Who Owns You?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With these famous words from the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, a small band of 13 colonies set in motion an “idea” of Liberty and Independence that many Americans and, really, many people throughout the world today use as their basis of what it means to be free. But as Christians, is this to be our line of thinking about liberty and freedom?

Christians are free from the bondage of sin and the “yoke” of the Law. Therefore, Christian liberty is not about demanding the “rights” that we have; rather it’s about being free to live to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13) and live a life of selflessness as modeled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 15:1-3). However, Christian liberty is not about flaunting our freedoms in such a way that infringes on another’s conscience either.

How about our finances? If we are free from the bondage of sin, does that mean we should be free from financial bondage (or debt) as well? Is there a line to be drawn when seeking financial freedom from debt?  Last year about this same time I wrote another blog post titled “Financial Freedom” where I explained how as a young man I had a goal in life to be financially independent, yet little did I know that very goal was actually leading me to bondage.

So, am I saying that pursuing financial freedom automatically leads to bondage? Not necessarily. In this context of financial freedom over financial bondage, there is actually a transfer that needs to happen first. When we realize that the freedom we enjoy in Christ is because of the the “Great Transfer” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we start to understand that ALL belongs to Him (including our finances). Therefore, if we would live with an attitude that our finances belong to God and He is in control of them along with everything else, that should free us from the bondage of stress and worry over lack of finances. When we grasp this attitude, that is true financial freedom.


Do You Really Believe Your Bible?

The title of this blog post may cause some Christians to roll their eyes. “How dare you ask that question of a Christian,” some may ponder. After all, the question suggests there can be one of two answers: “yes” or “no.” What Christian in their right mind would ever answer that question with a “no,” right? However, Matthew 7:21-23 clearly reveals to us that many do answer that question with a “no;” maybe not audibly with their mouths, but from the depths of their hearts. Why is that? Well, before I attempt to answer that question let me try and provide some context as to why I posed the question in the first place.

When it comes to our faith and Christian walk, the doctrine of the infallibility or inerrancy of scripture is extremely important because truth really does matter. It’s literally the glue that holds our faith together. Without a firm grasp of this doctrine, we will, like Pilate, find ourselves asking, “what is truth?” as we seek to live a life of obedience to Christ. We must have a high view of scripture if we are to have a high view of God himself. If not, we are bound to be confused and frustrated in our Christian walk, expecting things from God that He never promised in His Word.

I think one reason some struggle with this idea of the infallibility/inerrancy of scripture is they have been disappointed, time and time again, by those whom society have incorrectly given this mantle to. From the Roman Catholic Church, to our government, to civil authorities, society often hold these institutions up as infallible. Yet, when the Priest is exposed for molesting a child, or scandals in our government reveal the greed of politicians, or civil authorities are caught on video abusing those whom they are sworn to protect we soon lose trust.

But God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All scripture is God-breathed.” God has revealed to us in scripture His nature, His character, and His essence. And 2 Peter 1:21 assures us that “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will” so what we read about God in scripture is EXACTLY what He says to be true about Himself. Which leads me back to my original question about why Jesus said what he said in Matthew 7. The whole purpose of the Bible and the Gospel is to bring us in relationship with God (John 17:3). To deny the inerrancy of scripturein other words, to not believe the Bible—is to deny a relationship with God. And for those Christ says, “I never knew you.”

Can Money Influence Your Faith?

Does your behavior change based on your financial situation? For example, are you more generous when you feel you have an abundance? How about the opposite? Are you stingy when you feel things are tight with your finances? Most of us are usually not “always” generous or “always” stingy (I said most), we typically change based on our financial situation, don’t we?

In her blog post on Money Crashers, Jacqueline Curtis writes:

Going from rags to riches is essentially the American Dream. Whether it happens by way of a better-paying job or winning the lottery, some studies suggest that money can change your behavior—and not always for the better. Of course, there are plenty of charitable, helpful, and giving wealthy people. However, results from some studies have proven that they may be the exception, rather than the rule.

Your thoughts, behavior, and actions are all linked to your psychology, which is composed of a host of factors ranging from your genetic makeup to the way you were raised. While money doesn’t exactly shape your belief system, it can influence the way you think and act toward others. Gaining a better understanding of the sway that money—or the lack of it—may have on your behavior can make you more aware of when it might be pulling your strings and, hopefully, help you learn to stop it.

Aren’t you glad we serve a God who does not, cannot, and will not change? Malachi 3:6 says “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” God owns it all; there is no “shadow of turning” from his revealed purpose or truth. We can count on Him to be and do exactly what He promises in His Word.

While our behavior may change based on our financial situation, our faith in Christ should never ever waver because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).


What’s Your Perspective on Thanks-living?

When reading a fiction or non-fiction book, readers see and experience the events and feelings about the characters through a certain point of view, which is called a perspective. A perspective is a literary tool, which serves as a lens through which readers observe other characters, events, and happenings.

Years ago my wife posted a sign next to the front door of our home that reads “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” It’s a great conversation starter for visitors to the house, but if I asked you if you believe that to be true, what would your answer be? May I suggest your answer to that question may very well depend on your perspective—or, in other words, through the lens you are viewing the characters, events, and happenings in your life.

As Christians, the lens of Scripture should always be what we use to view every single thing that happens in our lives. And in Scripture, the greatest story ever told is the story of redemption. In literature, the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear,” “see,” and “feel” what takes place in a story is called point of view. God Himself has narrated the great story of redemption, so as redeemed people we should “hear” the great news of salvation (Luke 1:9; Romans 10:8-9), we should “see” with eyes of faith the future He has set for us (1 Corinthians 2:9; Jeremiah 29:11), and we should “feel” the love He has showered on us in His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). If we are viewing the whole of our lives through those lenses and with that perspective, how can we not live with a thanks-living attitude every day!

