Editorial... Dear Readers, I’m grateful to God Almighty for helping us to publish the last issue of SOUL CONNECT for the year 2012. I’m also greatly indebted to my friends and well wishers for their consistent support and prayers in this endeavour. Without you – the readers – this magazine would not have succeeded. So – thank you one and all – for your encouraging comments and valuable suggestions. We hope to serve you better in the days to come, and therefore humbly beseech your continuous support. The focus of this issue is ‘money, wealth and riches.’ As disciples of Jesus Christ we need to know how to handle them. At a time, when affluence is the most sought after standard for living, it is worthwhile to see what the Scripture has to say about it. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about money and wealth. While there are about 1000 references to prayer and faith put together, the Scriptural references to money surpasses 2000! Our Lord Jesus spoke more about money and possessions than about heaven and hell!! Jesus very well understood the potent nature of money. He addressed this powerful entity as “Mammon.” (Matt 6:24). Money in itself is neither good nor evil but how we use it will result in either godliness or ungodliness. When it is handled according to God’s guidelines, money could be a precious gift to accomplish many wonderful things in life. Likewise, temporal wealth and riches when surrendered to God could become worthy stuff to make eternal impact in peoples’ lives and to extend God’s kingdom. Nevertheless, if not handled with care, money or wealth has the potential to lead a person astray from God and his divine purposes. It can be destructive and harmful (I Tim.6:10). I pray that the articles in this issue will help and motivate you to handle God given money and riches in God honouring ways!
Sam K. John
Editor in Chief - firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Board: Joseph Devadason, Shibu K Mathew, John Jebaraj James, Ashwin Ramani, Nalini Parmar.
Soul Connec t Vol. 1 No. 5, Oct - Dec 2012
Purpose: Soul Connect exists to inspire its readers to live for Christ and His Kingdom. It seeks to apply the Word of God to contemporary issues Christians face in their day to day life. Also, it aims at instilling a passion for world missions.
Permissions & Disclaimer: Contents copyright © 2012 by Kingdom Friends Network. Permission should be sought before publishing any of the content in this magazine. All information is published in good faith. The publisher and the editors are not liable for inaccuracies. Publication of any item does not reflect the official stand of the magazine.
How to receive: Soul Connect is published quarterly and sent to those who place a written request through email or post. Both hard and soft copy versions are available (mention your preference). Send your postal details to our mail id or postal address. Email: email@example.com Postal address: Kingdom Friends Network, #7 Shalom, Eden Rock Layout, Byrathi, Dodda Gubbi Post, Bangalore – 560077.
Publisher: Kingdom Friends Network (KFN) is a Registered Religious Trust (324/12-13/IV – Kar.) which exists to glorify God by being a dedicated resource team committed to the task of awakening God’s people to advance God’s redemptive purposes.
Layout Design: Ensign Pixels Editing Help: Debbie Sunil Photos: ShutterStock, Freedigitalphotos.net & sxc.hu
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A RICH FOOL!
In today’s world, there is a mad drive among people to become affluent. This trend is clearly evident in many of the urban centres in India. Everyone wants to become abundant, wealthy and rich. Two words that dominate the minds of many are ‘’plenty’’ and ‘‘pleasure.’’ This drive inevitably leads to the violation of many moral and ethical guidelines given by God. The lust for money and wealth can lead a person to all kinds of evil – neglect of health, neglect of family, neglect of church, neglect of fellowship, neglect of spiritual disciplines, bribing, dishonesty, discontentment, boasting, arrogance, selfishness, injustice, quarrels, materialism, etc. Indeed, our attitude towards money and wealth is a key indicator of whether our faith is authentic or not. The Parable of the Rich fool (Luke 12:13-21) can teach us some vital perspectives about han4 Soul Connec t Soul Connect 5
dling money and riches. 1. The rich fool had failed to recognize where his wealth had come from. This man should not have taken the credit for his wealth. Jesus was careful to tell us that the man’s ground produced a great harvest. God gives the bountiful crops. This is precisely what God promised in the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). The rich fool did not seem to recognize the source of his prosperity. Indeed, from what we are told, the rich fool had no regard for God at all. The produce belonged to Him and He had the right to withdraw anytime. 2. The rich fool erred in his understanding of the purpose of wealth. If the rich fool failed to grasp where his wealth came from, he
also failed to understand what he was to do with it. He thought that wealth was to store up and to save, rather than to use. He further believed that wealth, when it was to be used, was to be used for his own comfort and ease. He did not, as the Old Testament Law had taught, see his wealth as the means by which he could offer sacrifices and offerings. Neither did he see his wealth as a Godgiven provision for him to minister to others in need. It never occurred to the rich fool that when his barns could not hold any more, he could have given some of his wealth away. 3. The rich fool was foolish in considering his possessions as his security. It would seem from this man’s words that he not only planned to retire, but that he planned an early retirement. His wealth, we
might say, was his “social security.” He seems to be saying that he would be at ease once his bigger barns were built and his crops were safely stored inside, along with his goods. He is looking forward to eating and drinking and in enjoying all the fine things for the rest of his life.
to give it up. The rich man lived his life exactly the opposite to the way Jesus taught His disciples to live. Those who die in the pursuit of “life,” “living,” or “living it up” are aided by Satan, who leads men to death by promising them and causing them to pursue “life” wrongly defined.
