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My Workplace Visit to Garmin

My Workplace Visit to Garmin

Ever wish you had an easy button? You know, a button to hit when life is difficult so everything just works out. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Garmin headquarters located in Olathe, Kansas and guess what I found out! They invented the easy button for landing an airplane! So if you ever find yourself suddenly in charge of flying an airplane (let’s sure hope not, right?) just hit the easy button (the technical name for that is autoland) and it will contact air traffic control, communicate with them, take control of your plane, and land it for you. All you have to do is put your seat in a forward and upright position! 

 

Why Visit Garmin

To be fair, this is not the reason I visited Garmin, but it’s still really cool to talk about. But why visit Garmin? Over 25 people who work for Garmin attend the Olathe Campus of Christ Community, and I wanted to see their workplace and ask how they see God in their work. Our work is one of the most important ways we worship God. Good work, done well, matters. This could be developing technology that saves lives, sweeping floors, or changing diapers. We often forget this beautiful reality and I visited Garmin to remind them that their work is valuable and to expand my own understanding of what God is doing through them. 

 

Brokenness and Redemption

I was able to have lunch with a few of our congregants and I asked them two questions: “Where do you see the brokenness of the world?” andHow does your work seek to bring redemption to that brokenness?”  

 

Where Do You See the Brokenness of This World?

Randine Ailshie works in the Global Supply Chain department and sees the brokenness very clearly. She receives about 20 to 30 emails a day detailing all types of issues: natural disaster, political, war, cyber-terrorism, etc. It’s her job to make sure that regardless of what happened, those suppliers still have the ability to ship out parts so Garmin products can be made. In Randine’s words, “To tie it to the brokenness a little, admittedly it took me a while to learn to separate my personal feelings about people from the ability to get my job done. For instance, I could read an email that states that an earthquake struck Japan and left 500 people dead and 1,000 missing. I have to look past the fact that families are in distress and only focus on if Garmin is affected. That is kind of a hard pill to swallow. How can you ignore that?  People are out there searching for their families and I have the nerve to send an email to make sure that my needs are met? It’s crazy sometimes. The redemption that I find in my job is when I hear that the person I work with in Japan was not close to any damage and his family is all safe.” Randine goes on to say that she has made friendships around the world simply by asking the person she is corresponding with if they are okay. That simple question and act of kindness has gone a long way to bring light into a dark place. 

 

How Do You Seek to Participate in Redemption?

Dan Irish works in the Compliance Engineering department and works to arrange the testing and certification of Garmin products. One of the places he sees the brokenness of this world is that God’s creation is being destroyed, specifically, in the poaching of animals on the endangered species list in South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya. In order to combat this brokenness and seek to bring redemption, Dan and his team use Garmin technology to train tracking dogs used to combat poaching. Because of this technology, there has been a 95% reduction in the amount of poaching! Dan marvels that the work he does in Olathe can have such a significant impact on the stewardship of God’s creation around the world. 

 

That the Lost May Be Found

I started this with an easy button, so let me end with an easy button. Did you know Garmin sells devices with an SOS button? They saw the brokenness of the world in the number of people getting lost and not found, and sought to bring redemption by adding an SOS button. Whether you are on a rural country road or on Mount Everest, if you have an inReach device from Garmin, you can push that button and a Garmin team monitoring everything 24/7/365 from Houston will get a text.They will dispatch local search and rescue to save your life. How cool is that? They literally get an internal email list every week sharing how many lives were saved that week.

 

God is at Work

I went to Garmin that day hoping to encourage people and remind them that their work plays a role in bringing redemption to the world, that God cares about the good work they do, and that God uses their work to form and shape them. I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but I do know that I left in awe of how God uses people with so many different talents and skill sets to be his hands and feet in the world. God is at work using the ordinary work of men and women to combat the brokenness of this world and usher in redemption. 

