Lessons on forgiveness, providence, faith, and the love of God from a child

This video below is jam-packed with so much doctrine and theology it would be hard to even know where to begin.  It proves how powerful a personal testimony can be.  It’s one thing to hear a sermon and be encouraged by it.  It’s yet another thing, perhaps more powerful even, to witness the character of Christ expressed in human form.

As a side note, I’ve noticed through numerous experiences with certain cultures (not all) that there’s a purity of heart, sense of trust, and love for others that is more genuine.  A more authentic version of Christianity untainted by inferior agendas and desires (political, socio-economic, selfishness, pride, materialism)?

Anyway, watch the video.  You won’t regret it!

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Why I decided not to vote.

This is one of the most concise, yet profound articles I’ve read in a while as it relates to an authentic Christian worldview on politics and specifically on voting –

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/let-christians-vote-as-though-they-were-not-voting

It resonates with me in ways that are embarrassing to admit.  My political care-o-meter has all but tanked in the last 5 years.  LOL.  I mean, I’m not sure my concern for the political sphere could tunnel any further to the bottom of the barrel.

Okay, okay, “I voted”, but keep reading……

However, I encouraged myself this morning.  At least enough to pull myself out of bed at 6:30am when my local voting location opened.  Unenthusiastically I pulled myself from my car, into a long line and out into the cold.  Maybe I’ve just become spoiled, I told myself.  C’mon, this is a great privilege that you even have a choice in the matter.  As is typical with me, the thirty minutes standing in line was a heated debate between me, myself and I.  The guy (me) whispering over my right shoulder (please don’t read into “right”, I could’ve just as easily picked “left” – HaHa!) was adamantly defending my need to feel more concern for the state of the world around me.  “You’re the worst”, he told me.  “Why did you wait to study candidates on your cell phone twenty minutes before you enter the voting booth.  Who does that?”  Meanwhile, the guy pontificating over my left shoulder (me) was in the midst of a convincing argument that it was okay to be indifferent to some degree.  “Take pride in your right to vote”, he said.  “People before you died for the right, but don’t let that define you.”  I shook my head at his last comment.  “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel, but it’s not easy to live in that skin.”  That estranged identity that’s more rooted in Christ than in culture (pop, ethnic, or socioeconomic, or political).  If you’ve ever been there it can feel like the life of a nomad.  A sojourner.  Someone passing through, but not really bonding with those native to the territory.

I went ahead and did my civic duty.  As my ballot slid into that machine a lady handed me the I voted sticker.  I placed the sticker immediately in my back pocket.  Not out of spite or cynicism.  Putting it on just doesn’t appeal to me like it used to.  It just wasn’t the same.  I didn’t walk out non-verbally declaring to the crowd that I had proudly cast my vote, my opinion.  Instead, I paced back to my car quietly, feeling out of place, impartial.

Later on the Holy Spirit dropped the following scripture in my heart as I continued to ponder what my problem was ;-):

Colossians 3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Once again we face the following biblical dichotomy (not really, speaking figuratively).  Engage the culture as we’re commanded, especially with the gospel, and the good news of Jesus Christ, all the while setting our hearts toward things above.  It’s a tough balancing act.  My internal restlessness should be expected.  The debate forged in my mind while in line to vote was somewhat natural.  The war between the desires of the spirit within and this world are consistently contentious.

2 Corinthians 5

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

I blame that lonely feeling within me on my passion for the things of God and my love for the Word.  The more I read it, the more I can relate to Paul’s words above.  Torn in two directions – living here in the present, but oddly feeling more welcome in my second home that I have yet to see.  Knowing that I should vote to fulfill my civic duty here, while accepting that there will only ever be one worthy form of government here on earth.  Too often, American Evangelicals, frequently make an idol out of imperfect Democracy the Constitution and other depraved man-made entities.  They hate to acknowledge or admit the following…….

