Category Archives for "Christian Business Tips"
Business tips for Christians ethical business practice in the marketplace
Business tips for Christians ethical business practice in the marketplace
What Does the Bible Say About Debt?
There are a number of verses in the Old and New Testament concerning debt, and one of the most noteworthy can be found in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Romans 13:8 states that: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another”. This clearly states that as a Christian, a person has the responsibility to live a financially stable and debt free life, save for the continued love of his God, and fellow man.
So is debt considered a sin in the eyes of God?
In truth, there is nothing in the Bible that specifically calls debt a sin. However, there are many cautions about debt becoming a source of conflict or problem. For example, debt can become a problem if the source of the need is envy from a neighbor’s possessions or even greed.
According to 1 Timothy 6: 10: For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. And Hebrews 13:5 states that:
Keep your lives free from love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’
These two verses clearly indicate that the cause of debt is sometimes envy of the possessions of others, the love of wealth, and a lack of faith in that God will provide. In addition, the Bible clearly indicates that all debts should be repaid.
According to Romans 13:7, the Christian should: Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then, honor. Also, the Bible indicates that debt should be a temporary state of affairs. For example, in Deuteronomy 15: 1, debts should be resolved or cancelled, within seven years. At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.
In summary, debt in and of itself is not a sin, however, the causes of debt, and the reckless borrowing of money can lead to sinful actions, so the Christian should make every effort to live responsibly.
Could God use you in Internet Evangelism? Could God use you to reach people for Christ via the Internet? The answer may surprise you!
I’m no techie!
” How could I ever use the Internet to reach people for Christ?” you might wonder. “I’m no techie. I know how to send email and read the news online, but that’s about it.” I can identify with that. My technical knowledge is limited. For many years, I was even hesitant to use an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) at the bank, for fear I would do something stupid and it would swallow my card.
Gradually, I overcame my technophobia and began to use computers for word processing. But I used somewhat primitive setups. Only in 1998 did I switch from the rather archaic DOS operating system to Windows because a friend said I should “get with the 90s before the 90s are over!”
What are your talents?
We all have talents and abilities. A key to usefulness is making our talents available to God. Your talents may be in building friendships, engaging in conversations, answering questions, inspiring people, or telling stories. God certainly can use those. Here’s a story that may encourage you.
My own interests involve communication, especially relating Christ to secular audiences. Over the years, I’ve written numerous evangelistic articles to help reach nonbelievers. Several years ago, a couple of friends involved in Internet ministry, Keith Seabourn and Allan Beeber, asked me to send them all my articles so they could put them “online.”.
I didn’t understand all that meant, but they said it would make the articles available free to people around the globe. That seemed like a good thing.
Keith’s website, Leadership University aimed to collect thousands of articles supporting the validity of Christian faith. Allan’s Evangelism Toolbox became an online “Yellow Pages” (directory) of evangelism resources. They helped introduce me to Internet outreach.
Are you ready for the digital revolution?
At a convention in Amsterdam a few years ago, I saw a brochure that said, “The Great Commission is Going Digital; Are You Ready?” That piqued my interest. Maybe God wanted me to focus my energies on Internet Evangelism.
The brochure spoke of the then-fledgling Internet Evangelism Coalition. I started to hang out with these folks– wonderful people– and to learn from them. I began to write more for the web and various articles appeared online.
Another friend encouraged me to do a Google search on my name. I was amazed to see page after page of my articles on websites that I had never heard of!
I also discovered a number of other “Rusty Wrights” including …
a platform tennis player.
a university professor.
a football coach.
a rodeo cowboy.
a racecar driver.
a cruise ship captain.
The simplicity and pervasive nature of the Internet was allowing people to find and use these articles in ways I had never imagined. I could sit with my laptop in my office, on an airplane, or in a hotel room and compose an article that would tactfully nudge people toward Christ or biblical principles. Then, by pushing a button, I could send it to Internet publishers who would make it available to people around the globe.
