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As my daughters are getting older and memorizing more and more things, Brooke and I thought it would be good to help them learn some Bible verses.This week our verse was Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (NIV 1984). I try to read many Bible translations, but the NIV was the one I memorized.
Galatians 5:22 was one of the first verses I learned when I became a Christian. It always reminds me about what pleases God, and I expected it would do the same for my daughters.
What I didn’t expect was how they began reciting it to Brooke and me. When we became openly frustrated, or when I instructed them to do things, they’d quote the verse. Their zeal gave a whole new meaning to wielding the Bible as a sword of the spirit. They are correct in one sense–that the holy living described in this verse is difficult to follow. But in treating the verse this way, I think they’ve substituted measuring tape for fruit, and robbed the whole of its sweetness. As I grow older, I realize more and more how valuable the Bible is on a daily basis, and this is especially true in the workplace–even when you work, like I do, in Christian publishing.
Here are some ways that Galatians 5:22 applies in a work environment.
  • Love: Love can easily get lost when you are looking at financial numbers or trying to get something done. Galatians 5:22 is Jesus’s reminder to us about what is most important—to love God and to love others. The spirit of any situation changes when love is the motivation. Think about how you can love first in the way you do business and in all of life before you do anything.
  • Joy: No day is perfect in terms of what goes right or wrong. But when there are tough days, Galatians 5:22 reminds me of the big perspective. We are put on this earth to do work and to take joy in it. Our work matters! So the next time things get hard, think about how God has blessed you and others overall and how you are not alone. Joy can then emerge.
  • Peace: In business, especially the business I am in, it is difficult to have peace. The market is complicated and ever-changing, and it is easy to get stressed out and become overwhelmed. Our lives need peace, a calm during a storm. Most especially, Galatians 5:22 reminds me to spend time resting and in prayer before making big decisions.
  • Patience: When it comes to my kids, I need patience. And patience is valuable at work as well. Most people I admire in the workplace are ones who are patient do not rush into making decisions. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder to be patient with others as they develop into better leaders.
  • Kindness: I see so little kindness in today’s work environment. People act as if the ends truly justify the means, and they get hurt emotionally. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder that most people around me could be having a tough time at home or with something at work so why not be kind to them? And in the wise words of Bill S. Preston in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1986), “Be excellent to one another.” See, you never thought God could work through Bill and Ted, right?
  • Goodness: When I create or do something at work, I need to ask myself, “Would God think of this as good?” Is it purely for profit? Is it something that actually helps others and make a difference? I believe Paul put goodness in there to force us to ask these questions of ourselves.
  • Faithfulness: Good work requires hard work. Galatians 5:22 reminds me that to finish well is a great virtue. It shows that you are willing to stick with something through the thick and thin to ensure it gets done. At the end of a project, I have learned that knowing that you left it all on the field gives you so much more satisfaction. God smiles too.
  • Gentleness: We are asked to communicate with people each day. There is always news to share, meetings to schedule, and issues to resolve. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder to always be gentle in the way we talk with each other, especially when things are wrong. The blame-game does nothing to get you toward an outcome. To solve problems, choose words that are encouraging, yet direct.
  • Self-Control: As a marketer, it is so easy to do the most flashy or newest technological thing to get attention. I’ve often had to ask myself, “Will this technology realistically help us reach our outcome?” As Steve Green—Max Lucado’s great friend and literary agent—once told me, “Dave, just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it.” Steve, that wisdom comes right from the self-control encouraged in this verse. So thank you.

I am so thankful for the word of God and how it heals our spirits and guides us in our everyday actions. Galatians 5:22 is one particular part of it that gets me through my personal and professional life. I hope it blesses you too.

What other Bible verse most guides you through your work day?

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I recently visited the historic Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. It is a beautiful hotel and I can say that it was on my bucket list of places to experience. Despite its beauty and the wonderful time my family had there, there was something special that intrigued me most about the Greenbrier.

In the mid 1950s, President Eisenhower made a visit to the Greenbrier Hotel during a summit between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico. While there, Eisenhower met with the President of CSX, the owner of the Greenbrier at the time. It was the Cold War, a time of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and Eisenhower knew that the government needed to continue governing in case Washington D.C. was attacked. He saw the Greenbrier Hotel, tucked into rural West Virginia as an ideal spot to ‘hide’ the Legislative branch in this time.

Greenbrier Congressional bunker

Eisenhower convinced the President of the Greenbrier to allow the building of this secret bunker to be created. The Greenbrier was in need of creating a special wing to be added to the hotel so the government offered to pay for that in exchange for absolute secrecy of this facility. And so it was built over three years, opening in 1962. Very few knew about its existence and the most fascinating thing was that most of the bunker was open to the public between its operational existence from 1962-1992.

The House of Representatives room at The Greenbrier Bunker

The government figured that it would be incredibly difficult for someone at the hotel or the town to not know something was there. As a diversion, part of the bunker was used as a conference facility equipped with meetings rooms, even two auditoriums that fit around 450 and 125 people, enough to fit each branch of Congress. The 18 inch blast doors were hidden from most people so they were led to think they were just walking into another part of the hotel. Most people in town and at the hotel knew that ‘something’ was there but they never could prove it. The bunker was not officially exposed until a Washington Post article revealed its existence.

