Thursday, July 31, 2014

Words of the Wise

Be safe.
Make me proud.
Call if you'll be late.

Grandpa (my mom's dad) spoke these words often while my mom was growing up. The fact that I'm aware of these words show what an impact they had on my mom.

These three instructions were consistently given when my grandpa's children left the house. They were to be safe (i.e. do safe activities). They were to make him proud (i.e. act in a way that my grandpa would be proud of). They were to call if they'll be late (i.e. if something unexpected prevented them from coming home at curfew, they should call so my grandparents wouldn't worry).

I like these words of the wise. I like these instructions for departure. They show that the one leaving the house is cared about.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Things that Change, Things that Stay the Same

            Well, we’ve been in Costa Rica just over ten months now. I got to thinking (all the time) about these past months and how it’s affected me.

Things That Have Changed:
1. I am less time conscious as I go to sleep when I’m tired (typically 8 or 8:30pm) and wake up when I’m done sleeping (typically 5:30 or 6 am). My day is not dictated by alarms or bells.
2. I am the early riser in our household. I’m getting up at least an hour (if not more) before Lucas each day and he’s staying up at least an hour than me each night.
3. My speaking has slowed down. I have trouble fully expressing myself as my sentences have more errors, more mispronunciations, and more stammering. Many times, I know the words I want to say, but I can’t express them with my “gringo-mouth.”
4. Our meals are centered around rice, beans, chicken, and fresh fruits & veggies.
5. I stopped making menus (since I am keeping the basic staples well stocked).

            Things That Have Stayed the Same:
1. I make lists & follow them.
2. I learn best through seeing words & studying the books.
3. Lucas is still the more social one of the two of us. 
4. I plan for the future & try to maintain routines.

While some of my behaviors & patterns have changed, my core personality has stayed the same. It's hard to believe that we've been here so long & that we only have two months left.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why it's Biblical (yet practically unamerican) to Give Away Your Wealth

The American culture is largely one of consumerism and materialism. We hear the chorus to "buy it now", "buy it on credit", "buy it without delay". To delay your gratification while you save up the money for the purchase is considered abnormal. Millions join in the quest to earn more, achieve that promotion, and buy more stuff.

To give away your money to others is practically unamerican. Yet it's Biblical to do so.

Why am I generous with my time, money, and stuff?
1. It's not mine. I'm a steward of some of God's resources. God gives us the ability to work and therefore earn money. Everything comes from God, including what we have. (1 Chronicles 29:14 and Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
2. I'm blessed to bless others. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12:2)
3. We are rich to be generous and our generosity brings glory, praise, and thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:10-11)
4. It can be an idol. Greed is listed as belonging to the earthly nature, along with immorality, impurity, and evil desires. Greed is idolatry. Immoral, impure, or greedy people have not part in the Kingdom of God. (Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5)
5. It can keep me from realizing my need for God. If I have enough money, I don't cry out to God in difficult situations. (Rev. 3:16-17)
6. I need to share. We should give out of our abundance to those with less and not extort money from others. (Luke 3:7-14)
7. Jesus told us, "WHEN you give to the needy," do it like this. Not if, but when. Treasures on earth won't last, but heavenly treasures will. Don't be greedy, don't be stingy, but be generous. We can't follow both God and money. Who do you want to serve? God will provide our needs (food, drink, clothes, etc.) if we seek His kingdom first. (Matthew 6)
 8. I can be content or love money. (Hebrews 13:5)
9. It's a trap!! Following the road to wealth leads to temptations, traps, and foolish/harmful desires that lead to ruin and destruction. The love of money is the start of all kinds of evil. It can draw people away from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
10. It won't bring satisfaction. If you love money, you'll always want more and more and more. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Today I urge you to:
Be generous.
Tithe 10% of your income.
See how little you can live on.
Give to organizations that help those with less.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Heavenly Citizenship

I'm not exceedingly patriotic.
It's not that I'm against my country by my lack of enthusiasm...I just am not a big fan of nationalism.

As the 4th of July rolls around, I am reminded of one reason why nationalism doesn't sit well with me: I know that my worldly citizenship is not my heavenly citizenship.

Earth isn't my home for long. My citizenship is in heaven (according to Philippians 3:20).
I am legally considered a legal citizen of the US, but I know I am really Christ's ambassador to the world (according to 2 Corinthians 5:20)

I dream of churches where instead of blatant nationalism preached from the pulpit as the pastors call for God to bless whichever country, we talk about our heavenly citizenship & how we are here as ambassadors.

I am thankful that I am a citizen of a country where I can worship freely, but I also realize that there are other countries with this same liberty.

I pray that this independence day, we thank God for the freedom we are afforded to freely worship Him. I pray that we also use this time to pray for our brothers & sisters around the world who lack this freedom.

I encourage you to pray for your leaders & pray for decisions to be made in the capital that honor God over the political parties that squabble.

I pray that as we remember the cost of freedom in the States, we also remember the cost of freedom in Christ. People have died so we may live our lives. Christ has died & risen so we can be with Him in heaven forever.

Happy 4th.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My First Allegiance

My first allegiance is not to my country.
It is not to my political party. (Do I even have one of those?)
It is not to my denomination.
It is not even to my job or my family.

My first allegiance is to my God.
As a Christian, I know that my God does not accept competition to His rightful place in our lives. He is a jealous God.

Now, I'm not saying that we should look for opportunities to betray our countries; I'm just saying that as Christians, to place your country about God is idolatrous, is sinful.

No country is a fully Christian nation. There are Christians in most (if not all) nations, but that does not make a nation Christian. Our countries do things that run against our convictions as Christians, so we should pray for them. But not even the US is a Christian nation. The US was founded to give religious freedom, the freedom to worship the way you want (or not at all).

God is a jealous God. He does not accept second place, because His only rightful place is first place. He should not and will not come after your allegiance to your country.

For me,
My top priority is to God.
My second priority is to my spouse.
My third priority is to my family (church or biological).
My fourth priority is to my work.
My fifth priority is to my country.

One of the reasons I see for disunity in the Christian church is because our identity is not primarily in our faith. We are Republican Christians. We are Democratic Christians. We are American Christians. We are Stay-at-Home-Christians. We are ________ and then Christian.

It is possible to be a Christian in the Republican party. I am grateful that God is conservative with his wrath and judgment.

It is possible to be a Christian in the Democratic party. I am grateful that God is liberal with his grace, mercy, and salvation.

But our faith must come before all other things: politics, nationality, family, etc.

Is your first allegiance to God?
Is He where your identity rests? 

What would happen if Christians around the world refused to fight each other because we don't want to kill our brothers & sisters in the faith, for a country's war?
What would happen if Christians poured out their love & support for each other, regardless of nationality, race, or anything else?
I think people would take notice of Christians & wonder what is different about them.