Monday, May 31, 2010

Are you Moving?

If you have never moved a short distance you may be in for a surprise. It's tempting to think that if moving 2000 or 200 miles is hard, then moving 10 miles is easy.Let me help you over this logical fallacy.
The boxes weigh the same,
they still have be
packed, put in a truck or car or van, unloaded and then unpacked. What's easier about that?
Another problem: When my wife and I moved our family up here from Austin years ago, we loaded a big U-Haul and drove
away without looking back. Now, moving this 10 miles, it seems like we've moving for a month or two and we aren't done yet!
There are still things to load up, things to sell, given away or put out by the curb hoping someone will take it!
But as you may have guessed, there are spiritual lessons to be learned here as well.
Are you moving?
Are you moving from where you have been to where God wants you to be?
Are you moving from what you have been to what God wants you to be?
Is it an adventure or is it as much fun as pulling teeth...slowly?
When Marney and I moved back to Texas after college many years ago, it was difficult, there were hard times, but it was an adventure. When we moved to north
Texas from central Texas it was an adventure and we saw miracles where God opened doors and provided for us.
Moving from Saginaw to Watauga has been somewhat less than an adventure. It has been harder to see the miracles of God's provision. But maybe that has to do with our attitude.
How is your attitude about change? How is your attitude about the adventure the Lord has you on? Maybe it is time to leave some things behind and don't look back. Maybe its time to look for the miracles that are some times easily missed.
God wants His people moving forward, it's a long trek; it's higher up and farther in; it's Pilgrim's Progress, not regress!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hey Amos, You talkin' to me?

Amo 6:1 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? 4 "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away."

OR maybe this makes more sense to us:

Woe to those who are at ease in American Churches. To those who rest on the strength of the denomination and the notable men who the churches follow. 2 Go over to the dwindling Episcopals, or the Catholics losing members, or even to the stagnant Charismatics and Pentecostals. Are you better than these people? Does your reach exceed theirs? 3 You who consider the seat of judgment as too far away, do you play near the seat of violence and calamity? 4 Woe to those who spend all their time on fancy beds that you can adjust as soft as you want, or lie on the sofa all day watching TV and eating Bar-b-q. 5 who sing popular songs when no-one is listening and invent new ways to listen to music, like records and tapes and CDs and internet and I-pods and I-phones, 6 who don’t have a big enough Margarita or Mojito unless it fills a bowl, who cry out for one more beer, BUT YOU DO NOT GRIEVE FOR THE LOST AND DYING. 7 Therefore, they shall be the first that go into exile, and the enjoyment of being a couch potato will go away.

HEY, I'm not a prophet, I'm a GRACE preacher, but even I can read the writing on the wall.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Personal Biblical Money Management & Wesley

Christian Stewardship expert Terry Austin wrote:
John Wesley is often quoted as providing a great outline for Christian stewards when he said, "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can," His statement is only thirty-three percent correct. Two thirds of his words do not reflect Biblical teaching.
Certainly the Bible teaches that we should work and speaks frequently to condemn those who are lazy. However, we must never strive to make all that we can. That is one of the purposes of the Sabbath, to remind us that our provisions are not dependent upon our efforts. We are to cease at least once a week. Working so long and hard to earn more money has become as great a problem in our society as laziness.
Also, we are never instructed to save as much as we can. Certainly savings are good and necessary and we are encouraged to not consume everything the minute it is received. However, the Bible is more likely to warn against hoarding up treasures and building bigger barns. Jesus told us to give little thought (more correctly "worry") about having enough for tomorrow.
You might counter that too much emphasis on saving is not a problem in our world today. However, it is. We may not save money, although there are some very wealthy people among us, but we save by accumulating stuff. We convert our cash into stuff and rent storage garages and build larger house so we can save it all. You may not have a large savings account at the bank, but you have probably accumulated a large amount of stuff that you keep at your house, and like many Americans, in a rented storage space. We like to save because we are concerned that the day might come when we need it.