4. The rich fool was foolish in his presumption.
May God give us the grace and wisdom to handle wealth and riches in God honouring ways!
A well-worn 10 rupee currency note and a similarly distressed 1000 rupee note arrived at a Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation.
J. S. A. Julius Julius is an active graduate involver and former president of the UESI movement. He also involves in various ministries in various capacities. He lives in Bangalore with his wife Renuka. They have 3 children and four grand children.
The 1000 rupee note reminisced about its travels all over the country. “I’ve had a pretty good life. I’ve been to the finest restaurants in Bangalore, the best Malls in Delhi, to amazing places like Goa, Manali, Kashmir and even a weekend holiday to the Maldives.”
The rich man presumed two things about the future, both of which were false. First, he presumed that he would possess his wealth in the future. Second, he presumed that he would be alive in the future, to enjoy his possessions. Both of these presumptions were shown to be false when his life was demanded of him that very night. Someone else got his possessions and he did not live to enjoy what he had stored up. 5. The rich fool was holding a view of the future which was short-sighted. The rich fool lived his life in the light of the future, but that future did not include the kingdom of God, death, or the judgment to come. The rich man’s future was only as long as his earthly life, and only as broad as his own interests. It was short-sighted. 6. The rich man was a fool both in the way he defined life and in the way he thought life was to be obtained. To the rich fool “life” was defined in terms of ease and pleasure, in terms of not just eating and drinking, but of doing so in a way that was enjoyable. Jesus told His disciples that the way for a person to obtain “life,” to save his life was
“Wow!” says the 10 rupee note. “You’ve really had an exciting life!” “So tell me,” says the 1000 note to the 10 rupee note, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?” The l0 rupee replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Church of South India, the Brethren Church...” The 1000 rupee note interrupts, “Excuse me. What’s a Church?”
“Money never stays with me. It would burn me if it did. I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it should find its way into my heart.” John Wesley
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THE GRACE OF GIVING
aul exhorts the Corinthian believers to ‘also excel in this grace of giving’ (2 Cor.8:7). They were excelling in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in love for him and others. But they also needed to excel in the ‘grace of giving’. The analogy is clear. We may be excelling in Bible Study, Quiet Time, Praise and Worship, Prayer and Intercession, Preaching and Evangelism, etc. but at the same time, failing very badly in this ‘grace of giving’. Let us note two things: First, it’s grace. It’s grace because God gives us grace to give. He had given this grace to the Macedonian churches (v.1). Basically, we all are stingy and selfish. We do not want to give to others what belongs to us. It begins from our infant days. Let someone take our toys or some other infant climb on our mother’s lap. And, we throw tantrums. We weep and wail. We shriek and shout. We howl till our toy is returned to us and the other infant is taken away from our mother’s lap. But when the grace is given by God, we give: 1.Even out of our most severe trial that we may be undergoing; 2.We give with overflowing joy, not 6 Soul Connec t Soul Connect 5
grudgingly under some pressure and compulsion; 3.We give even out of our extreme poverty; 4.We give with rich generosity; 5.We give as much as we are able and 6.We even give beyond our ability (Vs.2,3). It certainly pinches our pockets. We may have to cut down not only on our luxuries but sometimes also on our essentials. But the story does not end here- 7.We give on our own initiative. No one forces us; 8. No one pleads us to give. We plead to have the privilege of giving; 9.We want to be a part of the ‘service to the saints’; 10.We first give ourselves to the Lord and then to God’s people, according to God’s will (v.4,5). But for the grace of God all these ten ways of giving would have been impossible. It would not have been possible to participate so sacrificially, so joyfully and so fully in this ‘act of grace’ or ‘the grace of giving’ (Vs.6,7). May be we have made a beginning. But we need to go on and excel more and more in this ‘grace of giving’. We need to remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.9). He was rich, yet for our sake, he became poor. He left the glory and comfort of heaven and came down to this place of sufferings and sor-
Second, it’s giving. It is not mere desiring. It is giving (v.10). It is completing what one has committed to do (v.11). May be we have committed to give generously, cheerfully (2Cor.9:7), lovingly, willingly, prayerfully, systematically and regularly. Maybe we made this commitment on the day of our salvation, birthday, wedding anniversary, some answered prayer, some special visitation of the Lord, etc. If so, let’s not draw back, become slack or negligent. Let us excel in this grace of giving as we excel in other Christian virtues. It is something beautiful. It is something lovely. It is something glorious. It is something Christian. It is something commendable. It is something desirable. It is one of the jewels in a Christian’s crown. It enhances His glory. Richard Masih Richard is a minister at large with the UESI based in New Delhi. “God has given us two hands -- one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving.“
Poetry... I’m just made of polished paper Popularly known as the world maker Different lands call me by different names And I bring man great fame I can be man’s daily guide And bloat his head with pride I can take his life’s lead Loading his heart with greed When owned in plenty, me people trust Penetrating their values to rust When misused, relationships I break Families I cruelly shake I goad his heart into buying trouble Squeezing his life, making him rubble I strive to control man Thwarting God’s immense plan
by Sarah Susanna Sampath Coimbatore
rows, wants and needs, tears and toils. He became poor to make us rich. He became the Son of Man to make us sons and daughters of God. He gave up heaven to make us heirs of heaven. He died so that through his death we might live. That was the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our risen and exalted Savior. It is our joy to follow in his foot steps with a grateful and thankful heart.
