Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We're All a Little Weird

All of us are a little strange, because to be strange is to be out of the ordinary; and there are way too many human varieties to ever define what is absolutely normal. We can define what is right, but not what is normal.

A college student had just heard a lecture on psychopathology. He raised his had for permission to ask a question. “Yes,” the teacher said, acknowledging him. “You have a question?”

“Yes, Professor. You’ve told us about the abnormal person and his behavior, but what about the normal person?”

“Well,” the professor responded after a pause, “If we ever find him, we’ll cure him.”

It’s because of that common trait of weirdness that Paul instructs the Ephesians to “put up with each other in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Putting up each other means keeping the relationship between us strong despite fault and weirdness. We need to do that in all of our relationships. Keep your relationship strong with your spouse, your kids, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your neighbors, your coworkers, and the family you’ll visit for Christmas. I know they are strange, but so are you. That’s Life at Work!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Giving Challenge

The rich man didn’t walk away sad because he had nothing to give. The poor widow didn’t give all she had just because she only had one coin. The rich man walked away sad and widow gave all she had because of attitudes about God and money.

We’ve got a real challenge before us in 2007. We are being asked, as the body of Christ in our community, to give more each week than we have ever given. Some might say, “Have you seen gas prices recently?” Others might ask, “Don’t you know that debt loads are increasing for the average family?” Still others ask, “Are you watching the housing costs?”

The truth is that while gas prices are higher, debt loads are heavier, and housing costs are often through the roof, all that has little to do with whether people make the choice to be generous in their spiritual, charitable giving. Our choice has to do with how we answer these five questions:

Is my spiritual, charitable giving my first decision regarding money? The principle of giving firstfruits to God is longstanding. “Bring your firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God,” was God’s expectation for the Israelites (Exodus 34:26). After the captivity in Babylon, the Jews who heard Ezra read the Law promised they would give the firstfruits of the flocks and the firstborn of their herds and flocks to God (Nehemiah 10:35-36). Therefore, when we consider how we will spend our income in the future, we should consider spiritual, charitable giving first.

Am I seeing the need to support the ministry of the body of Christ with my income? The church does important work. As the “fullness of him that fills all in all” our obligation is to the mission that Christ began and placed in our hands.

Do I see my money as a gift from God and something to be used according to his direction? Paul told Timothy that money, like all other good things, is a gift from God for the purposes of enjoyment and sharing with others (1 Tim 6:17). We are stewards of our time, our abilities, and our money. We are to use money for the glory of the God, who has graciously given it to us.

Do I have allegiance to God above money? The Pharisees loved money and Jesus warned that one can’t serve both? The rich ruler (Matt 19) apparently loved his money and he walked away from Jesus though he pursued Jesus at first. Paul cautioned Timothy regarding those who pierced themselves with many griefs because they loved money and were led to all kinds of evil.

Do I trust Jesus when he says that if I will seek the kingdom of God first, then God will give me what I need? Do I really believe that I will reap what I sow?

When you consider spiritual giving first, understand the importance of supporting the ministry of the body, see your money as a gift from God, are committed to God instead of mony, and trust Jesus to provide for you daily; then you will meet the challenge of 2007 with your highest level of generosity ever! That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Circumstances for Good

In his recent book, Prayer, Philip Yancey quotes author John Baille about using the circumstances of life for good instead of evil.  “Teach me, O God, so to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin.”  Specifically he prayed:

Let me use disappointment as material for patience.
Let me use success as material for thankfulness.
Le me use trouble as material for perseverance.
Let me use danger as material for courage.
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering.
Let me use praise as material for humility.
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance.
Let me use pain as material for endurance.

What have the recent circumstances of your life been turned to by you?  More importantly, what are you going to make out of the circumstances of your life today and tomorrow, assuming tomorrow comes?  Use everything today as material for good.  You won’t be working alone; God is leading the way.  That’s Life at Work!