Sunday, July 30, 2006

Treasure in Heaven

I just got done having a great conversation about money, comfort, safety, and security with a friend who is visiting from out of town. We disagreed on a few of the details, but basically came to the same conclusion--that Christians in America need to be a heck of a lot more generous. So, with this subject still in mind, I'm posting about Christ's comments in the Sermon on the Mount and giving a testimony of God's provision in my own life.

In Matthew 6:19-24 Christ says,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

Jesus is pretty clear about something here--DON'T STORE UP TREASURE HERE ON EARTH!! But unfortunately, not all commands are easily obeyed or understood. One question I've come up with is "how do I know when I'm storing up treasure in heaven?" I think the key to unlocking this is found in verse 21: "...where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It could be stated this way, "if your heart is in your new car, guitar, house, clothes, engagement ring, etc..., then you are storing up treasure on earth." Or the opposite, "if your heart is in using your money to further God's kingdom on earth by giving to the spiritually and physically poor, in your church, community, country, and world, then you are storing up treasure in heaven." This doesn't mean that owning things like houses, cars, and guitars (especially guitars) is intrinsically wrong, however. Rather, I think that we need to be constantly evaluating our lifestyle and spending habits to see if our treasure is in heaven or here. For me, a scary thought is that God may someday move me to sell a lot of my musical equipment to give to somebody who needs money more than I need guitars and amps.

So, this all puts me in a unique and difficult position. Right now I make $7.50/hr. Right now I'm trying to get out of debt as fast as possible. Right now I'm raising support to be a missionary. Right now I have a huge desire to be generous and give out of my poverty to those who are going to the mission field, or experiencing financial difficulties. These are all seemingly conflicting thoughts that pull me in different directions, each giving its own excuse for why it is right. But, I know that I need to store up my treasure in heaven, and that "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (2 Cor 9:6) These principles are beginning to shape how I view life, and how I am planning my future. I don't want to just take every penny I get and spend it on my own comfort, pleasure, and security. I have spent enough time doing that already. I want to live and give in such a way that provides for God's work in the lives of people who I know He is using to reach the world, and that shows other Christians that they can live a lot more simply than they actually do.

Anyway, God recently gave me a great example of this principle at work. He moved a friend to give me a substantial sum of money to put toward my debt. This friend and his wife just moved away and are currently unemployed. But they gave sacrificially, and I look forward to seeing the blessing that God will pour out on them for their obedience. I look forward to the opportunities that He will give me to give in the same manner. I look forward to the treasure, now unseen, that we will all see some day if we are obedient to God's command to store up treasure in heaven.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life really sucks...sometimes

Today is one of those days. Melancholy spread through me sometime this evening, leaving me hopeless, judgmental, and just plain depressed. If you're reading this or care, or maybe even both, please pray for me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pleasure and Pain, or, Xbox's and Underwear

Wow. God really knows how to test me. Truth is applied to life in the oddest ways, but always for our benefit. For example, as I have read the book of James this past few weeks, God has impressed upon me a new way to look at trials. It's really a simple thing, and I'm not completely certain about some of the details, but my new doctrine was definitely tested tonight.

In James 1, it says that every good and perfect gift is from above. It also says that we aren't to say that it is God who tempts us to sin, but rather, our flesh luring us away from the truth. Traditional Dualism pits good against evil, God against the devil, in every situation. A sort of cosmic battle. I don't think this could be farther from the truth. Surely, there is a battle, but our God is in control of every little detail, not just the things that we traditionally want to give thanks for (a healthy baby, new job, car, wife, $$, etc...). I think we have a skewed sense of pleasure and pain.

We associate pleasure with things that give us certain physical or emotional sensations and pain with opposing sensations. I think this is very wrong. Why are we so quick to trust our flesh over God and His promises. God desires us to experience true pleasure no matter what He sends our way. Like tonight, when I was getting ready to round third base and head for home and I suddenly pulled up lame. Most people would say "pulled hamstring=pain." Physically, yes. My neurons were firing pain signals to keep me from continuing. But spiritually, I had to praise God for giving me this seemingly unpleasurable experience, knowing that it was a good and perfect gift from above. It was the only and best thing that God could have possibly given me at that time, otherwise, he would not have given it. I don't just think the things my flesh tells me are pleasurable are good gifts from God. Now, I think everything, no matter what my body or emotions say, is a perfect gift from God, and try to not let my flesh lure me into temptation and death. It was C.S. Lewis who said it is not that we are too focused on pleasure through sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but that we are too easily pleased (paraphrase). So, I think we are too quick to rob God of His due for giving us not only the gifts that feel good, but also the gifts that we need to really grow, but don't feel good.

It's like at Christmas time--we want to say God gave us the Xbox and not the underwear.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Wed like an Egyptian

I just got back from a friend's wedding in Dallas/Fort Worth at 5am. A group of us here in laramie car pooled down all night on Friday--a good sixteen hour drive--then went to the wedding Saturday night and drove back Sunday. We left way too late and paid the price for it. Anyway, the wedding was good and I got to see some people I haven't seen for a long time, which was also good. I love to catch up with people and see where the Lord has taken them.

Have a good Fourth and God Bless.