That the only true form of government ordained by the bible is not one where people celebrate their right to vote on moral and ethical issues.  Let that sink in for a moment.  It’s actually a dictatorship, where one king rules and reigns in sovereignty.  The only one capable of ruling with absolute moral and perfect justice.  The only one who could rule on the thrown and bring about world peace.  His name is Jesus, and he’ll serve approx. 250 consecutive terms, just to prove that nobody else could have done it.  I look forward to that day.

Until then I’ve decided not to vote, at least not in the same way I always have. From now on my prayer is that I’ll vote with my heart in hopes that my mind will follow it’s greater affections.

Blessings……

The physiology of biblical teaching and preaching

I’ve been itching to write this blog.  Even though I hardly ever blog without including a good number of scripture, I’m not sure I’ll be able to this time and remain within context.  Disclaimer:  I readily acknowledge that there’s plenty of personal opinion here.

I’ve always recognized that biblical preaching and teaching just did something extra-special for me, but I could never quite put my finger on explaining the why behind it, and I’m a why kind of person.  I don’t gain much emotionally or spiritually through absorbing knowledge without a vision of how I can apply it in a very practical way to my life or to the benefit of others.  In the same way, science has especially always peeked my interest when I know the how and why behind the phenomena.  It makes things come to life when I see room for real life application.  The bible comes to life when we get glimpses of truth through God’s lens.  It rises above mundane surface reflection.  If I could wax metaphorically for a second……..I would say it’s like the difference between peering to the bottom of the ocean floor through clear water from the perspective of a boat in an attempt to observe the vast detail of everything below – animal and plant life, as opposed to the experience of scuba diving and seeing everything at the bottom of the ocean floor up close and personal.  Seeing coral teaming with plant and animal life up close is nothing like observing above sea-level from a boat!  Both have their place and value, but they’re just not the same.  I act like I’m some scuba diving extraordinaire, but I’ve only done it once at the maximum depth of 30ft. That makes me an expert right? HaHa!

What’s so special about basic verse-by-verse type teaching versus even hybrid models of topical teaching (half expository/half topical) or straight topical?”  To be clear, I don’t think any one model is superior to another on technique alone.  Yet, I have encountered (speaking exclusively from personal experience) what I feel are easier-to-come-by pitfalls of more topical style bible study and the delivery by way of teaching and preaching.  And that’s what made me excited to put my thoughts down on paper.  People have asked…..  (paraphrased)……..  “Why do you find expository preaching and teaching better than topical?”  Or put another way, “What makes expository preaching superior to other methods?”  There are plenty of articles written online etc. that explain from the perspective of a preacher or pastor, but I haven’t found any written by those outside of full-time ministry. In this instance, I’m referring specifically to personal study as well as from the perspective of a regular church-going congregant.  This is what I feel like the Lord helped me to see…….

The physiology of scripture-lite teaching
The feeling is often pure bliss.  You left church that afternoon prepared to conquer the world on Monday.  You had new ammo – that quote from a famous theologian, a homespun quote from your pastor or some other guru.  A worthy punch line was shared that blew your socks off, something “quotable” that you could rush to put on social media.  One of those inside-out,  two-way reversible, black-powder bombshells.  You know, one of those clever quotes that typically hinges on some form of Christian doctrine or theology, but combines and juxtaposes them in some way you never pondered before. “If grace doesn’t compel you to see God’s love, then God’s love won’t compel you to accept his grace.”  BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!  It’s like a nuclear blast of spiritual goodness hit you.  I never thought about it like that!  You could stand around after service talking about that “one line” and a few other side notes for hours.  That one-liner rocked your world, even though you’re still not quite sure you fully comprehended it!  You’ll have to marinate on that for a few weeks, but when it sinks in you’ll be on your way to the next level.  It’s spiritual hedonism at it’s finest.  Problem was, ask me or someone else two weeks later about that very quote that changed you/us, and we struggle to recall it.  Try repeating it to your friends at the coffee shop two weeks later, and you can’t quite conjur it up.  “Man, you just had to be there!”  Shaking your head……..  You promise in vain to send them a follow up text or email containing the exact quote.  You just have to go back and listen to the CD again first.  Not a problem 😉

