Money is a Test

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The following is an excerpt from James McDonald’s “Found a Faithful Steward” blog from June 23, 2014. It hit home with me because it started at basics and progressed beyond to some things we don’t often consider in how we think about and use our money.

Jesus said,
“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also”
Matthew 6:21

Money is a test of your:

Work ethic: While not universal, generally speaking, if your wallet is empty, you ought to look closely at your work ethic. How hard do you work? How diligently did you work, save, and invest in your twenties and thirties? The test of money hints at the longitudinal arc of your work ethic.

Self-control: You’ll never experience financial victory until you spend less than you make. Some people spend more than they make for years or decades. They’re failing the test, which often leads to financial bondage, tension, and misery in their homes.

Integrity: How did you get what you have? Did you cut corners or twist the truth to win a deal? Withhold taxes? Neglect tithing? Jesus taught, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The money test demonstrates your integrity—or lack therof.

Love for people: When you’re able to meet someone else’s financial need, do you? Can you recall people you’ve helped? Perhaps no one knows. Perhaps you didn’t get a tax deduction. You simply helped and loved others. If so, you’re passing the test.

Love for God: Jesus said more about money than He said about heaven and hell combined. Not because it’s the most important subject, but because until God gets hold of people’s finances, He doesn’t truly have their hearts.

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Found a Faithful Steward, James McDonald

 

When Giving Less Means Giving More #Charity365

There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. –C.S. Lewis

The Impact

I have a cleft palate. Not the prettiest thing in the world, and certainly not the easiest to live with, but I’ve had to deal with it all my life and it has shaped and directed me, whether I wanted it to or not.

As it happened, I was watching TV on a recent, lazy weekend afternoon and channel hopped passed an infomercial about children with cleft palates. I backed up and figured I’d watch for a minute or two… Much later, after many tragic stories with amazingly happy endings, I was pretty convinced what organization I wanted to help next.

But I really didn’t have any more money to give…

Continue reading “When Giving Less Means Giving More #Charity365”

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria is a (poorly formed) Latin phrase I constructed from the translations for “mercy” and the common translation ‘to the Glory of God alone.’ Soli Deo Gloria was often used by composers, Bach and Handel, and I’m sure others, like I have, as it gained notice. Misericordia is a preface to the phrase with which I wanted to indicate a plea or request for mercy in response, generosity in understanding, or giving the benefit of the doubt. I used the composite form first in this post knowing that, in such a dense, lengthy post, I was liable to make errors in judgement which might impact the argument. It is essentially my plea that the reader not throw the baby out with the bathwater if there were a some minor issues in form or substance. It is essentially my request to the reader to ‘be merciful to me, for it is intended to the Glory of God’.

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

A Clear Sky

A Clear Sky

A clear sky above thee
A night sky beckons me
To recall again
Your name upon my lips

Bright points shining in space
In constellations across the black they race
Beautiful magnificence
Your name upon my lips

Crisp and clear cold nights air
Revives and refreshes all that is fair
Breath taken, life given
Your name upon my lips

Sigh and pain awaken
Sad and lonesome forsaken
Sorrow and anguish billow
Your name upon my lips

Oh the clear sky of night
When you rest within my sight
All sorrow gone, all grief forgotten
Your name upon my lips

A clear sky beckons
For you and for me
To watch and behold God’s vast glory
And in the stars writ our name and our story

A response to GodOfEvolution.com’s As different as morning and evening: Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Update 2016-10-04: Per the previous update and Tyler’s response to this post, I have responded again in my post Answering Genesis 1 and 2 Contradiction Claims.

Update 2015-12-03: Tyler has responded in his post Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions. I am currently drafting a new response in our friendly back-and-forth in the hopes of answering his further points.

I’ve been discussing with GodOfEvolution.com’s Tyler on Facebook. In response to his article entitled As different as morning and evening: Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions:

If I may respond to your article’s claims:

(1) ‘This is the account’. The CMI article covers this is much more convincing detail than you provide. JEDP also has issues with this verse that lend to summarizing the previous text and introducing new text (all in that one verse) implying the author knows the creation account is done and a new, different account begins (logically and from the text we gather it is not an account of the same things but more details on the previous). Your claim that it asserts a distinct creation account does not have the support it needs.