The Gospel According to Home Renovation

The Gospel According to Home Renovation

I recently experienced a big change in my life…my wife and I became home owners. We bought a house two miles southeast of the Downtown Campus, originally built in 1897. From out of nowhere, a new desire arose within me to do home improvement and renovation projects. Overnight, my YouTube algorithm changed and it began almost exclusively suggesting DIY tutorial videos for house projects. 

Upon taking possession of the house, I repainted the entire interior of the house within a week. I had paint on the brain; I was either painting, eating, or dreaming about painting that entire week. Shortly afterward, we had our crumbling chimney fixed, the roof replaced, and a rotted out cellar door and stairs redone. Other numerous smaller home projects, as expected with a nearly 130-year-old home, have filled my weekends ever since we became homeowners. Although exhausting and frustrating at times, the feeling of a job well done (or at least done to the best of my ability!) has been an unexpected gift of home ownership.

 

A Workplace Visit

Around the same time, my fellow pastors and I visited the workplace of someone from our church, Reda Ibrahim, who started a general contracting construction business called RK Contractors. Reda is originally from Egypt and has a passion to help minorities, refugees, displaced persons, and people needing a second chance find their place as professionals. His business’ outstanding work in the Historic Northeast of Kansas City and across our city was recognized by the KC Chamber as one of the top ten small businesses in 2022.

Workplace visits are one of my favorite things about pastoring at Christ Community. Congregants visit my workplace every Sunday, so it’s only fair that I get a chance to see some of their workplaces during the week! As I see where our people spend the majority of their time and talk with them about the joys and challenges of their work, I can help them experience how their work matters to God. More than that, I benefit as I learn about a different industry or occupation outside of my daily experience. This visit with Reda was no different. 

 

The Four Chapter Story 

At Christ Community, we like to summarize the overall biblical storyline of the good news as The Four Chapter Story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Renewal.

Creation: How the world once was and ought to be.

Fall: How the world is broken and needs redemption.

Redemption: How what’s broken can be fixed through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Renewal: How the world will be when Jesus returns and completes our redemption.

The four words ought, is, can, will are a great way to remember this story and communicate it to others in a natural way.

Each time pastors visit someone’s workplace, we love to talk through their work using the lens of the Four Chapter Story. We talk about what their work ought to be like, what it is like because of sin and brokenness, how Jesus can redeem their work, and what their work will one day look like when Jesus makes everything right.

While eating lunch with Reda’s crew, we started talking about their work through the lens of The Four Chapter Story, and I was touched by their insight. As a new amateur home project DIYer, I was excited to hang out with the professionals, but I got even more out of this experience than I originally had expected!

 

The Gospel According to Home Renovation

Initially, the theological concepts of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Renewal weren’t landing in our conversation, but all of a sudden it clicked for one of Reda’s crew members. He remarked how their work is almost a mirror image to The Four Chapter Story. They step into a run down home that was originally built for and ought to be a safe and beautiful place for a family to live. But over time, through neglect and broader systemic brokenness in our city, that building falls into disrepair and is ugly, dangerous, and not usable as a home. Reda and his team work toward restoring that house because they believe it can be a home again. As they work through the fixes and renovations with all the ups and downs, they look forward to the end goal of what the house will be like when it is fully restored, and another family makes it their home.

 

Our Hearts Long for Redemption

What a beautiful picture of the good news! Theologians have long marveled how God, as Creator and Sustainer of all things, has placed echoes of his good news story of redemption and restoration throughout the world. One marker of this is the human fascination with fixing and restoring physical things, especially homes. Whether you are a professional tradesmen or an amateur DIYer, whether you have a home that is being renovated or you just binge home improvement videos in your free time, there is something about being human that longs for and delights in seeing something restored. This points outside itself to the redeeming work of God as he is making a broken, ugly world beautiful and whole again.

May this truth turn us to praise and worship God, the Ultimate Renovator, as we do this work ourselves or are blessed by this work from others!

What Would It Look Like If We Treated Others the Way God Treats Us?

What Would It Look Like If We Treated Others the Way God Treats Us?

