We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Pounding Nails

Fifteen-year old Kevin was helping us with the construction of our house–and doing a great job! But one day, I found Kevin pounding a dozen nails into a 2 by 12 truss system that didn’t really need any extra support. When I asked him why he was pounding the nails, his response astonished me. When he finished all of his work for the day he went to his dad and asked what he should do when he was finished with all of his work. His dad said, “Go pound nails and be productive!”–and Kevin did exactly that! I have never forgotten that moment.

Now, a little over a decade later, I see a contrast. I see government spending itself into oblivion without being productive. A society that consumes more than it produces cannot long remain great. It is such a simple concept. We must start being productive. It is time to restore and invigorate the cultural standard of excellence and hard work.

I was talking with a very successful businessman who is now in his mid-seventies. I asked him what formed the foundation of his success and he told me: he is still working 14 hours per day, six days a week. There are no short cuts!

How much more can we consume before we ourselves are consumed? Other nations are not our biggest threat–we are. It is time to heed Solomon’s proverbial wisdom: “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).

There are too many today trying to build their homes and their futures without the preparation and perseverance of a solid framework of biblical values. It’s time to start doing something, even if it’s pounding nails into a board. Maybe someone will see you and open a door to future work–that’s what happened for Kevin! He became my most valued employee and continues to be one of the most admirable workers I’ve ever known.

Recommended Reading:

Stick to the Raft

Basil; Or, Honesty and Industry

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Relentless

The following Lamplighter Moment was written by Anthony Barr, a 2011 Lamplighter Guild alumnus who interned with Lamplighter and is now on staff. Enjoy!

I was recently asked to contact a church to find out the name of a ministry that the church sponsored. I emailed the church, but time passed and I didn’t hear back from them. I then sent a follow-up message online. Still, I did not hear from the church.

Finally, I received an email from Mark; here is an excerpt from that email:

“Anthony I need that information about the ministry…Have you found this info yet? So far whenever I have asked for any kind of information you have been extremely relentless in your pursuit so I’m a little confused as to why you haven’t been able to obtain this info…

In the future, here’s what I need from you…you can approach obtaining information like this in a number of ways. First, never depend on emails to obtain information; always call and talk to someone.

Next, read A Message to Garcia.* Next, go to the source and ask them yourself…if you can’t drive or fly, then walk or hitchhike . . . Though this might sound sarcastic, it is not. And I realize that given your age, I wouldn’t really expect you to hitchhike (that’s against the law), but I need you to see that every assignment has an urgency attached to it.”

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

This passage from Ephesians reminds us that we should live wisely and make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil. Sometimes opportunities are easily spotted, but often opportunities are hidden in mundane, routine, everyday assignments.

We must be relentless in our pursuit, making the most of every opportunity!

My Dad and Huram-abi

How would you like to possess skills that would allow you to do almost anything? My dad was like that! He was an iron worker by trade and had the mind of an engineer, architect, designer, carpenter, furniture maker, and more! He also was a master knot maker; he could take a rope and make a knot for almost anything, including a self-lifting ladder. At work, whenever his company had a difficult and dangerous job to complete they would call my dad. He had to travel around the country to oversee projects that needed the highest level of skill, like setting nuclear reactors in place with several cranes and elaborate rigging.

In many ways, my dad, whose name was A.J. Hamby, reminds me of Huram-abi from the scriptures…maybe he is a distant relative. You may never have heard of him, but in 2nd Chronicles 2 we read: “Now I have sent a skilled man, who has understanding, Huram-abi . . . He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, and in purple, blue, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned to him . . .”

Did you hear his list of expertise? How did he learn all of these trades? I wonder if his childhood was like my dad’s? Oh, my dad’s mother died when he was 12, and his father was put in prison for bootlegging when he was 14 and then he lived with different relatives who used him as a servant on their farms. When he was 15, he got his first job with the iron workers and began from the bottom up. He realized early on that life was a gift and he didn’t want to squander it. My dad was a lifelong learner, and through his influence it is my desire to be one too.

Early in the Morning

Are you more productive late at night or early in the morning?

At the Lamplighter Guild last summer, we tried an experiment with our students. We started each day at 6:15 a.m. As the sun rose, you could see students and teachers in the Word and prayer dotted around the landscape; meeting in gazebos on the cliffs, along the lake, and in the gardens.

Our early morning time was the training ground where students prepared for battle. Often times in Christianity we spend more time in retreat than advance. There are plenty of opportunities for recreation and restoring the soul, but life as presented in the Bible is pictured as a battle. And as soldiers we need to live life with vigilance.

We also learned that this extra effort gave back some unexpected dividends. Rather than time flying by, it was if time had stopped and we were able to accomplish more in a few days than we would have expected to accomplish in a week’s time. As I study the lives of great innovators and inventors, I see a common thread of early rising. I am not saying that one cannot accomplish great things by staying up late, but often sleeping in is the result of a lack of self-discipline.

As I study the lives of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, I see they too had early rising in common. In fact, the first two times God gives Moses an assignment he hears these words: “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning.'”

