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Series: How to Stay in our Job “with God”: Creative Productivity for a Purpose

2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.

Creative Productivity for a Purpose

There is a lot underneath this heading in John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life, but I’ll try to summarize it all here with a sentence from Piper:

“…[T]he essence of our work as humans must be that it is done in conscious reliance on God’s power, and in conscious quest of God’s pattern of excellence, and in deliberate aim to reflect God’s glory (141).

There’s enough meat in that one sentence to keep me busy in my secular workplace for the rest of my life! In short: we work in our secular workplaces with God when we strive for creative productivity for a purpose.

“As Good as Prayer”

Piper also addresses a common error made by well-meaning folks of faith in their secular workplaces: neglecting the responsibilities of our jobs in favor of “exercises of devotion” (e.g., prayer, Bible reading, fasting)–in other words, “personal piety to the neglect of secular duties”–is hypocritical (141). Jonathan Edwards once wrote about his wife as an example of the opposite of this error: “worldly business has been attended with great alacrity, as part of the service of God; [she declared] that it being done thus, ’tis found to be as good as prayer;” (quoted in Piper, 141).

Piper goes on: “True personal piety feeds the purposeful work of secular vocations rather than undermining it. Idleness does not grow in the soil of fellowship with God” (142).

Summary

The second way to bring God to work is:

  1. Consciously relying on his power
  2. Consciously shaping the world after his excellence (and thereby doing excellent work)
  3. Thereby being satisfied in him.
  4. Thereby having Him glorified in us.

Application

For me as a public school English teacher, excellent work means:

  • Grading papers in a manner that is most helpful to students.
  • Grading with honesty and accuracy on all graded assignments.
  • Planning lessons not with teacher ease as the highest priority, but with whatever will most effectively make the lesson accessible and meaningful to students.
  • Incorporating a moral bedrock to all classroom instruction, both with words and with deeds.
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Tim Keller Blog Post — “Revival (Even) on Broadway”

If you haven’t heard of Redeemer City to City yet, I strongly encourage you to check them out. You will see there a movement of churches striving to live out the gospel in major cities around the world.

Recently, Tim Keller posted on revivals. Some interesting points:

1. The differing definitions of revival based on tradition (Methodists/Baptists vs. Pentecostals/Charismatics vs. Puritan/Reformed)

2. Tim and Kathy’s early experiences of revival at their undergraduate campuses

3. Tim/Kathy’s time at Gordon-Conwell, where they studied revivals under the teaching of Richard Lovelace (and reading from Edwards “modernizers” Lloyd-Jones, Packer, and Lovelace)

4. Comparing the Keller’s non-revival experience in Hopewell, VA (which was still a good experience, in which people were converted and Christians grew) and their revival experience in Manhattan in the late 80s-early 90s.

5. Mentioning a future discussion on the “means” of revivals; what brings them about; and whether or not it’s even right to discuss such things.

 

John Piper on Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions

In Don’t Waste Your Life, Piper lists several of Edwards’ resolutions, which were written while Edwards was in his “early twenties to intensify his life for the glory of God.”

  • Resolution #5: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”
  • Resolution #6: “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”
  • Resolution #17: “Resolved, that I will love so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”
  • Resolution #22: “Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”

This last resolution (#22) may strike us as blatantly self-centered, even dangerous, if we do not understand the deep connection in Edwards’s mind between the glory of God and the happiness of Christians. The violence he had in mind was what Jesus meant when he said in essence, “Better to gouge out your eye to kill lust and go to heaven than to make peace with sin and go to hell” (Matthew 5:29). And with regard to seeking his own happiness, keep in mind that Edwards was absolutely convinced that being happy in God was the way we glorify him. This was the reason we were created. Delighting in God was not a mere preference or option in life; it was our joyful duty and should be the single passion of our lives. Therefore to resolve to maximize his happiness in God was to resolve to show him more glorious than all other sources of happiness. Seeking happiness in God and glorifying God were the same.

–John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, p. 29-30

(For a complete list of Edwards’ resolutions, check out A Puritan’s Mind.)

Tim Keller Sermon Notes – Series: The Gospel, Hope, and the World – Sermon #1: Hope for the World

Sermon preached on September 27, 2009. (Notes taken at Ethical Culture Society, 9AM service, Manhattan.)

Teaching is based on Ephesians 1.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Hope for the World

Introductory Comments:

Every several years we do a covenant renewal–renewing our vision to renew the city with the  gospel. You can make too much or too little of anniversaries: in Joshua, God says when you cross the Jordan, pick up 12 stones and pile them in remembrance. Part of the problem with the human heart is it forgets God’s miracles. That’s why the Word shows disciplines of remembrance. Even if you weren’t here 20 years ago [when Redeemer started], you need to remember that you’re sitting in a miracle right now. This isn’t just about our past–it’s got everything to do with our future.

