Man giving to a homeless person

Just Suppose

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

Just Suppose

A giant in the world of Christian missions once said to me, “It’s surprising that Christians will borrow money to buy a TV or a boat, but they won’t borrow money to go on a missions trip. What does that person truly love?” (1 John 2:15)

Just suppose the Holy Spirit guided us to commit to living on half of our income. Yikes! (Ephesians 5:17) And He told us to give the other half to local and foreign Christian missionaries.

Would you do it?

Our first response would probably be, “God, I can’t do that. I live paycheck to paycheck now!” After our initial shock, would we consider the source? No, not who said it, but who provides our income?

In the case we’re considering, God spoke it so therefore it is His will. And, in call cases, God is our provider; our employer is a tool in God’s hand. (Matthew 6:31-33)

So, would we do it? Would we commit to living on half of our income and trusting our Provider to fulfill His will in us? There’s an old question that asks, “Do you work to live or live to work?” I think a better question is, “Do I work to give or do I work to live?” (Ephesians 4:28/Acts 20:35)

Now, let’s say that we did what God asked of us. Would we be content or would we be loudly obedient? This idea of “being content” while living on less can be a very real challenge.

No Condemnation

There is no condemnation from me about my hypothetical question. Not at all. Money isn’t evil (1 Timothy 6:10). I used money as an example because we can all relate to it. What I am wrestling with is this: what are we willing to do as Christians?

How far are we willing to turn away from the world to live for Jesus? (James 4:4) That’s all I’m asking. I think each of us needs to know how to answer that question.

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

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An Adventure at a concert

Love Is An Adventure

When my daughter was growing up, she hit the perfect demographic when the boy-band N’Sync hit their zenith. Lucky me. N’Sync’s tour included an outdoor venue in Joliet, Illinois. Joliet was just within driving distance. Lucky me. So I bought two tickets, and we made it a daddy/daughter adventure.

Per my daughter’s instructions, we had to arrive early. We had reserved seating, albeit in the nose-bleed section, but she wanted to experience the concert. I understood that, so we set off early for our road trip.

We arrived so early that we found a parking spot close enough that my daughter could catch glimpses of roadies and the band’s entourage going in and out of the tour busses. Here, I should say we were parked on the grass. Later, the grass will become relevant to the story.

Postage Stamps

Finally, off we went in search of our seats. When we found them, even the Jumbotron displays looked like postage stamps. None of this phased my daughter. She was in the “zone.” I was, too, was in the zone; I was in a very uncomfortable zone. Looking around, all I saw were tens of thousands of girls with their mothers. Oh, and me. A dad.

When the music started with the opening act, the entire stadium erupted from their pent up energy. I don’t remember who was the first act. The second act was Pink. And, then, the moment my daughter had waited for and dreamt of happened.

N’Sync took the stag. Ten’s of thousands of teenage girls and moms that acted like teenage girls all jumped to their feet, swaying and dancing and in a state of ecstasy like what you see from whirling dervishes. Oh, I was sitting down, checking my watch, and trying to be a good dad while being way out of my comfort zone.

Finally, N’Sync did their last encore, and the stage lights went down. Quickly, my daughter and I made our way to the car. As I began returning to my comfort zone, I could see the moms leaving their teenage selves and became moms again. Oh, did I mention that it rained while we were there? 

Not A Field Of Dreams

Arriving at our car, I noticed that the grass field we’d parked on was no longer a field of dreams but an expanse of mud, perfect for demolition derby. The parking crew must have gone home because it was complete chaos — thousands upon thousands of cars headed in all directions. No one could find a way to get out of the muck and mire.  We discovered the parking crew was kind enough to leave one gate open. 

Three hours after the last encore, at one o’clock in the morning, we exited the venue, traversed unknown streets, and finally began our homeward trip. Somewhere, around three o’clock, I parked the car in a closed gas station and went to sleep. My daughter had been asleep before we got out of the venue. 

