Which Language Do You Speak Most?

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Matthew 12;34b (NASB)

Our choice of words makes a difference. Sure, we use words to influence others, but I’m more interested at the moment in what our words reveal about us and how we may be influenced by our own words. Consider these three phrases:

I want to… This is the language of self-centeredness. It’s all about me. My desires may be good, or they may be bad. It doesn’t matter, they’re mine. And I intend to satisfy them.

I need to… This is the language of obligation. Again, the source of that obligation may be good or it may be bad. It could be rooted in a healthy sense of responsibility, or in fear, or in selfish ambition, or in legalism.

I choose to… This is the language of love…or not.  Love, at it’s core, is an act of the will – a continuous set of decisions we make.  If God had not given us a free will, it would be impossible for us to love. When our choices are motivated by the best interest of others, we demonstrate love. When motivated by our self-interest, it’s selfishness. God equipped us to choose.

I can choose to do what I want to do, and if I have been transformed to desire the things that please God, fulfilling my desires is a good thing.

I can choose to do what I need to do, and if my needs are aligned with loving God and loving others, with faith that He will take care of me (Matthew 6), then meeting my obligations is a good thing.

Perhaps saying “I choose” more than “I want” or “I need” would make me more aware of the motivation behind my choices. The synergy between heart and mouth might be a powerful tool in the transformation from selfishness to love.

I don’t want to, but I choose to.  I don’t need to, but I choose to.  I choose acts of love, acts of worship.

Advertisements

Why Even Rich People Should Ask for Money…

The Ministry of Asking…

When I was in my teens and twenties, I could easily have been persuaded to become a career missionary except for one thing: There’s no way I was going to ask other people for financial support. If I was being honest I probably would have said, “God, I’ll do anything you want except ask people for money.”dollar-2091736_640

As my life journey continued, I thought maybe God was prospering my career so that one day I could afford to send myself into ministry without burdening others. But even as my bank account grew, God was transforming my thinking. I began to see fundraising not as something we do so that we can do ministry, but as an important part of the ministry God intends for us to embrace.

After all, God has no shortage of resources and could easily fund every well-intended ministry without having to involve other people. But He rarely does that. Why?

Here are some of the reasons why I’ve decided that I need to ask others to financially participate in my missions activities even if I can just write checks and pay for them myself:

  1. I need to know that others believe in what I’m doing. If Godly people who know me are not supportive, I should question whether this is really something I should be doing.
  2. Asking for money is humbling. There is no more appropriate way to enter into a ministry opportunity than from a humble posture. The more money I have of my own, the more humbling it is to ask, and the more I need to be humbled — especially as I engage with those who have so much less.
  3. God wants to use me in the lives of those who support me. It may be helping them learn the joy of giving; learning to discern when to say “yes” and when to say “no”; or possibly something totally unrelated to money that God gives me the opportunity to speak into.
  4. It allows them to fulfill their calling. Not everyone is called to go; but those who aren’t may still be called to give or pray for those who do go. I don’t want to deny them the opportunity to participate in God’s work according to their ability.
  5. They get connected to other aspects of God’s work. You may be connecting them to a ministry they’ll become part of for a long time. Their eyes may be opened to the breadth of God’s love and work around the world.  That ultimately expands their view of God himself.
  6. Their support may exceed your needs. That excess provides resources to the ministry that they wouldn’t have if I wrote a check just covering my own portion. Donors to each of my disaster relief trips have provided extra money to help the survivors.

If those are good reasons to raise support, why would I just pay for it myself?  Pride.

Peace Without Understanding

A sufferer once came to a pastor and asked him many questions. The pastor answered, “Kneel here in church and ask Jesus for the answers.” The man replied, “Do you really think I will hear a voice from heaven?” “No,” said the pastor, “but by keeping quiet in prayer for several hours before God, you will realize that you can go along without answers to all your problems. This would have been Jesus’ answer and it will quiet you.” You do not need more than His peace, which passes all understanding. You do not need both peace and understanding, for understanding presupposes qualifications that most of us do not have.

Wurmbrand, Richard. 100 Prison Meditations: Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain
(Kindle Locations 143-148). Living Sacrifice Book Company. Kindle Edition.

