Monthly Archives: October 2011

Money Matters

Money – it Matters.

 

Luke 16:10-11.  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven.”  Three ‘givens’ and three outcomes.

 

Faithfulness, trust and honesty, and their distortions, are terms that go together.  They indicate moral fibre and a trust outside of one’s self, as well as a healthy fear (an unpopular thought but one unable to be disconnected from morality and its final implication – God).

 

True riches don’t get near a person who doesn’t know how to properly handle money,  and not just money – wealth.  A failure of ‘appreciation’ is a failure of inheritance – true riches.  True Spirituality has very earthly beginnings.

 

Money mattered when Israel entered the promised land and money mattered when the early church was under the grace of God – their entry to promise.  Two scenarios, two tragic outcomes, two arresting lessons.  Both fuelled by money and it’s derivatives.

 

Joshua 6:18, This declares Jericho to be “under the ban” as regards any of its booty.  Everything belonged to the house of God, to God.  It was a city marked for destruction. Nobody was to take anything from it as the theft would incur the lifting of protection and covenant blessings to the nation –  “or you yourselves will be completely destroyed.”  God first – Jericho, the people second – Ai.  An age old demand of holiness and separation. (see Joshua 8:26-27)

 

But Achan couldn’t resist.  He looked and stole.  Joshua 7:20-21.  “I wanted them so much that I took them.”  He buried them under his tent thus sealing the doom of all that was his.  He kept at home something that was dedicated to God. It was the harbinger of death.

 

His greed killed him.  Had he waited until Ai he would have had more than enough, let alone the plunder of all the other the cities razed by Joshua.  Delayed  gratification is just that.  Wait.  Greed, it seems, has short legs and no capacity to wait.  Beautiful things wasn’t ultimately the issue – his greed was.  But it was a greed that had huge and fatal consequences.

 

If something can be or is a blessings then it can also be the opposite in wrong hands, conditions and circumstances.  Blessings doesn’t have as an opposite neutrality.  Moral choice, obedience, the favour of God, is not a one sided coin.  Implication is on the other side.  Blessing or cursing.  Moses had already told them to make a choice.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20.  “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.  Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live.  You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, and obeying him and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.”

 

Achan made a choice, the wrong choice.  He and his family died outside of fulfilment and possession.  His choice was death to thirty six soldiers and his entire family (who appear complicit to a certain degree – a hole in the tent floor doesn’t get dug unnoticed) and himself.

 

Money – it mattered.

 

If there is a NT counterpart to this story in it the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 4:32-5:11.

 

Barnabas had sold a field in his home in Cyprus. He then brought the proceeds, all of them, and placed them at the feet of the apostles.  What isn’t stated was how long this took to do.  Maybe he did it through an agency or maybe he went home to do it.  Whatever, it was noticed and it has been recorded by Luke as an important and memorable event in the life of the early church.

 

It is likely Ananias and Sapphira saw the accolade or recognition Barnabas, unsolicited, received and wanted the same themselves.  Something went wrong in between selling their property and giving the money.  Peter told them, “The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished.  And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away.”  The money was always theirs to choose what to do with.  No compulsion surrounded sale and gifting.

 

They weren’t directly greedy as Achan had been but their sin was none the less serious for it.  They chose to lie to the apostles, therefore ultimately to God’s Holy Spirit –  the agency of generosity.  Deceit in giving was their undoing – not giving itself. They wanted to appear sold out, like Barnabas, even though they actually gave less because of it.  The amount itself wasn’t the issue.  They lied deliberately and in agreement.

 

Both of them fell dead because of their act, and because of the environment it was committed in – a season of open grace and power.  They knew exactly what they were doing and to whom.  Grace isn’t an excuse for lax living, it is a power of right living.

 

These occasions were both formative and pivotal moments in the history of God’s people.  Both dealt with people’s dealings with money.  One was under the law, a ban, the other under conscience, grace. One was an action of greed, the other an action of deceit.  Both had tragic, fatal ends. Money and God matter.  Money and how we handle it matters.  You can’t fool with the law via disobedience but equally you can’t fool with grace by deceit either.

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Single is not a Dirty Word – Valerie Donati/McIntyre

“Single” Is Not A Dirty Word

 

 

I’ve been single for most of my life, and unless I live until I’m 100 years old when I die I will have been single for most of my life. Here’s what I have to say on the matter: being single isn’t as bad as most of us think. This is not a new idea, based on a new, bad marriage. I have been happily married for about 10 months now. I’d be lying if I said it’s been a walk in the park. How could it be when two adults get together, with a personal lifetime of doing things “their way?” My husband thinks it’s easier on him, since he’s been married. He’s probably right, he certainly seems a lot more relaxed and grounded, and for that I am very grateful. I’m a bit of an emotional live wire, so it’s a good thing I married someone much more stable than myself, but I digress… Being single has infinite opportunities and joys associated with it. True, I would rather be married, and I would rather being married to Simon than to anyone in the world, as I tell him daily. I don’t look back on my single life with longing in my heart, because I am too reasonable to want something just because it was easier at times. But, I have been thinking a lot about my life as a single woman, and toward the end of those last 10 years, it was quite special. So here’s three bits of advice for single people.