For many, Ruth is an obscure Old Testament story that only gets attention during a Read the Bible in a Year plan, its brevity a relief as one plods through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But Ruth has become my favorite book of the Bible.

The book of Ruth is a gem that you don’t want to miss out on. It is not just the historical account that helps bridge the genealogical gap to the birth of King David (Ruth 4:18-22), but it’s also so much more. I believe that this brilliant little book is meant to spark our imaginations; to ask, what would it look like if we treated each other the way God treats us?

In the book, there are no bad characters. There are only normal people (such as Naomi’s daughter-in-law Orpah and the unnamed relative in chapter four) and exceptional people (the three main characters). Observe the behavior of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, and you will see that their every action is driven by the principle of doing what is best for everyone around them. 

 

Sacrificial Love

Even in her grief over losing her husband and two sons, Naomi only wants what is best for her daughters-in-law, even though it might cost her the last two close relationships that she has. 

Ruth’s unending loyalty to Naomi (and to Naomi’s God) won’t allow her to leave her mother-in-law’s side. She takes an enormous personal risk to leave her land and her people to travel to a foreign place with Naomi, and every action she takes in the book is geared toward Naomi’s benefit.

Boaz uses his position as a wealthy landowner not for his own benefit, but to provide abundantly for his relative Naomi and her immigrant daughter-in-law. Like Ruth and Naomi, his kindness (in Hebrew hesed) overflows from his character – he can’t help but give and give and give to these two destitute women.

Every action that these three characters take is for the benefit of the others. Naomi just wants what is best for Ruth. Ruth wants what is best for Naomi. And Boaz wants what is best for Naomi and Ruth, and his status puts him in a position to accomplish the great act of redemption that occurs in chapter four.

 

Redemption

The book of Ruth is a foretaste of the great act of redemption that God would accomplish for us through Jesus. And it is also a beautiful picture of what the family of God could look like if we all looked out for others’ interests ahead of our own (Philippians 2:4). 

What would it look like if we treated each other the way God treats us? The book of Ruth paints this picture, and I believe it is meant to inspire us to “go and do likewise.” If you haven’t read it in a while, I encourage you to do so a few times over the next couple of weeks. And ask yourself, what would it look like if I treated others the way that God treats me?

His Body, My Choice

His Body, My Choice

This spring I was asked to prepare the Ash Wednesday sermon for the Brookside Campus. Ash Wednesday is a beautiful tradition that reminds us we are dying and the cross is our only cure. Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ are the words spoken over each of us as we receive ashes.

I didn’t expect the concept of mortality to hit me very profoundly, but during my preparation, I was in the thick of relentless pain. My feet had totally betrayed me and decided to become weapons of torture every time I walked. So, as I wrote a sermon about the fact that our bodies are breaking down, my physical therapy, foot braces, and steady diet of ibuprofen reinforced that message.

 

A New Generosity

But then God did a new thing in my heart (as he always seems to do when I least expect it!). The afternoon of Ash Wednesday, I had rehearsed my talk for the last time, and I thought I’d take a breather and check some texts and social media. There on Facebook was an update from a dear, lifelong friend who needed a kidney transplant, and she needed it soon.

Everything in me said, “I need to do this!”  God had just impressed upon me through the sermon prep how temporary our lives are—that our bodies are not our prize, but eternity is. I felt him saying that although I struggled with pain, I had been forgetting the millions of other ways my body does work. One of those ways was having a rock star kidney that my friend Mollie could desperately use. Considering eternity opened up a new freedom to live with more generosity in how I use and see my physical body.

 

Choices

I have a choice on how I will use this body while I have it. Will I spend my energy cursing it for all the ways it breaks or doesn’t fit my standard of appearance/size/shape, or will I thank it? Will I accept that my physical body is the primary way God uses me to deliver his love to others— whether that’s through physical closeness (A wave! Smiles! Laughter! Hugs! Snuggles!), or through words (written or spoken) that bring life and goodness to others? If I don’t, I’m missing out on a very tangible blessing and a way that God has designed me to bring his light to the people in my space.