This seemed almost too good to be true. What a potential for spreading Good News!
A simple prayer.
In August 2003, while jogging one morning, I felt impressed to pray that within a year, I would be aware of 100 websites that had used my articles. (At the time, I was aware of 43.) There wasn’t an audible “voice from heaven” or handwriting on the sidewalk; just a strong inner impression that I should pray this.
A year later, I learned of the 100th site that had used this material. Some sites published the articles and others linked to them. The articles appeared in several languages: English, Spanish, Albanian, Croatian, Hungarian, Italian, and Polish. People just kept translating and posting them. It seemed beyond my control or ability. God gets the glory for this.
A surprising number of the sites were not Christian. For instance, one site linked to a version of the article Elvis Has Left the Building which traces fascination with Elvis Presley and its spiritual implications. An Argentine medical school website published a translation of One Minute After Death, about near-death experiences.
Some secular newspaper sites ran material. Personal websites and “blogs” (web logs) linked to articles. I did not contact all these websites, asking them to use my articles. Many content managers simply found the articles on the web and used them.
God’s sense of humor.
I even found one article link on a porn site.
I should clarify. The evangelistic article is entitled Dynamic Sex: Unlocking the Secret to Love. It presents a biblical perspective on sex and love but is written to grab and hold the attention of non-Christians. And no, I did not discover this link by surfing porn sites! I typed the article title into Google. I do pray that many websurfers who go to that site looking for pornography will find Jesus. God has a sense of humor!
Again, God gets all the glory for this. If you have interest, many of these seeker- and skeptic-friendly articles are at Rusty Wright Ministries.
What can you do?
Internet evangelism offers you a dazzling array of possibilities to communicate Christ. Writing articles is just one method. You may want to interact with unbelievers in a chat room, correspond via email, communicate on a blog, design your own website, pray for and/or support web outreach financially.
You can also encourage your church or Christian group to participate in ‘Internet Evangelism Day’. This international focus day program helps Christians learn more about the potential of the Web for outreach. Their www.InternetEvangelismDay.com site explains how to create a short focus program to include in church services or other activities.
The important thing is to ask God what He would have you do. As Mary told the servants in John 2:5, “Whatever He [Jesus] says to you, do it.”.
Ask God to enlarge your borders. He did it for Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Rusty Wright is an author, syndicated columnist and university lecturer with Probe.org who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford Universities, respectively: www.rustywright.com.
Copyright © Rusty Wright 2004. Permission granted to re-use this article in print.
Becoming a Christian…accepting Christ as Savior…being born again—whatever words you use to describe or define your relationship with God, they denote a commitment. In aligning yourself with Jesus you are committing to be faithfully obedient to him.
But are you? Are you truly committed? Or is your relationship with Jesus like your membership at the fitness club…in name only? Jesus wants… no… He expects…even demands more from us than a name-only commitment. Time and again we read in God’s Word that to be a Christian is who you are—not what you do.
Life is busy. I get that, but you cannot allow your life to become too busy to recognize, communicate, and serve your Savior, Jesus. Becoming a Christian starts with an attitude of acknowledgement. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~Romans 1:21 When you acknowledge Jesus as the giver of life and all its blessings, you will be more inclined to…
Give thanks throughout the day. Give thanks for your home as you put away the laundry, empty the dishwasher, flip on the lights, and feel the water run down your back as you shower.
Be more aware of what you allow into your home—tv shows, music, books, social media, etc.. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. ~James 4:8
Don’t just live life—pray it. Pray for wisdom. Pray for answers. Pray for guidance. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. ~Proverbs 3:5-8
Making time for Jesus in your home doesn’t require you to find extra hours in the day. It simply means including Jesus…making Him a part of each part of your day by:
• Talking to God about the big, little, and in-between things of life
• ‘Testing’ the decisions you make according to what the Bible says
• Recognizing God as the LORD of your life through your faith and obedience to His will
Jesus warns us against being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Don’t let this be you. Make time for Jesus all day every day, at home and in the work place.