For years, my most productive time was late at night. But since I have been deliberately practicing the discipline of going to bed earlier and rising early, my level of productivity has soared. We are commanded to redeem the
time, and there’s no better way to start than by redeeming the beginning of the day.

Nehemiah 3: Another Brick, Please!

I don’t know about you but when I come across lists of names in the Bible I tend to speed read. Nehemiah chapter 3 is one of those chapter lists. Could anything significant come from a list of builders and redundant record of repairs?

But I learned a lesson long ago. In those mundane lists, there is often a treasury of pure gold waiting to be found. In fact, the list of repairs in Nehemiah 3 may hold the answers to a nation’s economic recovery as well as our guide to spiritual revival.

First, you have recorded that the rich and poor are working together; fathers and daughters, leaders and servants, skilled and unskilled, all working toward one goal–to repair and restore the glory of God. You also have one negative report. The wealthy Tekoites felt that common labor was beneath them. The record states that “they would not stoop to serve their Lord.”

In contrast there’s the record of Baruch. He’s my favorite among the builders. Scripture records that he earnestly repaired another section. The word “earnestly” means to glow, blaze or to be zealous. Baruch worked with a zealous tenacity. Can you just see him? I love watching those who possess this kind of zeal for the Lord.And then the text says that he repaired another. This word “another” means double, second, or again.When Baruch finished his section, he just kept on working. Having finished his own portion, Baruch comes to the rescue at the southeast corner, where the rubbish is the deepest and the work the hardest.In tribute to his zeal for the Lord, he receives the mark of distinction in God’s list of honor.

Just as it was I the days of Nehemiah and Baruch so it is today. We have before us a great opportunity to walk by faith and rebuild and restore the glory of God…for the hand of our God is upon us for good. What more do we need?

Tunnel Vision, Part 3

Recently I learned something about my relationship to my dad that rocked my world. Everyone who knows me knows that I love to work. Whether I’m gardening, reading, writing, landscaping, speaking, studying, digging, or chopping wood, I just enjoy being productive. But I wasn’t always this way.

As I shared in part 1 and part 2 of this Lamplighter Moment, my love for work was connected to my dad’s assignment to dig a tunnel under our patio. As I wrote earlier, breaking through to the other side was a monumental moment for me. But until recently, I didn’t understand that it wasn’t the actual breakthrough and accomplishment of a difficult task that birthed this spirit of motivation in me; it was something else. Something so powerful that I have passed it on to my children without even realizing it.

Before I tell you about this powerful catalyst–a catalyst that can turn even a lazy child into a hard worker–let me share briefly about my three adult children. Jonathan, my oldest, is a successful commercial broker in California and possesses the Hamby work ethic. My daughter Jennifer is the part time art director at Lamplighter, teaches art to children and adults, is the founder of Jache Art Studios, and has a pet portrait business. My youngest son, David, recently graduated from college, works as a manager for Apple, and refurbishes and resells classic motorcycles.

Each of my children possesses a phenomenal work ethic. I am very proud of this area of their lives and have spent a significant amount of time encouraging and preparing them in this. I passed down to my children what my dad passed down to me. You see, when I broke through that wall of dirt, the first thing I heard on the other side was my dad cheering for me. His cheering and favor upon me during that moment changed the course of my life. It wasn’t the breakthrough of the dirt; it was the breakthrough of my father’s pleasure and affirmation.

There isn’t a lot of recorded dialogue between Jesus and his Father, but what we do have speaks volumes. Listen in: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father speaks these words at his Son’s baptism and again speaks these same words at the Mount of Transfiguration. These words speak of identity (This is my . . . son), of loving affirmation (my beloved son), and pleasure (in whom I am well pleased). The second time the Father speaks he also adds “Hear ye him,” which speaks of calling.

When my dad cheered for me it sparked a motivation that has now been passed on to the next generation. His cheers represented the pleasure he enjoyed because of my triumph, and his words conveyed his loving affirmation. Though this was enough to spark a motivational chain of productive work that has reached three generations, it is not enough to prepare our children for life. Our children need their identity confirmed, our love expressed, our pleasure for them affirmed, and their future calling validated. If we give our children what the Father gave His Son, we’ll see children who will more aptly discern the will of God, be willing to endure adversity, yield to authority, and follow convictions with confidence as they walk humbly with their God.

Tunnel Vision, Part 3

Recently I realized something about my relationship to my dad that rocked my world. Everyone who knows me knows that I love to work. But I wasn’t always like this.

As I shared in parts 1 and 2 of this moment, my love for work was connected with my dad’s assignment to dig a tunnel under our patio.

Breaking through to the other side of the patio was a monumental moment for me. But until recently, I didn’t understand that it wasn’t actually the accomplishment of a difficult task that birthed this spirit of motivation in me; it was something else…something so powerful that I have passed it on to my children unintentionally.

Let me share briefly about my three adult children. Jonathan, my oldest, is a successful commercial broker in California and possesses an amazing work ethic. My daughter Jennifer is the part time art director at Lamplighter, teaches art to children and adults, is the founder of Jache Art Studios, has a pet portrait business and also loves to rock climb. My youngest son David recently graduated from college, works for Apple as a manager and refurbishes and resells classic motorcycles.

