Money

In the Bible, Jesus talked about money more than sin, heaven, hell, or any other topic.  Proverbs spends more time talking about money again, than anything else.  Money is a blessing and a curse, depending on your view of it and how you use it.

Money should never be accumulated for the sake of money.  It is a tool, and like all tools should be treated as one.  I think most of us have a problem with that.  We want that nicer car or that fancier home, a better wardrobe or the upscale vacation.  Money is essential to a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but it is not a goal in itself.  People can get confused on that point.

Money is used as recognition as a sign of a higher level or skill at a particular job, a recognition for a job well done,  payment for hours spent in the employ of another.  All these are fine things.  One also obtains monies by dabbling in the illegal, activities that hurt others such as prostitution, drugs, thievery, and a host of other inappropriate things.    There are day traders who play the stock market all day hoping to come out the big winner.  All too often they either break even or loose.   Fortunes and made and lost in the stock market and inside trading is not as uncommon as one might thing all in the name of the almighty dollar.

There is a price on everything from food to medicine, from a person’s time to a person’s life.  Yes, there is truly slavery in this world, in this country, the USA, in every country. But what I am talking about is the value an actuary will put on a person’s life.  If an individual is in the beginning of their 20’s there is a higher value on their life than on the life of a baby or a retiree.  A baby has unproven potential, a retiree has used up his or her potential thus when settling a wrongful death suit, it matters little how loved or how important to you Grandpa Jack was, he wasn’t worth what Young Ben, age 26 and an up and coming stock broker was.   In today’s world, everything is broken down into dollars and cents.

Knowing this, it is easy to forget that money is but a tool, not a goal.  In the Book of Proverbs, it talks about wisdom and who wisdom should be valued:

“Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Money is often wasted because  people do not respect it for what it is, use it foolishly, and fall victim to those who would take advantage of that fact.  The most common form we see today is in the form of usury, payday loans that charge one thousand percent per day, and once you have taken out two or three or four of these, you are working to pay the usurers, not the electric bill or the power bill, or to put food on the table.

Why does Jesus and the Bible put so much emphasis on money?  You would think it would be on heaven or such.  Money tends to be the root of so much sin.  You either sin trying to get money, or in keeping it or wanting what it can buy.  If you do not use wealth or money as the tool God intended it will be a cause of great strife and grief and upset.

 Let’s take a look at the rich man.  Remember the rich prince who came to Jesus and said he had kept the ten Commandments and wanted to know what else he must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you remember what Jesus said to him?  He said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and follow me. ”  The young prince hung his head and left.  You see, Jesus knew his sin, he could not give up his stuff .  He did not have the faith that He would receive enough to keep him content from God.

I wonder, are we like that?  How often are we down to our last hundred or twenty or ten and see a need before us, but stop because we better keep it until payday?   True, we may make it by a hair, or God may see a need we  have and meet it.  Perhaps that need will show up in a week or a month or a year and that is when He will meet it.

There was a lady ahead of me in the supermarket one night before Christmas.  She had a baby, maybe three months old with her.  She was short nine dollars and change.  As a retired couple, and me having no understanding of money (why can’t you spend it twice?) I studied on my wallet trying to be grownup and responsible.  She was at her wit’s end.  The “me” part of me took over and when I got up to the cash register, I told the girl to put the nine dollars and change on my ticket.  My only regret was that I had not done it sooner, before she got so upset.  I was not after recognition or thank you, I remembered being with my boys when they were little and trying to handle everything with them.  Then too, it was Christmas.  I ran into her in the parking lot, what she could not have known was that she would have had to reshopped her entire basket, they could not hold the sale.  I told her to have a Merry Christmas and kept on going and I am sure one day she will do the same for someone else.  Could I afford to do that, not really, but trusting God to get us through I just did what seemed right.  We are getting through just fine.

Why do we think we will suffer if we give something away?  I don’t think our God is like that.  However, if we are foolish with our money, do not set up a proper budget, do not live within our means, do not  give tithes and offerings, well, that is just like saying we don’t need Him or the Wisdom He offers.