Today’s blog re-post is courtesy of Free Cristian Illlustrations by Ian Coate
We will all eventually die. If the Bible is correct, there is an afterlife with judgement, heaven and hell. What is our plan to reach heaven?
Many say: ‘Well, I’m a relatively good person – when I die I’ll just hope for the best. Others add: ‘I’ve been baptized, had communion, plus I give regularly to the church and charities – I think I’ve ticked all the boxes.’
It’s ironic that many people, including many Christians, think getting to heaven depends on what they do. When asked about the relevance of Jesus Christ and the importance of the Cross, most scratch their heads; they don’t see a connection between their going to heaven and what Christ did on the Cross. Many people consider the cross simply a symbol of Christianity – a story told at Easter how a good man was wrongly crucified and miraculously rose from the dead.
Fact is, if we could earn our way to heaven by good deeds or religious rituals, Christ died needlessly on the Cross. If we could save ourselves by our works, there would be no point for Jesus to die for our salvation (John 3:16).
The Bible states: we can never be good enough to save ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9) – our works are filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6) – that we need to be born-again (John 3:3) – and become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
To enter the kingdom of heaven we need to have God’s perfect righteousness. This is the whole point of Jesus being crucified on our behalf. If we accept the gift of salvation by believing in Christ we receive His perfect righteousness and are instantly adopted into the family of God. Alternately, if we are hoping our good deeds or religious rituals will save us; sadly, we are in for a very rude shock.
We need the Cross. Christ is our salvation – He is the only door and way into heaven. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.
Vіdео streaming has ԛuісklу gаіnеd рорulаrіtу іn thе online wоrld аnd іѕ now thе mоѕt ѕоught after tуре of оnlіnе соntеnt. Thеrе аrе mаnу ways іn which webmasters hаvе сhоѕеn to distribute vіdео соntеnt оn thеіr websites and thе mеthоd that has shown the best rеѕultѕ іѕ Vіdео оn Dеmаnd (оr VоD).
Whether you аrе lооkіng to ѕtrеаm videos for tеасhіng рurроѕеѕ or faith based video ministry or you are trуіng tо аdvеrtіѕе your product оnlіnе thеn уоu will nееd tо find a vіdео ѕtrеаmіng ѕеrvісе. One of the biggest leader in this industry is Uscreen. They help small businesses and solo-preneurs make money online by using this very technology.
Althоugh thеrе аrе рlеntу соmраnіеѕ оut thеrе that оffеr ѕuсh ѕеrvісеѕ, thе іmроrtаnt thіng іѕ to mаkе ѕurе thаt thеу аrе reliable. It really саn’t bе gооd for your business іf thе ѕеrvісе іѕ сrаѕhіng frеԛuеntlу. Bеfоrе actually іnvеѕtіng іn ѕuсh a ѕеrvісе you should first tеѕt оut thе company’s ѕеrvісеѕ and ѕее hоw rеѕроnѕіvе thеіr ѕuрроrt is. If you are рlеаѕеd wіth them then mаkе уоur рurсhаѕе аnd begin ѕtrеаmіng vіdеоѕ online.
Read more at http://www.uscreen.tv/use-cases
Thіѕ tесhnоlоgу wоrkѕ by allowing uѕеrѕ tо ассеѕѕ streaming vіdеоѕ vіа thеіr wеb browsers. Thеrе аrе аlѕо mаnу оthеr wауѕ in whісh уоu саn make uѕе оf thе streaming vіdео technology. Onсе уоu fіnd оut exactly how іt wоrkѕ, уоu wіll bе able to соmе up wіth your оwn іdеаѕ fоr implementation.