Why does that happen?  Why do we so soon forget what we’ve learned?  Perhaps, the physiology of our spiritual digestive system works just like this – Being bound in flesh and blood we lose sight of eating to live and replace it with living to eat. What do I mean?!  Eating with the intention of hedonistic pleasure, rather than for life-yielding nutritional value.  We’re all naturally prone to consume for the purpose of enjoyment rather than growth.  Everything we filter spiritually must pass through the “mouth” first.  We’re flesh afterall, fallen sinners.  James (James 5?) tells us we’re prone to get something wrong just by merely opening our mouths.  Blogging included, and I’m no stranger to it.  Read at your own risk.  And please, DON’T quote me. LOL

I hate to generalize, but unfortunately it’s a limitation of trying to prove my broader point.  These are the pitfalls I’ve noticed to topical and hybrid topical/expository preaching.  No  matter how hard one tries, it’s almost inevitable that the flesh gets magnified.  The less scripture the more filler.  Unfortunately the filler often ends up being just that, filler.  It’s the soy in a McDonald’s cheeseburger, the oats(supposed filler) in a Taco Bell taco.  The former and latter favorite fast food items both contain traces of real meat, but their chocked full of other much less nutritional supplements and bad-for-you preservatives.  Many times the supplemental junk is exactly what our mouths desire – sugar, salt, grease (translation:   bombshell quotes, blow your socks off spiritual gems, and life changing one-liners).  All things that are pleasurable to the mouth, but provide very little nutritional value beyond.  These generalizations don’t necessitate that junk food is altogether bad for us, but my experience has found that it all too often is.

The junk food is delicious and pleasurable at the beginning of it’s journey.  As it’s tasted and chewed over in the mouth the default conclusion is that the rest of the body will find it equally as pleasurable.   It’s then transported through the esophagus, processed by the stomach, and finally makes it’s way into the intestines.  Nutritional transfer takes place in the body via the intestines.  The food that we’ve eaten, by a slow and thorough process, has been prepared to pass it’s nutritional value through the intestinal walls, into the bloodstream, and then make it’s way into every hungry and viable cell within our body.  The problem/blessing with junk food (often topical teaching) and half-organic-half-inorganic-food (hybrid topical/expository) is that the body is smart enough to know not to distribute it into the body.  Instead, it finds clever ways to counter the damaging effects it renders to the body, or it expels it completely.  I’ll stop right there with the simple physiology lesson.  You can draw your own conclusion from there.   Gross humor.  The hearer or studier is left with an emptiness.  Confused, because their mouth sent signals to the rest of the digestive tract that vital nutrients were on the way, but it failed to deliver anything substantial.

The physiology of sound biblical teaching
Picture your favorite home-cooked meal, smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cream-corn, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.  Wait, no!  While you’re still salivating over that meal imagine a plate of lean and healthy broiled (not fried!) fish, spinach, steamed yellow squash, and a tall glass of water.  Hey wait, both meals sound pretty good right?!  But which one has greater nutritional value?  The latter dinner entree, right?  It’s low in fat, high in omega-3’s, low in starch, and rich with vitamins and fiber.  This is what sound expository teaching looks like.  To the eyes, and the mouth, sometimes less appealing!  But not necessarily so when you explore the why!  Keep that last sentence filed away, I’ll follow back up on it in just a moment…….

To the contrary of fatty, supplement-filled topical teaching, purely expository teaching can appear often dry and less physically desirable – to the tongue and mind only, I mean, and that’s an important point.  While a lean piece of meat and vegetables can appear less filling and less desirable on the surface, it’s not always so in God’s economy.  In fact the opposite is often true.  Our desires, as grand as they are at times, can cause harm to the flesh and soul.  Yet, under God’s plan all parts of the person can be satisfied.  In the same way, so can a sermon, a bible study, or personal devotional.  When the scripture is covered in an expository fashion all parts of the person are fed as God intended.