It just seems funny.    it does not matter what topic we bring up, to do it correctly and well, we always wind up with God.  He is the Maker of all things, He is the Alpha and Omega.  He is  the answer to everything.  Amazing, wonderful, and so encouraging.  For if He is the answer to everything, then if we ask for something in His Name and plan to use it for His glory, will our Heavenly Father, who will deny us nothing unless it is harmful say no?  He may say wait, but our prayers will always be answered.

So when it comes to money, follow the Wisdom of Proverbs, set up a Godly budget, and use money as the tool it was intended to be used as.  You will find you can afford more, live better, and be happier!

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Relentless Mercy

 

Jesus

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35, 37-38

 

 

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “Yes, Jesus Loves me!”

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “The Bible Tells Me so!”

Jesus with the little children

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We should believe with the innocence of children, for we are His children

My Personal Testimony and Reason for this Writing.

I am an apathetic Christian.  This is a confession I do not take lightly.  I read books written by these wonderful authors who are truly on fire for God.  I read the Epistles and see how Paul counted his life as nothing, then wonder, “Why don’t I feel like that all the time?”  Oh, to be sure, I have my moments.  But so often the cares and living of this life just wear me down, I get so tired just coping with the day to day drudgery, God gets lost in there and I go to bed, get up, do what I must, go back to bed and before I know it an entire day has passed and I have not spoken to Him once.

Now realize, I am not talking about the bakery clerk or my neighbor or even my husband, I am talking about He who created the universe!  I am talking about a powerful being, one who has so much power I cannot even conceive of it!  I am talking about the One who made me, the One who died on a cross so I could be with Him, the One who, no matter how much I ignore Him, no matter what my sins are, be they purposeful or not, continues to pursue me with that wonderful, sometimes frightening,  overwhelming message:  “I love you, come to Me!”  He is there, calling me, holding out His arms to me.  Me?  “Not now, I’m too busy.”  So glib, so foolish.  Sometimes, when I take a moment to recognize exactly WHO is calling me, I don’t answer at all, instead I hang my head in shame, a tear may drop and meander down my cheek as I say in a voice filled with shame and unbelievable sadness:  “I am not worthy.  If only you knew what I have done.  I am not worthy.”  And I walk away from that offer of total forgiveness, of total agape love, tears running down my face, knowing I am not good enough to be approached by, to look at, and definitely not be a part of His universe.

Have you done that?  I think we all have at one point or another.  After we have said we were too busy or too sinful what happens?  He comes back, doesn’t He?  He calls out to you again, He holds his arms out again.  If you are quiet and listen you can almost hear Him tell you how precious you are to Him, how He loves you exactly as you are, that He knows all there is to know about you.  It is enough to stop you dead in your tracks, to bring you to your knees.  You catch your breath, for an instant you feel the beauty and peace of his touch.   Then the realities of life call you back as a horn blares or one of the kids starts to cry and you run back to that drudgery we all call life.

It’s so weird, if I am talking to someone about Jesus and following Him, my passion is palpable.  Sometimes I even get too intense as I turn from Old to New Testament showing how Jesus has always been with us, how we are in a time of grace that is fast coming to an end, I describe hell, read from Psalms, Proverbs, even Song of Songs so that whoever I am talking to can try to comprehend Christ’s love for us.  I usually give too much information and give it so intensely I make the receiver uncomfortable.

I love Jesus, I love and believe in Him so very much.  Why am I so lazy about spending time with Him?  To a point it is so very me.  I tend to care about and love people from a distance.  I don’t get to close to anyone, not my bestest BFF from school, not my BFF from church.  They usually have to chase me down.  I don’t know why; it is certainly not that I enjoy my own company so much.  More than anything else, I guess it is fear of rejection.  Ok, insecurities.  But I don’t have to be insecure in Christ, did He not say,

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:2-5

            There is one thing we have forgotten.  We can turn this life from drudgery into joy!  He will lighten our loads, put a spring in our step.  The same chores will be there, but somehow, with Him at our side, they seem lighter.  But we have allowed the cares of this life to eclipse the most important thing of all, our relationship with our God and our Savior.  So, does He walk away and go to someone else?  No!  He is determined, His love for each of us is so deep He does not stop, He does not rest, until as little children, we are enfolded into the loving care of His arms.

