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Work As Worship

Many Christians—from the CEO to the teacher to the stay-at-home mom—spend a great deal of time working and yet do not realize how their work intersects with their faith. They compartmentalize their faith to Sunday morning and see the rest of their week as having little to do with their walk with God. Scripture, however, makes no division between the sacred and secular parts of our lives. God gives us our work, talent and skills so that through them we might worship Him.

This six-part Bible study resource will challenge all of us to consider the reason God calls us to work. It will cause you to consider why He may have you in your current position and encourage you to look beyond how your job makes you feel and see purpose and significance in your work.

Through powerful biblical teaching, real-life documentary stories and engaging video illustrations, this series will help us understand the biblical mandate for work. We have been called to work with excellence, integrity, and diligence, and our careers are opportunities to be on mission for Christ in the marketplace. God gives us great potential for impact on our families, churches, communities and the world through the blessing of our work.

Dive into the entire bible study series here.

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Change the World through Hiring

Your company and your future work at your new company is God's plan to change the world. The integration of faith and work is by far the most strategic way to reach the world in order to fulfill the great commission. In fact, 32 million people with an average circle of 250 people could reach 8 billion people with the love and good news of Jesus Christ every year.
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Guest Blog - Closer to Love | Taylor Bump

Spotlight Post: CoPassion

If you missed Sanctuary last month, read on to learn about the ministry of CoPassion, founded by Ray and Melissa Strickland. We encourage you to support their ministry by keeping them in your prayers and by keeping up to date with them on Facebook and their website.

What was Jesus’ brand?

The answer may seem obvious, but the question is so important. Jesus said that he gave his followers a new commandment, “to love one other,” and there are many ways that he asks us to do that. So why do I and the rest of American Christendom spend so much time concerned over one part of his calling—vocation? What Ray and Melissa seek to do through CoPassion is open up the many aspects of God’s callings on our lives to be as accessible as possible for college students, graduates, and businessmen and women.

Christians spend a lot of time confused about their calling because they simplify calling too much, says Ray. There are really three aspects to the calling of God on our lives, but I know that I tend to only focus on one of them. First, Jesus is calling us to himself. This one is huge, but we can often gloss over it and never return to it after our first encounter with the Lord. But he wants our heart, and not just a part of it, but everything. Out of that relationship with him comes the second calling, to go and make disciples. It is our privilege to tell others about a God who loves us and cares for us.

These two priorities so often are overshadowed by our pursuit of a vocation or career. This if often based off gifts and talents the Lord has given, but can change several times throughout our lives. Yet we devote much of our time, worries, and discernment to this one aspect of our calling.

CoPassion provides a way to pursue not only your vocational calling, but more equally balance the first two callings. They facilitate partnerships with Christian-run businesses and campus ministries for college students and graduates. On the Journey track, college students are able to work part-time in their field of study, while also working part-time with the campus ministry of their choice. This provides ample opportunity for exploration of career choices but also the training and experience of a Christian ministry. CoPassion’s heart is to make opportunities for more laborers in the harvest field. They aim to balance effective practice with ambitious passions, all in the name of Jesus.

I know that I was personally encouraged by the initiative Ray and Melissa have taken in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. I’m so often caught up in the college rush to graduate with my life (i.e. my career) all planned out. But what CoPassion points out and facilitates is an even-handed approach to my purpose in Christ. We started that process not by taking an aptitude test or figuring out our spiritual gifts, but instead coming to the Lord in worship and prayer together. Because as Ray pointed out, that’s where we find our true purpose, in Christ’s presence alone, sitting at his feet in rapt adoration.

http://www.ctlmovement.org/closer-to-love-blog/october2015copassion

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Uprooting the Hourly Employee Mindset

Managing people is hard.  Managing yourself can be an even bigger challenge.  Imagine how God feels, being the greatest manager of all time, the word manager doesn’t even come close to communicating the proper connotation, for what He’s up to all day long.

Our culture and the people in it consistently wrestle with how to maximize leisure and laziness, and minimize work.  Not always a bad concept, but consider the hourly employee....  

