Monthly Archives: January 2012

Rich or Prosperous

I Don’t Want to be Rich But I do Want to be Prosperous.

 

Wealth is not my goal but neither need it be my opposition.  When wealth is the prime motive, and motive is always more slippery than we’re prepared to admit, we’re likely “to fall into temptation and are trapped by many harmful desires that plunge us (them) into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:9.  And v10 adds, “For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”   You can always tell a person taken by money – it’s all they talk about or that which their conversation sooner or later gets around to.

Prosperity is something all together different.  It is always an attitude before it is ever an acquisition and it exists when the other doesn’t.  3 John 2.  “I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”  This can read – in line with how your soul prospers, how it goes within will determine how it goes without, first things first …  See Psalm 1:1-3 and Joshua 1:7-8.  The unambiguous message is that if God is first, truly, then we will prosper.  Perhaps we could go as far as saying if God is first anything can be second.  Those who find this dangerous or even untenable have forgotten the self regulatory nature of the statement and what God first may actually mean.  Subtlety eludes these people which is often why they like money.

When riches fail so does hope for many people and when riches abound so does a false sense of security along with its obnoxious twin – arrogance.  We are all susceptible to this – none is immune.  In this case well being becomes fickle, tied in dependency to circumstance.

Paul knew how to handle both, much or little, with equal dexterity.  Philippians 4:11-13.  “For I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or with little.  For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me strength.”  And here it is – the secret of living in every situation, whether with much or little.  The help of Christ secured him in either.  This scripture is usually employed in a manner it isn’t strictly directed at.  But it is certain we need the help of Christ when we have and when we don’t have – when we have so that we don’t lose sight of God and priorities and don’t lean into presumption and pride, and when don’t have so that we don’t lose heart and think things of God and ourselves that are patently untrue, none the less temporarily convincing.

Being prosperous can lead to wealth but being rich never necessarily makes one prosperous.

“True religion with contentment is great wealth.”  1 Timothy 6:6.  This wealth doesn’t preclude riches but it is never reliant on them.  To temper this line of reasoning it is worth noting that although he’d learnt the capacity of having or not having Paul was still grateful for the gifts the churches sent him.  Given a choice we, along with the apostle, prefer to have – its more comfortable.  His point is be prepared for whatever condition you find yourself in, as you will.

Money is also to be employed in a manner given little attention by those who amass it and those who spurn it – two equal and opposite errors.  1 Timothy 6:17-18.  “Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money … But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us everything we need for our enjoyment.  Tell them to use their money to do good …”  Most focus is directed to reproof of those who are loaded to not trust in their uncertain wealth (good advice) and to be generous to those with less (again good advice).  But will any admit to wealth also being for enjoyment – that’s right, enjoyment, which is a quality given all too little attention, and it is my contention that unless you are prosperous you’ll never enjoy your wealth.  You’ll either feel guilty or overly protective.

I don’t want to be rich, but I do want to be prosperous.

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Fame or Influence?

I Don’t Want to be Famous But I do Want to be Influential.

 

Fame makes us captive to our audience, we are at their behest.  We become indiscriminately available to others instead of being available to God, which is one of the reasons why Jesus maintained prayer at the height of his popularity.  Popularity can easily turn good into an enemy of God’s will/best.  But who wouldn’t want to stick around when people are clamouring for you, hanging on every word and action?  Mark 1:35-39. “The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him.  They said, “Everyone is asking for you.”  But he replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came.”  So he travelled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people.”

Fame is ‘ability’ or ‘gift’ oriented, whereas influence is ‘character’ oriented, and takes much longer to develop, be effective, and noticed.  Fame intoxicates and consequently deceives us – we begin to believe our press.  Influence goes under the radar for much longer than fame is prepared to. Fame offers the illegitimate; influence has no such offer or interest.  Jesus spurned notoriety and a cheap way to it in favour of giving his attention and life to the worship and service of God and not what was enticingly offered by Satan.  Luke 4:5-8.  “Then the Devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  The Devil told him, “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them — because they are mine to give to anyone I please.  I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’ ”  Not for a moment was this less a temptation to Jesus, because he was Jesus.  If he struggled I’m not sure how we will any the less.