If there’s one major difference that I’ve found between the congregants exposed to expository teaching as opposed to non-expository it’s the following:  People prepare themselves well before being taught.  What do I mean by that statement?  People read and study in advance before ever showing up to “church”.  It’s equivalent of being hungry and ready to receive well before a meal is served.  I’m not talking about showing up, waiting to hear from the Lord.  If anything, that mentality may be more prevalent in churches where the bible is hardly taught [specifically speaking of explaining and teaching directly from scripture(s)].  People arrive begging to be fed, because they received so very little nourishment the last time.  What I’m speaking of is equivalent to getting to the dinner table early with washed hands, salivating at the opportunity to eat, to be hydrated, to grow more.  The atmosphere is never seeking for a sudden breakthrough.  Tt’s slow and steady wins the race.  Therefore, the anticipation is not in hitting a spiritual home run.  If anything, the anticipation is prepared for offense, to be broken, that one might grow by means of walking through the fire which purifies.  On that note, upon arrival people are ready to receive.  No bombshell one-liners, no incredible breakthroughs, just simple lean meat and vegetables, and a tall boring glass of water.  On that note, let’s unpack the same digestive process this time, but under sound scriptural exposition……

Once again it all starts with the mouth.  The insatiable appetite for something extra special is gone.  BOOOORING, some would say?  Hardly!  The healthier one eats, the more they crave healthy food.   As the food is swallowed it’s appreciated for what it was meant to be, food for life not only for consumption alone.  The consumer has trained his or her pallete knowing that what the body awaits, real nourishment, which far outweighs the temporal gratification awaiting the tongue.  Now, the same process takes place.   Vital nutrients are transported through the esophagus, processed by the stomach, and finally makes it’s way into the intestines.  Nutritional transfer takes place in the body via the intestines.  The food that we’ve eaten, by a slow and thorough process has been prepared to pass it’s nutritional value through the intestinal walls, into the bloodstream, and then make it’s way into every hungry and viable cell within our body.  Now the real BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! that once lived in clever words, soundbites, life-coaching advice, and quotations has real purpose.  It recharges vital organs of the body, yielding life giving nutrients to the brain, so that it can bring to remembrance the promises of God.  It synopates with the rhythm of the heart (Psalm 51: restore in me a clean heart, O’ God).  It restores clogged arteries (the fruit of the Spirit), repairs damaged organs (pain, bitterness).

I don’t think a teaching style of the bible can be equated to life or death.  However, I do believe it can mean the difference between a long-term healthy lifestyle versus the frequent cycle of health followed by illness often associated with a poor diet.

As a means to counter-balance my own prejudice or the potential of taking this concept too far/oversimplifying I have to confess something.  If you’ve been reading my blog you know I’m keen on honesty, especially as it relates to not snowing over my own inconsistencies.  Or, at least I hope I am more often than not.  As my wife was editing this blog I was busy listening to a young televangelist who pastors one of the fastest growing mega-churches in America.  He’s an incredibly gifted speaker and I was thoroughly blessed by his message – a topical series, about finding yourself by losing yourself.  The message was 50% about me/you, 20% the story of Jacob and Esau, 20% about Christ and our relationship with him, and I’m not clear on the other 10%.  LOL.  Amidst many bombshell one-liners, funny stories, inspirational quotes, and topical tidbits, I was still thoroughly blessed.  However, I challenged myself that night to try and recall what I had learned a week or so later.  Even if I had to return to the passage of scripture to refresh my memory.  I honestly can’t recall it now, and I gave an honest try.

My memory at times can be horrible, so this is hardly proof of my point.  However, my own personal history has proven to me that there’s just something valuable about being able to return to scripture which was studied and taught line upon line.  While I can’t lay claim to remembering every detail about those sermons, my spiritual recall as it relates to a personal walk with the Lord has been thoroughly changed.  Life decisions, tests and trials, and so many other of life’s challenges are now filtered through the lens of scripture, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  – John 14:26

Blessings……

Why the Book of Jude should temper our reaction (but not convictions) toward Gloria Osteen’s comments. #BiblicalBalance

I wish that the counter-reaction from the church (referring to the people) when someone misspeaks or declares something (doctrinally/theologically) false from their mouth would more often result in loving and biblically-balanced responses.