First thing, make the most of your life as a single person. Don’t wait for life to “start” when you’re married. Start it now. Do those things you’d like to do with a husband (or wife), except have babies. I always wanted to learn how to play golf. This is not a game for the fainthearted… I went for it, I joined a golf club patronized by ALL married people, most of them much older than me. I had a grand time and no one seemed to care that there was just me. I made a point of playing with the ladies, not a good idea as a single woman to just play with their husbands. And a few of the older guys took me under their wing. I went to the social events, even when I felt awkward. Everyone appreciated my love of the game and that I didn’t let being single stop me from participating in group activities. It was an amazing experience. Some of the best games I had, though were on my own. My club was on an island with rugged green hills, ancient oaks trees and the smell of salt in the air. In the summer the light alternated between a shimmering gold and a moody, overcast gray. There were seabirds from Argentina and in the evening little rabbits and foxes and deer would venture out to play. It was a bit of the dream and I loved walking the course, just me and me, trying to perfect a game I would never really be good at, and loving the aloneness and solitude. I’ve had equally good times in the city, stopping into a little Korean bar, ordering a wine by myself and watching the cavalcade of smartly dressed people pass by. If you can embrace this season of your life you’ll find the magic in the exceptional and the mundane. The first time I really spent time with Simon was Christmas Eve—I hosted his family in my apartment on Fifth Avenue. It was a lovely time; he has the MOST incredible family. But the best part was waking up the next day on Christmas, alone, in my pretty apartment, just feeling relaxed and thankful for my life. That cup of coffee on your own in the morning can be one of the best moments of your week, you just have to see it that way.

Second, be thankful for what you DO have. So often, we focus on what we don’t have and forget all the lovely things in our world—our friends, our health, the benefits of where we live. Just take a moment and consider those less fortunate than yourself and hopefully that will set your head straight. Single or married, I have to do that everyday. I’m embarrassingly self-focused, at times. It’s SO easy to get caught up in our own world, little or small, and think what is important to us is the most important thing. It’s usually not, a sobering reality. Yes, I was single and a bit lonely, but I had gorgeous friends, people who really cared about my wellbeing and had my back. I’d be surprised if you don’t have the same. And if you don’t, start putting yourself out there and help someone else, that will create a friendship.

Third, remember you are not alone. You might feel alone, but you’re not. Once you’ve made Jesus the number one thing in your life you do have a friend—for life. Now, I know my blog is read people who don’t believe what I believe, but I’m going to say it anyway, he really makes a difference. Through all my really dark days I never felt alone. I’ve been through some perfectly tragic moments in my life. Some perpetrated on me, some that I willing walked right into. When I met Christ, even when I was desperately sad, when my heart was breaking, when I woke terrified in the middle of the night, I knew that no matter what, I truly had someone who had my back. Call it what you want, I call it the best reassuring force in the universe. I call it someone who knows me much better than I know myself. And more than anything, I call it a lover who will always love you, no matter what you’ve done to push them away. If you don’t know him, I’d say give it a try. If you do, please don’t forget someone loves you more than you can ever imagine. “The Lord is my shepherd, I will NOT, NEVER, EVER be in want.” He’s got you covered. Especially when you’re on your own.

 


The Last Supper

Mark 14:12-26.  The Last Supper and Transubstantiation

At the Last Supper Jesus broke a piece of bread and he drank from a wine cup.  He told the disciples these elements he held and ingested were his ‘body’ and ‘blood.’  Yet he was present so he wasn’t saying that he had turned into those elements, or that they were his actual body and blood because his actual body and blood was there present with the others – in person.  You can’t have it both ways.  He was either actually there or the elements were transformed into his body and blood, but not both.

The difference is that he took the bread “and blessed it,” and took the cup “and gave thanks,” for it – v22-25.

Blessing doesn’t change the substance of a thing, it confers upon a thing a new meaning and value.  When the disciples gathered they would no longer eat ‘just’ bread as it would remind them of the self-giving of the saviour.  Broken bread was his body and the wine was a confirmation of the covenant between God and Israel – God and man.  Jesus used what appears to be, and is, very literal terms but we would be unwise to press the point beyond the point being made – he was the fulfilment of the covenant, his death the means of fulfilment, his resurrection the manner in which God was reconciled to man.  Passover was a prefiguring of him.  He was God’s final word – literally.  His death accomplished what others thought someone’s life would accomplish.

And the ‘Indiana Jones’ like idea of a chalice or crumbs from the table having saving value is to miss the point – the point was, and is, Jesus himself.  The bread and wine, which were common enough elements, pointed to a completely uncommon act/person.


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