Category Archives: Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss

Blogging about real-life stuff where we apply God’s guidance

What’s in Your Wallet?

A wise man once prayed something like: “God – please provide enough for my family and me so that I’m not tempted to steal, and not so much that I’m tempted to forget what it’s like to be in need.”

Our spirit was created by God for fellowship with Him and for good works (Ephesians 2:10). One day, we’ll be judged on how well we used that spirit to guide our flesh toward doing good deeds for the “Father of Spirits” and our spiritual brothers and sisters.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments with two statements: treat our God appropriately and our fellow man charitably (Matthew 22:35-40). We get to choose how we’ll use our resources (e.g. time and money) to please God and satisfy His desires. But, that freedom comes at a cost: give now to live later, or live it up now and suffer later.

We find two extremes in benevolence: those who give generously for their fellow human and those who love wealth. In the former group, we find the likes of Jesus and other servants who have given their lives for people they often don’t know. You’ll also find people who give generously to help feed, clothe, or house others. These people reflect the face of our God who created the spirit within us; they’re focus isn’t on self and material things.

What about the latter group? There, you’ll find people who horde resources despite the suffering around them. They love money and stuff and that’s where their focus is. Perhaps they’ll give a dollar to charity and spend a thousand on a new shiny bobble or the latest electronic thing. These people reflect not the face of our creator but the passion and self-serving nature of flesh and emotion.

If we want to look more like the former than the latter we need to be content with what we have. We also need to avoid the love of money, which is the “root of all sorts of evil” according to the Apostle Paul (1Timothy 6:6-11 and Hebrews 13:5). It also helps if we stay out of debt to avoid becoming a slave (Proverbs 22:7) and not store up treasures for ourselves on earth, but be benevolent (Matthew 6:19-21). In this passage, Jesus also reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What’s in my wallet? There, you’ll find a balance of things – some for me, some for others. I give to the hungry and helpless on a regular basis. Much of my resources go to children, rescue, and ministry. But, I don’t neglect my family. We’re comfortable and satisfied.

So . . . where’s your heart? What’s in your wallet? Money earmarked to help the needy? Or would we discover bountiful plastic or lots of cash destined for food, drink, and the latest shiny thing?

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Crisp air, crowded malls, and credit cards a-flying can mean only one thing: the holiday season is upon us! In fact, Christmas is a mere 4 weeks away. My, how time has flown since the last bout of bustling buyers scrambled for trinkets and travel arrangements! Yep – it’s definitely time again to ponder the ‘reason for the season’ and, indeed, the season itself.

Read the Q&A titled, “Holy Days: Christmas” from my book Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss (available in 2014) and you’ll learn some little-discussed facts about Christmas. For instance, Jesus’ birth took place in a warmer time of year when the animals were grazing. As a result, they weren’t near a manger kept in the lower part of a typical Jewish home where the animals would’ve been housed during the colder months. And the actual number of wise men is anybody’s guess. Read the Gospel accounts closely and you’ll also notice that Jesus would’ve been about 2 years old and not a newborn baby when the wise men finally arrived with their gifts. Simultaneous with that ah-ha moment may be the sudden realization that the gifts were necessary to see Joseph, Mary, and Jesus through a 2-year exile in Egypt.

If you’re like me, you’re asking yourself, “How, then, did Christmas come into being and assume current traditions?” Most likely, a well-meaning fourth-century Church established the holiday to acknowledge Jesus’ birthday but coincide with pagan recognition of the winter solstice on December 25th. Why? Perhaps it was to attract those pagans to the Christian faith. Look around and you’ll see we do the same even today through churchgoer actions, speech, and approaches to entertainment and worship. But, we can go down that rabbit hole another time.

You may be getting the idea that I’m not a proponent of Christmas. The truth is that I think the holiday is fine when recognized for what it is: a time of feasting, family, and indebtedness with little actual regard for our Christ. Let’s change that – even if for only a fleeting moment – by imagining together what a Christ-centered Christmas could look like.

I see clothes and food for the less-fortunate, without indebtedness, delivered by children and their parents. After all, this is how our Christ said we’ll be judged in the last days. And we’d sing songs about redemption, forgiveness, and expectation of amazing things to come – not about Frosty, Santa, chestnuts, or elves.  We’d share stories about Jesus from the Gospels and imagine what His life was like. There’d be feasting and drinking (in moderation, of course).  Our Christ gave the greatest gift of all to us: the choice of eternal life. We’d celebrate it as the gift that ‘keeps on giving’, adoring the gift-giver all the while.

But, Christmas reality along with its gaiety and materialism are upon us. Are those your real reasons for the season? If so, dare to be different and give the Christ this Christmas.