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The Workplace – Integrity Matters

As we saw in the previous blog, one of the big challenges we face in the workplace is trying to maintain our integrity in all that we do, say and think. From my experience the temptations are all around us in the workplace and quite often we don’t even realise it.

Issues or areas that damage our integrity at work can include the following: How do we treat other co-workers, especially those we manage? Do we treat them the way we would like to be treated? Are we open and honest in all that we do? Do we take few things from the workplace, even something as trivial as some paper? Do our actions always match up to our words? Do we always do what we say we will do? Do we lust after the young girl in the office, joking about her looks with fellow male colleagues? Do we judge anyone female who visits our workplace first and foremost by her looks?

The list could go on and on and if we are all honest, we all fall down at least one of those points I have raised on numerous occasions. Another big challenge I found is that as Christians we are often expected by non-Christians to have higher levels of integrity than those around us. When, not if, we slip up the judgemental comments come flying in thick and fast.

So what can we do to maintain our integrity not only in the workplace, but also in all areas of life? From my experience no self-help book or the latest motivational speaker could do it, the only resource you need is the Word of God A.K.A The Bible. Once your start reading, understanding and applying the Bible to your life then your character starts to develop and with that character development comes integrity.

God is much more interested in your character than he is in your career. But God does use your work and your workplace to develop your character. Your workplace is in some ways a life course in character development.

Do you have a boss who drives you crazy or puts you under pressure to lie? Think about this, God can use a boss who tests your patience, and he can use a workplace that you’re unhappy in to develop and grow your character. He plants seeds of love, joy, peace, and patience in your heart, and then he fertilizes those seeds while you work.

You may be at work and wonder, “How come this is going on? Why is this such a difficult place to work? Why do these people not like me? Why can’t I be happier at my workplace?” You’re really just asking the same question that Solomon asked: What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? Ecclesiastes 1:3 (The Message)

The answer to Solomon’s and many of our questions regarding the workplace is character. You’re not going to take your career with you to Heaven, but you are going to take your character. And while you are here on Earth, God is developing your character and testing your faithfulness. Will you be faithful to do the right thing, even when you don’t feel like doing the right thing?

Stephen McGuire

The Workplace – Your Boss Is Not Really Your Boss

One of the big challenges that I faced in the workplace, especially within a sales environment, would be the pressure put on by my boss to lie, or exaggerate the truth a little, just do or say anything to get the sale especially if there were a few zeros on the end of the selling price. At times I found this a real struggle and it would have been easy to simply do as I was asked and damage my integrity in the process. We will think about integrity in the next blog but today I really want to think about who our real boss is?

You see the Bible tells us that the boss at work is not really your boss, your boss is Jesus.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

Many people I talk with have a real dislike for their job and I often hear statements like “it pays the bills”, “it will do until I can find something better” or “I get no job satisfaction”. When we constantly think about these things our attitude towards work can really suffer and become very negative.

However when we flip it around and realise that no matter where you work or who you work for, your real boss is Jesus then our whole attitude towards our work can change. It is much easier to be enthusiastic about our job when we know that we are doing it for God. By understanding the truth that anything we do from sweeping the floor to running a multinational company can be an act of worship, we can change our whole mind-set and approach our job with a fresh enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

When we change our thinking and attitudes towards our work it won’t be long before the “here’s the grumpy Christian coming” comments change to “here’s the guy that is always happy and positive at work”. This change can have a huge impact on our evangelism in the work place.

It doesn’t matter if you’re vacuuming the carpet, repairing a car, serving in the military, or managing an office, any job can become an act of worship if you do it enthusiastically for God, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Demolition Squad at The Gathering 2015

The Demolition Squad is looking forward to attending The Gathering next week. With over 2,000 booked the weekend promises to be a lot of fun.

Areas of Operation at The Gathering

The Demolition Squad will be involved strongly across the whole weekend, with Saturday being the busiest day.

The Just Looking seminar on Saturday afternoon

Just Looking is the seminar to come to with your questions about faith. I’ll be presenting a case for why I believe Christianity most makes sense of the way things are, and then there will be a good amount of time following to engage in Q&A. Just Looking will be in the mess tent, so grab a drink and join us.

