Archive for category The Word
Borrowing and Lending
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” Hamlet Wm Shakespeare, 1602
Shakespeare makes the point in this famous Polonius quote that lending money can be too big a strain on a relationship. The biblical view on lending is more straightforward – if you can afford to lend you can almost certainly afford to give away instead.
Shakespeare’s other point is also important “..borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry”. In other words you shouldn’t try to borrow out of a tight financial situation but rather trade, or work, your way out.
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.
And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
The Godly Approach to Lending
How much time and money would we save without borrowing and lending? We would not have an international financial crisis without borrowing and lending. Would most people still build their own homes without mortgages? I think we would have evolved other, better, ways of affording houses and land. Would we have to live longer with our parents? Maybe. Would that be a bad thing? Probably not, especially while our children were young. How much better to have extended family?
How many lives would have been lived longer and with better quality without debt worries causing stress related illnesses and suicides?
We falsely believe we need loads of materials goods, bigger homes and newer, more impressive cars, so we borrow to finance them. Just who are we trying to impress? Strangers on the highway? Our colleagues? People who won’t even remember our names 5 years after our retirement. Surely our family don’t need us to buy their affections. If they do, there is a whole other issue that needs looking at.
How much of our hard-earned money do we give away in interest every month to irresponsible bankers who make bad decisions but still have enormous bonuses and actually produce what?
How much better to live within our means, even if it means not having the newest, shiniest temptation gadget on the market this season. How much better to sleep soundly every night? How much better to feel able to answer the phone knowing it won’t be anyone chasing repayment of some debt for some “treasure” long forgotten about.
At one time the Western nations managed their money biblically – saving and then consuming. In the meantime we actually cooked our food instead of defrosting and microwaving it. Home made jam to use up the produce in the garden and greenhouse. Fishing to actually catch fish to eat. White washing a fence, mending. Making soup.
We miss out on so many of these simple joys because we work so many hours to pay our interest bearing debts that we sell our quality time, our family time very cheaply.
This is brilliant!
You want to make a real difference in peoples lives? So what’s £15 to you? A couple of bottles of wine? Half of a computing game? a DVD? A single night at the cinema? A cheap handbag?
How about instead going to http://www.lendwithcare.org/ and lending from just £15.00 to an aspiring entrepreneur in developing countries?
This UK website is facilitated by the Co-operative and managed by Care International. The idea is so simple and wonderful. You lend from £15 to an entrepreneur supported by Care and associated organisations. You should get your money back so you can lend it all over again to someone else in need of help.
This is such a great feeling, helping people to help themselves and then you can help some more.
What does the bible say?
They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing. Psalm 37:26
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken. Psalm 15:5
And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
So how about putting the Word into practice and changing lives for the sake of a just a few quid?
Pat Robinson calls it the law of use. Secularly we say “use it or lose it”.
In the bible Jesus explains it via the parable of the talents and it is of course where we get our notions of talents and of “god-given talents” from.
First of all lets remind ourselves of what Jesus actually tells us in the Word:
15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” Matthew 25:14-30
For a long time I really wasn’t sure what to make of this story, it seemed so harsh on the poor servant with nothing. I read as much as I could about it and I have come to the conclusion that it is about faith. We have talents, gifts which maybe abilities or actual riches. Its no good to the Lord if we let fear stop us using these gifts. Fear is of the enemy not of the Lord. We must trust, have faith in the Lord,that when we use our talents all will be for the good and grace of God. What matters is that we use them in the service of the Lord, getting the Word of God to those who otherwise would be destined to perish.
How do we do this? Well I personally have always found writing easier than standing in front of people and preaching so that is what I do and here you are experiencing it at your leisure via the internet. As you read this I am touching a life, using many gifts: reading and writing, my laptop, my internet connection, this wonderful WordPress blogging space…. Potentially and with God’s Grace we can reach billions around the world in this way. With Google translate we can reach them in many languages.
Everyone will have different talents and the holy spirit is there to guide you in their use. Some may be brilliant fund-raisers and help finance the missionaries who are able to touch many lives in many lands. Others are gifted orators and can preach to crowds and millions by TV and radio.
