Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Five books every Christian should read this year (even if you have read them before)

At the beginning of every year, I always try to put together a list of books that I plan to read before the year’s end. I read plenty of things that are not on the list, but I make a commitment to get through the books I have written down on the list before the year comes to an end. It is a discipline that has been a great help to me over the years, and has broadened my learning and sharpened my focus in most meaningful ways. While I look for new books each year, there are also several books that find their way back to my list again and again, and a few that are even on it literally every year. After years of this practice, I have decided this year to offer up what, in my humble opinion, are five books that every Christian I know should read in 2016. Whether you are a reader or not, whether you have read these titles a thousand times or whether you have never read them in your life, I urge you to take up at least these five titles in addition to the regular scripture reading that I would hope as Christians you would all be doing anyway. Here are my five must reads for 2016:

1.) “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan – One of the most translated works in human history, Bunyan’s little allegory written from prison in the late 1600s has been one of the most transformative and enduring Christian works ever written. Charles Spurgeon said, outside of the Bible itself, it was the most important book, and it is an annual feature on my own list. This simple parable of the Christian life is one we could all bare to revisit and remember who we are, what we believe, the journey we are on, and the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a sojourner on a perilous trek home. Make sure to get an unabridged version, as the most deep and important dialogues and discourses are always what end up being cut in any shortened or modernized reading of the work.

2.) “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe – This 1719 novel about a man stranded alone on an island is considered to be the first novel ever written in the English language. Defoe’s puritan conviction leads to a deeply philosophical, even theological delve into the life and soul of man fleshed out in the struggle to survive the forces of nature without and the turmoil of isolation within. As with Bunyan’s work, make sure to get an unabridged copy or you will miss out on the real value of this fantastic work that is at once both an adventure story and most useful treatise on timeless truths.

3.) “The Forgotten Trinity” by Dr. James White – The Christian faith rests on the incredible, incomparable, awe inspiring truth that the one and only, true and living God has made Himself known in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be what Christians since the earliest centuries have called “the Trinity”, yet few Christians today bother to truly marvel at this incredible and unique reality and to delve deeply into the biblical revelation of this central aspect of all that God has revealed Himself to be. Dr. White approaches the subject in a plain, readable, and easily understandable manner and in a way that seeks to wonder at God rather than merely win arguments about the deity of Christ with non Christians. It is thorough, instructive, engaging, and solidly biblical from beginning to end.

4.) “Radical” by David Platt – I am not typically a big promoter of recent Christian fads. Actually, I’m generally fairly prejudiced against them. I prefer time tested works, or the rare recent works with the sort of depth and rigor that will never be popular at the local Christian book store. But in this case I have to be honest and say that this trendy little paperback literally changed my life. It didn’t do so by telling me things I did not already know, but by slapping me in the face with things I shamefully already knew quite well. It presented plain Christian truths in a way that shined an exposing illumination on the fact that I was not living in light of them in ways that I ought. It’s the kind of urgent reminder about the main things that we all need to go back to once in a while, just to be sure we are keeping our priorities straight. I think 2016 is going to be a year we all need to do that again, and I think revisiting this book will be of some help.

5.) “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – My former pastor and mentor back in Kansas City always made much of this book, but I have to admit, my first time through I actually found it pretty underwhelming. That seems like an odd endorsement for a “must read” book for the year, but it’s the truth. It wasn’t until this past year when I revisited the book that I was finally struck by the simple and practical devotional truths and their implications for my daily life in both family and church community. But strike me they did, and I found the book a tremendous help in my daily walk and worship, and began sharing it with others as my old pastor had done with me. It didn’t lead to big, life altering changes, but rather to a thousand little changes that together have had a profound impact on my home life and my walk with other believers in mundane life and in gospel fellowship. It is my sincere hope that it, combined with the other four books above, can do the same for you.

Luke Wayne is a bi-vocational Baptist missionary in Utah and the chief editor for Perilous Trails. He holds an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist College. He has served as a church planter in Olathe, KS and a Homeless Shelter Manager in Kansas City, MO. He is also a husband, father, fisher, hiker, security officer, and raiser of livestock. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Aborting what, exactly?

