Navigating by Dadâ€™s Advice Separation of Church and State The Delusion, Part II Life in the Hinterland Bowing to the Blue Bird (tweet, tweet)
A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.
GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man June 2012, Vol. 3 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher Rob Beames, Editor Donna Lee Schillinger with Daniela Bermudez, Page Design Kimberly M. Schluterman Editorial Support Contributors Julie Ann, Will Dole, Thomas Mollohan, Dustin Neeley, Paul Tripp, and Donna Lee Schillinger Except where noted, content is copyright 2012 On My Own Now Ministries. Articles may be reprinted with credit to author, Genuine Motivation and www.OnMyOwnNow.com. On My Own Now Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) determination. Your donations aid in our mission to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults during their transition to living on their own. We welcome submissions of original or repurposed articles that are contributed without expectation of compensation. May God repay you. Visit us at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.
in this issue... Foremost
Your Ministry Is Not Your Identity by
Acts of Obedience by
Can You Relate Life in the Hinterland by
An Election Year
Separation of Church and State (The Delusion) Part II by
Dad was Right: Money Doesnâ€™t Grow on Trees
According to Him by
Donna Lee Schillinger
Justification by Twitter
Cover: Bowing to the Blue Bird (tweet, tweet) by Dustin Neeley
Your Ministry Is Not Your Identity
was a pastor in the process of destroying his life and ministry and I didnâ€™t know it. I wish I could say that my pastoral experience is unique, but I have come to learn in travels to hundreds of churches around the world that, sadly, it is not. Sure, the details are unique, but I see in many pastors the same disconnect between the public persona and the private man. I have heard so many stories containing so many confessions that I grieve over the state of pastoral culture in our generation. The burn of this concern, coupled with my knowledge and experience of transforming grace, drives me to write this column.
Three underlying themes operated in my life and I have observed the same themes in the lives of many pastors with whom I have talked. Unpacking these themes helps us examine where pastoral culture may be less than biblical and consider temptations either resident to or intensified by pastoral ministry. I Let Ministry Define My Identity I always say it this way: â€œNo one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.â€? Whether you realize it or not, you are engaged in an unending conversation
Foremost with yourself. What you say to yourself is formative ity had quit being a relationship. Yes, I knew God for the way you live. You are constantly talking to was my Father and I was his child, but at street level yourself about your identity, spirituality, functional- things looked different. My faith had become a ity, emotionality, mentality, personality and so on. professional calling. It had become my job. My role You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind as pastor shaped the way I related to God. It formed of gospel. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel my relationships. I was set up for disaster, and if of your own righteousness, power and wisdom or it hadn’t been anger, something else would have your preach to yourself the true gospel of deep revealed my plight. spiritual need and sufficient grace. You preach to I’m not surprised by bitter, socially uncomfortable yourself an anti-gospel of aloneness and inability pastors with messy or dysfunctional relationships or you preach to yourself the true gospel of the at home, tense relationships with staff members presence, provisions and power of an ever-present and lay leaders and secret, unconfessed sin. We Christ. have become comfortable with defining ourselves Smack dab in the middle of this conversation is in a less than biblical way. We approach God as less what you tell yourself about your identity. We’re than needy, so we’re less open to the ministry of always assigning to ourothers and to the convicselves some kind of idention of the Spirit. This We're always assigning to tity. There are only two sucks the life out of the places to look. I will either ourselves some kind of identity. devotional aspect of our get my identity vertically, walk with God. Tender, There are only two places from who I am in Christ heartfelt worship is hard or I will shop for it horifor a person who thinks of to look. I will either get my zontally in the situations, as having arrived. identity vertically, from who I himself experiences and relationNo one celebrates the ships of my daily life. am in Christ or I will shop for presence and grace of the This is true of everyone, Jesus Christ more it horizontally in the situations, Lord