The Maker intended me to be man’s servant Man promoted me to be his master Discontented, for more of me he craves Though I aim at being his slave Oh!!!Ye man, even with a high fees You can never buy inner peace I am too big a burden to ‘lone bear Offer me to Him, and use me with utmost care.
My Dad Makes Big Money Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, ‘My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.’ The second boy says, ‘That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.’ The third boy says, ‘I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!’
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Will the rich man enter the kingdom of God?
I have a house to live, clothes to wear, a car to travel, cash in my pocket and I have certainly no existential worries, like….. Will I have food on the table this evening? Well, many in my neighborhood will call me rich. I do not have in plenty but I am not poor. Let me introduce myself. I am rich. But few verses in the Gospels often make me uncomfortable. How I wish some scholar would tell me these are not Jesus’ original words but a later addition by some fraudulent scribe. But it seems Jesus actually said these words: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (Mt.19.23-24) How hard it is to hear a sermon like that. Even for Jesus to preach such a message, it must have been difficult because believe it or not, the popular adage at that time was: the rich are blessed of God and therefore dear to God and near his kingdom. Riches are rewards for righteousness. Therefore a rich man must be a righteous man. But Jesus often challenged this popular idea. Jesus told the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. A ‘God-blessed’ rich man ends up in hell and a ‘Godcursed’ beggar Lazarus reclines on Abraham’s lap. All those who heard that parable back then must have thought Jesus was joking. But he was not. Similarly, here in Matthew 19, the author records in verse 25 how ‘when the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished. They asked,
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‘who (if not the rich) then can be saved’. They seemed to really believe that material prosperity was clear proof of God’s approval. Some today try to work around the Matthew 19 passage by offering an interesting explanation. The eye of the needle that Jesus talked about is not a cloth needle but a short gate in Jerusalem city, they say. This means, a camel would need a little additional effort to pass through. Today ingenious tourist guides in Israel even ‘prove’ the same by showing a ‘needle’ gate!
The truth is: the needle Jesus talked about is the one we use to stitch clothes. Now, can a camel pass through a needle’s eye? Obviously not! But this is one of the hyperboles (exaggerated speech) that Jesus often used to make his point. At other times, he asked his disciples to even ‘cut off ’ their hands and eyes if it hindered them from entering the kingdom. Through deliberate exaggeration, Jesus pointed out how we must do everything to please God. Similarly, through the ‘overstated’
camel-needle illustration, Jesus points how riches remain an enormous hindrance in obeying God. My ears have been rammed by plenty of sermons with the usual bottom line: God offers a golden thread to you filled with pearls and rubies so far unseen. He wants you to be rich, full and overflowing in everything. You are the child of the king of Kings. You are the heir of the Lord of all the earth. But the message Jesus wants me to hear is: riches can give me a false satisfaction about myself. I may refuse to listen to God because I think I have arrived. I may feel I am the first but may end up the last. Riches can give me a confidence that I have no need. Jesus never minced words when he cautioned us about this real threat. He talked about how wealth can be destroyed and robbed and therefore, we need to store in heaven. Instead of worrying about what we must wear and eat, we are called to seek the kingdom. Finally, let’s listen to the risen savior in Rev.3.17-20: You say, “‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked…Here I am! I stand at the door and knock”. Michael Thomasraj Michael is a pastor, bible teacher and trainer based in Bangalore. firstname.lastname@example.org
It was yet another day in office. The chat window popped up as I logged into my email account. An old friend from the fellowship came up with a question - “Can you lend me some money? I will return it next month.” This was a very un-expected question from him as I was sure that this friend of mine earns a 6-digit salary every month owing to the new hike in salary packages brought by IT companies to cities of India. And during this period, I was not earning much and trying to think, live and order my work in a different way in a small town in India. I wondered why he must have run short of money. Big Bucks! Big Debts!! My mind rolled down the memory lane. In early 90’s when I stepped into college, earning a 5-digit salary was considered to be a status symbol although the order of the day was a 4-digit salary for most of the working class. IT and the fat salary offered by it has emerged over time and was unheard of during those times.