I’m referring to preacher X wife’s recent comments that appeared to take place at their church.  Yes, I referred to her as preacher X’s wife above.  I would prefer to not even mention her name in the title (out of respect), but then some may not be familiar with the story.  For that reason, I’ve tried to sparingly mention the name, and refrained from posting the video that went viral as well as any links to news articles written about it.

If there’s any white-sin in social media Christendom these days, it’s the sin of opportunistic, self-aggrandizing, upon the backs of those who’ve stumbled.  It only took a day for my Facebook feed to be literally covered with people posting an unfortunate video of preacher X’s wife.  And yes, what she had to say was wrong.  Grounds for declaring it heretical?  Probably, but it depends on how you define it.  We too often conflate heresy with apostasy, and blasphemy.  Regardless, was it completely inside-out, upside-down?  Yes.

However, I have to say this.  The crass response, often times, is equally out of sync.   For some reason that often irks me just as much as the falsehood itself.  I’ll explain further in the conclusion.

I’m trying my BEST to write shorter blogs these days!  LOL.  So here’s the thin of both sides currently debating over how to address this flare up.

Group A:
“Stop hating on mega-church preacher X.”  We’re called to love, and the world will know us by our love for one another (John 13:34-35).  They love this verse, and so do I, but real “love” is never as simple as our preferred rendition according to the bible.  It’s what Pastor David Pawson refers to as a sentimental view of God.  It allows us to see God’s love, but turns a blind eye to his wrath.

Group B:
“Preacher X is a false teacher, and he’s leading people to hell.  Therefore, I’m going to tell as many people as I can in hopes of opening their eyes to his heresy.”  The problem with this stance is that it so effortlessly can turn into self-pride.  I know, because a little remnant of it lives in the corners of my depraved heart, and I suspect a bit of it lives in your heart too 😉  It’s exactly what initially made me laugh at the meme video of preacher X’s wife, with the funny Bill Cosby’s commentary at the end….  “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!…….”

The book Jude is often upheld as the handbook on how to recognize, view, address, and handle false teachers.  It’s no laughing matter!  That’s exactly why the video meme of preacher X’s wife is really no laughing matter at all.  The opening, and majority of the letter is written to warn of ungodly, immoral, and false teachers who’ve “wormed” their way into the church body.  As a result, they’ve introduced false teaching, specifically (in this case) unrestrained grace teaching.  Where God’s non-expendable grace is seen as license to sin.

Striking a proper balance for Group A:
Jude, goes on comparing these licentious ungodly people to those were unfaithful during their rescue from Egypt, those from Sodom and Gamorrah, and as animals living purely by instinct with no moral compass.  The wording is harsh, and the warnings stern.  The warnings are almost a carbon copy of 2 Peter 2. Texts like these tend to get under the skin of Group A described above.  From their frame of reference, it doesn’t correlate well with their idea of Christ they prefer to see in the gospels.  Paul’s example to Timothy of throwing out Hymenaeus and Alexander, so they might learn to not blaspheme God is unconscionable.  That form of discipline and accountability just doesn’t match with the love of God they prefer to know.  I know, because a corner of my depraved heart wants to paint an image of God according to my own sentiments.  “God just wants me to be happy.”  My own idealized version of God(Father) that I can own and befriend, where he loves me so much that he won’t ever chastise me with the rod.  Yet, no loving father goes without disciplining his sons and daughters.  In fact, he loves them so much that he recognizes that short-term disciplining is worth far more than the long-term pain of unchecked sin.  I know and understand this so much better now as a father myself with sons.  I love em’ sooooo much that pains me to see them fail, and that real form of love drives me to discipline them when it’s necessary.
Back to my point, 1 Timothy 4, is great evidence that a good shepherd warns and protects his flock from falsehood:

1 Timothy 4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Warnings against False Teachers

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.[a]

They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable[b] by the word of God and prayer.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters,[c] Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.