Maybe you are an employee who is paid hourly, or if you’re a manger, I’m sure you’ve supervised one.  The mindset of an hourly employee is often, 8 hours of pain, once time is served, I can do what I want.  An hourly employee often doesn’t have much say in the creative nature of their work, they are task driven.  Often given the steps to complete the work and not challenged to apply any think power or creativity.

During a recent routine trip to Home Depot this weekend, my wife and I were discussing a project in the lumber section when three stereotypical construction men came through boasting a complex design issue with their project.  As I attempted to tune them out, one turned to wife for confirmation and out loud answered the gentlemen posing the problem, “As I’ve told you a hundred times, I don’t get paid to think, therefore I don’t!!”  This is the infectious hourly employee mindset.

How many times have you desired to “clock out and check out”?  (For the baby boomers: “Come to the end of the work day, and desire to leave all responsibilities at work” or “its five o’clock somewhere”)

For me, it was everyday I worked in a managerial position after college.  It was healthy to set up boundaries, in order to hold the “song” that never ends at bay….right?!?  I think so…but to what end? 

As a participant in the CoPassion Journey, my work is bi-vocational.  I have two part-time jobs, and I would love to categorize both as hourly jobs that I can punch the time clock, in and out.  However, one of those jobs is now a role in ministry leadership.

What I’m coming to find out is there are so many Christ-followers, including myself who justify clocking out.  I’d love to say my ministry office hours are Mon-Fri, 9 to 4, because ministry is hard and I deserve time off, but the Kingdom doesn’t work that way. 

I go back to the mindset of the hourly employee, my other role on the CoPassion Journey.  At the end of the day, the big picture business success, isn’t my responsibility, it’s great.  But that kind of thinking will get you killed!  Deferring responsibility and accountability based on pay grade will root itself deep within your work ethic and will be a tortuous weed to uproot, later in life.

Don’t be the dude at Home Depot, justifying your lack of thinking because it’s not on your pay grade.  In heaven there is no time clock or pay grade.  God has made you to be an artisan, a creator, a designer, a dreamer, a doer, a laborer, so put forth your gifts and don’t plan on clocking out.  Your thinking can change the world!

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Dollar Tree Goggles and the Sea of Life

That afternoon in my kitchen as I contemplated my heart, I realized that I can’t shield my daughter from every painful experience, but I can point her to the one that can provide the healing and comfort she needs. I can model for her what it looks like to run to the one who can take my storms and make them something beautiful.
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The Resistance - Josh Garrels

You may not read these lyrics, but I'll bet you'll watch a youtube video!  Reflecting and meditating on this poem again this evening....

The Resistance - Josh Garrels

https://youtu.be/BgsOxhp2Dzs

The Resistance 

I was born into a system constructed for failure 
It’s a sinking ship manned by drunken sailors 
An escape artist behind the bars of a jailor 
An asthmatic attack when we forgot the inhaler 
If the shoe doesn’t fit what good is a tailor 
In the midst of a crisis please cancel the gala 
Without a symphony there’s no need for a prelude 
To foreshadow what’s to come. 
See the secret committees, commence with their meetings 
To make red tape in response to simple questions 
Questions threaten the perception of the beneficial systems 
A pyramid scheme with it’s cogs and it’s pistons 
Mechanization of men, making more and more 
Live in a miserable exhistance 
How can so few, claim so many victims 
And this begs the question 
My rest is a weapon against the oppression 
Of mans obsession to control things 
Look at the long line of make believe kings 
The lord of the flies want’s you to kiss his ring 
Follow new rules with invisible strings 
And become a puppet in the diabolical scheme 
How do good men become part of the regime 
They don’t believe in resistance. 