His pursuit of us is relentless.  I kind of liken it to something once said in “Terminator” when Kyle Reese told a very frightened Sarah Connor:

“Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

Jesus has something better than pity, He has empathy.  He knows where we are coming from, He understands our pain, our hurt, our hopes and dreams, our temptations, even our sins.  Just like a true lover, He looks past all of it, He sees only the person He loves so dearly He died for them.  You can’t bargain with Jesus, He knows your yesterday, your today, your tomorrow.  Jesus has no fear, there is nothing He needs to fear.  He made it all, He can break it all!.  He will absolutely never stop until you are dead.  Once you have moved to that phase of life, your eternity is set.  He either welcomes you home or says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Which words do you want to hear?  “Welcome home, good and faithful servant”   or “Depart from me …” .

I took the time to think about eternity the other night.  I just finished an article about what heaven is really like.  I was trying, as best as my finite mind can, to grasp the idea of eternity.  For some reason I pictured hell.  The burning, the pain, but what eclipsed everything was the total absence of that love I have felt all my life.  Jesus was nowhere.  Nowhere.  Then the horror fell on me.  This pain, this aloneness was never, ever, ever going to stop.  There would be no rescue, there would be no gentle voice calling to me, just the horrendous screams of others who were also there.  Behind it all was the almost maniacal laughter of the lost one himself, Satan.  This would never end.  I couldn’t even begin to grasp what that meant but I knew after ten thousand years of this pain, it would continue, for another ten thousand, and another ten thousand after that and for the first time in my existence I felt a total loss of hope, I came face to face with complete and utter despair.  Then I realized I had put myself in this position.

All I had to have done was say “Yes” when Jesus would call to me and hold out His arms, but I was “too busy” or too cool to give him an answer.  Now, NOW I understood why He had been so relentless in His approach.  He knew what my future would be, He has tried oh so very hard, but me and my “oh so cool” free will chose and chose very poorly.  NOW I understood, when it is too late.

I woke up from my reverie, cold chills ran down my spine.  I prayed desperately, as a drowning woman, “Please God, oh please, don’t let me go there.  Oh please, forgive my sins.  Oh please take my will, take all of me, don’t let me go.  I am so scared, I know I should go there.  Please, please, please don’t let me go there.”  I almost sobbed the words out.

Jesus came, He comforted me, held me in His lap, reminded me how easy it would be to start my day with him, easier yet to end my day with him.  Heck, I don’t even really enjoy the stupid TV shows I watch and my puttering on the computer is just a way to pass the time.  Why not put all that wasted time into Him?  He was right.  So what do I do now?  Watch stupid television shows and putter aimlessly on my computer.

So, I am not proud to say it but I am an apathetic Christian who needs to be turned on, plugged in and tuned up.  I thought to look at the relentless mercy, grace, and love Jesus offers us, of His Relentless Love and as we begin to better understand, and truly fall in love with the true Master and Maker of the Universe.

So, that is my story.  I read Genesis and see how from generation to generation humankind was more interested in their here and now than in their Creator.  So we from what I can see, even with the benefit of the New Testament, we have not grown a whole lot.  What is real, what is necessary for each of us to have the peace in our hearts and souls that we crave is not through things, or stuff, or that new car, or promotion at work; it is getting ourselves right with our Creator.

It is my simple hope that this testimony brings some closer to Jesus Christ, to a saving walk with our creator and savior.    As relentless as His love is for us, we must be as relentless in following Him, in spending time with Him, seeking His wisdom and Grace.

Christmas Spirit?

Christmas …..  Happy Holidays ……. Kwanzaa …….  Black Friday ….. Cyber Monday.    So what is Christmas?  The stores play special music  starting
Halloween or even before urging you to buy.  They are so anxious to give shoppers the best deals they stay open Thanksgiving and on into the frenzy of greed called “Black Friday”.  Let us not forget the deals we can Presentsfind in cyberworld on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  The message is if you care about someone you will buy, buy buy.  So, is that what Christmas is, a time to spend money you don’t have on things people probably don’t want?