When we speak on the subject of “abortion,” as when we speak to any subject, it is important to define our terms. To “abort” is to stop, cease, terminate, discontinue prematurely. But when we are speaking culturally and ethically on the subject of “abortion” we are being more specific. One would not accuse the military, after it chose to abort a mission, of having performed an illegal government funded abortion on that mission. When we talk about abortion, we obviously are not talking about the abortion of missions. So what are we talking about? Aborting what exactly? We might say that we are talking about aborting the pregnancy, but this also is not correct. A cesarean section ends the pregnancy prematurely by surgically bringing the baby out alive, and this is not an abortion. If an abortion procedure is performed, and the baby comes out alive, this is referred to as a botched or failed abortion, even though the pregnancy was successfully ended. These two examples show us something important. The C section is not an abortion because it does not end the unborn life. The procedure described above as a "botched abortion" is a botched abortion because the baby did not die. It is plain, then, that when we speak of “abortion” we are talking about aborting the unborn life. Ceasing, terminating, prematurely ending a life. Our usage makes it clear, we are talking about killing.

Killing what? Well, from the moment of conception all the way until death, it is the same distinct human life. While the emotions of our culture may make this a controversial thing to say, it is still not a questionable or debatable thing to say. At the moment the sperm of the father combines with the egg of the mother, a not only genetically unique, but undeniably living and distinctly human organism comes to be. This organism goes through a rapid early development from a single cell to a more familiar form with organs, skin, nerves, etc. It’s stages of development include fast changes in physical form and attributes, but never is there a point after conception that this now distinct and genetically human life can be said to have changed from one essential thing to another, much like being an infant, a 17 year old high school athlete, and a 90 year old man are all physically quite different states, though all are the same human person at different points in development. A biologically distinct human being comes into existence at conception. Objectively, visibly, observably, scientifically, this is as certain as any human knowledge. If we cannot know this, than we can know nothing at all, for we know this on the same clear basis as we know any other basic fact of clear, consistent, repeatable observation. From conception until death, we are talking about a human life.

As Christians, we have an even surer foundation for knowing this with certainty. The Scriptures make it abundantly clear! From beginning to end, again and again, we see reference to unborn existence as personal, human life. We see places like Job 31:15, Psalm 139:13, and Isaiah 44:2, 44:24; 49:5 and others that all speak directly of personal human life formed in the womb. Jeremiah 20:17 even refers to taking life in the womb as “killing”, and makes clear that the life in his mother’s womb was already personally Jeremiah’s life. Psalm 51:5 even indicates that one at conception is not only a personal human being but is already under the curse of sin. Likewise, Luke chapter 1 indicates the personal humanity of the preborn John the Baptist. Yet we need not stop even there. In both the gospel narratives we have which describe for us the details of the nativity, the language indicates that the incarnation of of the Son of God began at conception. As the 2nd century Christian writer Aristedes describes it, Jesus "clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man." Jesus took on human flesh, and lived a fully human life. He did so from conception, because human life begins at conception. There is no basis to think that the second person of the trinity became a non-person for six months or so. Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit, and what she conceived was the Son of God. Jesus personal human life, and all personal human life, began at conception.

The early readers of the scriptures understood as much. The earliest Jewish writings we posses denounce the nations around them fro practicing abortion. One document even attributed the practice’s origin to demonic instruction! Another fascinating example looks at Leviticus 22:28 which tells us that “But you are not to slaughter an animal from the herd or flock on the same day as its young” and the dead sea scrolls in 4Q943 and 4Q947 freely apply this law in judging cases of slaughtering pregnant animals, showing that the Jewish community understood from the scriptures that the life in the womb was the same life as the the life to be born, and applied the law accordingly. The pregnant animal was already a mother with young that could not be slaughtered on the same day, so both must live. The so called “Damascus document” agrees with this, and this document has been found both in the dead sea scrolls and outside among other Jews, showing this interpretation was not unique to the Dead Sea community. The early Jews honored the unborn life because the testimony of the scriptures. Likewise the Didache, one of the earliest Christian writings going back to perhaps even the first century AD, includes the command “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born”. Other early Christian writings such as the Epistle to Diognetus and the Epistle of Barnabas concur with this interpretation. It was clearly understood by these early believers in the scriptures, both Christian and Jew, that human life began at conception with all of its rights and privileges. Scripture, science, logic, observation, and history all stand in agreement. There is just no reasonable doubt on this matter.

But let's say for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that somehow we did not know whether or not the child in the womb was a living human being. What do we do in other cases where we are considering a destructive action and do not know if there is a human there? Do we demolish a building if a living human might be inside? Do we fire a gun at a target if we simply don't know if a living human is standing behind it? No, or course not! So even if we somehow did not know that the unborn child was a living human, it would still be absurd to say, "well, it might be a living human, but since I'm not quite sure, I'll air on the side of dismembering it." Even in ignorance, this would be an immoral act. How much more evil is it, then, to kill and destroy what we fully know is an innocent and defenseless human life? This is the issue at hand when we are discussing “abortion.”