Striking a proper balance for Group B:
If Jude is going to be the handbook for how to handle false teachers than we have to accept his full advice.  This is expressly where the heresy hunting often pursued so carelessly by Group B takes a wrong turn.  A typical Group B person would love the first 80% of Jude, but would equally prefer to ignore his closing remarks.  Jude, lays out a proper biblical response for how to cope with these trouble-makers.  Here’s the biblical remedy:

Jude 1 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.

20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,[g] 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

22 And you must show mercy to[h] those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others,[i] but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.[j]

The biblical remedy is not mocking them with funny videos. It has nothing to do with holding up hateful signs rebuking them, writing countless blogs condemning them, and it contains no hints of slandering them in public.  Speaking of slander, notice how the angel Michael (in Jude) responds to the devil over Moses’ body.  Instead of slandering him he said, “The Lord rebuke you!”.  That’s an incredibly compelling example! – Read Romans 12!  It’s not casting denigrating stones from our towers of righteousness.    It’s not declaring to the world or even our fellow brothers in Christ……  “I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

Instead, the focus should be to continue to sharpen one another, hold each other accountable, and challenge so that we’re not “tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.”  (Eph 4:14-15)  While being vigilant against heresy and false teaching is important, we should also be careful and mindful about how we attempt to portray and protect the truth. Jesus, the prophets, the apostles, never instructed us to broadcast the false gospel to the world.

The biblical remedy is simple.  Pray for them, build yourself up in prayer by the Spirit, and show mercy to those who are fence sitters, who waiver in the faith, and are unsure.  Here’s precisely where it get’s tricky and tough to strike the balance from landing squarely in Group A or B.  I believe there’s a more balanced third rail that can be straddled.  Don’t let the comfort of Christian pop-culture, groupthink, or bandwagoning allow us to settle into one extreme or the other.  Hate (yes, I said hate! LOL) the false message that contaminates their life and those within their circle of impact, while showing mercy to them as someone God can still redeem (Jude – verse 23).

Blessings……

References:
http://m.blogs.christianpost.com/smallpreacher-biggod/the-legacy-of-heresy-hunting-15560/

John Piper’s advice regarding online dating

I posted this not only because I feel that it’s great advice for singles, but because it’s such a great demonstration of not going beyond what is written, especially as it relates to non-essentials (1 Corinthians 4:6).  It’s this type of delicate, but mature balance that will open the door for many young people to feel welcome again in the church.  We’ve erected far too many non-essential obstacles, and so many of them need to be torn down.

“In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”

For the love of money

There’s just something about money that the human heart struggles to overcome.  Of course there are plenty of theories out there as to why “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).  Is it idol worship, self-pride, self-reliance, a combination of them all and many more?  What makes the video below so interesting is that some of the experiments in it reveal how instantaneous the affects of money often take affect (although probably not fully developed).

Take Two ‘Normal’ People, Add Money To Just One Of Them, And Watch What Happens Next

What mechanism is in place, lurking beneath the surface?  Where does that switch that resides in us live, that can be turned on or off at will as it relates to money?

God has been changing my heart in this area for years now.  My home bookcases, once filled with hardbacks about stock market trading, investing, retirement savings, are still there.  HaHa!  That last sentence threw you off a bit, huh?!  🙂  What, you thought I was going to get all dramatic and burn them?!  Heck no!  I paid alot of money for all of those books!  LMBO.  They are now hidden on my bedroom bookshelf.  I can’t have people coming into my house and thinking that I’m materialistic.  Hee Hee!