The millennium students finished their studies and started earning more monthly salary than annual salaries of their parents. Discussions of early retirement, multiple homes and frequent foreign trips were in the air. Also many started talking of foreign vacations which were unheard in 80’s and early 90’s . If India is shining for such selected few, I wonder why people who are part of this growth are seeking easy loans. What made my friend struggle for money? That too when his company pays their employees on time and has been regularly giving hikes in salaries as per media reports. I was reminded of a comment from a missionary who works for a student ministry. Many working members of his fellowship asked him for a loan. These people earn 5-10 times more than what is earned by the missionary.... who struggles to meet his needs and balances his spending wisely. This is a paradox! Big bucks and yet big debts!!
What is more dangerous is the trend that many who take loan or borrow money don’t feel the urge to return it on time! The Bible says “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Rom. 13:8. But for many in our fellowships today, debt is the primary reason for love among them. No one is expected to ask back the money they have loaned as asking is unspiritual. They forget the word that clearly says “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” Psa. 37:21. Now they are counted wicked when they don’t care or work hard to clear the debts by the promised time! Discontentment When the majority of the population in our country struggles for a meagre income, or even one meal a day, why do some well-to-do Christians get into incredible debt situations? Most of the prayer concerns in our fellowships today revolve around promotion, salary Soul Connec t
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Cover Story hike, moving to a better job, purchasing land, building a second house, upgrading to another car and so on. Now to bring to fruition the fulfilment of those ever increasing dreams, we have forgotten the power of living within our means and power granted from above to live satisfied in Him. To accelerate ‘my’ growth story above others and to prove the prosperity it brings, “borrowing” has become a way of life. Luring bank loans and the easy way to swipe loans directly from our credit cards has helped us to achieve our dreams in a faster way. Many Christians are not able to recognise the fact that many of their ‘dreams’ are fuelled by the same greed and covetousness witnessed among their non-believing friends. John the Baptist told the soldiers who were powerful working class people in his day like this, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely, be content with your pay.” Lk. 3:14. Are we content with our pay? Can we say like Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Phil. 4:11. “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”1 Tim. 6:8. The author of Hebrews re-iterates this again inspired by the Holy Spirit, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb. 13:5. Helper or Master? Many decide to buy over and above what they can afford and live the rest of their lives trying to re-pay the debts with the constant fear of losing jobs and thus making this proverb true in their lives “The rich rule over the poor, and 10 Soul Connec t Soul Connect 5
the borrower is slave to the lender.” Prov. 22:7. Many of us cannot think of serving God in different ways because of the loans which have made us a slave to it. If any of you doubt if this is the case with you, here is an easy way to evaluate. Think of different areas or situations your thoughts revolve around for most of the day. Is it on living for the glory of God or on the aspects of managing money (including earning, spending or returning money)? If most of the day is spent on the latter, then we need to think seriously who we are serving? When I stepped out of my IT job in a city in obedience to God’s call, many of my friends told me that they also desire to do the same, but the loans they have to repay kept them back. Do not get in to the trap of serving money and hating the Lord as He says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matt. 6: 24. Money, which was expected to be just a tool in our hands, has gradually and without warning become a powerful master in our lives. We have allowed our helper to become our master! Let us love the Master who created the whole earth and be devoted to Him so that we can master money and use it for His glory. James Sebastian. James is an IT Professional who works with SocIT, a mission minded IT resource team based in Himachal Pradesh. James lives with his wife and two children in Palampur, HP.
“There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse.“ Martin Luther
“Today Christians spend more money on dog food than missions.” Leonard Ravenhill
‘‘Nothing I am sure has such a tendency to quench the fire of religion as the possession of money’’ J. C. Ryle
6 STEPS TO PAYING OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT Credit card debt can have devastating effect on individuals and families. If you are burdened by credit card debt and are serious about breaking free from the bondage that credit cards can put you under, let me offer some practical steps to pay off credit card debt and begin your journey. 1. Pray About Your Situation Prayer is an essential component for any aspect of our lives. If you are in over your head in credit card debt, might I suggest humbling yourself and spending some quiet time alone with God to be honest with him about where you are at financially. Heâ€™s not going to be shocked by the news and He offers wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:5). 2. Take Inventory of Your Credit Card Debt Paying off your credit card debt requires that you gather each credit card statement and write down the name of the card, the balance, interest rate, minimum payment due and the amount you are currently paying toward that debt. I would also suggest you write down the toll free number of the card company as this will come in handy later. Taking inventory also means you look carefully at each card company offers (i.e. balance transfer rates, 0%
offers etc.) This will be important in step four. If you are married this should be done with your spouse. You would be amazed at how many couples I come across that do not know that the other one has credit card debt or are unaware at how bad the problem is. Typically one spouse is more of a spender than the other and so it can be quite a shock at first, but paying off debt is a team sport and must be fought together. 3. Stop Over-Spending So You Can Pay Off Credit Card Debt This sounds pretty basic, but if you are in credit card debt you have been spending more than you earn. You must be tenacious in reducing expenses and stopping your use of credit cards in order to fight this battle. 4. Negotiate Your Credit Card Debt with the Card Company I am amazed at how often this is overlooked. Many companies are willing to work with you if you approach them and let them know that you want to pay off your debt, especially in this economy, where many people are not paying their bills or even filing for bankruptcy. I suggest calling your card company and be honest with them. I would ask for a manager Soul Connec t 11 Soul Connect 5
