Monday, October 12, 2009

Responding to Posts

Three people have tried to comment to posts but have either lost what they tried to post or were unable to sign in.

To establish a google account go here to create a google account. If you have gmail, you have a google account-just use your email address and password to sign in.

Once you comment on a post and use the little pull down to select the google choice, click post comment. You will be then prompted to sign in. Another way to do it is to sign in in the top right hand corner as soon as you click into the blog.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

To Give or Not to Give -That is The Question

Once again I have been confronted with the question of God's mind with regard to giving. While teaching the New Focus money management class for Westown Jubilee Housing, students are asked to go through a list of money beliefs they might hold*. Every belief on the list is incorrect. The point of the exercise is to show students that your money training (what you learned from your family) + your money beliefs = your money behavior.

We did the exercise and then I told the group that anything they had checked off was false. One woman had a real problem with that as she strongly held to two of the beliefs. One was "Money is the root of all evil." Quickly the class was able to convince her that no, money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is according to I Timothy 6:10.

The next belief she was willing to fight for even with an example was, "Good people help others, even if they really can't afford it." With her example, giving her cigarette money to someone in need, I was able to convince her that she did not have to go into debt or not pay a bill in order to give that money.

My guess about the New Testament principles of giving would be that we are not to store up money but to give freely. But what about an emergency fund? Retirement? I know how Don and I tend to do things, but I am curious as to how you guide your decisions about giving. I can see scriptures on both sides.

*This sheet of beliefs is taken from Dave Treul's MSU Extension Class on money management.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Best Way to Learn

A person knows when they are right. At least I do. And though a thousand may say otherwise, if I know something in the core of my being, I will not be dissuaded. And I have no interest in going to the mat to prove to you I am right.

Recently though I read something that echoed my gut feelings and I thought I could get some public vindication by quoting a best selling author.

In my short 55 years I have heard quite a few times that people need to make their own mistakes, to learn by them. I have never bought into this theory, hence my propensity to give alot of free advice over the years.

When confronted with that statement I am always stunned. Sure, I have learned from many of my own mistakes, but does that mean people "have to learn from their own mistakes"? NO. It either just happens because one does not know any better OR because one has refused to listen to wise counsel OR maybe even because one is lying to themself. The Bible calls people fools who do not listen to the wise. Here are some of the best verses on the topic:

Pr 10:23 ¶ To do evil is like sport to a fool, But a man of understanding has wisdom.

Pr 17:16 ¶ Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, Since he has no heart for it?

Pr 17:24 ¶ Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

Pr 23:9 ¶ Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

Pr 24:7 ¶ Wisdom is too lofty for a fool; He does not open his mouth in the gate.

Ec 10:3 Even when a fool walks along the way, He lacks wisdom, And he shows everyone that he is a fool.

My conviction comes from the Bible. My vindication comes from the main character in the latest book by Andy Andrews called The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective . Jones says to Andy,
"remember young man, experience is not the best teacher. Other people's experience is the best teacher." (p.9)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Perspectives & Reminders from James Chapter 1 (Part 2)

James 1:12-15 gives us a whole lot of information about temptation including how it starts and where it leads. The perspective we need to take is that temptation can lead to sin but it is not sin itself. We need to quit beating ourselves up over the temptation. Temptation is just another test where we get to show ourselves and God that we are listening and we have made our minds up to obey.

Verses 13-15 say so much I think we all need to commit them to memory:

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Right off the bat we can see that our temptation does not come from God. There are pieces and parts of us that God has not dealt with yet or that God has tried to deal with and we keep failing the test. So these parts of us that we have not surrendered to God are what ends up being enticed during a temptation. If when tempted we don't turn in the opposite direction and run, we may be dragged away and enticed. At this point it will be even harder to resist the temptation, be it in our minds or in real time in front of us. Once that desire has conceived, then it births sin. And birthed sin not dealt with leads to death.


  • Temptation is not sin
  • When you feel tempted, stop and turn from the temptation
  • Cry out to God for wisdom and help if turning doesn't turn the temptation off
  • Even if you go with the temptation for a minute think about the consequences of letting that temptation entice you
  • Think death, if not physical death, at the very least impaired spiritual health if that temptation is conceived and births sin
  • Not taking care of your spiritual health makes the church sick and makes nonchristians point at us and accuse us of being like the world
  • When we sin we taint the name of Jesus to the world we are trying to reach.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Perspectives & Reminders From James Chapter 1 (Part 1)

I think we will need a perspective adjustment if we want to obey James' admonition to "Consider it all joy when you fall into various temptations/trials." Other versions of this verse tell us not only to consider our trials "joy" but "pure joy" and the New American Standard Version goes even further by saying "nothing but joy". Excuse me? "Nothing but joy".
Why would anyone consider trials nothing but joy? We do want to be mature and complete, lacking nothing, don't we? Well, how do you suppose are are going to get from babyhood to maturity? Yes, according to verse 3 we are going to get there via our trials and tests. When these trials test our faith, (the Lamsa version even calls them "the trial of faith") we are going to have an opportunity to take the test and either pass or fail. If we pass, we will build on our endurance. If we fail, well, my theory is we will keep getting the same test until we pass!