but I am convinced that than the person who has pastors are particularly experiences and relationships of embraced his desperate tempted to seek their and daily need of it. my daily life. identity horizontally. I know I am not alone. This is part of the reaMany other pastors have son for the huge disconnect between my public developed spiritually treacherous habits. They are ministry life and private family life. Ministry had content with a non-existent devotional life conbecome my identity. I didn’t think of myself as a stantly kidnapped by preparation. They are comchild of God, in daily need of grace, in the middle fortable with living outside of or above the body of my own sanctification, still battling with sin, still of Christ. They are quick to minister but not very in need of the body of Christ and called to pastoral open to receiving ministry. They have long since ministry. No, I thought of myself as a pastor. That’s quit seeing themselves accurately and so tend not it, bottom line. The office of pastor was more than to receive loving confrontation very well. And they a calling and set of God-given gifts that had been tend to carry this unique category identity home, recognized by the body of Christ. Pastor defined making them less than humble and patient with me. their families. You are most loving, patient, kind and gracious Different View from Street Level when you realize you desperately need every truth Permit me to explain the spiritual dynamics. In ways you could give to another. You are most humble that I couldn’t yet see or understand, my Christian-
Feature and gentle when you realize the person you are ministering to is more like you than unlike you. When you have inserted yourself into another category that tends to make you think you have arrived, it is very easy to be judgmental and impatient. Laying Down the Law I once heard a pastor unwittingly verbalize this problem well. My brother Tedd and I were at a large Christian life conference listening to a well-known pastor speak on family worship. He told stories of the zeal, discipline and dedication of the great fathers of our faith to personal and family worship. He painted astounding pictures of what their private and family devotions looked like. I think all of us felt it was very convicting and discouraging. I felt the weight of the burden of the crowd as they listened. I was saying to myself, “Comfort us with grace, comfort us with grace,” but the grace never came. On the way back to the hotel, Tedd and I rode with the speaker and another pastor, who was our driver. Our pastor driver clearly felt the burden and asked the speaker a brilliant question. “If a man in your congregation came to you and said, ‘Pastor, I know I’m supposed to have devotions with my family, but things are so chaotic at my house that I can barely get myself out of bed and get the children fed and off to school, I don’t know how I would ever be able to pull off devotions too,’ what would you say to him?” (The following response is not made up or enhanced in any way.) The speaker answered, “I say to him, ‘I’m a pastor, which means I carry many more burdens for many more people than you do and if I can pull off daily family worship, you should be able to do so as well.’” There was no identifying with the man’s struggle. There was no ministry of grace. With little compassion or understanding he laid the law down even more heavily. As I heard his response, I was angry, until I remembered that I had done the very same thing again and again. At home, it was all too easy for me to meet out judgment while I was all too stingy with the giving of grace. This unique category identity as pastor not only defined my relationship with others, but it was also destroying my relationship
with God. Blind to what was going on in my heart, I was proud, unapproachable, defensive and all too comfortable. I was a pastor, so I didn’t need what other people need. To be clear, at the conceptual, theological level, I would have argued that all of this was bunk. Being a pastor was my calling, not my identity. Child of the Most High God was my cross-purchased identity. Member of the body of Christ was my identity. Man in the middle of his own sanctification was my identity. Sinner, and still in need of rescuing, transforming, empowering and delivering grace was my identity. I didn’t realize that I looked horizontally for what I had already been given in Christ, producing a harvest of bad fruit in my heart, ministry and relationships. I had let my ministry become something that it should never be (my identity) and I looked to it to give me what it could never give (inner sense of well-being). Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living, including the forthcoming Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. He has been married for many years to Luella and they have four grown children.