Cover Story right away or an account closing specialist so that you get straight to the decision maker that can help you. Let them know you want to pay down the debt and you’d like to know if they can reduce the interest rate for you. Find out if they have any special balance transfer rates and that you may be willing to consolidate some of the debt to them if they can give you a decent offer. Also let them know that you are willing to transfer their balance to another company if they cannot work with you. 5. Consolidate to Pay Off Credit Card Debt If possible, take advantage of special balance transfer offers. This only works if you stop your over-spending. You don’t want to consolidate your debt and then rack up a few more thousands on the card you just transferred. You don’t want to get into the habit of doing this either because it can have some negative impacts on your credit score, however, if you consolidate some of the debt to a much lower interest rate then more of your payment will go towards paying off the principal. 6. Snowball Your Way to Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt Some people believe you should pay off your highest interest card first. I tend to disagree. I think snowballing your debt is more of a confidence builder and can start the momentum towards getting you out of debt. According to Dave Ramsey the best way to knock out debt is to get some quick wins under your belt. ‘‘The math seems to lean more toward paying the highest interest debts first, but what I have learned is that personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped enough to get out of debt completely. When you start knocking off the easier debts, you will start to see results and you will start to win in debt reduction.” The first step in snowballing your debt is to pay minimum payments on all your credit cards except the one with the lowest balance. You pay as much as you can on that amount until that debt is gone and then you take whatever that payment was and apply that towards the next smallest balance. Each time you pay off a debt, apply that payment to the next 12 Soul Connec t Soul Connect 5
smallest card and before you know it you will have created some great momentum and will see the progression at a more rapid pace. Paying off credit card debt is not easy and it won’t happen over night. It will take discipline, sacrifice and patience, but the results will be worthwhile. Jason is an avid reader and writer, and loves spending time with his wife and kids. He writes a lot on helping Christians handle their finances. Many of his articles are found at redeemingriches. com
A preacher announced from the pulpit,” I have good news and bad news. The good news is we have enough money to pay for the new building program.” A sigh of relief went through the congregation. The preacher continued: “the bad news is: the money is still in your pocket.”
“The person who thinks the money he makes is meant mainly to increase his comforts on earth is a fool, Jesus says. Wise people know that all their money belongs to God and should be used to show that God, and not money, is their treasure, their comfort, their joy, and their security.” John Piper “You can sing all you want about how you love Jesus, you can have crocodile tears in your eyes, but the consecration that doesn’t reach your purse has not reached your heart.” Adrian Rogers “Most people fail to realize that money is both a test and trust from God.” Rick Warren
Now-a-days we hear couples postponing having children after marriage. Some couples express their inability for the mother to take a longer maternity leave despite the desire/need for it. While there could be many reasons for the above two choice scenarios, one that is getting more frequent is the necessity to repay a loan. If the lady stops earning, the loan repayment becomes impossible and hence such crucial aspects of the family are postponed or ignored. Such stories, which were till recently part of the general crowd, have crept tragically into the Christian circles as well. Children are a blessing from the Lord while the Bible calls a debt as enslavement (Prov 22:7). What are we choosing for ourselves? Taking on debt to pay for a business enterprise that will generate income or save money is a good idea. Taking on debt just so you can spend today and pay tomorrow is not a great idea. The latter technique is how many people end up in debt-slavery, owing money to many people, and never getting out of debt, and never making money from their debts. Debt can “make sense” when it pays you back more than the cost of borrowing. Today, people borrow money for everything - we have created a culture of debt and are obsessed with the idea that your credit score and how
much you qualify for, in terms of loans, is a sign of “wealth.” One of the primary reasons for young working people to get into debt is the tendency to follow what everyone at office is practicing. While most at work have no qualms about hitting their maximum bank loan limit (and creatively raising such limits!) for housing or a car loan based on total income of both the spouses, the Christian cannot afford to plan or do such purchases. This hinders one from planning/being ready to take certain decisions for God. Most in the corporate world put a premium on the number and level (platinum/titanium etc.) of credit cards one has. Such ‘cards culture’ creates pressure in the card owner to repay at any cost. “To turn the heads around” has become a key feature of most purchases today. Therefore we see the rush for a certain brand/style. Functionality has no place in the choice of items people choose to buy today. The penchant to live upto a certain standard of life forces some to do purchases on credit with an assumption of a future salary hike/promotion. This brings the pressure to move to a different company when the current company fails to give an assumed hike. This results in a lot of stress for the individual and her/his family. Though we, as Christians, cannot be ignorant or dismissive of the trends of the day, for us or for our children we have to build our sensitivity to recognise the limits of such compliance. Sensitivity to recognising these limits requires us to be in daily pursuit of the Lord through our daily devotions (quiet time). A ready willingness to follow every pattern of the world gets the believer into the trap of debt. Of the four types
Taking on debt to pay for a business enterprise that will generate income or save money is a good idea. Taking on debt just so you can spend today and pay tomorrow is not a great idea. of soils that Jesus uses in his parable of the sower in Matthew 13, most Christians who read this article fall into type 3. They enjoy listening to the word and are keen to practice their faith. They withstand initial trouble or persecution because of the Word. But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful (v.22). Such a perspective wholly misses the core theme of Jesus – do not love the world or the things of the world (James 2:15). Hence keeping ourselves from a materialistic culture by clearly differentiating our needs from our wants will save us from this culture of debt. Sunil and Debbie Sunil and Debbie as a family with their 2 sons Joshua and Daniel live in Bangalore. They are actively involved in ministry among the University Students.