Hold fast like an anchor in the storm 
We will not be moved 

Lesson number one, overcome 
Every fear of regret and confusion 
It’s all illusion, delusion 
Sent to disconnect the holy fusion 
Of spirit and the flesh 
Every mortal breath, is meant to bring forth fire 
But only when the fear of death, gets consumed 
On the funeral pier 
So let the flames rise higher 
Let every man be considered a liar 
If he doubts the goodness and faithfulness of God 
Itching ears will compulsively nod in approval 
When unbelief is taught in all our temples and schools 
But God can restrain the madness of a fool 
He can bring His truth through the mouth of a mule 
You can move an mountain without any tools 
It just takes the faith of a little seed 
to make a way through what might seem to be 
Impossibility, 
And the ability will match the occasion 
The outcome will defy explanation 
The liberation will not be televised 
When it arrives like lightning in the skies 

Hold fast like an anchor in the storm 
For your love, we will rise and overcome 
Through the fire 

Hold fast my people and sing 
Through peace and through suffering 
All for the joy that it brings, to be free 
It’s gonna cost us everything 
To follow one Lord and King 
True love endures everything 
To be free 

Hold fast, like an anchor in the storm 
We will not be moved

credits

from Love & War & The Sea In Between, released 15 June 2011 
Vocals, Keyboards, and Drum and Sample Sequencing by Josh Garrels 
Electric Guitars by Scott Frantz
https://youtu.be/BgsOxhp2Dzs
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Gaps in my résumé...Why CoPassion?

I put in my two weeks’ notice with my previous employer in March of this year…with the intention to exit a season of stress, anxiety, and an ill disposition.  As with all of us the view I have of the world has been stretched and enlightened by my experiences.  For me, that places me in the midst of religion and rebellion, abject poverty and generational wealth, leader and follower, sojourner and resident.  All in search for what boils down to, the answers we are all looking for to life’s questions.  You know, the ones that rattle deep within our souls, the questions that arise in moments of crisis, moments of change…when the phone call you receive is the one you know carries difficult news, when you return from a trip out of the country and God’s timeline for your grandfather has run out, when your wedding day ripped by at the speed of light and your left asking, “What just happened?”.  How about the known seasons of change that produce character results, forcing adaptation outside of will…applying for college, graduating high school, and moving into a dorm room with hundreds of peers in search of the same answers.  Or being lost in an office building with a badge that grants you access to all the opportunities you learned about on the college campus, finding success in a cubicle, because you’ve been granted your very own title, email address, and if you’re lucky, a color code to print in color.

I rode the wave of entry level career life, and was awestruck by its social, economical, and soul shifting control.  Our world and who we are, are driven by culture, superiors, and an influx of available information.  Positive and negative results of an organization, are based off of the ability of others to generate an attitude, an atmosphere; a machine. 

Based off of what most would consider a blessing, I have never had difficulty in finding success, measured by the American litmus test.  Throughout college I had the privilege to serve in three internship roles for three stout companies, each claiming their fame from some business journal, my resume titles this, related experience.  I focused just enough to maintain scholarship grade point averages, and complete a four year degree in five years to obtain twenty five thousand in debt and another title, my resume titles this qualification.  (Non-relatable experience: every job I held to support life expenses through college.) Three months prior to completion of my degree, I had been lead to begin work in my field of study, and I was well on my way to a resume that spoke for itself.  You see, I had all the answers to the test, do as others have done, build your career, promote your community, and make connections, in a search for the world’s promise of satisfaction.

The question that plagues my mind is…does everybody have these thoughts?  Do I think differently?  Why am I giving my life to the pursuit of happiness?  How do I massage the needs of the world, while I am still feeding its machines? 

Moving through these stages of life, we each receive seasonal gifts, glimpses of the Story.  The piece of my resume that means the most to me today, is the section I had chosen to label ‘Activities’, as advised by the hundreds of examples I reviewed at the career services desk.  Once I had moved into full time roles of my life’s career calling, my activities section dwindled.  I no longer made time for the ministries and community that had once engaged my spirit during college; I had been told, “Your career is your ministry”.   The problem was I didn’t know how to sustain the spiritual pulse, clotted by the same desires we all share.