What is this to do with my Business though? Well your Godly business’s role is to give people jobs and opportunities, to raise money etc etc But it is also vital not to waste the resources you have been given. I believe that we are called to be productive. Production is the key to everything. You can’t rely on service economy without somewhere someone producing (building,farming, mining, fishing, etc) something which needs services. And this is where everything seems to have gone awry. We need to get back to basics, we need to be productive and we need to USE the resources we have been blessed with!
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11
As a parent I know that some days its just easier to lavish affection on one or some of my offspring than others. The one who says “yes Mom, I’ll take out the trash” or “Mom, can I get you a coffee?” or “Mom, shall we spend the morning together today? We haven’t had a lot of time together lately”. Conversely, the one who says “Why should I empty the dishwasher, its not my job”, or “I’ll tidy my room later, I’m busy now” or “I don’t want to help my little brother get dressed” is a little harder to heap praise and rewards upon. Do I love them any less? No. But what I don’t want to do is reward disobedience. What I don’t want is to have to explain myself in detail every time I ask them to the smallest thing for the good of the family.
I deeply feel our Father is the same. He doesn’t love us any less in disobedience, but our obedience means we can live in His favour. We obey and we win His trust. We obey and we win His favour. We obey and He knows He can trust us in ever greater things.
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. John 1:6
How much more straightforward is life when the people under your authority, be they parishioners, employees or family members, have the level of love for you, and hence trust in you, to just say “Sure” when you ask them to carry out a simple task without having to have a debate about it?
Today, if anyone in authority asks you do carry out a task just say “yes” and walk in favour. And more, if the Holy Spirit prompts you to undertake a task for Lord, why not skip the analysis and do it in prompt obedience and make it easy for Him to favour you.
When I wrote my last blog about tithing I purely conceived it as a little example simply of my own experiences of tithing and the outcome of my own heavenly guidance from the Lord regarding tithing. I did not expect it to be so controversial a topic as I view it as a personal decision for each Christian, based on their understanding of the Word and their own conviction on the subject.
I was grateful to receive lots of very interesting feedback from the blog and was very happy to leave it there. Then the Holy Spirit began convicting me to write a follow up to make a few more points, two to be exact. Of all the feedback I had there was one issue that I thought was important and it was this from a comment on my last blog:
“Jesus did not tell us to tithe. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees they ought to tithe because they were under the Old Covenant law. Jesus was born, lived, and died under the Old Covenant. The New Covenant didn’t begin until after Jesus died on the cross.”
This was an interesting point but then a couple of things started to niggle at me.
Firstly, you could say the same thing about virtually everything Jesus is quoted as saying in the Gospels, ie. that it was said before the New Covenant began and so doesn’t apply to us under grace today.
But, Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfil it, so I view his statement about tithing as His taking an opportunity to confirm the principle.
Secondly, many times in the Gospels Jesus takes the opportunity to correct religious legalism, for example:
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. (Matthew 15:11)
So we see Jesus challenges aspects of the law at some times, but on this issue it is confirmed (my emphasis):
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)
What I find so striking is that while many, many times Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for legalism, however in this verse (given to me in response to specific prayer asking for guidance on tithing), He takes the opportunity to reinforce a practice.
When I first became a sweet and innocent new Christian I watched the Christian TV shows, and I learned about tithing (giving a tenth of your income to the Lord) and flush with newborn enthusiasm I started tithing faithfully.
After a good start it started to get very difficult. I was newly a single Mom, Christmas was looming and I wanted my children to have a lovely Christmas after a tumultuous year. The Lord spoke to my heart and said Who are tithes for? The fatherless. Your children are fatherless in the world so I want you to put half your tithes directly to improving their life for 3 months.
Wow. Okay Lord, I thought, and so I did and we had a lovely holiday season.
In the new year I went back to tithing and all was well again for a couple of months. Then I started jiggling my tithes around to help my cashflow. Nearly immediately I had hold ups with my income coming in. It was exactly as if the Lord was saying, if you mess with the timing of My finances, I can easily mess with yours! I immediately repented, and went back to tithing in a timely manner!