Acts of Obedience
currently work with South Lake Youth Ministries (SLY) in Plummer, ID. The reason SLY exists is to see young people reached and changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ; particularly young people in rural areas that lack large churches along with the large youth ministry budgets that often accompany them. We spend a good chunk of our time not only working directly with youth, but also working to challenge and equip leaders in rural churches to disciple the next generation. A couple of months ago we were in Montana at a workshop regarding youth ministry in rural settings. The workshop was split into two sections. The first part was a discussion on the philosophy of ministry and the second part dealt with the more practical application of such programs. I taught the former, while the Director of SLY, Wayne Eve, taught the latter portion. As I wrestled with how to communicate our passion for keeping the gospel at the center of ministry, I turned to the first chapter of Romans. My
intention was to use Romans 1:16, but God has a sense of humor, so as I read the entire first chapter of the Paulâ€™s letter to the Romans to understand the context of this verse better, I realized how askew my preparation was. So instead of trying to prove my opinions using the text, I decided to let Scripture speak clearly for itself. While we do not have space here to go over everything I learned through my investigations, we are going to discuss the part of this letter. I now consider this passage near the top of my favorite passages of Scripture, because it so clearly demonstrates what God has saved us for and therefore, what ministry is to be about. â€œPaul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ
our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-7 ESV). The first thing that grabs my attention about this passage is that it is all contained with Paul’s introductory greeting. This is Paul’s longest introduction of himself and I believe that fact should cause us to take note. He tells us first of all that he is a servant of Christ who is called to be an apostle. He then makes a statement that I find absolutely fascinating. He says that he, as a servant and apostle of Christ, has been “set apart for the gospel of God.” He goes on to make clear what exactly that gospel is. He explains there was a Savior promised to Israel in the Old Testament Scriptures, who was to be a descendant of David. That Savior, who is Jesus, came and was not only a descendant of David, but also is the Son of God Himself, as proved by His resurrection from the dead. Through this gospel we have received grace by which we are saved, (Ephesians 2:8-9) and apostleship. This all seems pretty straightforward. But I want to draw our attention to the tail end of these verses. It is very interesting that we have not merely received grace and apostleship as ends in themselves. Grace and apostleship are to bring about the obedience of faith. This means that the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection is not just so that I can go to heaven when I die. This short-sighted teaching of evangelism is something that I have pointed out before in this column, but it is shown clearly unbiblical here. Eternity with God is certainly promised for those who believe (John 3:16, Revelation 21:7), but that is far from the whole deal. Faith is to bring about obedience or it is no faith at all (James 2:17). Faith is itself an act of obedience to God (see John 14:1, Hebrews 11:6, James 1:6-7). Because of this, we are unable to generate it in and of ourselves, it must come from God as a gift (Romans 3:24, Ephesians 2:5, 8). Having been given that gift of faith, our lives are to be fundamentally different (see also Romans 6). Again, we see that even obedience is not the end goal of the gospel. We have seen that Jesus came and through His work we are given grace through which
we can obey. But that obedience has a meaning deeper than the actions themselves. They are designed and intended to bring glory to God among the nations. Let’s look at a couple of those verses again, “...Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (verses 4 and 5 ESV, italics mine). Our obedience and faith has an end in mind and that end is bringing glory to God among all the nations. Jesus told us that this was the point of our good works, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) We also see elsewhere in Paul’s writing that God has saved us for the praise of His glory and grace (Ephesians 1:6,12,14). And Ephesians 2:10 implies that God had these good works in mind when He saved us. This might sound somewhat like slavery to the skeptical person reading. God saves us to make Him look glorious and gracious? Is this not narcissism at its worst? No! It truly is gracious and glorious. We see in Isaiah 43:7 that God made us for His name’s sake, but we also see in places like Romans chapters one and three that we can pursue things other than God. This means we end up unfulfilled and dissatisfied in life because we pursue something entirely different than what we were created for. But God, in saving us and calling us to an obedience which proclaims His name throughout the whole earth, not only is displaying His magnificence, but is also allowing us to have the most fulfilling joy possible (John 15:11)! This is how we can proclaim with Paul in Philippians 1:21 that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Our salvation is bigger than praying a prayer and waiting to die. It is a call to spread the glory and fame of God wherever we are called on this earth and that is where our joy is found. Raised in a Christian home in North Idaho, Will Dole is a sinner saved by the amazing grace of Jesus. He is pursuing a life in ministry and currently works with South Lake Youth Ministries in Plummer, Idaho. He enjoys spending his time reading, studying, writing, fishing, hiking and hanging out with his beautiful wife, among other things. He is student at the Rocky Mountain Bible Mission’s Bible Training Center in Missoula, Montana. You can check out Will’s occasional musings in both written and video form at www.cdubthinking.blogspot.com.