Luke Wayne is a bi-vocational Baptist missionary in Utah and the chief editor for Perilous Trails. He holds an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist College. He has served as a church planter in Olathe, KS and a Homeless Shelter Manager in Kansas City, MO. He is also a husband, father, fisher, hiker, security officer, and raiser of livestock.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Saboteurs in our Midst

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)

It’s a pity that we don’t spend more time in serious study, even memorization, of the shorter books in our bible. Obadiah and Nahum and Malachi are powerful warnings and reminders. Philemon and 2 and 3 John are extremely enriching books for the Christian walk. And Jude, that last little letter right before the book of Revelation, is an extremely urgent and necessary call to us as members of church communities to be alert, for our sake and the sake of our brothers and sisters, against the great corrupting dangers of false teachers. It is important to note that these false teachers are not the ones out there in the world clearly representing other religions and ideas, but the ones right in and among us, influencing people away from sound, Christ centered teaching and from strict biblical virtues and righteous, holy living. As was quoted above, they  turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” or as the HSCB translation puts it, “turning the grace of our God into promiscuity,” or in the NIV “who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality.” God’s wondrous message of salvation by grace alone is not to be twisted into permission to live as we want. 

When Paul famously wrote in Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” He followed it immediately in verse 10 with, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The gospel is destroyed by the idea that we can earn or merit salvation by our good actions, but it is also destroyed by the idea that God’s grace means that our evil deeds are in fact not something that we need to be saved from, and that we can just go on doing whatever we want and God will just be okay with it, love us for who we are, and forgive any wrong in the end. The message of the gospel is one of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It is a message of unmerited, unearned, undeserved blessing from God purchased by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is all of Him, and nothing of us. But the message calls on us to repent (change our minds, turn around, go the other way) and believe (that we are sinners, that we have been wrong, that God has saved us in Jesus Christ, and that He is Lord, Master, and King, and is therefore in charge of our lives and whom we should now obey). The gospel is not a mere feel good message, it is a life transforming reality that, if believed, will have the necessary effect of changing ones priorities and view of life, and therefore of one’s actions. As Peter wrote, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-16) 

Understanding this, Jude is greatly concerned for the Christian churches of his day because there are those who are coming in spreading a sinful lie that uses Christian language about God’s grace and love, but in fact entices people to sin freely without regard for God, and is therefore utterly opposed to repentance, faith, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, our need for redemption, and therefore the very gospel itself. The book is replete with examples from Old Testament Scripture, history, and Jewish traditions familiar to the readers that help them remember the fact that there have always been those who outwardly professed the name of the one true God and dwelled among His people as if they were truly part of the faith community, but were in fact false brothers and deceivers marked out for condemnation by God, and we must be careful to keep ourselves and our beloved brothers from walking according to their ways. As we talked about (HERE), we must be ever vigilant and on guard against sin!

In our day (as in many times in the past) it is highly unpopular to point out that a particular teaching is wrong, a particular teacher or author is dangerous, or that a particular action is sin, and that such things and people are not Christian and not befitting of the Christian community, despite their own self identification and surface language that may sound very loving and evoke the name of Jesus, but these are exactly the sort of things Jude is warning us we must be ready to do, and if we love our Christian brothers we will be eager to deliver them from the snare of such lies. We must pursue holiness together, and watch one another’s back for the stealth and guile of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

It is interesting that Jude frequently uses the example of those who would justify sexual immorality. Today, we see this more than we want to admit.  There is, to give one of many possible examples, an organization called the “reformation project” whose express goal is to train people to actively work within local churches to influence people into believing that homosexual and bisexual lifestyles are perfectly okay, and to shame the biblical standard of holiness and the need for repentance. The whole thing tries to be as “Christian” as possible while representing exactly what Jude is talking about in a very literal sense. People coming into our fellowships by stealth to turn the grace of God into a license to sin and bring shame and reproach before God on our fellowships. One can see a similar idea in the documentary “expelled.” While it is focusing on the subject academic freedom and the study of intelligent design, it makes a passing observation that is crucial to our subject after an interview with a PR representative for a secular organization that works with churches and other faith communities to convince them that full fledged secular Darwinian ideology is totally compatible with their faith. What is shown through the interviews is that such people are often very conscious that in fact their teachings are NOT compatible, and that it will destroy the faith of the next generation. They are intentionally deceiving, and often training people inside the church to be their mouth pieces to the Christian community. While many of the sort of teachings Jude is warning us about come into our churches passively through books and media and the like, there really are people doing exactly what Jude warned about, literally making the conscious and active effort to infiltrate churches and alter their teaching in a manner that turns us to sin or even leads to eventual outright denial of our Lord! 