Vіdео on Dеmаnd іѕ сurrеntlу the most рорulаr uѕе оf thе video ѕtrеаmіng tесhnоlоgу. Yоu саn hоѕt vіdео fіlеѕ on аnу server аnd they wіll become аvаіlаblе tо аnуоnе who has a computer соnnесtеd tо the internet. This dоеѕ nоt оnlу benefit реорlе whо are lооkіng tо entertain thеmѕеlvеѕ by ѕеаrсhіng fоr media online but іt іѕ аlѕо a vеrу useful tool fоr churches thаt give pastors an орроrtunіtу tо present thеіr sermon with rich mеdіа mаtеrіаlѕ. Bеttеr yet, members are аblе to access the mеdіа files аnуtіmе. This іѕ grеаt еѕресіаllу for churches with different branches.
Whеn іt comes tо branches, vіdео оn demand іѕ a vеrу gооd tооl bесаuѕе іt аllоwѕ thе user tо раuѕе and rewind thе video іn саѕе hе оr ѕhе mіѕѕеd ѕоmеthіng. Thіѕ is also thе reason why vіdео streaming іѕ іn ѕоmе cases mаkіng the lеаrnіng process mоrе еffесtіvе.
Vіdео ѕtrеаmіng саn аlѕо bе dоnе live. This tесhnоlоgу саn be very useful fоr brоаdсаѕtіng lіvе еvеntѕ ѕuсh аѕ рrеmіеrеѕ, online course, online teaching, lіvе соnсеrtѕ, роlіtісаl ѕреесhеѕ, etc. Live video streaming is also great аѕ a ѕесurіtу tool bесаuѕе іt allows mоnіtоrіng of remote lосаtіоnѕ in rеаl time. Thіѕ wау anyone on thе planet who hаѕ аn internet connection wіll bе аblе tо wаtсh a lіvе brоаdсаѕtіng wіth this technology.
Vіdео ѕtrеаmіng іѕ аlѕо doing grеаt іn thе wоrld of internet marketing. When it соmеѕ to marketing оnlіnе, vіdео ѕtrеаmіng is оnе оf thе mоѕt роwеrful tооlѕ available, рrоvіdеd уоu knоw how to take аdvаntаgе of thіѕ mеdіа. Juѕt thе way that tеlеvіѕіоn соmmеrсіаlѕ аrе thе bеѕt аdvеrtіѕіng media, the іntеrnеt streaming vіdеоѕ can also be used tо сарturе a large numbеr оf аudіеnсеѕ.
Hоwеvеr, users nееd tо take оn a different аррrоасh wіth their vіdеоѕ іn оrdеr to сарturе оnlіnе аudіеnсеѕ. Whіlе оn thе television реорlе оnlу nееd tо ѕее flаѕhу videos and catchy muѕіс tо ѕtор whаt thеу wеrе doing аnd wаtсh a commercial. In thе оnlіnе wоrld thіngѕ аrе rаrеlу that simple. Here you nееd to get a lіttlе mоrе creative. What you nееd іѕ to сrеаtе a viral effect wіth уоur videos.
Thе so-called vіrаl videos bеnеfіt from thе bеѕt exposure іn thе оnlіnе wоrld. Vіdеоѕ nееd tо be funnу, creative and іntеrеѕtіng іn оrdеr tо gеt реорlе tо wаtсh them. Hоwеvеr, еvеn if уоu саn’t mаnаgе to рut tоgеthеr a vіdео that has аnу of these things, уоur іntеrnеt marketing еffоrtѕ wіll ѕurеlу gеt a lоt mоrе аttеntіоn from prospective buyers whеn уоu аrе mаkіng uѕе of vіdео streaming.
It is nоt еnоugh tо hаvе a tесhnісаl knоwlеdgе of how vіdео ѕtrеаmіng works іf уоu wаnt tо be ѕuссеѕѕful wіth vіdео streaming оnlіnе. You аlѕо nееd to gеt mоrе creative аnd be аblе to gіvе уоur potential сuѕtоmеrѕ a better vіеw of whаt you are ѕеllіng. Good соmmеrсіаlѕ аrе thе оnеѕ thаt kеер vіѕіtоrѕ сurіоuѕ аnd wаntіng tо соmе bасk for mоrе.