(2) Shrubs vs plants and trees: You assert 2:5’s ‘shrub’ equates to 1:11’s ‘plants and trees’ but don’t say why – and you should given the extra qualifications ‘of the field’ (many translations) and the implications these plants required cultivation (‘there was no one to work the ground’). The land may have ‘produced’ all vegetation in 1:11 but not all had ‘appeared’ or ‘sprung up’. It’s amusing you disparage Batten but you fail to mention Gen 2:6 (part of the same thought) ‘but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.’ So your claim to a “more important reason” why plants are supposedly not around doesn’t hold water (couldn’t resist the pun).

(3) Creation of animals: It is perfectly congruent for (a) God to have created all animals in Gen 1:24 and for God to have created more of those animals to have Adam name them (to see God actually creating things and to discover none are like Adam), and (b) to take the text to mean that they had already been made and that God “brought” them to him which is the wording of many translations. Your claim about ‘formed’ vs ‘had formed’ lacks support. 2:7 could easily have said ‘had formed’ with the prefix “Now” rather than “Then”. Additionally, when you take the Gen 2 as more details about day 6, there’s no problem reading it either way. God did ‘form’ Adam on day 6 and/or he ‘had formed’ Adam ‘earlier’ on day 6.

(4) I will make a helper suitable for him: Correct. God still had some making to do on day 6. He still had to make Eve. As the points above show, when you view Gen 2 as a more detailed accounted of day 6, the tense of the words makes sense.

(5) “risk distorting these lessons such that the real, eternal value intended by the original authors”: I think CMI sums it up about right:

“The final word on this matter, however, should really be given to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In Matthew chapter 19, verses 4 and 5, the Lord is addressing the subject of marriage, and says: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”

Notice how in the very same statement, Jesus refers to both Genesis 1 (verse 27b: ‘male and female he created them’) and Genesis 2 (verse 24: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’). Obviously, by combining both in this way, He in no way regarded them as separate, contradictory accounts.”

Jesus had no problem viewing both accounts as compatible and complementary. He even drew out ‘lessons of eternal value’ from both at once. There is also no need to abandon any actual ‘lessons of eternal value’ by viewing them as plain accounts that make sense of and build on each other.

(6) “In my view, these two snippets of ancient literature contain the essence of God’s reason for making mankind, and the relationship he desires with every man and woman who now lives.” The beauty of a plain reading of the Genesis creation, not only that it makes logical sense from the text, is that you take both historical truth *and* the theological and existential truths. Creationists don’t claim there’s only one level of understanding or one set of lessons that creation provides. You get the best of all worlds when you take God’s Word at His written word. That’s the beauty of God’s written word.

The CMI article referenced is creation.com/genesis-contradictions.

How can I give charitably? #Charity365

‘God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Acts 10:30-31

Recently, I checked off a to-do I’ve been meaning to-actually-do for some time: I added two local organizations to my charitable giving to complement my regional and international charitable giving.

I say this with some trepidation because I don’t want to attract praise for doing so–“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”–but what I do want even more is to encourage everyone to consider starting to give charitably so that we can help out those who really need it on an even bigger scale. We are wildly, fantastically rich, in all ways, in first world countries, start giving now and you will begin to see all kinds of personal benefits.

Start anywhere. Really, don’t sweat it.

It’s so easy to start. I started giving $10/month to three charities – less than one percent of my income. As I continued, and realized I could give more, I started increasing my giving and expanding the scope of those I was donating to.

This time around I want to focus on the immediate how-to because it’s so easy and so convenient and is so rewarding to know that, yes, while you are incredibly blessed in your country, you do want to help others and you are trying and you have tangible actions that show your heart is in the right place.

Continue reading “How can I give charitably? #Charity365”

Silver Chair

Silver Chair,
how I hate you!
You’re always there, lurking,
at the end of every good thing!
(Stealing away every pleasure!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your lies!
You tell me all this wasn’t,
while all the while I know it was! It was!
(You took it away!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lured and trapped,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
how I hate your words!
You speak to me of dos and donts,
but I know of your weels and your wonts!
(Cast it to the ground!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your angles!
You make meaningless my pleasure
and you show me my measure!
(Burn bright to the ground!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lurid and tainted,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
trouble me no more!
You’re gone within minutes,
why should I care.
(Why do you care?)

Silver Chair,
how I hate what you show!
You show me what’s ugly…
you show me myself.
(Don’t show me myself.)

