Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saving and Counting the Cost

I have to tell you that I thought a lesson on saving money -- that's the Weekend Bible Study (WBS) lesson I was supposed to teach at the Big Church -- would be a pretty boring lesson. I mean, what is there to it? "God wants us to save money." Now what else are we going to say? So, to be honest, I was pretty relieved when Easter Sunday morning "bumped" me from my usual teaching schedule.

However, just for drill, I read through the material and studied the lesson anyway and was quickly reminded that, as with everything in our lives, the reasoning, the heart, if you will, behind why we do anything -- saving, spending, or whatever -- is really the meat of the matter. And with that in mind, I discovered that there were actually some pretty important points we needed to consider behind the idea of saving. So when it came time to teach my next class, I knew I needed to combine the lesson we'd missed with the one for the current week, "Counting the Cost."

It turned out that a lesson on counting the cost was a full of as much food for thought as any other lesson we'd had, but if I were honest, metaphorically, it was one of the few all-you-can-eat buffets that, left on my own, I'd have had no trouble passing up.

I mean, the truths those lessons exposed us to are hard ones -- ones that I personally struggle mightily with. Like most folks, including many of us "set-apart" people, I tend to think of the money in my bank account as just that: MINE! And if there's any left over after paying the bills, then it's MINE to SPEND! but if I take the time to recognize and acknowledge that it's all really Papa-God's and that I'm the steward -- the caretaker -- of those funds, then well, it puts a whole 'nother spin on things. One that, frankly leaves my head spinning!

Still, if I truly want to pour myself totally into Papa-God's hands, then that means pouring all of myself into His hand -- including my finances. Now I'm used to trusting God to provide finances -- and He's always been faithful -- but I'm not used to His trusting me to then, in turn, proved Him with finances. And isn't that part of what we're learning? that He provides us with resources so that we can then use those resources to accomplish His will and purpose? (Top often, I find myself much more committed to accomplishing my will and purpose.)

Yup, recognizing that Papa-God's name is on "my" bank account definitely puts a different spin on things, and sometimes it leaves us all felling a bit dizzy.

Food for thought. Eat up!


Monday, May 4, 2009


I once heard a well-known tele-evangelist comment on the need for some "retail therapy." She'd had a busy few days, she said, hadn't had a chance to go shopping for a while (at least a week or two), and so she told her husband that she really needed to stop by a favorite store on the way home from the conference where she was speaking, just to buy a little something to perk herself up. There was a definite sense of entitlement hanging in the air as she shared the details of her exhilarating drive-by shopping trip. I don't remember her story having any point other than that God wants to indulge all of His children with nice baubles and beautiful things -- that after all, as as children of the King, we should be cloaked in nothing less than the finest of royal robes, with our jewel-encrusted signet rings firmly in place (my words, not hers, but that was the drift).

Except for the attempted spiritual spin, isn't that the same message we're bombarded with daily from the Madison Avenue marketing crowd?

You know you want it. You need it. And, heck!
You've earned it, and you deserve it! (Oh, and if
you haven't yet earned it, you can always get it
on credit! You know, "Fake it 'til you make it!")

And when that kind of message comes from those who are supposedly on our team, is it any wonder that many of us who are called to be the set-apart ones end up acting not a whole lot different from the rest of the world? Is it any wonder that we, too, begin to develop our own sense of entitlement? That we, too, buy into the idea
of purchasing power -- the idea that if we can buy sex appeal, status, and significan stuff, then surely financing a little contentment ought to be a drop in the bucket.

But we
are called to be the set-apart ones -- those who live differently because of who we are in Christ. And how we use the resources we're given -- whether we use them to garner the things we think will bring us contentment or whether we trust God for our contentment and allow Him to direct how we use our resources -- is one of the greatest indicators of whether we're living the set-apart life.

Financial guru Dave Ramsey puts it this way: We are to "live like no one else so that we can
live like no one else." I can't think of a better way to describe every aspect of the set-apart life we are called to.