Can You Relate? by
Life in the
n an age characterized by massive exchange of information (or of false information as much of it proves to be), itâ€™s a necessity to be able to multitask just to navigate the complexity and perplexity of todayâ€™s dizzying pace. To a degree, there is some practicality in being able to engage in more than one experience simultaneously. However, it is a huge mistake to believe that we can multitask at living a life of faith while also living according to the whims of a world that marches to its own agenda.
To do so is like being called to live in a new and wonderful land, but settling for living merely along its borders, in a sort of hinterland. In this remote and underdeveloped part of the country, we celebrate the light and the glory of the new kingdom from afar, while still held captive by the enamoring boasts of the old life. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus met such a man who queried, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 ESV). Jesus countered with a question of His own intended to give pause to a quick and easy solution to the man’s dilemma of wanting to live in two worlds simultaneously. “Why do you ask Me about what is good? There is only One who is good” (verse 17a). The very fact that Jesus asked this question is evidence of the uncanny ability Jesus has for seeing into the heart of a person and knowing how to deftly tackle the idols which hinder coming fully into God’s light. It is as if Jesus asked, “Are you willing to acknowledge My authority? Will you truly hear and receive what I am about to say to you?” The next thing He actually said to this searching soul was what all shallow seekers already know to do. “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (verse 17b). But there was the rub. The man had already been keeping them. Well, he had at the very least been keeping them externally. He had obeyed them with his hands and possibly with even his bank account so far as the Law required. Yet, he was unsatisfied. He was unfulfilled. He was seeing from a distance that glorious light glowing and was hungry for what it represented, yet he was merely in the margins of the realm and had not fully disclaimed citizenship of his old country. “The young man said to Him, ‘All these I have kept. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (verses 20-21). When Jesus used the word perfect, He meant whole, complete or fulfilled. What a quandary for that young man! He wanted the joy and peace of Jesus’ life, but found himself forced to make a choice. He had to either surrender the few places he had reserved for his own comforts, so that he could run unencumbered and headlong into the life God had would have for him; or he had to choose to continue as he had been doing and never completely cross over into the land of promise. “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (verse 22).
It evidently was too hard of a choice. In the moment of crisis, when forced to choose between continuing as he had for years—never quite existing in the light—or denouncing his citizenship of the world by surrendering the one thing he loved most, he chose his stuff. His love for stuff won out. Keep in mind that owning possessions is not sinful; but those possessions had become an idol to him. By loving him as the Savior has loved each of us, Jesus invited him to enter into the lovely meadows and fruitful groves of spiritual abundance. Such a life in Christ is offered freely to all those who whole-heartedly respond to His call. By calling him to give his things to the poor, Jesus invited him to a new life with new purpose and new meaning. Today, the call to follow has not changed for those who are hungry for more than the mere phantoms of joy and pleasure which this world offers. We must still choose Him over pleasures and comforts; we must still decide between pleasing Him and forgoing popularity; and we must still acknowledge Him as Lord, which means we must obey Him rather than following philosophies of the world that are contrary to God’s Word. But many of us will continue to dwell sorrowfully knowing that we are missing still the glory and gain of the kingdom of God while we remain on the borders imprisoned in the hinterlands of heaven, chained still to our old lives. Though we attend church and do our good deeds, there are idols in our lives which still hold the place of supremacy and which still hold our allegiance. Do not settle for the hinterlands, beloved. Fully surrender your life to the loving Savior and see if He will not fully satisfy your soul’s deepest needs. He invites you to come in and desires for you to be filled with the joy and peace of His presence. Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 16 ½ years and is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables and Crimson Harvest. He is the pastor of Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Election Year
Separation of Church and State (The Delusion) Part II
Donna Lee Schillinger