Some ways to participate in this covenant renewal:

  • Come: This series of sermons will focus on Redeemer’s calling
  • Discuss: Join a Beta group.
  • Daily prayers: Sign up at renew.redeemer.com
  • Thank God: for any way that Redeemer has changed your life; this is His miracle.

Ephesians 1 is about hope. We will look at

  1. Why hope is so crucial
  2. What Christian hope is
  3. How Christian hope can shape your life

I. Why hope is so crucial

  • Hope in Christ is how you start. In v. 18, Paul prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.
  • Essentially, Paul is saying, “I want you to have your inner being so smitten that it would be like you stared at the sun.” He is praying that the Holy Spirit will help them know their hope.

Problem: The English word “hope” is too weak for biblical hope.

  • We say, “I’m not sure, but I hope so.” Hope, in English, means uncertainty; it’s the opposite of the biblical word!
  • Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
  • Biblical hope is a life-changing certainty about what’s going to happen.
  • Take two people, Persons A and B. Put them both in a room creating widgets for 10 hours a day for a year. Tell Person A that he’ll receive $10,000 at the end of the year, and tell B that she’ll get $1 billion. Person A says, “This sucks!” Person B says, “No, this isn’t so bad!
    • We are irreducibly hope-based creatures.
  • Christian hope has to do with the ultimate future state, not the immediate. Many think living a good life now will give them peace and prosperity in this life. No! There’s only one person who lived a good life, and he was rejected! Oh, well, he’s different–why? He says He’s not different!
  • Jonathan Edwards: Your bad will turn out for good–look at Christ. Your good things won’t ever be taken from you. And your best is yet to come.
  • Christian hope is effective because it’s not about prosperity in this life.
  • People who don’t understand hope are always freaking out when things go wrong.
    • Sumerset Long (?) Of Human Bondage

II. What is Christian Hope?

1. Personal: “the riches of his glorious hope in the saints (those set apart for Christ)

  • You are God’s  rich and glorious inheritance
    • Imagine a couple who owns the most valuable piece of art in the world.. The Lord of the universe considers YOU His treasure; when He looks at YOU, He feels rich.
      • If God in the past went into infinite debt to purchase you, what is He going to do when you meet Him face to face?
      • “This is what we are in for! Nothing less.” C. S. Lewis, pulsating, writes, “Everything you’ve ever longed for will be present in your heart at the moment of the first embrace.”

2. Material (wait, there’s more!)

  • the Spirit is a down-payment of our future redemption
    • in Romans 8, Paul explains that the whole created world will be freed from the bondage of decay.
      • This glory will not only envelope our bodies, it will envelope the cosmos
      • Nature in its greatest glory right now–the Grand Canyon, the Isuzu Falls–is a shadow of its future self.
      • If trees will be able to sing (Keller rubs his hands together), what will you be able to do?

III. How does this hope affect you?

1. Personally: Centuries ago, anyone who ever heard about self-esteem mentioned this passage.

    • During my undergraduate work, I was depressed, and my counselor told me that, whenever I felt depressed, to imagine the crowd’s applause after my greatest trumpet solo.
      • But what is that to this!? That trumpet solo might happen. You might write a best-seller, you might get that promotion, but this will happen! This is certainty! That depends on fickle crowds! That is a dew-drop of affirmation, whereas this is a worldwide flood!
  • Unless how He regards you infuses you, you’ll go through life scraping for awards and credentials because you don’t know who you are.

2. Materially

  • Conservatives don’t mind this idea of personal worth, but they get squeamish with social justice.
  • Liberals don’t mind this idea of personal worth, but they get squeamish with the “Jesus-only”.
    • If we have this hope, we’re going to call liberals to believe (despite their squeamishness), but we’re going to make this a good place to live whether they believe or not (despite the squeamishness of conservatives).

So, How?

vs. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

You believe the gospel.

Eph 2:12 says, “Remember when you were without hope?”

  • John 1: When Jesus came into the world, He came to His own, but they excluded him
  • He turned to God in Gethsemane, opened the door of prayer, and no one was there.

Hughes: Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

  • Yes, it hurts when you don’t get into the school you want, or the job you yearned for, but imagine losing ultimate, complete, utter, final hope.

When you see Christ losing all hope so that you can have hope–that is when you begin to have this biblical hope shaping your life.