Each of my children them has a solid work ethic. It is one of the areas that I have been most proud of and spent the most time encouraging and preparing them for. I passed down to my children what my dad passed down to me. This powerful catalyst can even turn a lazy child into a hard worker. You see, when I broke through that wall of dirt, the first thing I heard on the other side was my dad cheering for me. His cheering and favor upon me during that moment changed the course of my life. It wasn’t the breakthrough of the dirt; it was the breakthrough of my father’s pleasure and affirmation.

We don’t have a lot of recorded dialogue between Jesus and his Father, but what we do have speaks volumes. Listen in: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father speaks these words at his Son’s baptism and again speaks these same words at the Mount of Transfiguration. These words speak of identity (This is my son), of relationship (my beloved son), and pleasure (in whom I’m well pleased). When my dad cheered for me it sparked a motivation that I’ve now passed on to the next generation. Can you imagine what could happen if we’d all begin to connect like this with our children?

Tunnel Vision, Part 2

Yesterday I explained how my dad had asked me to dig a trench under the patio in order to lay a new sewer line. With one week to complete the project, I spent most of my time devising an easy way to complete this insurmountable assignment. With just two days left, I still hadn’t found a solution to my dilemma.

After digging down one foot I knew this was impossible. Surely Dad would understand. Well, he didn’t! As soon as he came home, he went out to inspect my work. Without saying a word, he began digging.

“What’s wrong with him?” I thought. “Go ahead and dig–you’ll see!” But the dirt was flying and Dad was digging. He had worked hard all week. All I had done was work hard to figure out how to get out of work. After about twenty minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore. I took the shovel out of his hand and began digging.

From 7:00 until 11:00 pm, I worked vigorously. I was more than halfway under the patio, now digging with a coffee can. At 1:00 am, my head poked through to the other side–I did it!

As soon as my head poked through, I noticed a light from above. It was my dad shining his flashlight down on me. He was watching the entire time from the bedroom window, and when he saw me break through, he proudly applauded!

That experience changed me. Part of my character was forged, which has been an essential component of my life ever since.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3, 4).

Work truly is a gift of God–and for those who endure, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Tunnel Vision, Part 1

As I reflect back on my childhood, there is one thing I remember vividly–WORK! My mother had me vacuuming floors as early as I can remember and doing those dreaded socks was cruel and unusual punishment. As I grew older, my father always had something planned for the weekend . . . landscaping, mixing concrete, digging holes for new trees, or loading rocks for the drainage ditch.

There was something else that I remembered growing up and that is that I hated to WORK! Can one really grow to love work? Isn’t work part of the curse? Absolutely not! Work is not only for enjoyment but is a gift of God according to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes. (2:24-26; 5:19) If this is true, then why do so many see work as a curse, just waiting for Friday to come?

I can still remember the day when work turned from drudgery to joy. I was twelve years old, and we needed a new sewer line for our house. Rather than digging up our newly paved driveway, my father decided that a tunnel could be dug under our thirty-foot-long concrete patio, thus redirecting the sewer line.

My dad was an iron worker, and since this was his busiest time of year, he asked me to dig the tunnel before he came home the following week. With a smile, he assured me that it could be done, “one shovelful at a time.” Immediately I began to plan how this could best be accomplished, or rather, how I could do the job with the least amount of work. I remember thinking that there must be a machine that could burrow under this patio, and with the press of a button–presto–it would be done.

After digging into solid clay, I realized immediately that this was an impossible task. Once dad saw the clay he would surely come to his senses. Well, dad came home that Friday and what happened next would change my work ethic and life until this very day . . . find out what happened in our next Daily Moment!

An Age Change is Coming!

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel . . . But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel . . .”

In this passage, we see the children of Israel subservient to their enemies and subject to price gouging tactics. Why? The time period is the beginning of the Iron Age. As the result of a famine and wars, the tin trade was disrupted, resulting in a shift from the Bronze Age (you need tin to make Bronze) to the Iron Age. Because complacent Israel did not foresee this inevitable shift, they lacked the technological training to compete on a global scale and were therefore left behind.For decades they were subject to foreign powers because of their complacency.

Not only were the Israelites subservient to their enemies, but the Philistines took full advantage of their technological superiority, exercising price gouging tactics when it came time to sharpen their plows and axes. Does this sound vaguely similar to our current gas prices? Perhaps the Apostle Paul had this in mind when he challenged the Thessalonians with the following plea:

“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to 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 4:10b-12).

I believe that we are observing a similar crisis today. We must look beyond our dependence of computer technology and amusements, and sharpen our skills agriculturally, biologically, medicinally, horticulturally, and any other -ally that can be cultivated to represent the image of God on earth.

If our enemies one day disabled our satellites, paralyzing our computer networks, would you have sufficient skills to be productive and independent? Israel didn’t see the Iron Age coming; and they served Eglon king of Moab for the next eighteen years.

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm  Comments (1)