f this hadn’t been a second article in a series, I should have rather titled this “How We Really Lost Religious Liberties.” You see, most people believe that key battles in the Supreme Court, championed by atheist liberals, have eroded religious liberties in the United States. However, I believe that Christians are probably more to blame for our battle losses. And on the white flag of surrender has been written, “Separation of church and state.” Before I go further, I must pay tribute to those real Christian soldiers who left it all out on the battlefield – those who have taken the fight to the highest court in the land, sacrificing countless hours, prayers and dollars before relinquishing even a sliver of religious liberty. It’s true, landmark court cases have restricted our liberties in how and when we are able to worship and even mention God in the public sphere. And yet they haven’t restricted us as much as many Christians seem to believe. After all, court decisions don’t create law; they create precedence for future cases. The courts’ edicts are often very specific, with rationale quite specific to the circumstances of the case. For example, in Leei v. Weisman (1992) the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional that a certain high school prayed during its graduation ceremonies, and given the same parameters
of the case, such a prayer would be unconstitutional in any high school graduation. The decision, however, did not make it illegal to pray at graduation. Students can plan their own commencement with a prayer, and any graduation speaker can spontaneously pray without being shepherd-crooked off the stage! (Learn more.) this But in order to pray at graduation now, a greater deal of courage and conviction is required, and that, I recently learned, is easier preached than practiced. My son attends a preschool called His Little Lambs; it’s privately owned but receives 60 percent of its total income from a state program called Arkansas Better Chance (ABC). In January of this year, the owner informed me that she had received a memo from the state program saying all religious activity needed to stop. A proposed rule was now prohibiting “all religious activity” during the program day. This meant, among other things, that the community volunteer who came in once a week to tell the children Bible stories would have to cease this activity. And she did – immediately. Six months later, the rule is still proposed, but it was interesting to me how quickly the mere threat of a new rule could shut down a Christian witness. The state board of education held a public comment meeting and I attended. Only two people (me and one
preschool owner) commented in opposition to the rule; no one commented in favor of it. That’s probably because no one in Arkansas was in favor of it. The complaint that prompted the proposed rule came from a Washington, D.C.-based special interest group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. It’s not surprising that smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt, people who take their kids to such preschools as Growing God’s Children and His Little Lambs didn’t object to the possibility that the kids might be soaking up some Christian values during the day. What is surprising is that smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt, cinched around a country that is 85 percent Christian, there wasn’t that much opposition to the rule either! Throughout the month-long written comment period, my eyes were opened as I tried to get people to care about the fact that the government was about to impose a “no religion” rule on private preschools throughout the state, essentially insulating our kids from the gospel message we’re wanting them to receive when we select a Christian preschool. Over and over I heard the resignation, “Well, it’s separation of church and state.” Memo to America: First of all, that phrase is not in the constitution, Bill of Rights or any other law of the land. Secondly, the First Amendment from which that phrase evolved has two provisos: one that prohibits government from establishing religion, and one that insures religious freedom. Glass half-empty types that we are, most people focus on the first proviso and tend to ignore the other. Disabled by this kind of pessimism, many a “God-fearing” Christian has stood back, stood still, or worse, while our religious liberties disappeared one decision at a time. We tend to focus on the landmark cases, but the real ground is being lost in the board room. Coincidentally, while the parents of His Little Lambs were rallying against the proposed ABC rule (on which the state board of education has not yet ruled), another local organization, the day program for persons with developmental disabilities, was giving up religious liberty without any fight, and in fact, of their own volition. This board, made up entirely of professing Christians, just up and decided that they had better safe-guard themselves against possible litigation (frankly, the odds of being struck by lightning were greater) and pass a resolution to make their program religion-free. Clearly, this reflects an ignorance of the true meaning of separation of church and state. You won’t hear me say this very often, but to get a clue of how this separation thing is really supposed to work, look at our own government. Can