The Journey’s End

At sunrise, I awoke, found a place for us to eat, and drove the rest of the way home. My daughter was happy, my wife praised me, and I was glad we had a daddy/daughter adventure. 

In 1 John 3:18 (ESV), God’s Word says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Sometimes love places us way out of our comfort zone but that’s okay. It’s love. 

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

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Children Running, Playing

Children Running

Right at this moment, I hear children running, and screaming with glee. Today is the first day of school and this is their first recess of the year. There seems to be an imperative within kids that when exiting a school building and entering a playground that they must run and scream and burst forth with joy and that’s just fine with me.

Upon this first day of school, each child is a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit fuller of anticipation of what the future may hold for them. What joy this brings to both my wife and I. You see, we live behind a school. It is all an open field between us and the school. Over 200 yards of empty.

The kids of this school, like most schools, are full of hopes, dreams, social challenges, social victories, and all that comes with an environment built to affirm the value of each child.

For me, I’ve reached a point in life when birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and such have lost their excitement; not their joy but just their newness. In this process, I see within me the mechanics of what often happens as people age.

Shrinking World

So often, older people shrink their world, they become hesitant of change, they close their pockets, and close their minds. But I have determined that I will have none of that. Whatever I have, that is good or of value, has come from Jesus.

I have not forgotten who I really am. I am that young man, standing in the dark, outside a social gathering, hoping I could find someone to help me get a job because I had failed in all my efforts. That’s the real me. All else is the work of the Holy Spirit within me.

Anything good that can be found in me or from me is not of me or is mine. That which is of value or is just or right is what Jesus, my Lord and Savior, placed within me. Therefore, how can it be that I should allow myself to be stingy, withhold my help, or haphazardly pass judgement upon others. No!

I pray, oh my Father, in the Name above every name, that Name of Jesus of Nazareth, help me to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 ESV) Oh God, I pray you would impregnate me with Psalms 112:5, which says:

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;    
who conducts his affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5 ESV

May I never deal harshly or haphazardly with anyone made in Your image, my God. Amen.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

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Oh no, he’s writing about giving!

Forgive me if I’m being redundant.

It’s not enough to give. I have to give so that my reward comes from God, not in this life, but in my life to come. To love the best that I can, I have to give the best that I have. It’s easy to give so that I gain respect or preference. In church, I don’t want to be seen passing the plate without dropping something in; perhaps with online giving, this stigma has gone. Regardless, from Cain and Able to last Sunday or even right now, giving is an act of worship, not an act of funding God. I’m pretty sure He’s set.

Instead, I must give in ways which stretch my faith in what Christ said in Luke 14:14, “and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”. My reward will be at the “resurrection of the righteous.” A Bible Commentary says, “… notice will be taken of the good works of the saints, particularly of their acts of beneficence to the poor members of Christ; and which they have done in faith, from a principle of love to Christ, and with a view to the glory of God, and the good of their fellow creatures and Christians.”

Now, it is not always the right thing to do to give what is requested. While in Romania, I learned that when a beggar cried out to me for money, I would stop and offer to buy them food. The genuinely needy would go with me to the store, and I would buy the food they requested. However, many beggars became indignant.

Money can cause all sorts of problems so be prayerfully cautious when giving cash. It’s better to find out the person’s immediate need and, if possible, provide it. Have them stay where they’re at, and you fetch it for them. Giving is a characteristic of a Christian, but it requires much prayer and wisdom. Sadly, as you know, many beggars intend to use your cash gift for drugs, drink, and decadence. You may say, “That’s not my problem.” I ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Prayer: Today, Lord Jesus, I pray that I would not seek places of honor, that I would not give to receive, that I would not use legalism to justify my lack of action. I pray I would put an end to my excuses. That I would be a man of action, of passion for the last of the least of humanity, for we all are created in the image of God. Teach me, my Lord, to give as You give, I pray. Help me to act in faith, trusting that you own my heart. Amen.

Photo by Jonathan Kho on Unsplash

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