Every four years, Labor Day marks the beginning of the final push of a long political campaign cycle. The holiday that celebrates the accomplishments of the American worker is also when many start to pay attention to politics.  I submit that work and politics can be distracting, but not how you might think.

Work is a distraction when it is simply a mundane means to money. You can view it as how you are pressed to pass time, or better, how you are privileged to serve people.  Every job at some level is about people.  If not customers, clients, or consumers, at least it’s about your family that benefits from your labor.  But more than that, work is your opportunity to change the part of God’s world that you touch.   It is the place you influence people by your ethics, words, and performance.  The Christian worker’s calling is, “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24).  Work is not a distraction, it is your opportunity to live out your faith and values.

Politics is a distraction when it masquerades as the only solution. When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  Our vote is not our only tool, nor is every problem fixed by a vote.  But it is easy to think so when most headlines scream about the politicians’ latest problems, promises, and polls, and when well-meaning people explain that if we don’t vote their way we are inviting disaster for the church and morality.  Consider for a moment that God’s response to the saints’ pleading for a great spiritual awakening might look like this strange election.  Where the world today is experiencing mass movement to Jesus, you don’t find a church that is comfortable, free, and basking in a culture enlightened by Biblical morality.  For sure, vote your conscience, but don’t let it distract you from praying, trusting God, and accepting His story for our history.

C.S. Lewis, in “Screwtape Letters,” has one demon writing to another that people “find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes. Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things.  Do remember you are there to fuddle him.”  If work and politics are ordinary to us, then we are befuddled.  But our heavenly Father has an extraordinary plan.  Extraordinary things are not a distraction.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).


The 2016 Olympics are complete. New records and newly awarded medals are in the books.  During their moment in the spotlight, some of America’s athletes explained their life’s motivation.

Maya DiRado won four medals (two gold) at her first and only Olympics. A late bloomer at 24, she said it “is not my end purpose, to make the Olympic team.  Jesus’ love for me and all humanity is something that always helps me better love people around me. I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world.  Can I be a loving, supportive teammate, and can I bless others around me in the same way God has been so generous with me?”  She soon starts a new job in Atlanta as a business analyst.

David Boudia and Steele Johnson are platform divers. A repeat Olympian, Boudia said, “If I represent a good God, I need to be that visual representation of him all the time, not just when I feel like it.”  This, Johnson’s first Olympics, was even sweeter since a severe diving accident almost sidelined him.  “Yes I had that accident.  But I still had the ability to dive, and I still had the passion for diving.  God kept me alive and he is still giving me the ability to do what I do.”  After they won silver in synchronized diving, Boudia talked about the pressure to an NBC interviewer.  “When my mind is on this, thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ.”  Johnson added, “The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not this competition just gave me peace.”

The “shot diva” Michelle Carter is the daughter of Michael Carter, an Olympic medalist and Super Bowl winner. She won shot put gold, tossing 9 pounds a distance of 68 feet.  Raised in church, she gave her life to Christ at six years old.  She began a Bible study with her Olympic teammates.  “People notice how I am living out my faith.  Even when no one is looking, the way I act is important because it is a reflection of how I walk with Christ.”  After Rio, she returns to life as a business owner.

These athletes echo Eric Liddell, the Scottish runner who medaled in the 1924 Olympics. He said, “We are all missionaries.  Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.”  God determines our appointed times and boundaries, whether athletes or not.  God has given us “this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:6).  Your life has its own platform to display this powerful treasure of greater value than gold, silver, or bronze.


A.W. Tozer was a pastor during the Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, WWII, Korean War and the 60’s cultural upheavals. You might think what he had to say would be more relevant for those trying times. Not so.

Some know Tozer from his writings on prayer. He is perhaps best known as author of The Pursuit of God, which Warren Wiersbe calls “one of the best devotional books ever written by an American pastor.”  That’s remarkable, considering Tozer had no formal academic training.  His lack of earned letters did not diminish his message about prayer and devotion to God whom he pursued with vigor.

He published this book just a few years after WWII as a collection of ten essays. Though a short book, it is not a quick read due to its intensity and depth.  Consider his thoughts on Ps. 57:5, “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.”  He writes, “The cause of all our human miseries is a radical moral dislocation, an upset in our relation to God and to each other.  (Mankind) destroyed the proper Creator-creature relation in which, unknown to him, his true happiness lay.  Essentially, salvation is the restoration of a right relation between man and his Creator.”

And Tozer thought there was a radical moral dislocation in 1948! People are still miserable and rather than turning to God, ignore Him who is the very source of true love and happiness.  Culture today encourages people to invent god in their own image, justify the very misery that Jesus can heal, and blame those of us who have found the healing balm for our souls.

Tozer considered himself an evangelical mystic, an unusual label. He defines that as one “who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead.  He differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being.  He exists in a world of spiritual reality.  He is quietly, deeply aware of the presence of God.”  A mystic doesn’t just have faith in his life, his life is shaped by his faith; he doesn’t just know about God, he has an intimate fellowship with God.

If I understand the man, Tozer would not have you read his works on prayer for formulaic rituals, nor his devotionals for warm feelings. His challenge is to invite God into the depths of your being and become aware of His reality in the ordinary, joyful, and troubling moments of your daily existence.  Then you will be not just a church-goer, but like Tozer, a mystic.

Last Chance

It was an awkward encounter. Anyone who carries the name and message of Christ will likely have similar stories.  Since our worldview encompasses eternity, we are willing to take risks to change eternal outcomes.

Someone suggested I visit an elderly couple I didn’t know. As I approached their front door one evening, I wondered how I would explain what I was doing there.  The door opened just wide enough for me to see the wife’s face, kind, but a bit apprehensive.  I introduced myself and a couple of friends and mentioned our church.  I said simply that a mutual friend asked us to stop by for a brief visit.  “It’s really not a good time,” she said.  A polite brush-off, which I respected.  The door creaked, closing.

A faceless male voice called from the interior, “Who is it?” The creaking paused.  “People from a church.”  “Well let them in!”  The man was resting in a wheelchair, clearly not in good health, and perhaps hoping we could cheer him up a little.

Settling into the parlor, we tried polite conversation with little success. I ditched the trivialities.  “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question about God?”  He consented.  “If you were to die and stand before God, and if He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?”  He raised his eyebrows as he pondered.  “Well, I’ve tried to live a good life.  I haven’t been able to go to church since I’ve been sick.”

I began to explain some truth claims from the Bible, beginning with, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing wrong with trying to live a good life or attending church, but they are not enough.  Sadly, despite our best efforts, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s moral standard, which is perfection.  As a just God, He has said that “the wages of sin is death.” Such is the human condition.

But God, not content to leave us to our fate, “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus takes our punishment and gives us the righteousness of God.  This is where faith comes in.  “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Faith receives what God gives. (Rom. 1:16-17, 5:8, 6:23, Eph. 2:8)

As I finished, he brightened considerably. “That all makes sense, I just haven’t thought of it that way before.  Yes, that’s what I believe!”  We thanked the gentle couple for their time and left.

A week later I received news that our host that evening died three days after our visit. I was stunned.  Only God knows if he embraced faith in Jesus that night, but regardless, I was grateful for the privilege of offering what may have been his last chance to do so.  You never know.