you make a case for something being more public than our government? And yet they open each session of Congress in prayer. The next in line for the “most public entity” award is the military, which has chaplains on the payroll! Having recently crawled out from under the same rock, I can completely understand how many Americans are confused about separation of church and state; but we don’t have to be and we remain so at our own peril. I highly recommend Founding Faith by Steven Waldman to both set straight the overzealous patriots who make erroneous claims about our founders’ faith, but more importantly, to inform the masses about what separation of church and state really means. Many people are speculating that this election is critical for America in a number of ways, and some have ventured to say that if this candidate is elected, or that president is re-elected, it could be the beginning of the end of this country. Still others are wondering if God has removed His blessing from America. It’s amazing to me that some of these same people can be so complacent as our daily religious liberties wane; and that some can even take part, willingly and using their best judgment, in surrendering the liberties. As I stated in Part I of this series, I am in favor of separation of church and state in the sense that James Madison conceived it: the state should never run the church and the church should never force itself on the people. I believe this to be a godly view. Clearly, God is not subject to human government, and it is not in His nature to force anyone to come to Him, believe in Him or love Him. However, the present-day distortion of “separation of church and state” cannot be pleasing to God. When persecuted Christians in this present age are dying before they deny the name of Christ, what excuse will we have for denying the gospel to our children and people with disabilities from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. because of the remote possibility that someone might sue? When the Apostles Peter and John were commanded by the Sanhedrin “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus,” did they go home and shut up, fearing legal repercussion? Did they call a meeting of the disciples and decide to avoid the public sphere with their message? No, they said instead, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” What about us? Have we seen and heard enough of this Jesus to speak boldly about Him, regardless of what the authorities might do to us? Or are we secretly kind of grateful to have a wall between church and state to hide behind? Donna Lee Schillinger is editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year.
The Recap F aith and F inance
Dad was Right, Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
hen you hear the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” more than likely one person comes to mind: Dear Ole Dad. In general, fathers are full of good advice concerning money and finances. In honor of Father’s Day this month, I thought it would be fun to take a few of Dad’s money sayings and see what we can glean from these words of wisdom. Do what you need to do to survive. The first bit of advice one might hear from Pop is the idea that if you need money to pay your living expenses, take work where you can find it. Sometimes we may think that we are too good to clean toilets or flip burgers, but Dad always reminds us that when it comes to surviving, sometimes we have to do whatever it takes (legal and within reason) to earn a paycheck.
Why pay someone to do something you can do yourself? Maybe your dad was a Mr. Fix-It and instilled in you the concept of saving money by learning to do the job yourself. I have plenty of girlfriends who are capable of changing a car’s oil and performing basic car maintenance because their fathers taught them how to do it instead of taking it to a shop. There are many things you can learn with a quick Internet search, enabling you to save money by not having the job done by a professional. Of course, the caveat here is to know when a job is above your skill level. After all, you don’t want to make matters worse and cost yourself more money by paying someone to fix what you tried to fix yourself. A penny saved is a penny earned. Maybe you got an allowance or earned money
from chores as you were growing up. Did your dad encourage you to save it in your trusty piggy bank? Hopefully that great advice carried over into adulthood and you put a percentage of every paycheck into a savings account (or a trusty piggy bank). In these uncertain economic times it’s more important than ever to have a financial safety net in place. In case Dad didn’t tell you how much to save, most financial experts recommend having enough savings to cover your budgeted expenses for at least six months. Don’t spend it all in one place. When Dad gave you that allowance, maybe he jokingly warned you not to spend it all in one place. While typically said in sarcasm, this is actually good advice. Make sure that you are not devoting too much of your budget to one thing. Spending most of your paycheck on rent? Then consider moving to a cheaper place. Maybe dining out, fast food and lattes consume a huge amount of your budget. Cut back by eating at home more. It’s important to have a wellbalanced budget with the proper amount going to necessary expenses.
big purchase. Live like you did when you were poor. Perhaps there was a time in your life when you worked for minimum wage, ate Ramen noodles every night and shopped only at thrift stores, just trying to scrape by on next-to-nothing. Maybe after a while you got a better job or a promotion or raise. A little advice from Dad in this situation is to continue living like you did before your good fortune. With more numbers to the left of the decimal on your paycheck, you may be tempted to splurge and indulge. Don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, build up your six months of savings, find good investment opportunities, increase your charitable giving and carefully consider in what areas you might increase spending for your own welfare (like buying healthier food than noodles!). You will be amazed at how much money you can save by living like you are poor.