Will I see my body as something I have absolute rights over that must be defended at all costs or as something that, like Jesus, I am called to sacrifice – even my bodily rights – out of love for others? Is it my body, my choice, or is this the Lord’s body, which he has entrusted me with, loving me enough to give me the freedom to choose how I will use it? As we ask that question, let’s not forget that the freedom we have in Christ, is freedom not to serve myself, but freedom to love and serve others (see Galatians 5:13-14), just like Jesus did.

Jesus was also entrusted with a body – he was called Emmanuel – God with us. This “with us” nature makes him like no other God: all powerful and expansive while also as a friend who “sticks closer than a brother”. Christ was physically present on earth; he taught, touched, healed, hugged, and loved real people. Ultimately, he would end up using his physical body as a means to purchase our salvation on the cross. God clearly sees bodies as integral to his redemptive work in the world! 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – I Corinthians 6:19-20

 

Life to the Full

During the process of deciding to donate a kidney, I had dozens of opportunities to back out. The transplant process is designed well to ensure that donors do not feel pressure or coercion to donate an organ (which is great!), so at every turn, I had to choose again – do I want to make this sacrifice, or not? 

Trust me, I seriously considered all the “cons”: an invasive surgery with four nasty scars to prove it, dealing with pain and the side effects of being on heavy medications, recovery time, inconveniencing my co-workers, needing to ask (and graciously receive) help from my network of people, and putting a pause on my fitness routine. But, there was one item in the “pro” column that overshadowed them all: Mollie gets to live life to the full and see her kids grow up and grow old with her husband! That would mean Mollie gets to continue to choose to use her God-given body to bless people as she has done for years, whether that’s as an ENT physician assistant who cares deeply for her patients, or the children she treats in a Kenyan clinic each time she travels there to serve, or the kiddos in desperate situations she and her family foster. The choice was easy: if I choose to give this body away, God’s work can be multiplied in the days we still have here on earth.

 

Giving Thanks

Clearly, organ donation is not the path for all of us! You don’t need a major medical procedure to learn to love and appreciate all that your body is capable of. There are so many more easily accessible ways to pause and consider how you and your physical body can bring a little bit of the kingdom to someone else. 

Think about how you are using your energy today. How much of it is spent on your personal goals? Is there anything left for anyone else? Does some reordering need to happen? 

Your job, home-ownership, or parenting are excellent places to reconsider your body as a tool for generosity. What would not get done if you physically were not there? Your daily activities keep the ship afloat, so give thanks! Are there places we can reframe some aspects we might dread? Such as driving the kids from one activity to the next, collaborating with a chronically difficult co-worker, or how quickly a cleaned up house destructs into a mess yet again? 

These tedious or challenging spaces are actually opportunities to use your body to bring God’s joy, beauty and mercy to others, by simply being willing to do them. Next time you start one of these dreaded tasks, invite the Spirit to join you, using your body as the avenue to be the ‘kingdom come’ to those you do it with or for.

Let’s thank our God-given bodies and recognize them as holy spaces, where the Living God dwells, and let’s do it beginning today. Paul says it best in Romans 12:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12: 1-2

 

A Tool of Generosity

And to not leave you hanging, the kidney transplant procedure for Mollie and me is complete. I’m writing this while on medical leave with a good amount of healing yet to come, but on all accounts, it was a successful surgery. Mollie’s kidney function soared from only 14% to 93% shortly after surgery! We felt God’s presence and promises in what I can only describe as a worshipful experience. 

My body is His body, and what a freedom it is to affirm it as a good tool of generosity even when it has flaws. The day of perfect, redeemed bodies will come, but until then, let’s use what we have to give ourselves away!

 

A few additional resources have helped me see my physical body not as a project to fix or a trophy, but as an instrument for beauty:

 

Breaking Free of Body Shame, book by Jess Connolly 

Your Body is Not Your Masterpiece, article by Glennon Doyle