After a few months I again found myself stretching to make ends meet. By now you would have thought I would recognise the test. Would I have faith to push through a slightly trying time? At this very moment I happened across a teaching that clearly explained that tithing was an old testament concept, that it was part of the law, that we gentiles aren’t under the law but under grace and anything the Lord does for us is by grace and nothing we do, or don’t do, will affect our abundance which is a gift of God by grace. All of this teaching appeared firmly supported by scripture. Further the teaching said that, by tithing, we put ourselves under the law and therefore under the possibility of the curse. After reading this very convincing, scripture quoting, teaching I was actually feeling AFRAID to tithe. Now by this time hundreds of hours of bible study and my own experience should have shown me this was a false teaching, but I checked out the quoted scriptures and they all appeared to support the argument. The very fact that this teaching used FEAR should immediately have been a red flag. Who is fear of? the Lord? No. The enemy Yes.
What happened? Well I stopped tithing for two months, because of this false teaching, and both months I ended up having to borrow money just to get my bills paid. there were days when my family actually struggled for groceries. I was out of faith. I felt distanced from God.
I prayed about it and immediately the Lord gave me this simple scripture.. in Jesus’ own words, as clear as clear can be (my emphasis):
Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practised the latter without leaving the former undone. Luke 11:42
So I determined to go back to tithing. I thanked God for the guidance. The very next day I had a letter telling me I was owed some considerable money, and a very useful amount monthly from that month onwards. Oh yeah!
My view now? Yes tithe. But not out of fear. Yes it’s new testament, yes it’s new covenant. Jesus says so.
I’ve ordered my five fundamental F’s in my daily order that I attend to them, and noticed that it makes them alphabetical and easy to remember. Score!
The first thing I do every (weekday) morning is get into the Word. Sometimes this is not easy, especially in winter in the dark, and of course the enemy will try anything to stop you so that you find yourself tempted to just press that “snooze” button a few times. It takes just a little push to get past that, but the rewards are immense. I get up early so that I can concentrate and meditate before the children get up looking for breakfast, P E kit, lunch money. This two hour session sets me on my path for the day. I read the Word, pray, confess the Word and sip coffee watching Godly TV.
After a couple of hours in the Word, I am Much more able to greet my 3 boys in a positive, encouraging, patient and loving way. They tend to wake in a good mood and we have a happy breakfast before they all get off to school. I walk my little one to school, and I thank God for everyday I have that I can give him a loving little kiss on the forehead before he gets to the “Mom, get off,not in front of my friends” stage. Back home I get straight onto the washing, cleaning, tidying the garden… Looking after my nest.
I check my finances daily. I went through a horrible stage of thinking I was entitled to my every whim and I paid the price in a mass of consumer debt for stuff that didn’t bring me the happiness or satisfaction the advertising man had promised! What astonishes me now is that I would make the same mistake over and over and over and still not learn my lesson. It took years to fight my way back out of the pit of debt. It is a hard slog paying off debt, but it is truly amazing what you can achieve with very little cash as you do it. I might not be completely debt free now, but my head is well above water and I have learned to handle my cash responsibly. And now if I run out of cash I just make do until I get some more!
I am fanatical about business and I truly believe that a business founded soundly on Christian biblical principles can not fail to succeed. This is because any business based on helping others to solve their problems and which is grown organically (i.e. without borrowing to finance growth), has no seeds of failure in it.
Once the chores are done I head most days for the gym. If I get there early it is quieter, I am still fresh and awake and I make the most of it. If I have time I can also follow a workout with a relaxing hot tub session.
If I can I also work a walk into the day. This is a good time to meditate, pray and or pray in the spirit. Filling your lungs with oxygen inevitably increases the oxygen to your brain and aids clear thinking and de-stressing. This is a great time to literally walk with the Lord.
The rest of the day is filled with blogging, writing, speaking, working with others, growing things, people, organisations and businesses.
After school is break-time for me and the kids. A session in the family hot tub is a great time for family communication. Cooking the daily family meal together is another chance to bond. Plus I want to know my boys will all be equipped to feed themselves and their own families when the time comes.