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Finally, probably the best-known of Dad’s advice when it comes to money is the old adage regarding where it does and does not come from. Dad clearly wants us to know that money can Live within your means. only come from hard work and good money Hopefully Dad taught you only to buy what you habits. Making money is not easy. Budgeting, can afford. You should never, ever buy anything saving and careful spending isn’t easy. It’s work. that you cannot pay for in full at the time of You cannot expect to have money just thrown purchase, or make reasonable monthly payments at you (unless you are insanely lucky) and you that your budget can accommodate (for example, cannot expect to get ahead by being financially car payments). If you follow this advice, you haphazard. This Dad cliché seems to encompass won’t run up credit cards charges, and you will everything he’s been trying to tell us all these save until you can afford it. (Don’t dip into that years. six months’ worth of savings for it either!) Some Thanks for the advice, Dad. people call this paying yourself forward for that
According to Him
here’s a popular song which always makes me laugh when I hear it. A girl sings a catchy tune about the way her current boyfriend views her. According to her boyfriend, this girl is ignorant, ugly, undisciplined, a real drag and apparently can’t do anything right. The girl doesn’t necessarily agree with this point of view and so we quickly hear about another guy entering the picture. This other guy doesn’t see the girl in quite the same way. In fact, his view is completely opposite of how the girl’s boyfriend sees her. The song says this other guy thinks the girl is actually everything that the boyfriend thinks she’s not. According to the other guy she’s smart, funny, extremely attractive and has it all together. He sees in her everything he ever desired and he can’t stop thinking about her. According to him…she’s perfect! Somewhere in the song the girl mentions a decision she’s being forced to make. No doubt! Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help thinking
the obvious. If I’m the boyfriend, I’m looking for a new girlfriend about now, because there’s a huge chance I’m going to be without one soon. It doesn’t sound like a difficult choice for her. On the one hand, she has a guy who can’t find anything appealing in her, and on the other, there’s a guy who doesn’t see in her a single flaw. Although she probably doesn’t get why the other guy has such a ridiculous affection for her, in the end she won’t care. She’ll simply bask in it while it lasts. When faced with a similar scenario, most of us would not belabor the decision, either. Yet, we are often faced with this scenario and, amazingly, we often vacillate between being completely accepted and being used. We can’t decide which master we want to serve, God or something else. How can this be? Perhaps it’s because we fail to believe that God really sees us the way He does. Knowing our failings, sins and short-comings, we may assume
that God has to take all these flaws into account and judge us accordingly. However, this is true only if we do not trust in Christ. The truth is the exact opposite for us if we do. It’s not that we don’t sin or fall short. We do so continually. Although we deserve severe punishment, God chooses to give us extreme kindness. Why He does so is solely based in His perfect love. We can’t explain it any more than we can explain why one young lady flies headover-heels in love with a man and another finds the same man repulsive. We have to accept it on faith and believe it even though it doesn’t seem right, given what we know about ourselves. How we see ourselves is nowhere near how God sees us. Fortunately for us, Paul gives us a more accurate picture of how God our Father see us. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure …In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-12 NKJV, emphasis mine) According to Him, we lack nothing as He’s given us everything we need spiritually. In His loving eyes we are perfect—this was determined before anything else existed. In His view, we
have been adopted into His family only because it pleases Him to do so. He esteems us to such a degree that every ounce of His boundless mercy becomes a tsunami rushing directly toward us. Because He desires it, we have been given all that His cherished Son deserves. Through His intentional and intricate thought process, He has prepared an inconceivably amazing future for us. It’s all willingly comes from God. This is who we are…according to Him. Do you ever feel useless, like you can’t do anything right? We may often feel stupid, lazy and know we deserve to be punished. And this is true for us most of the time. Yet, based on the work of Christ what is true for us all of the time is that God looks upon us the way He has chosen to look upon us—“according to the riches of His grace”—not according to our sinfulness. If we’re having difficulty deciding between the two views, ours or His, maybe we shouldn’t overthink it. It won’t do us much good to attempt to explain it. Perhaps in the end we shouldn’t care quite so much about the logic God uses to consider us perfect when we’re really far from it. Maybe at the end of the day we should simply relax and enjoy what is ours in Christ forever…according to Him. (I believe He wanted me to remind you of this!) Saved by the grace of God out of the clutch of a popular cult, Rob Beames is now passionate about pointing others toward Jesus Christ. After almost decade of both formal and informal youth ministry, teaching, and writing, it is his hope to explore the way God might use his passion for writing to draw others into a deeper relationship with their Father. He holds a Master’s of Divinity (Theology) from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a desire to see others motivated by the humility of their Savior, and changed by power of his vast love for them. Robert lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with his wife of 20 years, and two wonderful children.
