experience God restoring to you the blessing that He has created work to be.
Creation’s purpose is to be a symphony of worship to God’s glory. Mankind has been created to work and to take care of this symphony.
It has been a long time since my last post on this blog. Much has happened. In terms of my writing, the most significant has been that I’ve published four books on Amazon.
On the spiritual side, I’ve been on a journey of exploring the concepts of purpose, calling, design, goals, and performance. At work I’ve been fascinated by the extraordinary results achieved by companies who have implemented Theory of Constraints. This journey, together with an increasing sense that God wants to do something significant in the workplace in this time, has finally inspired me to return to the blogosphere, and start blogging again.
If you read these blogs on the web, then you will notice that the sub-title of my blog page is, “… because you were created for abundance.” I have never stopped believing, even in the times when I experienced the least abundance, that God’s purpose for mankind is to live in abundance. However, we also live in a warzone where there is an enemy that is trying to steal God’s abundance from the crown of His creation. One of the areas where we should experience abundance, but often experience only destruction and a sense of the very life being sucked from us, is the workplace. I believe God wants to change that, and He is going to be equipping His church with the power, as well as the practical tools, to bring His abundance into our workplaces.
Today I’d like to start this theme off with a short, but very fundamental thought about our purpose as the human race.
Somewhere in the process of developing my theology I have learnt that our purpose is to worship God. But look here:
Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
In another place Jesus talks about the fact that even the rocks will cry out praise, and there are many places, especially in the Psalms where we can see that all of creation worships God.
So the purpose of creation as a whole is to worship God. The beauty of the mountains, the wonder of rivers flowing, waterfalls, vast oceans, deserts and frozen plains of ice in the arctic regions, the fjords and canyons, and the tiny, tiny little flowers – all of these are constantly displaying awesome beauty – worshipping God.
This is like a symphony of beauty, sound, and purpose, that all works together – and in fact, our earth is just a very small part in an even bigger part of this symphony which is this universe.
So what is our purpose in this creation? What is our role in this orchestra?
The above scripture indicates that it is to work and to take care of this earth, which was designed to be a garden – a garden of worship.
When we create beauty, when we figure out how to use that which this earth offers us, when we work and take care of anything and everything on this earth, then we are performing our basic act of worship. And when we are doing that we will also be cared for. We will have food, shelter, and every good thing that the earth offers us. This is the beauty of the relationship God created between us and the rest of His creation. If we work in accordance with His purposes, then we will have abundance in every way, also in accordance with His purposes.
Our part in this symphony of worship that we call “earth” is to work and take care, and through that we release the blessings God had locked up in creation for us to enjoy. However, we have not been great at this. We have created workplaces that break people, and that destroy our earth. I believe the next revival we are going to see, is God restoring the blessing of work to the church, and through the church, to millions of people worldwide. Even those who do not know Him will experience the fruit of His goodness and the power of bringing His purpose and design into or workplaces.
Most of those of you who have known me for some time, probably also know that one of my favourite activities is to just pick up my guitar, find a quite spot, and lose myself in worship. In those moments I really experience an extraordinary sense of fulfilment as my spirit connects with God. When I look at Jesus’s life, I see Him also often setting aside time to be alone with His Father. It is in those times that we regain a spiritual perspective of the truth that God wants to bring into this world.
As we worship, God reveals to us his purpose for us as people – to rule as his representatives over this symphony of worship he has created
My name is Ashton Fourie.