This whole concept reminds me of a great C.S. Lewis quote I read 15 years ago. Will we or will we not do the right things when we are tempted or tested?

Every obedience to His prompting is as C.S. Lewis said,
"the capture of a strategic point from which a few months later you may be able
to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in
lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from
which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible."

Basically, Lewis is saying that by obeying we are setting ourselves up for future success.

How can we pass the tests and trials of life? Enter the reminder:

Verse 5 tells us if we lack wisdom we should ask God for some. Why is it that we over think or fret when all we have to do is ask God for wisdom? He will give us a generous amount of wisdom and not think we are weak or dumb having to ask for it.

There is a small catch. When we ask, we are to ask not doubting because as verse 7 says, "the person who doubts should expect nothing from the Lord." In fact, according to James, doubters are double minded and double minded people are unstable in all ways. (verse 8)

There will be more about wisdom from James in Chapter 3. For today I will just summarize these first eight verses from James 1:

  • Count your trials as nothing but joy.
  • You need these trials to become mature in Christ.
  • By obeying you get more endurance which prepares you for the next trial.
  • If you don't know how to respond to the trial or test, ask God to give you wisdom.
  • But once you ask, don't doubt because that just sets you up for instability.

Note the words in red italics. Strong stuff!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Speaking the Truth in Love

This week at the library we had an incident that is not uncommon. Kids crying in the children's room. Tim said that two kids collided with each other because they were running. "Don't run! Don't run! Don't run!" I said. We've worked together long enough for him to know I meant that the parents should have been telling their kids not to run in the library. He said that the parent(s) were comforting the kids and that they were only about 18 months old. Again I said, "Don't run! Don't run! Don't run!"

As he walked away and started the story hour, I thought I may have sounded hard or mean. I tried to put myself back to being a parent of an 18 month old. What would I have done? I would have reprimanded while touching my daughter. The touching would be the comfort part.

The truth of the matter is the kids should not have been running in the first place. As a parent, we need to be speaking these truths to our kids. It's not an either or response. It can be both. I can comfort while speaking the truth in love.

When I screw up, God, my heavenly Father disciplines me. (See Hebrews 12) Most of us have felt the chastening of God. Yet we also know that it is because He loves us that he chastens us. And He loves us while chastening us.

I want to encourage parents to speak the truth in love to their kids. And I want to encourage the church to speak the truth to each other. Not with a ball bat in hand, but with love in our hearts. Most people do not speak the truth because they don't want to appear judgemental, they want to be liked, or other reasons. But if we are to be imitators of God, we need to step up and begin to do it anyway.

God, my prayer for the church is that we will speak the truth in love and receive the truth in love. If I am not willing to listen and consider the truth someone is trying to speak to me, if I get angry and defensive, how does that encourage the church to do what it needs to do? Let it begin with me, the speaking and the receiving of the truth in love.


This week I have been reading James Chapter 1 over and over. I can never read James 1:19-20 without recalling a five year old Epiphany I had one morning in front of the coffeemaker. The short version of the story is someone had wronged me. I am not easily offended yet I was over the top offended and in my mind, I was going to call the shots on this apology. No, I was not going to let this person call and run it around the block for hours. My terms were to discuss it in writing.

So I laid out my terms and they were rejected. I was furious. Why the above verse fell into my head I can only credit the Holy Spirit. For years I had quoted "let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath", but now the rest of the verse popped into my head "for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God". (Of course it was in my head in the King James Version! I am 55 years old after all! )

The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God! What exactly was my highest hope for this person. Well, I had to admit it was that they would get their life on track with God. And was my anger going to get that accomplished? No. So I didn't get my discussion in writing, but I did get an apology over the phone and my epiphany.

Why didn't I get this Epiphany sooner? I have wondered that many times. Why did I get so angry when I was raising my children? I wanted them to do what I wanted them to do because it was right, correct, the best way, etc. But was my anger a good tool to lead them to the righteousness of God? No.

Feeling angry has its' place. In Kids Have Feelings Too! by H. Norman Wright, anger is said to be a secondary emotion. Behind anger you will find one of the following:

  1. Frustration
  2. Fear
  3. Hurt

The place anger has in our lives is to clue us in to something going on inside of us. Figuring that out and fixing that through the help of God will work the righteousness of God into our lives. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for that life lesson!