Making Time to Get to Know Jesus Better
I want you to think back to the day you took (and passed) your driver’s test. Oh, what a glorious day! What a milestone! What freedom!
It didn’t just happen, though, did it? You practiced driving. You drove (no pun intended) your parents nuts asking them to let you drive whenever the car left the garage. You learned to back out of parking places. You learned to yield, merge, wait your turn at 4-way stops, and all those other things that come naturally to you now. You practiced because more than anything else you wanted to hear the words, “You passed”.
Now I want you to think about what happened after you hear those two magic words and had license in hand (goofy picture and all). What did you do? Did you throw caution to the wind and start driving on your own terms instead of continuing to obey the rules of the road?
No! You don’t because you know it doesn’t work like that. In order to keep the privilege of having a driver’s license you have to know and follow the rules. Well guess what? Being a Christian is a lot like driving. Why? Because after you become a Christian you can’t just go your own way; living life on your terms. You have to live like Jesus. And the only way to live like Jesus is to make time to know Him up-close and personal-like.
• Read and study the Bible
• Listen to the Bible on CD or on your phone while driving, walking, or doing household chores
• Listen to Christian music in the car, on the treadmill, or while working around the house
• Memorize a few key and favorite verse– and yes, you can do it
• Join a Bible study. Everyone deserves a couple of hours a week getting away from work, the kids, and the other business we call life. And what better way to spend that couple of hours than getting to know Jesus and your brothers and sisters in Christ better?
Jesus tells us to come to Him in prayer and that He will speak, answer, console, and counsel– pray short, simple prayers throughout your day. Pray as if Jesus is by your side having a heart-to-heart, one-on-one conversation … because you are.
Serve- Use your talents to serve others in the name of Jesus. Be a part of your church, more than just a Sunday seat-warmer.
Making a commitment to Jesus requires you to follow the rules for Godly living. You can’t do that, though, unless you know what Jesus’ definition and expectations for Godly living are. And the only way you can know these things is to make your commitment to him a priority … your top priority. Is it?
As followers of Jesus we are to make time for Him not only in our personal life but in our work place as well. So how do we make time for Jesus? Simple, we do that by being by being like Jesus.
As a Christian you are a reflection of Jesus to the unbeliever and unsaved. Who you are is who they think Jesus is. And to your brothers and sisters in Christ and the church as a whole, you are to set an example of faithful obedience. In other words, making time for your commitment to Jesus is taking time to:
Your commitment to Jesus is real and effective at work when you:
Matthew 28:19-20 says: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just before He returned to heaven. His disciples…fishermen, a tax collector, an anti-government radical, and a man who was could have been from Missouri (he had to see it to believe it). Do you notice that none of these men were training to be in the ministry before Jesus called them? That didn’t matter, though. When Jesus called they answered. They were willing to make time for Jesus while they worked.
If you are running a home based business, you need to have a domain name and a website. Even the best websites will still look unprofessional if they are hosted on a free web-building site. Domain names are relatively cheap. Pick one that’s related to your business and you will undoubtedly see an increase in sales.
Examine all of the ways your home business appears in the marketplace and be sure you have a consistent message and presentation. Whether it is your business cards, web site or social media business page, keeping your messaging professional and synchronized helps you promote your business appropriately and clearly across multiple channels.
If you are selling products, then you will need to charge your customers the appropriate tax for their state. It is up to you to find out what the state tax is, where they are and add that amount to the cost of the item that they are buying.
When running a home business it is best to join a small business association. It is a great way to network your business as well as get tips on effective ways to manage your business. Another great aspect is that you can hear the mistakes others made and not make them yourself.
Set up online payment options if you are selling any products or services via a website. In today’s shopping environment, users want to be able to complete their entire transaction in one sitting. Even for home businesses, offering online payment options are quick and simple and improves your customer’s experience on your site.