The key is not so much in my book collection, but what I have stored up in my heart.  The idea of being the “Millionaire Next Door” (bestselling book a decade or so ago) once occupied a place of high value in my heart and mind.   Although it’s still a distant goal of mine, it rarely ever draws the attention of my mind.  It went from being a frequent thought to an afterthought.   I went from checking the stock market two or three times a day, in order to monitor my retirement or stocks to maybe only checking it by happenstance once every three weeks, if that. To be a wise steward of my finances I should probably think to check it more often, but the desire just isn’t there like it used to be.  In fact, as the Word of God began to consume my time and thought life, it was quite literally as if the desire was SNATCHED from me.  Change in life is common, but I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed such a sudden turn so quickly in my life before.  It left me to credit God alone, especially for something that I practiced and loved for so long.  More on that in a moment……..

What’s comical at times, is that I still have friends call and ask for stock market, or retirement planning advice.  Because, at one point I was a little walking stock market encyclopedia.  Especially as it related to retirement savings and investing strategies.  I have never been an expert, but I do have at least 20+ books on those subjects, having read all of them cover to cover, and my careful study of it extended from late in high school and beyond.  Now, when friends often call frantic about the Dow having dropped 100 points, I have to tell them that I haven’t been watching for the last few months, and only glance occasionally to see how my retirement plan is doing 😉  I do believe God placed a gift of financial wisdom in me, because something about it naturally appeals to me, and business concepts and ideas just seem to click well with my mind.  Lord knows there’s plenty of other things that don’t work so naturally with my mind.  No ego-stroking going on here, just telling my story.

The most glorious thing about it however, is that it took no personal discipline to get where I’m at now.  I never weened myself off of checking the market or reading articles from Forbes or Money Magazine.  Nope.  I started reading the bible and studying it, and my affections divorced my previous desires.  I never looked back.

My goal now is to find some happy medium.  As you know, I love balance.  The enemy is crafty.  He’s great at getting us to wane from one extreme to the other instead of finding firm, Godly footing on solid ground.  Although the desire for pursuing wealth seems to have evaporated from my heart, I still hold at arm’s length, or perhaps in the back of my mind things that I believe God has for me.  Sometimes I sense that my lack of desire to have money (within reason of course ;-)) has almost brought me to a place of complacency.  I’m still trying to find where I’m really at.  Are there sediments of my previous desires still lurking, hiding in the bushes?  Or, have I allowed my lack of desire to also become an excuse for doing nothing.  Sheesh, Lord help me/us!  May the power of the Holy Spirit continually fill me, so that I can navigate the treacherous desire/deceitfulness of my own heart.  Only God can search me out (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Bibliotheca!

I get the feeling that David Pawson would love this idea (watch the HD video for an explanation):

A bible with no verse numbers, no commentary, no cross-references.  Just pure unadulterated scripture.  Just the reader and the Holy Spirit.

As I’ve heard David Pawson say before, removing verse numbers from the scripture, although less convenient, would force us all to read books of the bible as they were intended.  Straight through like a good novel 😉
Perhaps one of the best results would be that the whole counsel of God would be more readily apparent and eliminate many doctrines and theological viewpoints that tend to be based on a set(s) of scripture separated from their native surroundings.

And get this, the measurements of the book are scaled to the size of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus).   I dig it.

QuickQuote

“It is indeed right, for you made us, and before us, you made the world we inhabit,
and before the world, you made the eternal home in which, through Christ, we
have a place. All that is spectacular, all that is plain have their origin in you; all
that is lovely, all who are loving point to you as their fulfillment. And grateful as
we are for the world we know and the universe beyond our understanding, we
particularly praise you, whom eternity cannot contain, for coming to earth and
entering time in Jesus.
For his life which informs our living, for his compassion which changes our
hearts, for his clear speaking which contradicts our harmless generalities, for
his disturbing presence, his innocent suffering, his fearless dying, his rising to
life breathing forgiveness, we praise you and worship him.
Here too our gratitude rises for the promise of the Holy Spirit, who even yet, even
now, confronts us with your claims and attracts us to your goodness. Therefore,
we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church on earth and in heaven
” – Prayer Of Thanksgiving ( Presbyterian/Episcopal Church)