The more I saw of the world, the more removed I became from the joy of implementing all the tools of a vibrant life.  Building community, serving, love, generosity, overflow, joy, communion, and mission; all now have to be motivated and coaxed on my own time, within the confines of business politics and ethics. 

Facilitating these attitudes for a time was provided through God’s love for me and the presence of Jesus’ Spirit in my life, but I didn’t have the experience to see it through.  Outside of a community focused solely on these purposes, my abilities to sustain the effort left me tired, frustrated, and isolated from my colleagues.  Each role that I served to date has always had motivational distress all at different lengths of time, but each guaranteed to leave me scratching my head in search of a deeper meaning.

I once shared my testimony in front of several hundred members of the church, at the ripe age of thirteen, and in doing so shared the simple phrase, with childlike endearment, “I LOVE GOD!”.  Over the years as my character has been developed, I have challenged the status quo, broken the rules, offended people, and been on the side of evil more often than most.  What I see looking back is another testimony of tried identity, the transforming power of God’s love for us, and the awesomeness of his unique and intricate design.  The Story being told never ends, the Story of our lives is eternal, if we should allow it.  Whether practically or spiritually each of us has the opportunity to impact the next generation of lives on Earth. 

The wave has run its course, and has left me on the beach looking back at the resume God has built in me over the past few years.  It is unshakable, and full of every individual competitive advantage.  It’s unfortunate that I am just know beginning to consider my vocation as a battle ground for Jesus’ mission.

It’s unfortunate that the resume I crafted will not be displayed on God’s fridge. Or will it?  Is our uniquely designed, God-given passion to work, compete, design, craft, and develop our world being used to strengthen ourselves or…..are we working to continue the work, which was from the beginning, the work of the Kingdom?  

We can, and we don't have to quit our "day jobs"....

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CoPassion Works

My mind typically runs at about 300 miles per hour. The first thing that comes to the forefront to compare it to are the streets of Manhattan. No stopping, just going; a great melting pot of activity and scenery.  The thoughts that run so rapidly vary from fears to dreams, doubts to beliefs, hobbies to passions, and everything in between. I often thank God that He doesn’t listen to my suggestions for life because if He did, I’d have a different occupation every few days. When I first got to college, I thought, “‘This’ is all I’m good at.” Post-degree I was thinking, “I would love to do ‘this’. ‘That’ would be fun. I wonder if there will come a season in my life where I’ll get too…” See what I mean? Honestly, I was just hoping for some thunder and lightning; for God to come down, look me dead in the eye, and say, “THIS is what I want you to do!” Oddly enough, and to my great surprise, that didn’t happen. He chose a different avenue to reach me – one that would cause me to truly dive into Him and His heart with everything I had while also seeking counsel from my wife, mentors, and those much wiser than myself – an avenue that would challenge and grow my faith. Yeah, that sounds much better.

 

 I first heard of CoPassion when my good friend, Aaron Austin, called me and asked if I would be able to meet up with him and a gentleman named Ray Strickland. He told me that Ray Strickland used to be in charge of Cru, went into corporate America, left, and was now spearheading a different project that Aaron thought I would be perfect to be apart of. I agreed to meet up. This organization, they informed me, would combine campus ministry and business experience in an area related to my degree. I made a face that would indicate I was pondering deeply, intently, and responded, “That sounds awesome.” I learned that I would be the first student to do this – a guinea pig, if you will – and that I would be getting paid hourly. So that was pretty sweet too. I told my wife, Kayla, all about the meeting. We prayed about it, discussed the pros and cons, and got back to Ray the following week.

 

I got started right away. The campus ministry I began to work for what was then known as Resolution (now, Every Nation Campus Jacksonville). It was led by Aaron Austin and was the same campus ministry I got connected to while I was at North Florida. [Pause: This is the same Aaron I told numerous times during my college career that I would never get involved with campus ministry. I loved Jesus and I loved my campus, but just didn’t have a heart to do what he did. He would laugh, shrug it off, and then we’d move on to the next topic of conversation. I later confronted him (jokingly, of course) and said, “Hey! You snuck me into ministry and I didn’t even realize it!” He paused, laughed, and said “Yea! Ha! I did!”] The other location I began to work for that would serve as my business experience was The HIT Center, a gym that focused on speed, agility, and overall athletic development. I did marketing for them – things like instructional videos, promotional tables at local games, and putting flyers under windshield wipers in various parking lots. Yep. I was ‘that’ guy. If you found a HIT Center flyer on your car and it rained that day, I’m sorry.