One of the greatest secrets of the Cold War was hidden in plain sight.

I will always remember ‘discovering’ the Greenbrier Congressional bunker. I have been reading about so many New Year’s resolutions and people hoping to make this year happier than the previous one. There is a workout that will make us healthier. If I can come up with a better way of doing something at work, I’ll feel better. There is a job out there that will make me richer and happier. There is more money that will make life easier. Happiness will come if we do… (fill in the blank).

It reminds me of a great quote I read recently from Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

Happiness depends so little on the circumstances; it depends really only on that which happens inside a person.

Jesus shares more through Luke 17:20-21 NIV

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,  nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within[a] you.”

Yes, happiness comes from within. It is hidden in plain sight. If our heart truly seeks Jesus, we are free and real happiness enters us. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know this great secret. But it really isn’t a secret like the Congressional Bunker. But the bunker sure is great reminder to us to not look too far for happiness.

Happiness is hidden in plain sight for all of us.

PS  You can read more here about the Greenbrier Congressional Bunker. It is definitely worth a visit.

I can’t get a job.

My candidate failed.

No one likes what I say.

Nothing is going my way.

She won’t do what I want.

I will never win.

I can’t do it.

These are all things I have heard in the past few weeks from friends, colleagues, my daughters, yes even from my mouth. My daughters get so frustrated especially when they can’t make something work. They scream “I can’t do it, Daddy” and literally are screaming. I have to remind them about how much I don’t like the word “can’t” and then try to help. Truth is, when I’m at work and catch myself being down about something at work or with friends. I’ve got a new name for negative talk and I have to remind myself of it each time I catch myself doing it.

In the movie, The Muppets (2011), the billionaire Tex Richman introduced the iconic anti-group,

“Meet the Moopets: A hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The Moopets were everything anti from what the positive and loving Muppets are. They are negative personality of each character. They are cynical, they are bullies, they are dangerous, and only care about themselves. They are “cynical” as Tex Richman called them.

Cynicism is something that is so easy to conform to. The 2012 election sure proved that for us all. I had a discussion with a friend this week about when we feel like we can’t handle life’s circumstances, we suddenly become down about it. We complain. We blame. We hate. Then we are driving and see an “IGBOK” bumper sticker. “It’s Gonna Be OK.” My mom used to remind me of this when I was a kid and as I encounter more things in life, I remember her simple, yet profound wisdom that wraps so many car bumpers.

When Conan O’Brien’s fans were in revolt because he was losing The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno and the forces that be at NBC, here was his response.

All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.

Yes indeed, the cynics were shunned. Amazing things happen because you are suddenly free to go after what God really wants you to do. And what happens next?

Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us,

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Knowing what Christ did for us on the cross is enough to be thankful for.

Let’s give up the Moopets. Be a real Muppet and be thankful.

Wocka wocka

I’m no scholar.

I’m no dummy, either (I think).

Almost 20 years ago, I accepted Christ while recognizing his great love offered for me. It was simple to me. I needed help and he was there. I took the step and I’ve never looked back since.

As I’ve grown as a Christian and naturally in age, I’ve come to recognize that not everything in life makes sense to me. Not that I don’t seek the great answers to life and even some of the smaller ones, I have just come to realize that God knows and I am generally okay with that. One thing that I do realize is that the more I try to figure it out by myself, the more confused, alone, and lost I feel. Like the show, LOST, the characters struggle to fight their way on “the island” individually versus bonding together. It is a common theme in the entire six seasons of the show. I love that show because it is a central theme of life. Alone we are lost. Together, we are one.

The classic line from Jack, the hero of the show is,

If we can’t live together, we’re gonna die alone.

Early in my Christian life, God instilled the verse Ephesians 4:3 NIV in me, especially remembering it whenever I was in any petty argument or witnessed one in the church.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

Every time I read it, it hits me like a brick.

God commands us to make every effort. Not to fight each other. Not to live alone. But to keep the unity no matter what.

I am far from qualified to speak of or have any sort of wisdom in how to heal this but God showed me something recently that made more sense of it.

I was at a great friend’s father’s funeral this past weekend. While waiting for the service to begin, I looked around at the wide variety of people in the sanctuary. They were all over the midwest; from various economic, faith and cultural backgrounds. Despite this ragtag group’s looks, they came together in remembrance and celebration. They were unified in love and thanks for a great husband, friend, father, and son. It was beautiful like a glimpse of heaven. Next we all recited something magical.

As Christians, most of us have read the Apostles Creed. I was moved because I believe that God gave it to us through some brave men of faith in the early church to remind us of what matters most. My friends, whether they be Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, or any other Non-Denominational variety can all pretty much agree on this creed and most recite it on a regular basis in their own churches. I wish we all could live this creed with the thousands of churches that are in this wonderful yet fallen world. Imagine what we can do together.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Can you imaging if we read this everyday?  Read it out with me my Christian brothers and sisters. We will feel one together before our God and can serve better as one because of it.

Live together or die alone.