God is making a change in the way my family lives. It is a slow process and some of us are more willing than others to obey but it is a beautiful thing to see. We are being nudged by the Holy Spirit to sIMPLIFY.
One of the many lessons learned from having a sick child has been that we already have everything we need and the little things mean so much more than ever before.
I am thankful when I get in my car on a hot Mississippi summer day and have cold air-conditioning blowing on me. I am in awe of the beauty of nature around me-the shape of the clouds, the majesty of the pine tree, the sound and touch of a late afternoon breeze. I give thanks when I crawl into my bed and feel the softness of the mattress beneath me and smell the faint fragrance of fresh, clean sheets. We are so blessed in this country and yet are raised to always strive for more, more, more. Mo' money. Mo' clothes. Mo' toys. Mo' sTUFF.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us that riches are meaningless...
"Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?
The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep."
"I have seen a grievance evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.
Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes he so departs"
I lOVE that!
"He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.
This too is a grievance evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?
All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger."
There is much debate about the "prosperity gospel". I don't get it. If a person is truly in the word then how can monetary items bring them joy? Isn't that idolatry? Isn't that focusing on the gifts rather than the giver? Forgive me b/c I am still a "baby Christian" but isn't that "basing your self-worth on your net-worth"?
I find it perverse when someone gushes about a material object and gives praise to God for it in the same breath. I just can't wrap my mind around the idea that God wants us to even care about what kind of car we drive or at what neighborhood we live in or at what store we buy our clothes.
tHERE aRE sTARVING cHILDREN iN tHIS wORLD!
tHERE aRE pEOPLE, fELLOW sISTERS aND bROTHERS iN Christ, sLEEPING oN tHE sTREETS!
tHERE aRE sICK pEOPLE wHO cAN'T aFFORD mEDICAL hELP!
"Yea, I have nice things but I also tithe a lot!"
Please, please, please stop.
I can't take it.
How much more could you have given, how many more mouths could you have fed, how many more orphans could you have clothed, how many more missionaries could you have supported, how many more sick babies could have been treated if you had bought the $18,000 car instead of the $40,000???
Paul prayed for the Ephesians-
"...Now to him that is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
How are you glorifying God by driving a big, fat, fancy car? How are you glorifying God by living in a big, fat, fancy house? How are you glorifying God by wearing expensive clothes and/or jewelry?
Be real. Are you really getting joy from the Holy Spirit or are you getting joy from the way these material things make you feel?
Listen, I can only say such b/c I am guilty myself. There was a time when I found "happiness" in driving a car with leather upholstery or wearing the latest trend in fashion or eating at the newest restaurant that everyone was talking about or having sTUFF. But God has, and still is, freeing me of those chains. And they are chains. Chains of this world. It took the equivalent of slapping me across the face with a 2x4 (i.e. a sick baby), a mAJOR life interruption, to get my attention but I am so thankful to the heavenly father for it. Freeing me of those things has truly opened my heart to "a peace that surpasses all understanding" that I have never known before.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
In 50 years from now that shiny piece of metal with 4 wheels that made you feel like somethin' will be rusting somewhere in a landfill. Those clothes that cost so much but made you feel so great will be rags. But that person that you spoke to about God will have a place in eternity with our Creator. That child that was healed after your donation helped send him to a better hospital is now loving on his own grandchildren. And that church that you helped to renovate downtown is full of God's children singing praises to Him on Sunday morning.
Don't underestimate the possibilities of God's power to work through you. And don't trivialize His abundant gifts.
Matthew 6:19-21 (King James Version)
"19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Proverbs 30:7-9 (New International Version)
7 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God."