But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.” (Jude 10)

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 12, 13)

Jude goes on to urge the Church to hold fast to the true, biblical faith and to remain steadfast, knowing that Christ is coming again. Our hope of pleasure and reward is not in this sin sick world, and it is okay to be outsiders here in the name of holiness, indeed it is glorious to be so! Christ is coming in judgment on the wicked and to bring eternal life to those who are His own, a holy people of faith resting in His grace and enduring to the end, not in our strength, but in His!

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 20-25)

I urge, read through Jude regularly. Memorize its warnings and reflect on them often. (The entire book is set to great music HERE for easy memorization.) Keep the true gospel ever before you, and be careful of teachings, even from those in the pew next to you, that would lead you into sin or into denial of our Lord’s teachings, and care enough about those around you to correct them of such error and encourage them on in righteousness and holiness. As James, Jude’s brother, wrote “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19,20). Know your brothers and sisters of your local church well enough to notice if something is wrong and to be able to speak immediately into their lives to turn them from sin and error, and open yourself up to them enough so that they can do the same for you. We are in this together, and we need each other.

Luke Wayne is a bi-vocational Baptist missionary in Utah and the chief editor for Perilous Trails. He holds an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist College. He has served as a church planter in Olathe, KS and a Homeless Shelter Manager in Kansas City, MO. He is also a husband, father, fisher, hiker, security officer, and raiser of livestock.   

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Unashamed workman

God grant me a disciplined mind, an awestruck heart, calloused hands, and a tamed tongue, for it is with such that men are to praise you!

I often hear Christians talking about careers, and it usually sounds something like, “We need more Christian politicians!” or “we need more Christian professors in our universities!” or “We need more Christian film makers!” or “We need more Christians in entertainment/media,” or “Christians need to  really need to take back the arts!” The reasoning always seems to be that these are the things that shape culture, and so if Christians are going to shape the culture we need to actively seek out places in the fields of influence so we can reach the culture and change the world.

These are all fine trades, and I am all for having more Christians in these trades, especially if it happens by us sharing the gospel with those already working in these fields and them coming to Christ! With certain moral boundaries, I would generally say that all work is good work and so these fields are no worse than any others and it would be great for people working in those fields to repent and believe in Christ and remain in those fields! That would be awesome! But biblically, I can’t find anywhere that says it’s more and more of our children to actively pursue positions in these fields. Heck, historically I can’t even find any evidence that it’s an especially good strategy! The world certainly honors and loves these fields, and God has seen fit from time to time to powerfully use His people in such roles, but by in large God has chosen to do things different than the world expects to draw attention to Himself rather than to the men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

“Not many of you” of course means that some indeed were, and it is okay to be a Christian Governor, Senator, Professor, Scientist, Comedian, Musician, or CEO. If you are serving there while remaining faithful to God, to His commands, and to His people, that is great and there is no shame in that, and I pray He uses you there mightily to do great things! But generally speaking, more often than not, that isn’t how God has chosen to work in the new covenant kingdom of Jesus Christ. He chose to found it with a group of fisherman and tax collectors, house wives and healed beggars and shepherds who live in the fields with their sheep. The opposing authorities were amazed at the disciples boldness and clear biblical teaching, not because they were formally trained scholars, but because they weren’t! The early documents we have from shortly after the time of the New Testament show that the great scandal of early Christianity was that Christians were taught by butchers and tanners and weavers, and that many were coming to Christ on the bold testimony of common women. Sure, even in the early years Christians had their philosophical scholars like Justin and had politically influential converts even in the very household of Caesar, but by and large the faith was made up of people who “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and who “do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:12b). The picture is simple, honest daily work, often at manual labor, paired with virtuous, humble, and generous lives. In fact, the simple generosity was key, as Paul elsewhere wrote:

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need." Ephesians 4:28

It is interesting that we are not only commanded NOT to steal, and instead to work for what we need. That much we might expect. But the command says something different than that. Instead of just the absence of stealing, it commands quite the opposite from stealing, actually. Even our honest work is not for ourselves, but SO THAT we will have something to freely give to others in need! Our labor is not for our own gain, but for the purpose of our brothers. Industry, simplicity, and generosity. It is the pattern to which all who are in Christ are called. Brothers and sisters, let's show the world this better way!

