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Curiosity: A Leadership Essential

Recently, I talked with a lean manufacturing consultant. He works to find and remove inefficiencies across all of the systems and operations of a Fortune 500 company. What key quality that makes someone in his role successful I wondered. “Curiosity” he stated without hesitation. For leadership in an organization to locate and remove waste in its operations, it must want to know, be diligent to uncover, and be committed enough to remove it.

It should come as no surprise that Scripture also identifies this key characteristic for wise leaders. Proverbs 25:2 says “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” God calls his people, across all professions, to rule over and subdue the earth. God has revealed to us what is needed for salvation, but in creation, he has left much for us to discover.

Kings or leaders in manufacturing, government, academia, science, homes, and beyond will only fulfill their callings if their minds are curious to the glory of God. We must learn to uncover things that have not yet been seen. The consultant also said that one of the hardest things for leaders to identify in manufacturing is atrophy. A […]

Honoring Employers and Employees

What is your attitude like at work today? In our workplaces we struggle with right attitudes and actions as we relate to our coworkers, employers, and employees.

The fifth of the Ten Commandments calls us to honor our father and mother. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that the fifth commandment is a shorthand requirement that we be faithful in all our relationships of authority – as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Thomas Watson, in his Body of Divinity, a commentary on the Catechism, outlined a few ways that we should fulfill these duties in the workplace (the language has been slightly updated at a few points).

How does and employee or servant serve his employer or master?

In obeying his master in things that are lawful and honest (1 Peter 2:18; Romans 13:12).
The servant’s honoring his master is seen in being diligent in his service (Matthew 25:26).
The servant is to honor his master by being faithful. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant?” (Matt 24:45).
The servant is to honor his master by serving him, as with love, without complaining (Titus 2:9).

And how should masters or employers honor their servants or employees? Remembering that they have a master in heaven (Ephesians 6:9):

Masters must take care to provide for […]

Victims of a Drive-by Catechizing

A number of years ago, a fellow student and I mumbled and griped to one another as we raked leaves on a chilly fall day on the front lawn of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We participated in a work-in-lieu of tuition program that covered part of our educational costs. Each student in the program was assigned tasks and was required to work a set number of hours. However, the program was not well-organized that year as it has since become, and the work never filled the hours required. My brother and I had conscientiously tried to fulfill our obligations week-by-week and go above and beyond the assigned tasks, but we never came close to filling our “required” hours. We were also pretty sure that most other students in the program didn’t begin to bother trying to fill their required hours with extra work.

One day, the seminary administration announced that the student assigned to rake leaves at the beginning of the term had dropped out. Thanksgiving break was nigh; the leaves were untouched. The emergency announcement dictated that any student in the work program who had not completed his work hours for the term […]

What Does “Foreknew” Mean In Romans 8:29?

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29 (ESV)

What does “foreknew” mean in Romans 8:29? Does it mean God looked ahead through time and knew in advance who would believe in Christ and thus predestined them to be conformed to the image of Jesus? Perhaps it reveals some kind of “middle knowledge” of God as he weighed various contingencies and possible decisions of his creatures? These options, which stand opposed to the historic reformed understanding of foreknowledge, seek to preserve unrestricted freedom of man’s will.

It’s helpful to ask two questions of the text at this point. First, to get the context, what is the object of God’s foreknowledge? Second, what is the meaning of the word?

The object of God’s foreknowledge in Romans 8:29 is people. God does not say here that he foreknew inclinations, choices, or actions. It is not faith God foreknew; he foreknew people. God did not choose to save based on foreseen human works or decisions; Scripture is clear that we are sovereignly saved by grace through faith (e.g. Romans 9:11-13, Ephesians 2:8-9). Commenting on […]

Burning John Calvin in Indiana

Indiana celebrates its bicentennial of statehood this year. Amid all the various commemorations, it’s good to look at our theological roots; we’re still partly shaped by them. Indiana became the nineteenth state while the influence of the Second Great Awakening rippled northward from the Cane Ridge Revival (1801) in Kentucky. Arminianism took hold amid the fervor to take the gospel to the frontier; the reformed doctrine of John Calvin found little foothold by comparison.

Some Presbyterians abandoned their reformed theology and became Cumberland Presbyterians as they migrated to the Hoosier state. Thousands more left Presbyterianism altogether and began the Stone-Campbell Movement or the Restoration Movement of the Disciples of Christ. Stronger still were Arminian Baptists who tended to minimize the importance of education and relied especially on emotion in their pleas to the unconverted. But the Methodists converted the state more than any other with their methodical emphasis and missionary zeal. They sent missionaries to the Indiana frontier in droves and quickly structured life for communities, emphasized methods of the Christian life, and established rudimentary educational systems among wilderness people. All of these groups shaped the theology of the state with their commitment to Arminianism, and their influence is still widely evident. […]

God’s Great Gift of Ice Cream

Vishal Mangalwadi’s work The Book That Made Your World; How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Thomas Nelson, 2011) is a treasure. Ice cream lovers like me will appreciate God’s grace in the gift of readily available ice cream in the West just a little more after reading the book.