Then there is the tree.  Millions are cut down every year.  There are tree farms where the perfect trees are cultivated and grown for this very reason.  EaChristmas Treech year families go out and select a tree for their home decorate it with lights and baubles, put all those presents they are told by retailers they need to give to love and feel loved.  Then  in 2 or 3 weeks they will take that tree  down and drag to the curb.  Just another piece of trash.

Maybe it is all those parties.  People have a lot of parties during Christmas.  Oh, so much fun, perhaps, if you go.  They can also be a source of pain, drink too much, forget yourself, do something you never would have done. Have you ever noticed the smiles on so many of the party goers, so plastic, so fixed.

Then there is the music, makes you feel so warm and tingly inside.  The Snoopycookies, the fudge, the goodies that come in from everywhere!.  An extra hour of workout this week!  Now don’t forget all those TV specials.  The kids jump up and down, watch for a bit and somewhere along the way you realize you are watching “Rudolph” or any of the myriad of Christmas specials they run year after year after year.  You can sing the songs along with the characters you know them so well.

All these things can add to a feeling of happiness, warm fuzziness, or they can lead to despair.  So many are alone, so many cannot face their family again with no job, no money, no tree, no gifts.    All that happens for other families, not for them.  Those who are single often feel a pain, a lonliness.  They just want to get through the “holidays” and get back to normal.

So, as they say in the song, “Is that all there is?”   You make yourself get all excited, then you don’t know why but you feel this … emptiness.  No, that’s wrong, this is Christmas!  How can you feel sad?  Empty?  How can you be asking “Is that all there is?”    Well, if that is all you look for, the tree, the gifts, the parties, yup, that is all there is.  But there is more.

Christmas is the Day of the Savior’s birth.  It is a religious holiday.  It isNativity the day Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity left His heavenly throne to come to earth as a helpless baby to lay in a trough, a place where animals ate.  To live a human life, to stub His toe, scrape His knee, to have to listen to Mom and Dad, to be hungry and thirsty, to have to submit to elders.   All the while having been the One who created the universe, the earth and all that was in it.

As you truly dwell on the enormity of that, of what Christ gave up to come here, to Earth, to allow  beings as sinful and insignificant as mankind to  mock Him, nail Him to a cross all so we could be with Him in Heaven.  As we consider Christ’s whole reason for coming to earth; to teach us how to love, to die on the cross so we could join Him in heaven.  NOW things are starting to fall into place.  Now we begin to see why those other things left us feeling a little empty, now we begin o understand the rest of the story.  For it is not just a babe in a manger, it is the decision of a loving God coming to live and walk among us.  To allow us in our conceit and false wisdom to nail Him to a cross and allow His physical body do die, only to be reanimated proving His conquest over the grave.

Some reject this offer of love, of mercy, of forgiveness of sin, they turn instead to a god of hate, lies, and cruelty so we see scenes like this                 isis2using their hate and love of anarchy and violence to claim to fight for their god.  They steal childhood from children, kill indiscriminately, rape, torture, all in the name of Allah.    I feel no joy in this, my outward joy, it is measured.

We live in a world where the very standards upon which this nation was founded are now considered not politically correct.  We live in a time where our leaders do not lead, where “Black Lives Matter.”  Today, babies can be killed when half born because a woman has a “right to choose”.    In today’s world, all that Jesus said was right is now criticized and what He said was wrong was applauded.  We live in an age when public prayer is forbidden as  is mention of God.  Our post modernistic world is one of the most humanistic, hedonistic civilization that ever lived.