Tool Box j
ohn Calvin wrote that the human heart is an idol factory. He was right. Throughout history, we have bowed down to golden cattle, celestial beings, stone animals and even human body parts. With the passage of time, the number of ways we exchange worship of the one true God for lesser, false gods has only increased. Today, we can sadly add yet another idol to the list— social media. The developing technology of social media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and so on) can and should be used for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel in every possible way. But naturalborn idolaters like you and me are no more than a few clicks away from making this good thing a god.
several suggestions. 1. Think before you post. Seriously. I know it sounds simple, but stopping for a moment to think (and even pray) about why we do something is an amazing sin-killing weapon. I’ve been helped by simply asking myself, “Why am I about to publish this post?” Pausing to pose this question can, has, and will continue to provide just enough of a stop sign for the Spirit to do His work in my heart. 2. Consider fasting from social media for a season. While this may seem extreme, fasting seems like the least we could do to expose the true condition of our hearts, especially in light of Jesus’s counsel about tearing out our eye if it makes us sin (Matthew 5:29). In my experience, if we are flatly unwilling to consider fasting, that fact alone speaks volumes. Of course, this solution itself does not bring true and lasting change, but a social media fast can be a helpful weapon in your arsenal in your war for holiness. 3. Believe and apply the gospel. It has been well said that “heart work is hard work.” I believe the gospel addresses the sins of social media as we seek approval or acceptance. We are more excited about what strangers say about us than what the God of the universe has already spoken over us through the cross. We are stitching together a flawed coat of fig leaves out of followers, friends and re-tweets to try to hide insecurities that can only truly be addressed in the gospel. But if when we are tempted to seek the fleeting approval of man, we instead go to the eternal approval of God that is ours in Christ—an approval unaffected by the number of re-tweets—we, our followers, and the kingdom are better for it. Calvin was right. The heart is an idol factory. At this intersection of technology and idolatry, we need to pull the plug on the idolatry and walk in the light.
Justification by Twitter
Tainted Meals Social media carry a unique set of temptations. Much like the adulterous temptress described in Proverbs, social media invite us come into her house and enjoy the choicest foods, only to find the meal poisoned. The most dangerous of these tainted meals is pride. Social media offer us a glimpse into our worldly significance with such tantalizing immediacy as our blog and tweet stats. Many of us check our stats because we are more concerned with the applause of man than the affirmation of Jesus. We forsake justification in the gospel for seeking to be right in our followers’ eyes. In these moments, we are guilty of doing the exact opposite of what we set out to do in the first place—glorify God and serve others. Pride can also creep in through tweets and status updates. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with mentioning where we are having lunch or who joined us, we would be well-served by checking our hearts before we do. Are we sharing this information to give people a helpful window into our lives as we seek to live out the gospel, or are we unwittingly (or even quite wittingly) enticing our friends toward coveting the life we live? Out of the overflow of the heart, the thumbs tweet. Seeking Solutions So what’s the answer to this new challenge? Here are
Dustin Neeley is a church planter, pastor, writer/speaker, and ministry coach. He lives with his wife and children in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of many forthcoming resources. He blogs regularly for Church Planting for the Rest of Us, and you can connect with him on Twitter.
The Christian Atlernative to the Men's Magazine. In this issue: Navigating by Dad's Advice; Separation of Church and State (the Delusion) Pa...
Published on May 31, 2012
The Christian Atlernative to the Men's Magazine. In this issue: Navigating by Dad's Advice; Separation of Church and State (the Delusion) Pa...