Friday, August 31, 2007

Your Money and Your Life #3: The Character Foundation, Humility

Humility seems as much a mismatch with wealth as righteousness, but Proverbs continues to be clear.

Proverbs 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
And it isn’t just a Proverbs thing. God is clear to Israel, as He is establishing them as a nation, that they ought not be prideful, but realize that God gives them the ability to do their work.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The ability to work is a gift from God. That means the stuff and money you work so hard for is a gift from Him by extension. This offers some tough, searching questions for each of us…

Whatever your wealth status may be, from obscene wealth to relatively little, where do you think it comes from? What do your inner attitudes toward your stuff reveal? What does your life show, your actions?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Your Money and Your Life #2: The Character Foundation, Righteousness

We often don’t associate wealth with character. It could be the starlet of the week who has been destroyed by the fatal cocktail of wealth and fame because there isn’t the maturity or character to stand up under it or corporate scandal that defrauds thousands of stockholders – also painfully routine. Proverbs agrees: “The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin” (10:16). The next few posts will look at the character that God says lives well with wealth. In this one we’ll look at righteousness.
Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
Proverbs 28:6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
Wealth is a tool. A powerful tool. It is deadly in the hands of the wicked, life-giving in the hands of the righteous. It is clear what we should strive for.

Righteousness isn’t easy, but it isn’t a mystery. It is a matter of submitting to God as He reveals Himself in Scripture, relating to Him in prayer and obeying Him in that, and submitting to other believers in community. Not easy. But there’s a clear path God has laid out for us.

How do you cultivate righteousness in your life as a believer? How does it affect your finances?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Welcome Cael!

The few people who read this blog likely know, but we welcomed our newest edition on Sunday...

Cael Rainier McElderry
6 lbs., 12 oz.
19.5 inches

He has two big sisters who are kissing him into submission, but he has yet to be put in a dress by them. Though I'm sure it won't be too long.

Your Money and Your Life #1: Introduction

I haven't posting much as of late ... obviously. But one way for more frequency is to post the different sections of my most recent sermon for points of discussion. We're going through Proverbs on Sunday mornings. We actually conclude this Sunday, but the next several posts will be my teaching on "Your Money and Your Life." I think it is challenging to most of us, if we let it. I hope it is helpful for you.

Listen to some of our culture’s wisdom on money and wealth.

John D. Rockefeller and Lee Iacocca agree that whatever you have, you want a little more.
George Bernard Shaw: “The lack of money is the root of all evil, not the love of it.”
Oscar Wilde said, “When I was young, I used to think that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am older I know that it is!”

(All found in The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart by Charles Swindoll)

From “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” to “Cribs,” we don’t celebrate balance when it comes to wealth. We celebrate opulence, which should, if we take Proverbs seriously, scare us to death as believers.

Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Those Proverbs clash decidedly with our world’s perspective on wealth. How does this struggle challenge your thinking? Your practice?

The next several posts will tackle the issue of wealth and the believer in Proverbs – our money and our life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What next?

The college ministry is close to being finished with the sex series - just a couple more weeks. Any ideas on what to cover next? A book? Another topic? We've covered the first few chapters of Revelation and sex this summer ... where do you go from there?!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Praying With The Church #6: Jesus & Sacred Tradition

This is the last chapter I’ll cover of McKnight’s book, Praying With The Church. McKnight says Jesus’ prayer life was both traditional and innovative. His prayer life was immersed in the psalms, which is a good idea for any of us in our prayer lives. They help us really grapple with genuine emotion an engagement with God. Mark D. Roberts has a book on praying with the Psalms called No Holds Barred. Psalms help us relate with God on a real level.

The next aspect of Jesus’ prayer life is what McKnight calls the Jesus Creed. Faithful Jews recited the Shema, but Jesus adapted it by adding the love for one’s neighbor.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
This was such a formative idea for the discipleship of the early church that McKnight thinks it might have been part of the daily prayer office.

McKnight says the instruction Jesus gives on prayer should be translated “whenever you pray … recite” the Lord’s Prayer. This is to be a feature of God’s people praying together. McKnight states his case bluntly: “The point I wish to make is a simple one. The Our Father prayer is to be recited whenever Christians pray together” (63). Notice the prayer is “our” Father, not “my” Father.

“Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:9-13).
Here’s McKnight’s “Christian Prayer Day”

Morning = Jesus Creed, 10 Commandments (optional), Lord's Prayer
Afternoon = Lord's Prayer
Evening = Jesus Creed, 10 Commandments (optional), Lord's Prayer

The rest of McKnight’s book discusses the different prayer books of the different traditions – Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and The Divine Hours. I use the latter and I’ll discuss how it has been helpful in a future post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

God is Not Great Debate: Western Civilization

I was at Hugh Hewitt's site recently and he has the second debate on Christianity with Christopher Hitchens. I have to admit I didn't listen to the first (with Mark D. Roberts), but I'll provide the link for this one. Hitchens debates with David Allen White on the contribution of Christianity to Western civilization. Go to Friday, August 10th once you get to the page. It is two hours long. Enjoy.