As long as we have children who go to bed hungry or cold, who cry Syrian Christiansthemselves to sleep because they or their parents may not survive the night.  As long as we have such hatred in this world as to allow families to die of cold or starvation as happens in Syria right now; as long as we have drive-by shootings that kill innocent children so some punk can qualify for a gang, I take little joy in the trappings of Christmas.  Oh yes, the tree is up, the presents in all their profusion are slowly making their way under it.  Plans for a feast that will leave everyone groaning from too much food are in full swing, and I will love all of it.   But in my mind’s eye, I will see the children I sponsor who may not survive because they are in the wrong place to be Christian, I will see little children forced to kill, others dead because of the cruelty of a belief.  I will think of those who have given up, who can’t face another Christmas alone or without a job and I will think of the Reason for the Season, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.    We are His floJesusck and He is our shepherd and He will look after each of us as lovingly as we see Him nurture the lamb in His arms.  My spirit is in my heart, in my prayers for those I know in harm’s way,

So before you buy that next present, you know, the one you forgot for Uncle Joe?  or Great Aunt Penny, stop and offer a prayer for the protection and provision of those not as fortunate, take a name off that tree in the store, slip a dollar in the Salvation Army Bucket.  Help to make someone else’s Christmas better than it would have been.

Christmas spirit does not come from shopping, TV shows, carols, or any of the trappings.  It comes from remembering why came to this earth and why.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

A Fortress is My God

Image result for a mighty fortress is our godCan you see it?  That great stone fortress?  It is there; I just need to keep my eyes on Him, my mind and heart in His Word and It is there.  Mighty and strong in the distance, the sun sparkles like diamonds on those great stones, and I know once I reach it I will be safe from the harm and temptation, the evil and pain of this world.  I must keep striving and as I race, running with all my might.  The fear begins to leave, and as I look around I see I am flanked on either side by mighty soldiers!  They are tall and mighty, they fight off the enemy and shout encouragement to me!  A new strength flows through me; I am renewed!

As I reach the ramparts of the fortress, I see so many others calling encouragement. The prayer warriors from all over.  Their prayers sent the soldiers; their prayers sent encouragement and strength to my soul!  As I stayed true, even as I began to faulter, they prayed and prayed on.

My God is my mighty fortress!  He is my rest, my portion, my safety, my strength.  I turn and see the horde of evil that pursued my beaten back by that army of God.  The Lord is there, His arm about my shoulders.  “It is good you are here, loved one.  Rest and refresh, regain your strength for soon you will once again join the good fight.  As I sink into the couch, I find His Word sitting on a table next to me.  Beside it one simple glass of water.  I open the Bible, sip that wonderful, life giving water and I hear Him, in the distance.  “Give your burden to me, loved one.  Take my burden for it is lighter and shared by many.”

I slip off the couch into a deep rug and on my knees, confess my sin.  In simple humility I share my joys and fears, My sins and my blessings.  I share my sorrows, my hopes, and my dreams.    And in that sweet hour of prayer, my rest from the real world, I again begin to feel that overwhelming love. It is hard to realize how much He loves me, but He does.  My breathe catches, it is so hard to breathe with the intensity of His love.  As I rise from the floor I see that fortress fall away,  my comrades are there, still fighting the good fight.

Refreshed and strengthened from my time in the safety of His love, I draw in a breath.  Just before I plunge once again into the struggle against sin, the struggle against the evil one, I look up and utter a thank you, “Thank you, Lord, for loving one such as me.  Thank you, Lord, for believing in me and for loving me.  “

A Note of Apology

I have met some wonderful people on this site and I have let you down.  The posts I have read have been filled with feeling, so much talent, unique and wonderful ideas and I go off, as I so often do, and get involved in something else.  Nothing important, just this and that.  Oh, I always mean to come back, but what do they say about a certain road?  Something about good intentions?  So, my good friends, I owe you an apology, for wandering off following some pretty bird and getting lost, not finding my way back because then there was that baby deer, then a butterfly was so pretty I just had to follow it and I saw a waterfall and then …. well you get the idea.  I have another couple of chapters in that book.  I hope you enjoy them as much as you did the first.  I have to make sure they are complete.  Between the two computers I sometimes wind up with half a chapter on one and half on the other.

What I love about all of you is your  individuality, your honesty, your devotion to your craft.  You have much to teach me.