Apologetics Clinic

Outside of the Just Looking seminar the Demolition Squad will be hosting informal ‘clinic sessions’ where we will discuss various tough questions of the Christian faith. This is where you have a part to play. We want to talk about the questions that you are facing most often as you engage in evangelism. Come and find us on the Friday in the Mess Tent and tell us your top question. We will then put together a schedule for the Saturday where will tackle the questions that occur with the greatest frequency. Additionally, you can leave a comment on this blog with your question for the Saturday clinic.

This will be a relaxed environment where everyone who wants to will have a chance to input into the discussion.

Say Hi!

Throughout the course of the weekend, outside of the seminar and the clinic sessions, the Demolition Squad table will be manned at various points. Do come and say Hi. The Demolition Squad is a branch of CVM that exists to help equip you – the guys on the front line – to be able to defend and commend your faith to those around you. Drop by and let us know how we can serve you, in your context.

Your feedback and input is a vital contribution to help us ensure that we are serving your real needs, and not what we simply think your needs are. We use these meet-ups to help us tailor our online content, as well as seminar and talk ideas for the year ahead.

Well, I’m off to find sun screen (in faith) and a hat … See you next weekend.

The Workplace – An Exciting Mission Field?

The workplace; a place where we spend most of our week, a place where as Christian men we can influence our co-workers, suppliers and customers with the Gospel. Or is it? Are we really showing God’s love in our attitudes, work ethics and conversations? Do we struggle to live by our Christian values when the boss asks us to lie to a customer or a co-worker upsets us?

Work in Britain is getting tougher with record levels of stress, anxiety and low morale. However research reveals that most Christians in the workplace get little or no support from their church communities.

Over the course of this blog series we will be looking at various aspects of the workplace and how we as Christian men can actively live out our faith at work because importantly, being a Christian means living in the real world and not hiding away.

So what is my experience of living out my faith in the workplace? Before joining CVM full time I worked for the same company for 19 years, starting as an apprentice in the workshops and finishing in the sales department selling multi-million pound cranes and access equipment to the oil and gas industry.

For the first 7 years of my career I wasn’t a Christian and I was a typical Jack the lad at the time. The rave scene was massive and I loved everything about it, the music, drugs and alcohol. I was always up for the night out; the ones you couldn’t remember were apparently the best. I didn’t treat girls as they deserved to be treated, they became conquests rather than people. You get the idea…..

When I gave my life to Jesus and I got to know Him more, I knew I had to change the way I thought, spoke and acted. My conscience became much sharper and I started becoming more aware of how my thoughts, words and actions impacted on others. I would read the Bible and be challenged by passage like Colossians 3.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:5-10

I knew I had to change, I had to be different, and I had to be prepared to share my faith. But, this was much easier said than done and I came across numerous barriers and problems.

For the first few months I had a real difficulty in work colleagues understanding the change and there was always the constant pressure to slip back into my old ways. This often forced me to isolate myself at first and perhaps stay away from nights out etc, however I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to influence others or share my faith by doing that.

Over this series of blogs we will examine some of these challenges and hopefully share some practical ways in which we can overcome them.

Jurassic World (12a)

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Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: BD Wong, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, Omar Sy, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea…”

Can it really be twenty-two years since the events of Jurassic Park, which saw Isla Nublar become an all-you-can-eat human buffet for genetically reborn dinosaurs? It is and yet it seems that we really haven’t learnt any lessons as the infamous park has been reopened as a fully functioning dinosaur stocked ‘Jurassic World’.

Thousands of people now flock to marvel at the dino-attractions but in order to add an additional ‘wow factor’ the scientists have created a new, cooler, bigger monster – the Indominus Rex. Before you can say ‘are you sure you want to make a creature that is smarter, stronger and more vicious than any other on the planet?’ it’s already escaped and is putting it’s various animal DNA boosts to work by killing everything that it meets.

The main human potential on the menu are likeable young brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), who have been sent off on their own to enjoy the Jurassic World – because their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), is the park operations manager.

When things go ‘ape’ (or should I say ‘dino’?) in the park, it’s fortunate for everyone that Indiana Jones-alike Grady (Chris Pratt), is on hand to try and save the day. That’s all you need to know really, oh that and the fact that the action scenes are bigger, the dinosaurs look and move better than ever and there are some superb Easter Eggs for those who have watched the original Jurassic Park.

Jurassic World is a great fun thrill ride that brings sustained threat and some quite nasty deaths along with scares, which might be a bit too much for younger viewers. The effects are jaw droppingly impressive, and the new big bad guy Indominus Rex is an iconic creature (a huge improvement on Jurassic Park III’s Spinosaurus ).

