Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Good stewardship the new name for stinginess?

Credit crunch this… credit crunch that… we’ve still got our game consoles & we’re still getting fat.

I’m fed up of people saying “they’ve no money” (as they walk along the street swaying to their IPODS with fancy phone in pocket) which better translates as “I’ve no money to have a nice meal out every weekend or to buy every gadget, game or garment that I want.”

So what? My greatest fear with the credit crunch is not that I won’t be able to buy Tesco Finest anymore or that new clothes are costing me more money… No, my greatest fear is that I’ll get even stingier with my giving.

The media tells us that we have no money to play with anymore and as we run for the hills, we stop giving to church & overseas charities and who suffers? Those who are truly poor… who have no clean water… who are dying of malnutrition… those who have no money!

You see despite our “awful” new financial circumstances & escalating house prices, we still hold the keys to solving one of the greatest evils in this world… the unjust distribution of materials and stomping on the poor for cheaper jeans.

Yet I still find myself struggling to increase my giving to Tearfund, trying to find evidence that a tithe isn’t a Biblical precedent and blocking out any messages that suggest developing world communities have been ripped off in bringing me a bargain.

Jesus doesn’t mince His words to the CHURCH on this one in Mathew 25. He claims that those “goats” that overlooked the hungry, ignored the thirsty, disregarded the homeless and refused to visit those in prison, will be deprived of the eternal reward given to the “sheep.”

Forget budgeting and tighter pockets, that’s something worth thinking about.

Monday, 8 September 2008

“My grace is sufficient…”

I’m convinced that we don’t actually believe Jesus’ words most of the time. We don’t think He knows what He’s talking about. If we believed Him like Paul did, we’d live our lives very differently.

For example, there’s a strange little dialogue between Paul & Jesus in 2 Corinthians 12.

Paul receives astounding visions & revelations from God… God gives Paul a “thorn in the flesh”, some debilitating situation to stop Paul becoming arrogant or self-sufficient… Satan uses this to torment Paul, to get him down… Paul begs Jesus to take the thorn away… Jesus refuses, but whispers these powerful words...

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I relate to this situation; perhaps you do too. The visions & revelations from God is pretty cool… the “thorn” is a pain, a hindrance, a stick for Satan to beat me with... and when I beg for it to be removed, Jesus replies, “No… I’m all you need. My power is perfected when you’re on your knees dependent on me, not when you’re self-sufficient and proud.”

So let me ask you - what is your “thorn”? What is a hindrance for you? Is it a debilitating physical condition or continual struggles with mental illness? Is a habit or addiction that you can’t seem to shift? Is it a fear of the future - a new location, a new job, a new start at university?

Whatever it is, there’s a sure bet that Satan will try to use it to beat you with, to cause you pain or anguish, to remind you that you are inadequate. And when he does will you believe Jesus? Will you accept His words of comfort and integrate them deeply within your daily living? Will you be driven to knees & into the arms of your Saviour or will you despair because you are inadequate to face the situation you are in?

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into it’s own in your weakness.
I love you.”

Jesus Christ to you today.