Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Life Without Prayer

"Bibles read without prayer; sermons heard without prayer; marriages contracted without prayer; journeys undertaken without prayer; residences chosen without prayer; friendships formed without prayer; the daily act of private prayer itself hurried over, or gone through without heart: these are the kind of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall. This is the process which forms the lingering Lots, the unstable Samsons, the wife-idolizing Solomons, the inconsistent Asas, the pliable Jehoshaphats, the over-careful Marthas, of whom so many are to be found in the church of Christ. Often the simple history of such cases is this: they became careless about private prayer. You may be very sure men fall in private long before they fall in public." -- J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer, page 18

I am reading the booklet by Ryle. But if you want a free copy of the thing, get the pdf here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

To the Christian Rich - Generous Giving Weakens Greed.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:32-34

To the Christian Rich - God Punishes Greed, Forever.

"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. . .And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Luke 12:15, 19-21

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pep Talk

Yep. . .

"What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? . . It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. . ."
Ec 1:3, 13a

Thursday, May 14, 2015

To the Christian Rich - Good Stewardship Demands Generous Giving (As God Defines "Generous").

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."
1 Timothy 6:17-19

I have what almost anyone would call a large measure of experience with the Church (At least the American one, with less exposure to the one international). And by that experience I have learned that it is normal for the rich to run the churches. They sit among the elders, the sessions, the deacons, the ministry teams, the committees, or whatever group it is that has the power. And to my knowledge, I have yet to meet a generous wealthy believer (Admittedly I don't know what they do privately, which is how Jesus says giving should be done - Mt 6. My estimation is based on conversations with them).

I have yet to hear one who defends the ways and values of God in giving. For He gives lavishly, generously, sacrificially, redemptively, happily, relievingly, refreshingly, and more than a person could ask or even think. He does not spare His riches, but is open-handed, and open-hearted. And because He is a gracious Giver, He doesn't require that we, the recipients, jump through a myriad of hoops so that we may qualify to receive. The qualification is mainly the need itself.

There are reasons why the Bible repeatedly gives special attention to the rich, warning them, and commanding them, specifically. One of those reasons is their propensity for selfishness. Another is their false belief that their miserliness is justified because they have worked so hard to create the wealth. That's not what the Bible says. Does God employ means like a strong work ethic and intelligence and shrewdness, etc, in His distribution of wealth? Yes, He does. But Scripture makes clear that ultimately the wealth itself comes from God, along with the work ethic, intelligence, shrewdness, etc (As do the opportunities such folks are afforded that most folks do not receive from the hand of Providence).

Christians, in my experience, enjoy speaking of good stewardship when they want to withhold a blessing. Such terms are used as code for stinginess and selfishness and a desire to "protect" God's money. The Bible, however, makes the opposite association. Faithful stewardship includes giving that is generous (lavish, more than necessarily needed, creating margin), sacrificial (you feel it, because now you will go without something so that someone else may have), and certainly gracious (giving without strings attached). That's the way God does it. May more of His children, wealthy or not, display the family likeness.

"Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand 
have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the LORD your God, 
for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. . ."
Deuteronomy 8:17-18

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Earth is Telling of Hope's Destruction

"But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, and as a rock is moved from its place; as water wears away stones, and as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so You destroy the hope of man."  (Job 14:18-19)