The evening is wind-down time. Light reading. Godly TV. A family film….
Thank you prayers and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I’ve been a Christian for quite a while now and I must confess to being very confused by the mega minister issue.
What have some Christians’ got against living well in this world?
Well if there is one thing I have learned it’s to check it out with the Book.
Matthew 7 has a lot to teach us about how to regard these worldwide preachers and teachers.
Judge not, that ye be not judged Matthew 7:1
ABC, in 2007, in a piece of seriously biased reporting called ‘Fleecing the Flock‘ went on a rampage against some mega preachers purely on the basis that they have nice homes and planes. And all the networks seem to love to attack mega preachers for having nice lives. But why on earth shouldn’t they? Their job is to go to many nations and preach the gospel and be an example to people, so that people will actually want to get saved! If Joyce Meyer preached in old rags and lived in a shack I can fairly confidently say I wouldn’t have thought she had anything much to teach me that would do me any good, and I wouldnt have been saved.
I believe the Lord values the saving of even a single soul well above the $100,000,000 or so annual turnover of Joyce Meyer’s ministry.
So, if people choose to freely support ministries, and in turn become less sinful and turn their broken lives into healed ones, surely the government should be celebrating the tax-savings they accrue in not having to support social services, health care etc. for millions of deadbeat, smoking, drinking, drug-taking tax-wasters who instead have been convicted by the Lord of their wasted lives, and transformed into model citizens?
How is freely giving a few dollars to a mega minister more concerning than giving a few dollars to a mega corporation that sells you carbonated water, colour and sugar in a tin can for a truly unholy mark-up? How is it worse than giving a major corporation hundreds of dollars for the right to use some infinitely replicable computer code called software? Or a giant corporation some dollars for some other digital code called music or game, delivered electronically? We can happily waste billions upon billions of dollars on rubbish that rots our bodies and our minds, but not financially support a gifted minister in their teaching?
That is warped.
Is it maybe because if everyone were saved, and living the good life, investors would lose a lot of money? Hmmmmmmm. Well the holy spirit has certainly done a job on my personal spending habits in the last year or so. I no longer smoke, don’t drink much, have lost my shopping habit (doh, it was just a habit!).
Back to Matthew 7 and our Lord:
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11
So these preachers, having learned this scripture, applied it to their lives, transformed their lives and freely share the fundamental truth with others, um, how could that be bad?
15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Matthew 15-18
So I would think that there are two ways of testing mega preachers against this scripture. What fruits do they gather for the kingdom? Well millions come to Christ through them via personal appearances and television/radio/new media, and they touch lives in the developed and underdeveloped world. And if they can do that more quickly and efficiently by private jet, if that helps them to get enough rest and spend time with their family, I am not in the least surprised the Lord would furnish them with such a tool. And if you are surprised, I would be concerned for you that you are faith deficient beloved.
What fruits do they bring in their own lives? Decent homes, cars, families. Good examples of what is possible with Christ.
And what does the bible tell us to do with regard to travelling missionaries and teachers?
For these [traveling missionaries] have gone out for the Name’s sake (for His sake) and are accepting nothing from the Gentiles (the heathen, the non-Israelites).
8So we ourselves ought to support such people [to welcome and provide for them], in order that we may be fellow workers in the Truth (the whole Gospel) and cooperate with its teachers. 3 John 1:7-8
I cannot account in any way for the outrageously hard time these people get from the media, both within and without the church, without reference to the work of the enemy: Envy.
Oh ye of little faith. What does it matter, so long as souls are saved?
Paul said:”... The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Philippians 1:18
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:2
Christians are often masters at quoting half scriptures. We quote the second half of this one because we want life to give us everything on a plate, for the asking. But of course we also know how boring life would be if we didn’t have to grow or learn or study or work to have things. How unfulfilling. We see worldly lottery winners who try to fill themselves up by buying things. And like all other addictions and distractions the tactic doesnt work and too often we see they end up broke and broken and empty again a few years later, selling their story to a tabloid newspaper.
