Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 7.10.13 – The Financial Principal of Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a huge financial principle. Let me run down a few thoughts.

Sacrifice is at the core of personal finance. At the base of handling money is sacrificing the concept that it’s ours. If you’re a believer in Jesus, money is God’s and you take care of it for Him.

It takes sacrifice to honor God. You have to NOT spend for things you want so you can bless others, and give back to Him.

You have to sacrifice your wants for your needs.

You have to sacrifice the short term rush for the long term satisfaction and stability.

You have to sacrifice spending to save.

In order to be financially healthy, it takes a lot of sacrifice.

Jesus sacrificed for us, and we sacrifice as we seek to worship Him with our money.

Otherwise you will sacrifice any chance at long term stability in exchange for short term pleasure. And you might sacrifice your soul in the process.

Question: where are you most challenged by this concept and what will you do about it?

Think and Act 7.3.13 – What If Freedom Squashes Freedom?

It is the season of year that we celebrate our freedom, with special attention to our nation’s initial declaration of independence. In case you live under a rock, you should know that last week the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, paving the way for a future of gay marriage in the U.S..  It is not the place of this blog to explain all the politics and government involved.

Instead, what I want to think about is this: one group gains freedom while another has their freedom squashed.

What are the implications of this and why does it matter?  How will believers respond? How should they?

Let me define who is gaining freedom.

It is clear that homosexuals are being given new freedoms under the law.  They have rights and freedoms and eventually, because of the way the decision was written, will eventually (not immediately) end up having marriage right protected by the Federal Government, even though that is not was specifically intended with this decision (although they may as well have).

My perspective on this is that the homosexual lobby have run a well organized nation-wide campaign and have succeeded in demonizing their opposition in the national court of public opinion (and in the Supreme Court of the U.S. as well).

Let me define what I mean by loss of freedom.

It is clear that there is more intended than granting gay people the right to marry.  Don’t believe me?  Simply read this one-line fragment of the majority opinion of Justice Scalia:

the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples

You can research and find the rest of the document and decision, but this is a clear description of the traditional view of marriage. I would read that majority opinion to mean that because I believe in a traditional definition of marriage, my intent is to injure the humanity of same sex couples.  There is not a far gap between this statement and the support of traditional marriage being a crime.  Any Christian holding to traditional, biblical sexual ethics of one man/one woman marriage should ask if they are willing to pay a fine or be prosecuted for their beliefs.  It is NOT out of the realm of possibility.

Let me be clear.  You need to understand what is NOT happening.  What is not happening is that the court is saying all views are valid and equal, and that all sides have the freedom to speak what they believe to be true.  When you take the language to the realm of believing one thing “disparaging” and “injuring” the other, freedom to believe that position WILL be compromised, and eventually lost.

Perspective regarding the government.

There are all kinds of religious views in the United States.  Some of those religious views truly do suppress people.  Some worship Satan.  Some refuse to pay taxes or support the military.  Some views deny their participants any celebrations, public or private.  Some  prohibit followers from saying the pledge.  On and on we could go. Even Westboro Baptist is a legal group (although probably not for long). Bully pulpits and churches demean women, use controlling methods to entrap people, and create atmospheres of fear.

But yet, out of any group of any religion or denomination, it is the ones who believe the Bible, seek to honor its truths, and contribute in many positive ways to society that the court singles out. I will even have you notice that Jews and Muslims (many of whom also hold to a traditional view of marriage) receive a lot of sympathy from the media.  Mostly (I mean in general), it is Bible-believing Christians who seem to be singled out as the bad guys. This is not a good place for the government to be, and does not put many Christians in a good place.

So what if freedom squashes freedom?

The title of this blog is not “complaintdrivenbabbling.com”. Are you a believer who perceives their freedom is being taken away? Here are three things to encourage you.

1. Be ready to stand firm.

Read the stories of the believers in exile in Babylon.  Jeremiah 29 is a good place to start.  So also the book of Daniel can provide wonderful encouragement.  We can stand firm in the face of cultural and perhaps governmental backlash. We can stand firm by God’s grace.

2. Do NOT stand firm in the hatred of anyone or simply for the sake of standing firm.

If we stand firm for the sake of standing firm, we seek a political victory.  We should stand firm in our love for people and our desire that individuals hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  If we come off as a hateful group of people, we’ll never be able to lead people to Christ.

So what if we win a political victory and no one comes to Christ? Whoopee, we’ve won a victory and everyone hates us! A promotion of morals without love is just as worthless as the Pharisees in the Bible. It would be like living out your childhood dream of hitting a game winning shot and then everyone boos you.  What purpose is there in that?

3. Engage.

Do not give into the temptation to retreat.  Many people have not heard Biblical arguments opposing gay marriage.  Some are only believing what the media are telling them.  Be ready to help people understand the media’s bias.  If they can be proven untrustworthy (or at the very best inconsistent), then it will help people to evaluate what they are hearing and thinking. Be ready to show people that you believe what you are told – by the Bible, not by the media or anyone else.

To do this, you must meet people, talk to them, tell them the truth, perhaps bring up uncomfortable topics with co-workers, friends, family. You must show that you are capable of holding an opposing opinion and yet demonstrating love. You must put your foot forward with intentional action and do so out of the convictions you have.

For believers, it will be a time to think. It will be a time to act.  In boldness and in love, we will be called to represent Jesus.  Are you ready?

 

Think and Act 6.26.13 – Two Examples of God in the Small Things

Two recent examples of God in the small things:

1. I decided I would not buy Skillet’s new album so we could track expenses better over the next few weeks. I wanted to be sure we were honoring God in our spending. The next day, a friend offered me a free code for a download of the album (did I mention I really wanted it badly?) that he had received in the mail.

Wow! What a great blessing.

2. Tuesday night we took the kids out to a local metro park for swimming and outdoor dinner. While attempting to get a charcoal fire going, I failed several times (and wasted a lot of matches in the process). I decided to give it one more shot.

I made a big pile in the grill, doused it with lighter fluid, then waited a couple minutes. Then I called the kids over, and we prayed. After several minutes we had a fire to cook hotdogs!

I hope these stories encourage you not to forget that God is active, even in the small things. Don’t forget to rely on Him all the time. He can definitely help when things don’t seem to be going your way!

Think and Act 6.12.13 – Fourteen Years of Marriage and God’s Faithfulness

Psalm 78:38 says “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.

I am struck by God’s faithfulness.  If you read the 37 verses prior to this in Psalm 78, you see a story of a people who deserve anything but God’s faithfulness.

Today, Julie and I have been married fourteen years.  Today, we celebrate God’s faithfulness, not ours.

Marriage is clearly defined in Scripture as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. That is a picture of faithfulness.  Christ, in complete submission to God, suffered for the cleansing of the Church.  He bled and died so sinners could enjoy the fruits of God forgiveness in their lives.

So, when husbands and wives are called to live out that picture, it’s MORE about forgiveness, sacrifice, and consistent, unrelenting love.  And, by contrast, it’s LESS about performance, fault-finding (and fault-reminding), and guilt.

Today, we celebrate a marriage that grows because it’s watered by Scripture, growing in forgiveness, enduring in love.  Each of these is a great gift of God that we treasure and seek to protect each day.

THINK: How can you give God more of your faithfulness today in light of Psalm 78?

ACT: How can you show that faithfulness to someone else in your life, in the same way He shows it to us?