What happens when one’s world suddenly collapses without warning ? Read the heart touching story of Dr. Richard Teo in Page no.15.
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Where are the Elijahs of God today?
When it comes to trusting the Lord for our daily needs, there are very few takers for the same these days. I was an “unbelieving” believer like many of us. The Lord called me for pioneer evangelism and Bible Translation but I did not have faith to believe that God would provide all my needs if I would go out for the same into one of the jungle tribes. At last, after seven long years of battle with my call, I yielded my life to the call of God not knowing where I was to go or how God was going to provide my needs.
It happened in 1975 after hearing a message over the radio by a Bible teacher. His talk on that day was based on 2 Cor.5:7. “We live by faith and not by sight.” The preacher explained the verse by taking Moses as an example. When God called Moses for that gigantic task of taking two million people from Egypt to Canaan, Moses did not go home and calculate the amount of money needed for that task. Even though Moses gave a lot of excuses, he eventually obeyed God and God in turn led them through the wilderness for forty years providing them with “manna” which is spoken of as the bread from heaven (Psa.105:40). After hearing that message, I had no other option than to resign my job and go out in faith to the mission field. And the rest is history now.
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My wife and I went to the Nilgiris holding the hands of three little kids, and believe me we were fed by “manna” every day. We had three other children born to us in the mission field and we were feeding about 25 tribal children for a period. And we never lacked any thing any time even though there was no human sponsor nor did we have a newsletter letting people know what was happening there in that remote part of the world. Let me share with you just a couple of the miracles we experienced in our lives as a source of encouragement for you.
In 1986, we felt the need for constructing a building to house and educate the tribal children. One of the most amazing things is the fact that we were able to purchase four cents of land and construct a 700 sft concrete building in just 52 days! When the building was completed there was no debt, and I had informed no man any where even for prayer about this project. And that building has a granite inscription which reads, “This building stands witnessing the fact that God of Elijah lives.” One time, we did not have enough money to pay the electricity bill in time. After the deadline was over, the line man came to remove the fuse from the carrier. I was so embarrassed and I did not know what to say or how to
face him. So I just walked into my room and began to lie on bed rather thought less. I could not even pray! As the line man walked into our compound my wife greeted him and was sort of trying to manage the situation. Before she could explain our plight to the line man, there came the post man into our compound. He had with him an M.O. for Rs.l000/- and it was just sufficient to pay the EB bill. The story is that a friend of ours met one of my wife’s old friend in Dubai. When the latter came to know that we were in Coimbatore, she gave our friend this amount to be given to us when she got back to India. So the amount was sent to as MO by our friend after reaching her home town in India. That amount reached us in time for the EB bill!! From my real life experience I can testify that if you give the Lord a chance to prove Himself, He will do it through you without fail. God of Elijah, the great provider, is still alive and active in the world today. But the big question is: Where are the Elijahs of God today? Matthew Paul. Matthew is a commended full time evangelist of the Brethren Assemblies. He is a Bible teacher and writer, now based in Pathnamthitta, Kerala. He also promotes prayer awareness through his blog matthewpaul.org
in Life! Dr. Richard Teo was a successful cosmetic surgeon who acclaimed great riches and fame within a short time. At 40, at the pinnacle of his career, his world suddenly collapsed as he was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer. He died on 18 October 2012. A few days before his death, Richard shared some valuable lessons about life to a group of medical professionals in Singapore. Excerpts of his speech are given below. “My name is Richard, I’m a medical doctor. And I thought I’ll just share some thoughts of my life. Since young, I am a typical product of today’s society. Relatively successful product that society requires. From young, I came from a below average family. I was told by the media... and people around me that happiness is about success. And that success is about being wealthy. With this mind-set, I’ve always been extremely competitive, since I was young.”