The purpose of our work then is not first and foremost to gain audience and influence and change the world through the greatness of our reach, but to work hard, live simple, give extravagantly. God blesses with the increase. It is for us to honor needful labor that the world does not honor, to do it with commitment and integrity, and love our neighbor enough to meet his needs, be they physical or spiritual. Be about some every day trade, but with a godly diligence and character. As one of my favorite figures in American history, George Washington Carver, once put it “Learn to do common things uncommonly well; we must always keep in mind that anything that helps fill the dinner pail is valuable.” Jesus taught us that one who wishes to be great in the kingdom must be his neighbors servant, and that the first shall be last and the last first. It is the common tradesman and worker, who the world sees at the bottom, who often has the greatest potential for virtue and Christian greatness. Normally such greatness goes unseen by the eyes of men, but often God sees fit to draw from exactly such a pool some fisherman or tent maker to be a world renounced preacher of his word. John Bunyan was a man of little formal education who made his living mending pots and pans in 17th century England. He was also a devoted Christian pastor, evangelist & author who, though writing from prison for preaching without a government license, penned one of the most influential written works of all time. "The Pilgrim's Progress" has been translated in over 200 languages and has aided in the transformation of lives the world over for hundreds of years, including my own! God doesn’t work the way we would, and He does mighty things through simple means. 

I have known cattle ranchers who travel the world in their slow seasons strengthening missionaries and preaching the gospel. I have known water treatment plant managers who quietly reach and disciple their coworkers and support local outreach with their wages for decades whose impact the world may not see, but through whom untold lives are forever changed. I have known UPS drivers who open their homes to college students and teach them the bible while their wives prepare them meals, who freely work on people’s cars and in their homes just to be of help and to display and have opportunity to share and proclaim the word of God. I have seen programmers work out arrangements with their companies so they can work remotely while moving to Africa to help orphans, delivery men spending their time on street corners giving our tracts and bibles, concrete layers pastoring churches, and countless others whose hard work at common jobs coupled lives devoted to God, to their families, to the church, and to reaching the lost have had a greater cumulative impact than could possibly be fathomed. When we realize that it’s not about us, but about what God is doing through His people as a whole, a quiet life of diligent labor, generous giving, and sacrificial devotion to a local church community becomes an awesome thing that is sadly becoming all too rare as we far too often barrow the values of the world to calculate how we can “have the greatest impact” and with the best of intentions avoid being united together as the kind of radically different people that God desires to glorify His own name in using to make Himself and His gospel known

It’s not easy, and it simply can’t be a life lived in our own comforts and given to our own amusements. Theodore Roosevelt put it well when he said, “I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil" The world won’t get it. The world shouldn’t get it. As Francis Chan says, "Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers." But in fact, God blesses such a people. God blesses such a life, and so such a life lived for Him is used by Him and accomplishes His goals, reaping great reward in the age to come, and THAT is where our rest is! Remember, we are people here in sojourn, as if resident aliens in a foreign land until our Lord comes again to consummate His kingdom, and only then does our Sabbath rest and our time of greatness come, for then we will reign with Him!

If you're still prior to the "deciding on a career" point in your life, you've got two good options. 1.) Find something productive that you particularly like doing and through sacrifice, hard work, discipline, and a willingness to put other things aside for it, get good enough at it that someone is willing to pay you to do it. 2.) Find something that people need and will pay for and through sacrifice, hard work, discipline, and a willingness to put other things aside for it, get good enough at it that you don't hate doing it anymore, can take a certain pride in it, and as a result will get paid a premium for doing it. The former sounds more pleasant than the latter, but is actually the harder road. Either way though, it requires hard work and sacrifice for something to finally "come naturally to you." Don’t spend your life trying to find some one special thing you’re great it, but rather pick some needful thing and get great enough at it to make an honest living, then live on less than make and give plenty away, and make sure to guard your time for family and the community of faith. 

If you’re already in a career, be content with it! Unless it is driving you to sin or harming your responsibilities to family or your connection to your church, work hard at it and start thinking about how to simplify your life and maximize you’re giving. Come up with ways for you and your family to serve your church family and reach out in local ministry. Maybe volunteer regularly at a homeless mission or pregnancy resource center, or go down town and hand out tracts, or mow the lawns and clean the yards of the elderly families near your home who can’t do it themselves any more. Use some of your vacation days to go on mission trips or join a disaster relief team. Read the bible to your kids daily and talk about what it means so they carry it with them when they get older. Realize that in so doing, you are joining the ranks of countless great saints of old, some whose names we know, many whom we never will, who did such things and through whom God changed the world, and is changing it still. Let’s show the world a better way.

Luke Wayne is a bi-vocational Baptist missionary in Utah and the chief editor for Perilous Trails. He holds an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist College. He has served as a church planter in Olathe, KS and a Homeless Shelter Manager in Kansas City, MO. He is also a husband, father, fisher, hiker, security officer, and raiser of livestock.