There are some really nice nods to other classic monster franchises such as Predator, Aliens, Godzilla etc. Chris Pratt is excellent and his sizzling charisma helps propel the action along much like he did with Guardians of the Galaxy. Bryce Dallas Howard is also decent as the female lead – who manages to be more than just a love interest and the kids are nice enough for you to actually not want them to get eaten for once.

Monster sized fun-packed cinematic thrills don’t come much better!

Thinking material:

Behind the amazing visuals and the popcorn spilling thrills there are some interesting ideas going on that include the time honoured dastardly human trait of wanting to exploit and make money from each other, whatever the consequences. Putting profits ahead of safety or the value of human life – it is tragic that these boo-hiss baddie actions in films like Jurassic World are being carried out daily around the world. OK we aren’t screwing each other over regarding the weaponisation of the recreated dinosaurs (yet), but just look at the human trafficking crisis which is only getting worse or the bank rates that lead to the debt trap that engulfs so many. It’s worth taking a few minutes to ponder who the real ‘monsters’ are after the CGI beasties have done their worst.

CVM Rating: ****1/2   4.5 out of 5 stars

Related Films: Jurassic Park, Godzilla, King Kong, Aliens

Is It True? Four Talks on God, Religion, Science, and Suffering

Kidlington Baptist Church are half-way through their public lecture series, ‘Is It True?‘. Featuring four leading Christian thinkers, who also happen to each be an Oxford professor, these talks tackle some of the weightiest arguments against belief in God.

As well as being free to attend (and if you’re in the area I highly recommend you do) each talk is being made available shortly afterwards as an MP3 which you can download.

We’ve covered some of these topics, religion, science, wishful thinking etc., here on the Demolition Squad blog – but this is a great way to learn from some of the current Christian thought-leaders of our day.

Four Big Questions

3 JuneAtheism is more rational than Christianity (MP3)

Alister McGrath, Professor of Science and Religion, Oxford University

10 June — Religion is bad for the world (MP3)

Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Oxford University

17 June — Science has disproved God (MP3)

Paul Ewart, Professor of Physics, Oxford University

24 June — Suffering exists, so God doesn’t

John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics, Oxford University

Attend The Talks

The talks will be on Wednesday evenings at 7.45 pm at the Exeter Hall in Kidlington. The talks will be followed by a question and answer session, with refreshments and opportunity for more informal discussion at the end.

Be prepared

As a boy I was a cub, and loved it, then a scout and loved that too and our motto was about being ready for whatever survival challenge came our way.
Preparation for an event or even something we don’t see coming seems to be a good strategy and something I try and do.

I remember living in Brazil where I worked as a chaplain for a Christian run drug rehab centre. I soon realised that living and working in this in environment meant that I had to be prepared for anything that would suddenly happen, and stuff did all the time.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson that I learnt was in my personal preparation in stillness and focus on God. In meetings full of people, the leader would suddenly say: ‘Please, Nathan come and share what Jesus is showing you today’. And 80 men would pivot in their seats to welcome me to the front to share something of my DAILY reliance and relationship with Jesus.

This moment is probably the one most preachers would dread, I have even dreamt before of being asked to preach, getting up and realising that I had nothing to share, I would wake up sweating!

The point is this: we can easily live a Christian life that stores up favourite Bible verse and prayers, relishes past blessings and moments with God but we have nothing new. My challenge is not about legalism and ritual, it is about getting the manna of God’s provision every day and to be prepared!

Rest?

A lay in is a rare and unique thing.
I have 3 children and they don’t mess about when it comes to starting their day at full speed.

Our normal routine in the home is that I do the mornings and get things moving before I leave to get to the HUB at CVM.

On the rare occasion I get a lay in, but my problem is I don’t really like to rest. Once I am awake the lay in is over, just being in bed doing nothing seems like a waste of time now. So up I get and get going.

I sort of carry this mindset around with me during the day too. It is the sort of thing that says if it’s broken; have a go at fixing it, if it needs doing; mend it, I am awake; get up in that moment to sort it. This drives my wife mad of course, when she talks to me she is not asking me to do anything other than listen, but I want to solve it, sort it!