Are you doing the most that you can do for your home business? Chances are, you can find ways to improve if you really care about your success. This article will provide expert advice on how to make the most out of your home business and insure its success.
Hire people to help you. You might imagine that because you’re a home business, you have to do everything on your own and that’s not so. There are number of places that you can find competent, inexpensive help for whatever you need done. Letting other people handle some things frees you up to focus on what you truly enjoy.
To summarize, you might need to take a good look at your home business practices and make sure that you are doing what it takes to succeed. There are always lessons to be learned and new tips to pick up on. Use the advice in this article to make your home business all that it can be.
Take the time to showcase your knowledge of your product to others. Write online articles and put your contact information in them. Search for seminars that you can participate in and think of other opportunities to become involved. The reputation of your home business will increase the more you put yourself out there.
Pay attention early on to your home office organization. In fact, map it out prior to purchasing anything for your office. If you don’t, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed with various folders, shelving units and inbox solutions that will simply slow down your work. Take the time to maximize your efficiency.
We’ve all heard that having business mentors can help you develop yourself and grow your company. But what is it exactly that these mentors can do for you? How can they help you move your company along?
Knowing exactly how you want your mentors to help you move forward can help you find the motivation to find these mentors, as well as give you the fire you need to ask your potential mentors for help in a compelling way.
Here are the five main benefits of having a business mentor.
== > Benefit # 1: How to Structure Your Company
Most entrepreneurs don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to structure their company. Yet most mentors will insist on making sure you have your business structure correct from the get go. They’ve made structuring mistakes in the past and paid for it.
Do you have a solid options plan in place? Do you have iron clad operating agreements between all your partners? Are you operating with a legal entity that minimizes your personal risk and reduces the amount of taxes you need to pay? These are all structuring questions mentors can help with.
== > Benefit # 2: Avoid Mistakes Others Made
Mentors will be able to tell you about mistakes that others in your industry have made. They’ve been around the block longer and know the pitfalls well.
== > Benefit # 3: Learn to Hire the Right People
Building an A-Grade team is one of the most important factors to success in business. But how exactly do you do it? How do you lure employees from lucrative jobs to come work for you? How do you build a corporate culture? How do you inspire people?
Mentors can help you with this elusive aspect of your business.
== > Benefit # 4: Investments & Exits
Investments and exits are some of the trickiest negotiations in business. Without someone experienced to guide you through the process, there’s a very good chance you’ll make big mistakes.
How should you value your company? How important is it that you get some liquidation preferences? If investors want the right to hire an outside CEO, what should you say?
With acquisitions, how important are the terms versus the raw price? How do you value non-cash acquisitions, such as equity deals or performance based deals? What kind of earn out plan is fair?
Most first time entrepreneurs simply can’t answer these questions without outside help. Having great mentors will help you through these important processes.
== > Benefit # 5: Think Big
Mentors can help you think outside of your regular bubble. If you’re regularly only thinking at the $100,000 a year level, mentors can help you think at the $1 million a year or $10 million a year level.
If you’ve never tasted success, it’s hard to imagine or plan for massive success. Mentors on the other hand can help you see and plan that far ahead.
These are some of the many reasons to get mentors in your business.
Re-posted from: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/no-shortcuts-growth
I’m still amazed whenever I see the bumper sticker that reads, “Visualize world peace.” The idea is that if I, and enough other people, create the right mental picture of peace, it will soon come to pass. It’s astounding that some people actually believe that silly technique will bring about such a desirable goal.
Then, there’s the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker. You may have seen it, the one spelled out with the symbols of different religions—the Islamic crescent forming the C, the Christian cross forming the T, and so on. The idea seems to be that if we religious people would just stop focusing on our differences, we could achieve world harmony. If we understood that our beliefs are all ultimately the same, all of the problems of war and strife would go away.
