Poverty

Unclaimed

by Andy Wood on December 2, 2016

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, Principle of Legacy, Waiting

This photo from December 2013 - People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This photo from December 2013 – People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Suppose you were hosting an event for a crowd north of 1,400 people.  Where would you have it?

That’s a pretty serious venue.  Unless your name is something like Biltmore, you can probably scratch the back yard or dining room off the list.  But hey, your local hotel ballroom may fit the bill. Depending on the nature of the event, a few church houses or large theaters or auditoriums would work.

When was the last time you were part of a crowd that big? I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve got to tell you, it was noticeable. Parking was a bit of a challenge. The venue was a little crowded. The energy was palpable. Lots of noise and excitement.

And no, I’m not referring to a Black Friday sale at Walmart.

But I want to tell you about a different kind of assembly. One where 1,430 people came together and hardly anyone noticed.  Parking wasn’t a problem.  Noise wasn’t an issue.  In fact, all was deathly(!) quiet, at a venue that was shockingly small.

The location: a mass grave. [click to continue…]

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ChickenSomebody just stumbled into a chicken-and-egg situation. And I’m not talking about foxes in the henhouse.  This is more of the “What came first?” variety. And the answer to that proverbial question has profound implications for your life.

Here’s the back story…

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a report outlining how the average American spends his or her money.  Assuming you’re average, you spend a third of your income on housing, 17% on transportation, 13% on food, 11% on insurance, and 7% on healthcare. Entertainment lags back at 5% and the average American gives 4% to churches or charities. Interesting, there was no mention of debt service, at least in the report I read.

Of course, who’s average, right? So Derek Thompson of The Atlantic did some more figuring.  He split up income categories into quintiles – the top 20%, the bottom 20%, and the three in the middle. He then compared how the top fifth spend their money proportionally, compared to the bottom fifth.

Would it come as a shock that there is a difference? [click to continue…]

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Flying moneyEver try one of those teachable moments with your kids that gets turned back on you? As in, Who’s teaching whom?

Twenty or so years ago, we were living in West Alabama and I took Cassie, about age 9, to the local shopping center (translation: Walmart).  It was just before Easter.  We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for, so we left past the customer service counter.

“Daddy,” she whispered.  “Look… those people are poor!

I looked.

“Those people” were a middle-aged married couple, standing at the customer service desk. They were very humbly dressed, to be sure. And they had all the individual parts to make their own Easter baskets – apparently not able to afford the prepackaged wonders that were for sale in the back.

Ah, Fatherhood! The opportunities we have to engage with our children at teachable moments to give them perspective, wisdom, and character.  This was certainly one of them, and a donned my SuperDad cape. [click to continue…]

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“There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”(Milan Kundera) 

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Ever read about the double-pump miracle Jesus performed?  Fascinating story, about a blind man in Bethsaida.  Jesus led him outside the village and spit on his eyes.

“Do you see anything”? He asked.

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

So Jesus double-clutched.  Once more, he put his hands on the man’s eyes. This time he saw everything clearly.

It doesn’t bother me that it took two rounds with the Son of God for a blind man to see clearly again.  It does bother me that many believers, myself included, have gone many rounds with Jesus, and we still don’t see clearly at times.

He saw people that looked like trees.  We see people that look like other things – jobs, economic status, social labels, racial stereotypes, gender.  Jesus saw something else entirely.  You can too, but it doesn’t come naturally. 

“I see people; they look like trees.” 

What do you see?  Butcher, baker, candlestick maker?  Hot babe, geek, hero, freak? 

They may as well be Klingons, unless we learn to see from Jesus’ perspective.  We talk a lot about pursuing our own passions, but you can never fulfill your deepest passion unless you first embrace his.  Take a look: [click to continue…]

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It was the Beverly Hills of ancient Asia.  A center of wealth and high-end commerce.  A medical haven, where people came from miles around for treatment of various ailments.  If you wrote your mama and told her your job was transferring you there, she’d have something to brag about the next day.  This was some place.  And there was a church in town.

How would you like to get a personal letter from Jesus Christ, where the first thing he said was, “I know what you’ve been doing”?  That can be a little unnerving!  But that’s exactly what Jesus said to the First Church of Coolville, alias Laodicea.  He had a few other things to say as well.  Let’s peek at their mail:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see (Revelation 3:15-18).

Looks like the guys and dolls in Lala Land had a few things to learn about wealth.

So do we.

They thought they were loaded; Jesus said otherwise.  Remember, though, that in spite of its scathing message, this was a love letter.  And in his love, Jesus gave them, and LifeVestors everywhere, a few pointers on His economy. [click to continue…]

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RollsTense Truth:  God has established clearly-defined principles of life management that can make me prosper, and my tomorrow better than today.  Yet for his own good purposes, God will allow me to suffer in order to further the gospel, transform my character, and mature my faith. Regardless of the what the circumstances of the moment suggest, God is for me, and will reward faithfulness, to some degree in this life, and to a much greater degree in the next.

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Mention the word “prosperity” to American Evangelical Christians and you’ll get one of two responses.  The first is a kind of entranced smile – a brightened countenance very similar to the sheer delight we used to see from people at an Amway meeting.

The second is that uncomfortable, “what do you mean by that?” kind of look, suggesting that money is the world’s curse, and that people who have it must be materialistic swine or should somehow apologize or feel guilty.

So which are you?  “Amen?”  Or “Oh me?”  Or maybe, like me, you vacillate from one to the other.

The challenge with all this is that the Bible categorically promises success to people who live according to principles or laws that God has established.  “Everything he does will prosper,” the psalmist said in Psalm 1.  And check out those blessings mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy.

That said, the Bible also deals with the apparent contradiction of that – the prosperity of the wicked.  Those mirroring psalms – 37 and 73 – both deal with that.  The wicked does have his day, the psalmist concludes, but God has a way of sorting things out in the end, when it matters most.

Meanwhile, in the New Testament, Jesus didn’t promise a life without tribulation.  On the contrary, He said we would have it, despite what people uniquely in America sometimes promise.  Our rewards are presented mostly as heavenly, post-life promises.  But even in places, such as here, there is the declaration that God has obligated Himself to meet all our needs.

So which is it?  Suffering in this age, followed by our eternal treasure in heaven?  Or timeless principles that work in the age to come, but also may be claimed, believed, and acted on here?

Yes.

Does God want you and me to be rich?

[click to continue…]

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