From India, Mangalwadi offers unique insights on the Western world through the eyes of an Easterner who has studied the West. A disciple of Francis Schaeffer, he shows Westerners the benefits we have received but often fail to appreciate. In a time when many Christians see the weaknesses in American culture, Mangalwadi reflects on the great things the Lord has done here that we ought to cherish and cultivate.

The book is part philosophy and worldview, part history, part economic treatise, and part missionary biography. He paints a broad brush. One might wish his scholarship were a little tighter in places or might disagree with his analysis of history and conclusions. But he provides a refreshing perspective that is not mere theory from a man writing from a leather chair at a mahogany desk; he’s boldly tried to work out the implications on the ground in rural India in the face […]

Life in Twenty Year Stages

“For some, life’s years are seventy; perhaps the strong may eighty see” Moses wrote in Psalm 90. We should daily remember the brevity of life in order to “count our days and set our hearts on wisdom’s ways.”

How do we count our days that usually amount to seventy or eighty years? One of many ways is to count by twenty year increments. These time blocks give us a general roadmap and help to order our expectations and sense of responsibility in life as we walk before the Lord and ask him to establish the work of our hands here on earth. Of course, we must remember that our value is not ultimately found in what we do but in what Christ has already done for us; we are called to abide in him all of our days. In real life, the division of life’s stages are not this clean; each person’s experience will be different. Take these for what they are – broad generalities. I stand at year forty – halfway; no doubt, others could write more helpfully on the last forty years of life. The basic outline I took from a sermon (I have forgotten the source) some years ago […]

Raising Up Encouragers

Three days ago, I remembered my friend and mentor Dave Long who has just passed into glory. He was a great encourager. When I was in college, he had our Men-In-Training group do a character study of Barnabas. That study ultimately gave rise to the following article on Barnabas and growing in encouragement that I posted four years ago. If the Lord has taken one great encourager from the earth in the last week, then surely he wants to raise up many more among those who remain. So, read and be encouraged to look around today for someone to encourage.

Some people in the church seem to have the spiritual gift of discouragement.  It’s all that guy can do – discourage others. Truthfully, we are all “that guy” far too often. We find it far easier to complain and view circumstances negatively than positively. So, when a person embodies encouragement, we notice. The apostles took note of a such a man named Joseph. They recognized that he was no ordinary Joe. They called him Barnabas instead, which translated means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

The church and her saints grew quickly when Barnabas encouraged people. We know from 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 that […]

David W. Long (1955-2016) – My Friend and Mentor

David William Long is now absent from the body but is at home with the Lord having died yesterday at age 60 after battling melanoma. Dave served as pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, Indiana for 31 years. He ministered deeply to me as he mentored me and others. My reflections here in the midst of my grief are in no way a complete reflection of his life, but they are some of the ways he so deeply touched me. He was not perfect by any means, but I am so grateful that the Lord put him in my life.

My first memory of Dave is not particularly warm. Our church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lafayette was without a pastor, and as a seven year-old, I liked the slow delivery style and gentle manner of the man who filled the pulpit frequently. As a boy, I didn’t understand that he was not a candidate, and so I was rather disturbed when I overheard my mother tell someone else that it looked likely that we would call a certain young man out of seminary – Dave Long. He had been to church to preach, but I had no idea […]

In This Year of Our Lord

If you have never read Vermont Royster’s classic Christmas Eve editorial In Hoc Anno Domini in The Wall Street Journal, do yourself the favor of reading it tomorrow when it is republished. It has appeared annually since it was composed in 1949. Or, you can read it here today. In it, he sets forth one key implication Christ for men and nations. The Wall Street Journal has long-prided itself on reporting the news so that readers immediately understand what today’s news means for the future; In Hoc Anno Domini is an editorial example of the same. Royster editorialized on the influence of Christ in a unique way. He caused readers to consider the historical news of the incarnation (though he did not explicitly articulate it as such) and its influence on their place in history present and future. No wonder the article resonates enduringly.

According to Royster’s biography, “most newspapers [in the late 1949] ran Christmas editorials that were messages of glad tidings, about peace and joy and the babe in the manger.” Years later, Royster noted,

But I did not see the world that way that year. There was a blockade in Berlin, and war clouds were again scudding across the map of Europe. There were the first […]