Monthly Archives: August 2013

THE BLESSINGS OF WORK

 

“. .  . respect those who work hard among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

 

“Next” she said loudly. A young man left the waiting area at the State Employment Office, walked over, and sat down at her desk. “What can I do for you?” she asked. “Do you want to sign up for unemployment?” He had recently completed his military service and was looking for a job. Many who were getting out were taking mini vacations for 60-90 days by drawing unemployment checks before going to work. She almost fell out of her chair when he said, “No mam, I don’t want unemployment. I want employment.” After she recovered from the shock, she went to her files and returned to give him a list of several companies that were hiring. He went to all of them. One company hired him and he worked there, very successfully, for over ten years.

Work is a blessed thing. God Himself is a worker. He created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, and He is still at work today. The Bible tells us many things about work, such as:

·       God’s blessings are on work (Psalm 90:16-17)

·       Hard work brings a profit (Proverbs 14:23)

·       We should work with all our might (Ecclesiastes 10:4)

·       Those unwilling to work shall not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

The verse in Thessalonians has been widely used as a justification for not helping the needy. The key to understanding it is the word “unwilling.” There are times when honorable adults must care for their parents or grandparents. The church, at times, must help those in need, but responsibility always starts with the individual. Christians who beg, borrow unnecessarily, or steal discredit Christ and the Church.

Many in our society are willing, but they are handicapped, disabled, or too old. Some simply cannot find work because many jobs went overseas, and few exist here. This is particularly true of low skilled jobs that did not require advanced education or training.

If you have a job and are physically and mentally capable of working, thank God for it, but don’t forget the needy. We cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, call ourselves Christians if we do not help the helpless.

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org

 

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LABOR DAY 2013–WHERE’S THE PARADE?

To most of us, Labor Day means a long weekend, and the last chance to get away in summer, a quick trip to the beach before school starts, or maybe just a family picnic. Labor Day had some very serious origins. Before Labor Day became an official holiday by President Grover Cleveland in 1894, there was a long, violent struggle for basic worker rights. Back then, the routine workweek was twelve hours a day, six days a week, with low wages, no paid vacation, no sick days, no pensions, no holidays, and no unemployment insurance. In addition, thousands of Americans died in unsafe factories and mines.

Both business and government fought against the labor movement (and some still do). Hundreds of people were killed in riots and battles over worker rights.

One incident particularly inflamed the desire for worker rights. On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York. The top three floors quickly were engulfed in flames in the reputedly fireproof building. Most of the workers were Jewish and Italian women, some as young as fourteen, who had recently immigrated. They found themselves trapped in a terrible inferno. Groups of young women jumped to their deaths from the ninth floor. One man dropped women out of the windows. Fire department nets were ripped and torn by jumpers. On the outside, bodies piled up on the sidewalk and blocked the fire engines. On the inside, burned bodies piled up at locked doors, blocked exits, and some burned beyond recognition while still sitting at their sewing machines.

The factors that caused this tragedy were bad management, overcrowding and dangerous working conditions, and bad architecture.

Managers frequently locked the exits to prevent workers from sneaking out for a break, and to prevent stealing. Those locked doors stopped workers from escaping the fire. Other exists were blocked with boxes which had been accumulating for months. The architect had been given special permission to omit one staircase in his design, and exit doors were designed to open inward, making it almost impossible to open the doors when panic-stricken workers rushed them. The poorly built fire escape caused it to collapse when a large number of workers started using it to escape the fire, killing many.

This tragic fire, along with many other bad incidents, fired up the workers and their demands for safer working conditions, and led the public to support them. The labor movement made great gains after these tragic events. Workers organized and formed unions, and Labor Day became a special day to honor the American worker. The day usually consisted of pubic parades to show the unity and accord between the trade and labor unions, and the community. Then, there was recreation and entertainment, and speeches by prominent men and women.

Most all Americans have benefitted directly or indirectly due to unions. Unions fought for these:    1. The weekend–The average work week in 1870 was 61 hours.

2. Fair wages and relative income equality

3. The end of child labor

4. Widespread employer-based healthcare

5. The Family and Medical Leave Act

President Abraham Lincoln said, “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.” In 1861, he told Congress, “Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Some people say that we don’t need unions today, but I would differ. Whenever 1% of the population possesses 99% of the wealth in America, the middle class has been almost destroyed and large companies are maximizing their profits by reducing or eliminating worker benefits—we need unions. I applaud the working people of America who have, through their unions, brought us so many of the benefits we enjoy. Maybe we need a few more parades to show our appreciation.

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org

 

ANSWERING LIFE’S GREATEST QUESTION

“WHAT WILL I DO WITH JESUS (Matthew 27:22)?

 Life is filled with many important questions. As a nation, many of us are asking these questions:  Is the economic crisis over? When will we be able to find work again? When will be bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan? As individuals, many of us are asking do I need to change occupations? Should I go back to school? Will the company I work for survive, providing me employment for as long as I need to work? Will I run out of money before I run out of life?

All these questions are important, but a Roman governor named Pilate asked life’s greatest question many years ago. He asked, “What will I do with Jesus?”

It is life’s greatest question because the way we answer it will determinate the quality of our lives. With Christ, life has peace, happiness, meaning, and purpose. We become members of the family of God, and we can enjoy fellowship with Him and His people. Without Him, life can be very bad.

Not only does the way we answer that question determine our happiness and satisfaction in this life, it determines our destiny for eternity. Jesus Christ is the door to heaven. He is the straight and narrow way. If we reject Him, we have no way. We need to ask ourselves personally, “What have I done with Jesus?”

THE END OF WAR

“. . . seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14)

 

August 14 is the day Japan surrendered and WWII ended, and what a glorious day it was. Although only a child, I remember it well. I climbed into the back seat of the family’s sedan, and off we went to downtown Birmingham. The sights along the way were amazing. People came out of their homes and businesses, met on the sidewalks, hugged each other, and shouted with joy, many danced in the streets. The joy was unbridled. On the way, I saw one heavy-set woman lying on her front porch, rolling back and forth, praising, and thanking God.

Downtown was a mess. The streets were filled with cars, bumper to bumper with people blowing their horns. People were shouting and waving at each other. The ticker tape thrown from the buildings was so thick it looked like a snowstorm.

Great joy naturally followed the hard war years during which Americans sacrificed. Almost every home in America had a family member in the military (husbands, sons, daughters, uncles, and aunts). The war took the lives of 291,557 Americans. It was the costliest one in our history.

Jesus said as long as the world stands, there would be wars (Matthew 24:6-8). However, he did not say we (Americans or Christians) had to be involved in all of them. On the contrary, He tells us to seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14). Let us pray for peace and for leaders who will pursue peace, not war.

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org

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WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD?

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

At the end of World War II, there were thousands of homeless, hungry children left in the rubble of war. They were rounded up and placed in large camps, where food and compassionate care were given, but they were afraid and restless, and couldn’t sleep at night.

After studying the problem, a psychologist came up with an idea. When the children went to bed, each of them was given one slice of bread to hold. They could have more to eat if they wanted, but this slice of bread was not to be eaten. They were simply to hold it.

The slice of bread they held had a wonderful effect on them. The children could go to sleep knowing they would have something to eat in the morning. Knowing this gave them peace and a good night’s sleep.                         

Knowing the Lord (Jesus Christ) is our shepherd can have the same beneficial effect on us. Our Shepherd has made plans for us for today and tomorrow. He will lead us, guide us, and provide for our needs. We can trust Him.

Who is your shepherd?

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net, http://www.people-for-the-christian-way.org