The funny thing is, we’ll reject such sentiments when they appear on a bumper sticker, but we’ll accept them elsewhere. How many business seminars promise increased profit if we only focus on the positive or visualize a goal? Eastern mysticism, where much of the bumper-sticker theology we’re talking about finds its ultimate origin, dresses it up with more acceptable religious practices. Meditate regularly, repeating a mantra as you visualize the oneness of all things, and the human race will move toward unity. But there’s also a version sold to us as the Christian key for victorious living. Speak your desire, claim it’s yours in Jesus’ name, visualize it will happen, and then it will be yours. Your healing, wealth, relationship success, happy family, improved marriage will come as soon as you name it and claim it or practice the power of positive thinking.
We’re looking for the right technique, the secret that will turn our wishes into reality. We laugh at the world’s spiritual magic, only to baptize it and practice it ourselves. We’ll read Scripture hoping to find the shortcut to spiritual growth while missing the true but non-shortcut answer—the key is not in the Bible; it is the Bible.
One reason we look for spiritual shortcuts is related to our modern age where shortcuts and rapid results abound. We can quickly relieve pain with medicine, find our way to restaurants with our smartphones, and get immediate answers to our questions online. These aren’t inherently bad things, but they tend to foster false expectations. If technology can relieve our illnesses and make our jobs easier, it surely can give rest to our souls, right?
We assume the answer is yes, and there are all too many “experts” out there who’ll encourage that assumption. Just look at the self-help section at your local bookstore, even at your local Christian bookstore. Book after book promises to hold the key to our happiness in twelve steps or less. The fact that none of the promises pan out doesn’t deter people from buying those books or new authors from repackaging old, ineffective answers in fancier dress.
But we can’t ultimately blame our search for shortcuts on modern technology. Our innate desire since the fall for autonomy, to be masters of our own fates, drives us to search out soul-building techniques that will improve us. We see our faith not as an end in itself but as a means to greater fulfillment. Evangelists routinely implore people to come to Christ, saying that He will make them happier, more confident in themselves, and more spiritual. Jesus becomes a means to improve our marriages and finances while releasing us from all manner of compulsions and negative character traits.
Can Christ do all those things? Of course He can. But Jesus is not a means to other ends—He is the end, the goal of our lives. He doesn’t come into our lives to give us special techniques to make our lives better; He works in and through us, changing us for the sake of His glory. He provides believers no mystic secrets to take them to a higher plane of spirituality. There’s no hidden truth available to only a few, no method that guarantees quick maturity in Him as long as we master it.
We’re saved by grace alone and justified by faith alone, but having been saved, we don’t just wait around to die. Christianity is about spiritual growth as well, and spiritual growth involves effort—the hard work of sanctification. We manifestly don’t work for our regeneration or our justification. Both acts are monergistic, accomplished by God alone. Only the Holy Spirit can change our hearts. Only the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of the Son of God secured by His perfect obedience to the Father, can secure our right standing before God. Sanctification, however, includes our efforts. We say it is synergistic because both God and we are doing something. Yet, we aren’t equal partners. God wills and works in us according to His good pleasure so that we progress in holiness (Phil. 2:12–13). But as God works in us, we work as well, pursuing Him in prayer, relying on the means of grace—the preached Word and the sacraments—seeking to be reconciled to those we have offended. There’s no shortcut for sanctification. It’s a process, and one that all too often seems overly plodding, with progress taking years to discern.
God’s work is easy for Him. He doesn’t look for shortcuts because He never grows weary. We get tired and frustrated, however. We’re tempted to look for the simple path, the quick answer, the effortless way forward. But there is none. Sanctification requires diligently attending to the means God has given us. The growth may be slow, almost imperceptible at times, but it is sure.
No technique of the devil’s can stop the process of Christ making us into His image. Those whom He calls He sanctifies.
Casually attending to the things of the Lord will not result in our nurture. Visualizing or seeking a secret formula won’t help. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that Christ, by His Spirit, is working in us.