So what is this verse from James telling us? Well certainly its reinforcing the basic message ‘turn away from sin’. And it is also telling us that we do not have to fight and battle our way into our provision. We ask God for provision through prayer, we go to the throne in the name of Jesus and we ask our heavenly Father to supply our needs.
I came across this verse in John 9:31 this morning:
God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will John 9:31
So now we see that we have to turn away from sin, that is repent, obey and ask. And have faith.
So when you have done all this, the Lord will answer your prayers and petitions. I am convinced this is the case because I’ve experienced it, praise God.
But I’ve learned one more essential little thing that may also help.
There is already much provision for you in the world that the Lord has already made and pride stops us from accessing it.
The Lord rarely acts by floating cash directly down from heaven into your open hand, nor heals via thunderbolts. Jesus didn’t chase people around to heal or prosper them! But if they asked their petition was granted. Generally speaking you need to ask in a worldly way too. Let me explain better by example. Say you are suffering in mortgage arrears and are worrying about losing your home. Are you seeing the provision the Lord has made for you? Are you asking you mortgage company for help? They may well have a plan to help you, like lower repayments for a period til you get on your feet.The Lord will direct you where to go for help if you ask Him.
Another example may be illness. I know a person who constantly suffers with aches, pains and illnesses. I ask what the doctor says and he hasn’t been. I tell him about healing services we have in my church and he won’t come. I share my testimony on healing and they write it off as coincidence. They are missing all the worldly signposts to their healing!
I read this news article on poverty this morning, and I’ll admit to shedding a tear or two over it. But what came to mind is I hope and pray these families know there is help out there for them in the Christian community. I pray they know about Freecycle for clothing and for meeting needs (more here). If ever there was is simple beautiful example of “ask and receive” its Freecycle. You simple offer good things you have to give and ask for things you need. Free. A truly blessed use of technology, all you need is not to have pride and just ask.
Get active about your receiving.
When I first became saved it was release from poverty, well my perceived poverty, and stability that I craved. I vaguely remembered, knowing virtually nada about the bible, that there was a bit about your cup running over. I set out to find it as one of my first forays into the wonderful world of the Word. And I found psalm 23.
Now many many months of fairly intense biblical study and I now believe that this psalm is even more amazing than I first thought. It has only 6 verses, so is easy to memorise, but what is astounding is that, to me, it encompasses an aide memoir to the whole message of the Bible.
Lets study it verse by verse and hopefully you’ll see what I mean:
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Whenever the enemy tries to shake my faith in my Father’s provision I shout this verse out loud at him , and I mean it. This verse clearly states that the Lord is our supply. The Lord. Not man, not nature, not technology, not government. The Lord. Until you get this deep into your psyche you will not be ready to receive the Lord’s many blessings.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Now that you know from verse 1 that the Lord is your supply, verse 2 adds that He is good, his will for you is good.. He will not lead you astray but will lead you straight into your provision. And lead you to the still waters. Often in the Bible water represents the Word, so He will lead you to His Word.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
The Lord is your supply, He leads you only to good things and He restores your soul. He restores it through grace and mercy and His grace is refreshed daily. He can restore your life, your relationships, your business, anything you thought was lost or stolen from you – our God can and will restore if it is rightfully yours. He will help you to walk a righteous path, He does not expect you to do it from your own strength, but He is there with you. Like a shepherd He is with you looking out for you and keeping you going in the right direction by the right path.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
What is our role then in all of these blessings? Not to fear our circumstances, but to always be mindful that we walk with our Lord. We should not fear evil because through the cross we have authority over evil. He overcame death for us. And to obey his direction. His rod and his staff are not for punishment, but to correct us always back onto the righteous path that is already there for us. We cannot see the big picture but He can, He can light our steps, we just have to follow His guidance through direction of the Holy Spirit. We can see that these old testament verses clearly foretell of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
This verse tells us about the magnificent blessings of the Lord that are our birthright, even in the face of worldly persecution. We will be envied in this life for our heaven sent blessings, but our enemies will not prevail. We are anointed ones, Christians, our cups cannot contain the blessings poured for us by our heavenly Father.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
We can receive God’s mercy, through grace. He has overcome death for us and we will abide in the Kingdom forever. Everlasting joy. Astounding.