The point here is that I don’t rest easy, I like to find ways to solve, build or fix. The Bible in Psalm 23 tells me that God will make me rest in green pastures and restore my soul! He doesn’t invite me to stop and chill out, or even advise it. No, it says He makes me rest!

I have discovered that when my strengths, ability and sheer determination have done all they can and I do, I just have to rest, have you found that yet?

She sheds or he sheds?

It’s always been understood that a shed is a man’s domain…
But now there is the “She Shed” – to read more about this alarming phenomenon

At my church we have a group called Pass-it-On where some of our ladies demonstrate how to do particular things to other ladies.
This group has resulted in a number of ladies coming to faith; so we are now discussing how we can take this concept and apply it to men.
One difference is that we would probably call it “The Shed”.

Why do it?
Sheds are in the news at the moment – in the secular context they are about getting men together to make things, this helps friendships form and reduce the issues of loneliness.
In the church context, it is also about developing friendships, but with a higher purpose:
Rick Warren posted an article on his Facebook Page called “Why I do what I do” which was summarised as a life-long call to “Reach one more for Jesus”. He explained his approach:

My definition of “Reaching one more for Jesus” is this: You build a bridge of love between your heart and theirs, then you let Jesus walk across. You cannot bring enemies to Jesus. They must become your friends first. Before people trust Jesus they want to know if YOU can be trusted”.

Another really good reason is that there are not enough men in church – there are ladies who would love to be able to find a Christian partner. Some of us would like our daughters to find a Christian partner!
I am also aware of the need for some of our younger men to learn some practical skills.
Many have not had a father figure to show them how to put up wallpaper, a shelf or change a plug.

Last year I saw someone take over 2 hours to light a barbecue!

Format
Essentially it is about doing “stuff” together – how to do things.Some men cannot cook a meal, so we could help them impress without resorting to a takeaway or tin opener.There is also technical stuff, for example what Barclays do with their digital eagles program.Having invited guests from inside and outside of the church to talk about their hobbies and interests, e.g. photography, music, gardening, video games…

There needs to be a fun element to it, so it should include trips out, games nights, film nights etc.
There is no shortage of things that could be “passed on”.

Getting Started
You will need a small team to start off, these need to be people who can build genuine friendships – in line with Rick Warrens approach.
I suggest beginning with an evening once a fortnight or month. This does not need to be at your church premises, but you may need to have the facilities to do stuff.
I have another suggestion – the Men’s Shed could alternate with a “She Shed” for the ladies. Those with young families can take turns with baby-sitting and the ladies will benefit from the pass-it-on concept.
I hope to be able to report before too long on how we get on with our shed group.

Image Via Heather Bullard

Star Spotting

Recently I have been watching a TV show about stargazing, I loved it. I rushed out to the garage and found my scratched, bits missing Christmas gift from years past telescope and went to work setting it up again. Sitting in the cold garden at 10pm it all came back to me, focusing in on the moon and it’s markings, awesome!

Space is utterly amazing, it’s vastness, and it’s un-chartered depths, wow! As a human race we can understand solar wind and electrons, we have sent voyager 1 to the deepest space we have never reached before, wow. We have people living in the International space station constantly orbiting us, visible from earth. The sun! Now that’s incredible!

I remember something really simple in my own life, the day I looked up. Sounds stupid I know, but I was about 13 and as a boy I can remember walking with my head down, looking at the floor. I lived in Harlow, so this was sometimes a safe method to travel, but on one occasion near the sweet shop I lifted my head, don’t know why, but I lifted it up and from that day that’s where it has been. It was a significant moment.

So what, you might be thinking? Well for me this is important, I spend so much time looking down around me, this problem, that problem, this criticism, or that wrong choice, and I forget to look up.

Psalm 19:1-6 says;
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Choosing to look up to God is incredible. If we believe what the Bible says, Jesus has restored our relationship with God when he died and was raised to new life. Because of this, in any and every situation of life we can stop and look up.

This looking up is a simple, daily recognition for me of my love and dependence in what Jesus has done and is to me.

Now this looking up works in the ‘wow’ moments in life and the ‘why’ moments too.

When the good moments turn into the trials and mountains to climb, looking up is the way, to look up and remember you’re not alone, you’re not forgotten, you’re loved and a plan is at work.

One that may lead you through the darkest valleys or the sweetest roads, but fixing you eyes upwards on Jesus the Christ is essential!

Image credit: Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0

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