We do not have to wait, as the world does, for one month out of the year to starting thinking about what we have to be thankful for. For the redeemed, our perspective is gained from God’s Word. There really is always, always, always something to be thankful for…the Lord’s lovingkindness never ceases and His compassions never fail. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22).

Financial Freedom

As a nation we just celebrated Independence Day and I suppose many of us took some time to pause to consider the freedoms we enjoy as a nation. Indeed, the ideas of liberty and freedom are tightly woven into the American culture. However, there is probably no philosophical or political idea as contentious as the concept of freedom. Political freedom and economic freedom or, as I’ve entitled my post, “Financial Freedom” is often what we think about when we think of freedom as Americans. In his book “Capitalism and Freedom” (1962), Milton Friedman argues that “economic freedom is an extremely important part of total freedom.” But what exactly is economic freedom and financial freedom?

When I was a teenager I set a goal to be “financially independent” by the age of 40. My thought process was if I’m financially independent no one could control me. I could do what I want, when I want, and how I wanted to do it. Boy, was I off track and obviously lost. Second Peter 2:19 points out the irony and folly of my thinking at the time. Although I wasn’t aware, the quest for freedom from God only drove me to slavery of sin and self. My whole concept of freedom was skewed. Galatians 5:13 says we are to use our freedom to serve others, not to indulge our own selfish desires.

So, if I were to “re-write” my boyhood goal to be “financially independent”, it might go something like this: Because Christ has died for my sins and FULLY paid the debt that I could not pay, I am free to generously give to others all that He has given me.


What’s In It for Me?

As we approach this holiday season, many people will start to set their dials to their favorite radio station, WII FM (What’s In It For Me). Or for those of us west of the Mississippi, it may be KAI AM (Keep Away, It’s All Mine)! We all feel the stress of this time of year—Christians and non-Christians alike—but as Christians, we have a hope, a faith, and a love that are different from the world’s (1 Corinthians 13:13). We hope differently. We believe differently. We love differently. So what better time of year to display that hope, faith, and love than during the holidays? I’m not suggesting that shouldn’t be our disposition all year (it should!); but what a great reminder the holiday season offers us to practice what we believe.

Love wins the day and is the emphasis of 1 Corinthians 13:13. As I consider my assignment this month to blog on faith and “Thanksliving,” I’m reminded that my thankfulness is fully wrapped up in the One in whom I entrust my salvation, Jesus Christ. Instead of tuning in to WII FM, I can now tune into WGHD FM (What God Has Done For Me). Ok, I’m done with the call letters. But seriously, Thanksgiving (the holiday) is typically seen as a “day” to reflect and give thanks for all we have and to remember what God has done for us in His Son Jesus. When I think of Thanksliving, it causes me to go deeper and to think outside myself: to think of others as well. Yes, I’m thankful for what God has done for me in Christ; but let’s remember the disposition that God Himself took when He sent His Son into the World. Jesus came as a servant. He came into a world of sinners who despised Him, persecuted Him, and ultimately killed Him for doing no wrong. He came to serve them and to save them. WOW!

Because we have put our faith in Him and in what He did on our behalf, we are called to a life of Thanksliving to display our hope, faith, and love to a world that may despise us and persecute us, as some are martyred even now. But we should always be thankful and proclaim, like Asaph and the Levites, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Then say, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us and deliver us from the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.’ Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting” (1 Chronicles 16:34-36).

Traditional Family vs. Modern Family?

As I thought about this month’s blog topic of “Truth,” the idea of Truth and Family led me to consider how the family unit is defined by today’s contemporary culture.

I grew up in a single parent home; my mother and father divorced when I was around five years old. I always fantasized what a “traditional” family would be like with both parents in the home. In many ways, I felt slighted as a young man growing up without a father, so I was determined that when I had a family of my own, I would be there as a father.

However, I was utterly clueless as to what God’s Word truly said about family. God’s Word is very clear on the matter. If we want to understand God’s plan for the family unit, we must begin where God began, and that’s in Genesis. In Genesis 2, we see God establishing marriage between one man and one woman. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen.2:24). God gave marriage as a gift to Adam and Eve. Marriage was not just for convenience, nor was it brought about by any culture. It was instituted by God.

Hollywood even has an opinion on what a family should look like. Regarding the critically acclaimed sitcom Modern Family, Brian Lowry, of Variety magazine, had this to say: “Flitting among three story lines, it’s smart, nimble and best of all, funny, while actually making a point about the evolving nature of what constitutes ‘family.'”

Did you catch it? ….the evolving nature of what constitutes “family.”  According to whom?! I believe the Apostle Paul was clear in outlining God’s desires for the family and family relationships: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col.3:18-21). This is simple, practical advice that contemporary culture often rebukes.

So, is my family a “Traditional Family” or “Modern Family”? Or a more relevant question is, “Does my family resemble God’s true definition of family?” I like what Alistar Begg says about this is in his blog, Truth for Life: “In truly Christian families, each member affirms that ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Husbands and wives display their love for the Lord Jesus in giving themselves wholeheartedly to the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. Children also display their understanding of Jesus’ Lordship by respecting and obeying their parents. When everyone in the family follows this biblical mandate it makes for healthy churches and stable societies.”

I say Amen to that and pray that my family will resemble this statement more and more by God’s grace.