You can be given fame.   Luke 2:52.  “Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.”  But it is another matter to be given to it – it will be a demanding mistress.

I fear for the young (and the not so young) that become famous.  Few have the inner resource to not be affected, a rare person indeed.  Western Christianity has, taking its lead from the world, created a star culture that ‘reflects’ much more than it challenges or ‘reaches.’  And it is very difficult to distinguish the lives of many ‘popular’ Christians from the world around them.  They divorce at the same rate; they are addicted to life enhancers and styles much as those around who have no pretence of moral fibre and belief; they are as disconnected from the safety of community as their fellow travellers, but very rarely did they ever set out to become like they have, but the show must go on.

Influence is a life slowly lived.  It is not on display but is noticed by many.  It is never cheap or easy.

Who has had the most influence in your life?  It is almost certainly not a movie star or media personality, sports star or one famous for being famous – read, vacuous.  And how long has that influence taken?  It is unlikely to be overnight.  People crave for a way forward, accessible and reproducible in their lives.  Influence enables and empowers this need whereas fame creates envy and unhealthy adulation therefore personal minimisation.

I don’t want to be famous, but I do want to be influential.


Faith and Obedience – The Dynamic Duo

By Valerie McIntyre/Donati

Obedience. It isn’t a word that normally conjures up a warm, happy feeling. When I hear the word I think: “prison.” Excellent. Now I have to do something that I probably don’t want to do. Not a lot of attraction in that word. But, in the past few months, as I grapple with the challenges of basically doing 2 ½ jobs, I had a revelation about obedience that helped me see the word in a better light. You see, I know that what I really need is FAITH. I need faith to believe that as I “step out” in business and church life God will both go before me and pave a way for my endeavors, plus provide a cleanup crew behind me when I make mistakes (as you do). It’s wonderful to have a husband, a partner. But Simon can’t save me, or my business.  And, I’m not in favor of saying: “I have faith for this to work, let me sit back and watch God do it.” Even Paul had a profession, and he encouraged others to have one too.

So, I need faith, because I can’t do this alone, and if God doesn’t help me, ultimately I’m on my own. No matter how “good” I am, I’m not good enough to make things work the way that I want them to. I need help. Faith. I need it. But here’s the kicker. Isn’t it the way, that when you NEED faith the most, it seems so hard to find? I can walk around all day long, know what I need, cry out for it from the bottom of my heart and still feel wanting. I know this faith business is not about a feeling, but feelings can help you make it through some days. This is where obedience has become a light in challenging times for me. Obedience is the “easiest” hard thing you may do, but it can set you free. Obedience will position you for success. If you can’t find the faith you need, you can be obedient. Stepping into obedience is an action that produces fruit. Not some of the time—ALL of the time.

There were two things that characterized the life of Jesus: love and obedience. He was obedient to love and for love. He loved so much that he was obedient to death. Sure, he knew he would rise again, but he did ask his father to take it away, if possible. When the answer came back “no” he went through with it. He was obedient and his obedience changed the world. In my life the biggest, most lasting, most productive changes have come through acts of obedience. Celibacy, tithing, truthfulness. None of the things come naturally or are any fun, but my life has pivoted positively on the decision to be obedient. When I don’t have it in me to bring up faith I know I can go to a place of obedience and trust that God will show up and take care of things. My circumstances may not always reflect what I think I need or want, and the timing may be all off (according to me) but I know I am in a safe space, a place where I can be blessed. Most importantly I am in a position to be used by God for his purposes. If there is a place in your life that you feel God is calling you to be obedient give it a try and watch him go to work.


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