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Laying Down My Life

I was struck by something I noticed happening inside myself on Saturday while I was delivering Easter Lilies.

I had a couple stops in Northeast Minneapolis and as I drove through the city I wondered how safe it would be to live in homes around me. I remembered Tim Keller and his sermons on loving the city, and I thought about how important it is for the Gospel to take root in the city because social change so often begins in the city. I recalled the words of Jesus in Scripture about God’s concern for the poor running through my mind, and I was sad because of how run down and impoverished the neighborhood was. But I also knew that I didn’t want to live there. And so I drove away from the city conflicted by the fact that even though, theoretically, the city needs so much help, practically I just couldn’t picture my wife and I purposefully moving there and raising our kids in the midst of everything.

My next stops after leaving Minneapolis were in Mendota Heights and Apply Valley. Both homes I delivered to in these southern metro suburban cities were large and located in immaculate neighborhoods . As I drove by large brick homes with SUVs and hockey nets sitting on paver stone driveways I thought, “I wish I could afford to live here.” True, there were no Scriptures running through my head and no burden for any people outside of my own, but there were dreams of safety and pleasure and joy for my kids.

I would guess that these types of conflicting feelings are true for many middle class Christian Americans. We feel the burden for the poor and we wish we could do something, and at the same time, we would prefer if our doing something didn’t demand much of the lives that we are currently enjoying. I would be most comfortable sacrificing for others up to the point that it doesn’t cost me anything. But that wouldn’t really be sacrifice would it?

If I understand this text to by metaphoric, knowing that in many instances I am not literally going to die, then how do I fulfill this command of Christ,

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-14)

Part of the answer may lie in expansion of Jesus words by His Apostle John in 1 John,

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth….

23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:16-18, 23)

These are texts that I have read a hundred times and still I am forced to wrestle with their implications. I don’t believe that there is a black and white answer. Rather, in private prayer and communal conversations, we should strive to work out these truths out in our lives that we may achieve the peaceful assurance that John inserts between the two texts above.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:19-22)

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Categories: Bibles, money, Theology

The Laws of Scarcity and Abundance

March 26, 2007 2 comments

Heard a guy preach yesterday on the difference between the ‘law of scarcity‘ and the ‘law of abundance.’ He contrasted the world’s approach to resources (get as much as I can, horde as much as I can) to what Jesus taught and did.

A couple key takeaways:
“One loaf of bread in the hands of Jesus can feed the whole world.”
“We become the body of Christ when we allow our bodies to be broken and our blood to be poured out for others.” (both physical and metaphorical)

It would be easy for Stephanie and I to be motivated right now by the fear of scarcity. Thankfully we have a mighty God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can dream or ask.

Categories: Jesus, Life, money

10 Commandments of Financial Freedom

January 10, 2007 Leave a comment

I saw this in our church’s monthly newspaper and found it to be a great reminder as my family and I head into a new year.

10 Commandments of Financial Freedom

  1. Thou shalt recognize and value highly the nobility of hard work.
  2. Thou shalt establish a plan.
  3. Thou shalt avoid debt like the plague.
  4. Thou shalt distinguish between wants and needs.
  5. Thou shalt determine when enough is enough.
  6. Thous shalt not get involved with ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
  7. Thou shalt not compete with the Joneses.
  8. Thou shalt not make a major financial decision without getting wise counsel first.
  9. Thou shalt not corrupt your kids with money.
  10. Thou shalt not orient your whole life around money.
Categories: Life, money

show me the money

October 10, 2006 1 comment


Here are a few quotes from the cover story of the September 18, 2006 Time magazine, which was entitled, “Does God Want You To Be Rich?

God wants you to own land. The entire Old Testament is all about land. Land represents that God is with you and God has blessed you. – Kirbyjon Caldwell

I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy…I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. – Joel Osteen

This idea that God wants everyone to be happy? There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I cna show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. – Rick Warren

Here is a sampling of some Time polling numbers…

1. God wants you to be financially prosperous: 61% -yes 26% – no
2. Poverty can be a blessing from God: 45% – yes 49% – no
3. If you give away your money God will bless you with more: 31% – agree 63% – disagree
4. Giving away 10% of your income is the minimum God expects: 39% – agree (47% – Protestant, 18% Catholic) 57% – disagree

Categories: culture, money