Gaining Strength From the Little Things…

If I never learn to say “no” to my own desires…
…when I want yet another cookie…
…when I want to go to a movie I shouldn’t see even though my friends are going…
…when I want to spend some money that I should save…
…when I want to play another video game instead of taking out the trash…
…when I want to post something on social media that will dishonor someone else…
…when I want to check for new messages while I’m in the middle of a live conversation…

If I never learn to say “no” to the simple, little, daily choices in life,
how will I have the strength to say “no” when I face the bigger decisions and temptations that are sure to come?

Will I be able to say, “no” to my own desires…
…when I don’t want to have that difficult conversation that needs to be had?
…when I don’t want to help that person who has a need that I can meet?
…when I would be uncomfortable sharing my faith with someone?
…when professing my faith might cost me my freedom or my life?

Jesus said “no” to His life with His Father in Heaven so He could come to Earth as a man and die a death that He did not want to die (Mat 26:39).  He did this so that we could know the joy of living our lives for God’s glory forever instead of for our own short-term happiness.

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?      – Luke 16:10-11 (NASB)

I tried a thing.

Here’s an insightful and challenging blog post from my young friend, Andrew.

Andrew Ma Recording

Sometimes, you should stop and look around you. Really look. The things you’ll see might surprise you. They certainly surprised me.

In my time studying the Bible, I saw some huge, magnificent statements:

Jesus prayed,

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Paul spoke of the enemies of the cross, saying,

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Then, Paul shared of what God had taught him:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

The Biblical idea seems pretty…

View original post 740 more words

Let’s Make America Great Again

Some define greatness by how much power we have. I define greatness by the good that we do with however much power we have. God empowers those who use His power well.

The Promises of God We Don’t Want

We love to claim God’s promises in scripture — at least some of them. Some we prefer not to think about.

Some promises — we might call them “consequences” — are promises that come as the result of our bad choices.

This topic comes to mind because of Friday’s Executive Order by the President stopping the refugee program for 120 days and severely crippling it thereafter.

Never mind that America is built on immigration; or that most economists say immigration is good for our economy; or that refugees have hadfence-978138_1280 little to do with domestic terrorism. It’s true that three Americans have been killed by refugee terrorists — they were from Cuba back in the 1970s, before the Refugee Act of 1980 created systematic entry procedures. Targeting refugees, which the State Department already describes as the “most highly scrutinized” and “most vigorously vetted” path to entering the US, is like fixing a dripping faucet while a broken pipe pours gallons of water into your kitchen.

But let’s assume everything in that last paragraph is wrong. If Christians are going to claim the Bible as the ultimate authority on how we are to live our lives, none of that is as important as the teachings of scripture.

What does the Bible teach about immigration and refugees in particular? A 2015 Lifeway Research survey determined that only 12% of Evangelical Christians consider scripture to be the primary influence on their view of immigration.

I can make a Biblical case for protecting our country and our families. But that isn’t a strong theme in scripture. It’s a stronger theme that God will defend those who are committed to His purposes. One of the strongest of those purposes is care for the most vulnerable (widows, orphans, homeless, and foreigners) and especially those who are victims of injustice — e.g. refugees.

In case this isn’t clear, refugees are those who have left their home country because of “a credible fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group.” You’re not a refugee because you want to find a better place to make a living, or because there was an earthquake in your home country. You are a refugee because of a credible fear of injustice.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of verses that apply to refugees:

Deut 10:19 Love them
Deut 14:28-29 Use tithes to bless them
Deut 31:11-12 Assemble with them to listen to God’s Word
Deut 16:11 Celebrate God’s blessings with them
Deut 24:19-20 Take care of their physical needs
Deut 27:19 Cursed is he who distorts the justice due them
Eze 22:29-31 God’s wrath on those who wrong them
Zech 7:10-13 God won’t listen to those who oppress them
Mal 3:5 God’s swift judgment against those who turn them aside
Isa 58 promises God’s blessing when we stop seeking our own pleasure to bring them into our own homes and care for them.

So we get to choose — individually and as a nation — which promises of God we want to experience.

God is faithful to deliver on His promises.  Like it or not.