 

The HIT Center job was short lived, however, and I was told that I would not be needed anymore, two months later. I hadn’t done anything wrong and they said I wasn’t fired, only that they couldn’t give me any more work on a consistent basis. Thank God. I had never been let go before so the thought of even telling Kayla was petrifying. She was more than gracious about the entire situation but I still said it as if I had just eaten something old and sour at the same time. “I think I was just f..f..fired?” All that was left was campus ministry.

Kayla and I did a lot more praying and talking. Again, I loved Resolution. I loved the campus. I just didn’t feel I had a heart for it. She knew that, but I stayed with it because I did know full well that God had called me to it for that season of my life.

 

An entire semester went by. I was the Life Group director for Resolution, helped with set up and breakdown for our weekly meetings, served on campus at our tent and table, spoke occasionally, and so much more. Ministry is not for the faint of heart. Especially, as an introvert, working with people can be exhausting and that’s only part of it. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world, but I had to constantly rely on grace. Jesus deserves my praise in that alone. His active love and openness to others from early in the morning until late at night with few breaks in between to walk with His Father is ridiculous (in a good way). Still, I had no supernatural conviction to continue. I was just being obedient, looking for any other open doors along the way. It wasn’t until December of 2014 that I heard God’s voice as plain as day.

 

I was at a conference watching a video on everything our ministry family, Every Nation, was doing around the world, specifically in the Philippines. I felt chills running up my spine and goosebumps blanketed my skin. I figured I was just cold. Then I heard what could only be God’s voice saying, “This is for you. I’ve made you to lead. I’ve made you to be a leader in my armies in this spiritual family.” My initial reaction was, “Are You sure You want to do that?” My second thought was, “Wow, well that’s done. That’s it. I heard Him. No doubt. I heard the calling to full-time ministry and I’m going all in! Nothing can or will convince me otherwise! I’m going to make disciples, who make disciples and I’m going to advance the Kingdom of God on my campus! Wait a minute…I’M called to ministry?!”

 

By now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well that’s great, Justin, but all that just seems like a memoir and you wanting to talk, while trying to be funny. I don’t think you’re that funny. What does all this have to do with CoPassion?” Well, I’ll tell you. CoPassion is the vehicle that God used to direct me to the calling He has for my life. CoPassion is the catapult that God loaded and released to get me on His mission to change the world. CoPassion was the thunder and lightning I was looking for. CoPassion works. The vision and mission that God gave a willing and obedient servant like Ray Strickland to make Christ-centered laborers is happening. Fast forward to now, June 2015. Kayla and I have moved to Orlando and we will be the campus pastors for Every Nation at the University of Central Florida. UCF is an incredible harvest and the biggest college campus in the nation that great men before me, like Brian Taylor and Kore Bendix, have removed boulders in and laid the groundwork for. We get to lead it and be apart of the incredible revival that will take place because God put CoPassion in our lives.

 

I would definitely recommend others to CoPassion because it’s one of the best ways, if you do it with all your heart, to receive Jesus’ heart for His people. It’s one of the best ways to be an active role in the Great Commission to make disciples. I would like to quote and back up Aaron Austin in saying, “The Mormons got it right (in this area). Go to college, get your degree, then go into the ministry for 2 years and be apart of what God is doing to reach the world. You can get a ‘real job’ later.” My mind still goes 300 miles per hour, but the feet of those thoughts all scramble to the things of God, reaching UCF, the city of Orlando, and the world around me. I’ve found the calling that God has for me. It’s been a wild journey, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. 

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