“Not only do I need to go to the top school, I need to have success in all fields. Uniform groups, track, everything. I needed to get trophies, needed to be successful, I needed to have colours award, national colours award, everything. So I was highly competitive since young. I went on to medical school, graduated as a doctor. Some of you may know that within the medical faculty, ophthalmology is one of the most highly sought after specialities. So I went after that as well. I was given a traineeship in ophthalmology, I was also given a research scholarship by NUS to develop lasers to treat the eye.” “So in the process, I was given 2 patents, one for the medical devices, and another for the lasers. And you know what, all this academic achievements did not bring me any wealth. So once I completed my bond with MOH, I decided that this is taking too long, the training in eye surgery is just taking too long. And
there’s lots of money to be made in the private sector. If you’re aware, in the last few years, there is this rise in aesthetic medicine. Tons of money to be made there. So I decided, well, enough of staying in institution, it’s time to leave. So I quit my training halfway and I went on to set up my aesthetic clinic... in town, together with a day surgery centre.” “So instead of healing the sick and ill, I decided that I’ll become a glorified beautician. So, business was good, very good. It started off with waiting of one week, then became 3weeks, then one month, then 2 months, then 3 months. I was overwhelmed; there were just too many patients. Vanities are fantastic business. I employed one doctor, the second doctor, the 3rd doctor, the 4th doctor. And within the 1st year, we’re already raking in millions. Just the 1st year. But never is enough because I was so obsessed with it. I started to expand into Indonesia to get all the rich Indonesian tai-tais who wouldn’t blink an eye to have a procedure done. So life was really good.”
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“So what do I do with the spare cash. How do I spend my weekends? Typically, I’ll have car club gatherings. I take out my track car, with spare cash I got myself a track car. We have car club gatherings. We’ll go up to Sepang in Malaysia. We’ll go for car racing. And it was my life. With other spare cash, what do i do? I get myself a Ferrari. At that time, the 458 wasn’t out, it’s just a spider convertible, 430. A friend of mine, a schoolmate who is a forex trader, a banker got a red one, he was wanting all along a red one, I was getting the silver one.” “So what do I do after getting a car? It’s time to buy a house, to build our own bungalows. So we go around looking for a land to build our own bungalows, we went around hunting. So how do i live my life? Well, we all think we have to mix around with the rich and famous. So we hang around with the beautiful, rich and famous. So this is how we spend our lives, with dining and all the restaurants and Michelin Chefs you know. So I reach a point in life that I got everything for my life. I was at the pinnacle of my career and all. I thought I was like, having everything under control and reaching the pinnacle.” “Well, I was wrong. I didn’t have everything under control. About last year March, I started to develop backache in the middle of nowhere. I thought maybe it was all the heavy squats I was doing. So I went to SGH, saw my classmate to do an MRI, to make sure it’s not a slipped disc or anything. And that evening, he called me up and said that we found bone marrow replacement in your spine. I said, sorry what does that mean? I mean I know what it means, but I couldn’t accept that. I was like “Are you serious?” I was still running around going
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to the gym you know. But we had more scans the next day, PET scans - positrons emission scans, they found that actually I have stage 4 terminal lung cancer. I was like “Whoa where did that come from?” It has already spread to the brain, the spine, the liver and the adrenals. And you know one moment I was there, totally thinking that I have everything under control, thinking that I’ve reached the pinnacle of my life. But the next moment, I have just lost it.” “See the irony is that all these things that I have, the success, the trophies, my cars, my house and all. I thought that brought me happiness. But i was feeling really down, having severe depression. Having all these thoughts of my possessions, they brought me no joy. The thought of... You know, I can hug my Ferrari to sleep, no... No, it is not going to happen. It brought not a single comfort during my last ten months. And I thought they were, but they were not true happiness. But it wasn’t. What really brought me joy in the last ten months was interaction with people, my loved ones, friends, people who genuinely care about me, they laugh and cry with me, and they are able to identify the pain and suffering I was going through. That brought joy to me, happiness. None of the things I have, all the possessions, and I thought those were supposed to bring me happiness. But it didn’t, because if it did, I would have felt happy thinking about it, when I was feeling most down…” “A lot of times we forget, whom we are supposed to be serving. We become so lost that we serve nobody else but just ourselves. That was what happened to me. Whether it is in the medical, the dental fraternity, I can tell you, right now in the
private practice, sometimes we just advise patients on treatment that is not indicated. Grey areas. And even though it is not necessary, we kind of advocate it. Even at this point, I know who are my friends and who genuinely cared for me and who are the ones who try to make money out of me by selling me “hope”. We kind of lose our moral compass along the way. Because we just want to make money.” “I’ll just end with this quote here, it’s from this book called Tuesdays with Morris, and some of you may have read it. ‘Everyone knows that they are going to die; every one of us knows that.’ The truth is, none of us believe it because if we did, we will do things differently. When I faced death, when I had to, I stripped myself off all stuff totally and I focused only on what is essential. The irony is that a lot of times, only when we learn how to die then we learn how to live. I know it sounds very morbid for this morning but it’s the truth, this is what I’m going through.” “Don’t let society tell you how to live. Don’t let the media tell you what you’re supposed to do. Those things happened to me. And I led this life thinking that these are going to bring me happiness. I hope that you will think about it and decide for yourself how you want to live your own life. Not according to what other people tell you to do, and you have to decide whether you want to serve yourself, whether you are going to make a difference in somebody else’s life. Because true happiness doesn’t come from serving yourself.” End.
WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAYR ?
eading books on money and giving typically makes us feel worse. But John Mac Arthur’s book on the subject is rewarding, joyous and profoundly enriching. It is a down to the earth treatment in a language that is easy to read. Other than a no-nonsense treatment on the characteristics of Biblical giving that should form the pattern of Christian giving today, the book has a very pertinent chapter that deals with Godhonouring ways of acquiring money through work, through saving and through planning. It highlights issues relevant to Christians living under the pressures of consumerism in an age of credit cards.
Undoubtedly we live in an indulgent, materialistic culture. Advertisers compete with each other to entice you to buy their products. If you don’t have enough money, banks and loan institutions are willing to provide you credit which put you into debt. Do you realise that people spend 50 percent of their waking time thinking about money – how to get it, how to spend it, how to save it, how to invest it, or how to borrow it? There is a place for each of these activities but to know and practise God’s will on these issues can be a liberating experience for every sincere Christian. Christian authors have produced a number of books and articles advocating semi-poverty for believers. The argument goes that if you are a truly dedicated Christian you will shun the love of money, avoid all material comfort, and be satisfied with nothing more than the bare economic necessities. But is that argument valid? Is it even based on biblical fact, and does it accurately reflect God’s purpose for us? John Mac Arthur says the answer to these questions is no. And he goes on to demonstrate from Scripture why in ways that might surprise those who think Christian poverty leads to righteousness. At the same time he points out that the Prosperity Gospel is highly active and well in some sectors of contemporary Christianity. The final chapter entitled ‘The True Path to Prosperity,’ provides a Christ-centred perspective on material and spiritual prosperity. The book includes an appendix that examines the get-rich-quick state-run lotteries, which essentially rob people of money. A study guide at the end of the book with questions for discussion on each chapter is yet another value addition for the book. Money is a barometer to a person’s spiritual health. The world worries and scrambles and works often to the point of exhaustion to make sure it has enough wealth. But that is so unnecessary because our heavenly Father knows our needs and promises to provide for us every day. If you are struggling to learn to rest in this promise of the Father, this book is a must. If you have only one book on the subject of Christian giving, this should be it. This book is available at all major Christian book stores. Pages 188, Price: Rs.150/Book Reviewed by Dr. Alexander George, first published in Ethne, 2002. ‘‘Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 Soul Connec t 17
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HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR INDIAN MISSIONS TO BE SELF SUFFICIENT? Since the days of Barthlomew Zieganbalg, the first protestant missionary to India, Indian Missions have been blessed by the financial contributions of sincere believers from the West. We need to be grateful to God for this privilege. Nevertheless, the time has come now for the Indian Church to assume its responsibility of meeting the needs of Indian missions. The Indian church is now almost self-supported but how long will it take for Indian missions to be self-sufficient? Undoubtedly, we have the resources. Today, many believers in India are blessed by jobs that fetch them huge salaries. This is clearly evident by the ‘improvements’ seen in the living conditions of many Christians in the last two decades. God is blessing us in order to be a blessing to our nation! I can’t forget how earlier, as a staff worker of the Union of Evangelical Students of India (UESI), a student came and said, “This is my gift for your work,” and tucked Rs 500 into my hands. I was shocked to receive this large amount and enquired how he had gotten it. He said that his mother had given him pocket money to enjoy the study tour from the college. He added, “I didn’t spend all the money, so that I could give to the ministry.” My eyes were filled with tears. I realised that to spare that money, he must have sacrificed his ice-creams, popcorns, colas, kebabs... That day, he taught me a new lesson on Christian giving: Sacrifice. God doesn’t want our balance. C S Lewis said, “Charity should pinch us.” That’s why Jesus commended the widow who gave her all, while the others contributed from their excess. Prof. H Enoch was one of the founders of the UESI. Many accused him that the motivation for starting UESI was to get foreign funds. To counter these accusations, Enoch and other leaders decided to do the work with only Indian Funds. When the first full time staff joined the student work, Prof. Enoch said, “I can’t guarantee you anything, but be assured, if I have food in my house, you will have it too…” That’s commitment. Do we care enough to tell our missionaries, “If I will... you will also...” If 1% of the Indian believers will make such a commitment, there will be a revolution in Indian missions! Shibu K Mathew. Shibu is a mission educator based in Bangalore. He also edits Ethne.
Until now, we were informally functioning under the banner ‘Things Above Friends Network’ (TAFNET). Henceforth, we will be known as Kingdom Friends Network (KFN). KFN is registered as a religious charitable Trust in Bangalore, Karnataka. The KFN core team consists of the following members: Sakthivel Sundaresan (Bangalore), Joshua Arul Kumar (Trichy), Joseph Devadason (Kodai), Rajan Prakash (Madurai), Vivin Franklin ( Chennai) and Sam K John (Bangalore). Soul Connec t , a ministry endeavor of KFN is financially sustained by free will contributions. We would like to continue the same way as long as the Lord enables us to do so. We request your prayers for this. Thank you.
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Published on Jan 28, 2013