Temptation, come my way.
Bruised and broken,
sheep to the shear.

Silver Chair,
don’t leave me here!
You’re already gone,
you’ve left me alone.
(Don’t leave me alone.)

Silver Chair,
why did you go?
I want what you do.
Clarity. You do clarity.
(Clearly. You show me clearly.)

Temptation, go away.
Broken and beaten,
crushed underfoot.

Silver Chair,
you bring me clarity.
You put everything in its place.
All weights are set correct.
(Gravity sets all a’right.)

Silver Chair!
Reflector of my heart!
Don’t go!
You’re gone.
(I want to go with you.)

Temptation, get behind me!
Beaten and lost,
crushed under your foot!

Silver Chair,
you were never the thing were you?
You cleared the air, brought sanity to madness,
so I could find myself clearly.
(Clearly. So I could find You clearly.)

God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner!

 

Jewish Passover and Good Friday

Jewish Passover falls on Good Friday this year. Passover remembers the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt during which God told the people to kill a “lamb without blemish” and paint their doorposts with the blood. God said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you“. If they did this they were saved from the plague of the death of the firstborn. Every year the Jewish people would sacrifice again for the sins of the people. More than a thousand years later, God’s Son came down to earth as the man Jesus Christ, “a lamb without blemish or spot“, and He died a final death, a final sacrifice for our sins, and rose again in “victory over sin and death.” This Good Friday remembers the day Jesus, God’s firstborn, was not spared and was sacrificed for your sins so that when Jesus’ blood covers your sins God can say again “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Selah. Today, “if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.#TheShepherdIsTheLamb #SoliDeoGloria

After Atheism: New Perspectives on God and Religion

When I work from home I often listen to podcasts and I’ve been listening to CBC Radio Ideas’ After Atheism this week. This is what I’d call a post-post-modern look at religion and materialism over the past few thousand years. This is a compliment as they recognize things like the resurgence of spiritual interest, the myth of religious violence, the actual (not supposed) factors at play in the separation of church and state. They even recognize Christianity specifically has been behind many social change movements and demonstrably not just an ‘internal, private spirituality’ thing.

The episodes are long and in-depth but, for the first time in a long time, CBC is giving as fair a shake as can be expected to faith in general and, in places, to Christianity in particular.

It’s by no means pro-Christian but it’s decent place for open discussion.

Nitty Gritty: From Mayhem to Ministry. A Testimony.

I play guitar with my church and, each week, I need to go online to find song chords. While searching this week, I came across this website, Musings of  a Minister’s Wife, after some Google results turned up guitar chords for her ebook of chord sheets. My curiosity was piqued by the domain name “musingsofaministerswife.com.” I thought to myself, ‘what would a minister’s wife blog about?’. Somehow I got over to the About page and that’s where things got really interesting when it started with this: In 2003, my husband and I quit relying on each other to keep our marriage together and started relying on God.  Wow!  What a change!  We are now bearing bigger fruit in a ministry of our own. I kept reading and was very pleasantly surprised by a couple who went through some amazing ordeals and came out on the other side loving God more. Here’s a taste of their story,

I first met Jimmy at work. He was a few months away from being married. I was in my third year of (a bad) marriage. I didn’t like Jimmy. He was cocky, so very sure of himself, so “I’m better than everyone else” of himself. Instant turnoff. Besides, I was married. We didn’t talk much. He stayed in his cubicle, and I stayed in mine.

As time wore on, my job blended with Jimmy’s, and we began to see each other on a daily basis. We worked together in the tech department along with 2 other people. We all went out to lunch several times a month as a group. One day, the other 2 weren’t available. But I was hungry. And I was lonely. And he was nice to me. And funny. He opened doors. He laughed at my jokes. He was getting cuter by the day. He treated me like a gentleman treats a lady, which was far from the treatment I was getting at home. Which Jimmy knew. He was all too familiar with decoding finger-print sized bruises on women’s arms. He was all too familiar with being lonely himself.

We had a nice lunch. It was our first time alone. Nothing happened. It was just a friendly lunch.

But there is such wisdom in not allowing yourself to be alone with a man.

Especially if you’re in a rocky marriage. Especially if he’s in a rocky marriage with a baby on the way.

Remember that part about Jimmy being far, far away from God? He wasn’t the only one.

You can read the whole story over at From Mayhem to Ministry.