Thursday, October 30, 2008

Heavenly Investments

When we give, the blessings we receive outweigh our original investment. Jesus put it this way: “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

When Debbie Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies) opened her first store she was anxious to get her first customer. Her impatience led her to step outside with a tray of fresh-baked cookies and start giving away samples. Many people decided to buy the cookies they sampled. Debbie discovered that giving and receiving are often connected.

The Apostle Paul was impressed with the sacrificial giving of the Philippians. They gave from their poverty not from their abundance. He wrote to them, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)

I guess if you can’t take it with you, you can send it on ahead. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)

Charitable giving is not only tax deductible but also, according to the Bible, a heavenly investment. James L. Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods, gave 25% of his fortune to Christian causes for many years. He said, “The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money that I have given to the Lord.”

Are you investing enough to get a healthy return? A wealthy but stingy woman died and went to heaven. She was told that she would be taken to the house, which had been prepared for her. She passed by many beautiful mansions but her house was small and rundown. She complained and protested, but she was told, “I’m sorry, but this is all we could do for you with the materials you sent up.”

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (I Timothy 6:18-19)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gossip is a ruthless killer of honest reputations

Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongueof the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

As two people were exchanging in a juicy tidbit of gossip one said, "Tell me more!"

"I can't. I've already told you more than I know."

A psychology teacher used to stage an unusual occurrence such as a fake shooting on the first day of class-with the details carefully rehearsed. He would then pass out a paper with questions about s what happened for his students to answer. He found that 90 percent of the answers to what actually happened were wrong.

The experiment shows how imperfectly we hear and see especially when our emotions are involved. Nevertheless people are often ready to pass along little tidbits of misinformation.

Gossip is a destructive force that divides people and provokes petty jealousy, envy, hatred and intolerance. It can destroy the reputation of a helpless individual. Like an avalanche it picks up all kinds of debris along the way and ends up unrecognizable from its original form. Rumor is just another word for gossip and so is tattling.

God considered gossip to be such a serious matter that it’s one of the TOP 10 sins, "Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"

When you repeat something you heard from someone else or share a story where you're not 100% certain the facts are correct, you are bearing false witness against them.

Suppose that the scandalous story about someone you know is actually true. Why speak ill of a person even if it’s true? Gossip is never justified and only brings harm.

Most gossip in the church is disguised as good. It can be hidden in a prayer request or in a desire to help a backslidden brother or sister. Sometimes, when we hear someone speak ill of another brother or sister, our first instinct is to let the victim of the gossip know. However, if you don’t pass on the gossip there is nowhere for it to go.

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 26:20 (NIV)

If you do pass the gossip along, it will sound worse when you repeat it and it probably won’t help the offended party. It’s probably best to ignore it or encourage the potty mouth to speak directly to the other person. Remember, in gossip as in robbery, the receiver is as guilty as the thief!

The Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Your words are a clue to your character. Your reputation and Christian witness is on the line so always look for the best in each person. Bless what you can bless, thank who you can thank and encourage what is right. Make a daily habit of emphasizing the good instead of the bad in others, not only to their faces, but to others with whom you engage in conversation.

You will win more friendships and develop greater peace of mind. A word of encouragement is all that may be needed to prevent a failure.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11( NASB)

There are three questions that ought to be a guide to your speech.


If that is not enough, then remember the words of Jesus, “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every word they utter; for by your words, you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:3 (KJV)

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's All His Anyway

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours
the world and all its fullness,
You have founded them.
The north and the south, You have created them.
Ps 89-11-12

People argue over whether a child’s first words will be mama or dada but I am convinced that is usually “mine”. As we grow up, that four letter word can become one of the major obsessions of our lives. We work hard almost all of our lives so that we can own things: an ipod, a car, a house… Owning stuff can often turn out to be the way that we keep score in our lives.

We claim ownership of homes and cars even if we are still making payments. Sometimes we joke about the bank owning the car or house but the jokes betray the notion we have that after the loan is paid off we will own our home, free and clear. Of course once we have clear title we can do whatever we wish on our property (as long as it doesn’t violate code) and live on it as long as we want (as long as we pay our taxes). No one can drive us away (unless the government claims eminent domain because they want to put a highway through our house.)

The government has a claim on our property but so does God. We are not owners, we are managers. What we do with our stuff matters to God. Jesus told several stories about managers, here’s one:

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ’My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. Luke 12:42-46:

A good manager is a servant of the boss and does what is best for their boss. When I was a bivocational pastor, I managed a McDonalds. The owner paid me a salary and provided benefits. He deserved my best efforts at taking care of the building and equipment in my care, protecting his reputation and carrying out my mission to make him a profit. Can I do any less with the life and possessions entrusted to me by God?

God owns it all. Not just the 10% we give back but the 90% (or more) we keep. What we do with the stuff with which God has blessed us (how we invest it, how we spend it, etc.) is done on God’s behalf. Are you honoring God with your choices?

Hoarding stuff (we might need it some day) can be a denial that God can provide for our needs. Is there really security in owning more shoes than you can wear? Do you need every item in your house?

There was a missionary who would periodically lay out all his possessions (he did not have many). Whatever he had not used in a year would be given away. He believed if he did not need it he was depriving someone else. We acknowledge God’s goodness and providence when we hold on to things lightly. God is generous to us; we ought to be generous as well. We ought to dedicate our homes, our cars, our finances, our very lives to Him. After all, it’s all His anyway.