I think he said this very well. I especially like the reference to rented storage space! But I'm not sure Wesley was 67% off. I know that this wasn't Terry's main point, I just think when Wesley said give all you can, it began to mitigate the first two statements on getting and saving.
How about this?
Get all you can - While observing the Lord's day as a day of rest and worship, while spending time with your family, raising your children, doing work around the house, serving your community, and other fine endeavors the Lord would have you do.
Save all you can - Don't expect others to provide you with retirement when you are unable to work for a living, have enough to help others when situations arise: college tuition, medical conditions, special missionary or church needs. I also save for the short term: put aside a little to take the family on vacation. Notice I said family. I can count on two fingers the number of times my wife and I went somewhere distant without our children. Its prudent to put some cash aside for Christmas and even curtail Christmas spending rather than go into debt. This list could go on and on, but you need to cut it off someplace.
Give all you can - In my own economy this comes first and last. First my tithe belongs to the Lord. I think its proper to give a percentage of your earnings (10%?), right off the top, to the local church for its ministries and ministers. I also give first to any other Mission related entities to whom I've promised to support. Then after my bills (commitments) groceries and other necessities, its a joy to be able to bless others: help a youth go to camp, take someone out to dinner, you get the idea.
Now, if you can do this is a 40 hour week, great. If you want to work 50 hours and make more because you can, go ahead. But remember, getting all you can has to be moderated by other demands on our time and skills.
There are many who work 50 plus hours and cannot do all these things even with all that labor. These people need our encouragement, and maybe they could use money management help.
Some people work 50 plus hours a week to be good at what they do or because of the great demand and their responsibilities. I've known a few company presidents and none of them get off at 40 hours. They have responsibilities and committments and they rise to the occasion because many people depend on them making the right decisions. They also had to work hard and put in long hours to get there.
I would never criticize them for that, but the person making that choice better know how to budget time for his other commitments, most importantly his family.

Whenever I have heard someone criticized for working too much I think of my friend raised on a farm. From the time he was old enough to milk a cow he was up at 6 every day (not 5 days a week) milking cows then going to school. Then when he got home, while there was still daylight, there were fences to mend, hogs to slop, stalls to clean, weeds to hoe, and after supper, homework.
And while he was at school his daddy was working the farm, repairing machinery, hauling cattle and hogs to the butcher, etc. etc.
Don't even THINK of talking to these people about 40 hour weeks.
But you know what else they had? Dad and son talked while hoeing weeds and fixing tractors. They spent time together neutering a hog or stacking hay bales. They sat at the table together with mom and the siblings.

We need to find ways to work, and if you want, make all you can; while not neglecting the important things.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How does He love us?

If I could borrow an idea from Elizabeth Barret Browning, without borrowing her poetic beauty, lets take a look at How Jesus loves us.

As Messiah/Deliverer He loves as one who paid the ultimate price.

As Lord & Savior, He loves as one who is sovereign over our salvation.

As Redeemer/Friend, He loves as one that is closer than a brother.

Prince of Peace, He loves as the one who made peace in His blood.

Lord of Lords, Loves us As the creator and Master over all things.

As King of Kings He’s the one who rules over his subjects w/ love.

Son of God, He is the darling of His father who loves the world.

Son of Man, is the one who loves us enough to get down into this dirty pig sty of an earth with us and love us out of it.

As our Rock & Fortress, He is our defender against the evil one.

As Wonderful/Counselor he comes alongside with perfect wisdom.

The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His own sheep.

As The Vine he loves those His Father has grafted in.

As Lion of Judah, He will rule, defend, and love in His own majestic way.

As Our Jealous Maker he alone can claim our devotion and has paid far more than He had to to gain it.

As the Lamb of God He came to be the sacrifice that we could not provide for ourselves and became Sin for us.

As Jesus, He loves us as The older brother who gave His life to bring us into His family.

How does He love us? Isn’t there one of those you can get your hands around and hold on to?