Archive for January, 2019

Patience – Persistence – Pursuit

January 20, 2019

We finally get to talk about 3 subjects I know very little about.  Or, should I say 3 subjects that I have not yet mastered.  Why would someone want to talk about something they are not expert in?  Good question, but it has never stopped me before, so here we go…

Patience is not an easy word.  For one thing patience doesn’t come as a neatly packaged gift ready to be opened and put to work immediately.  It’s a bit more complicated than that.  Patience is gained through trial, and tribulation.  In other words, hard times, unpleasant times, times we’d rather skip over.

Persistence is an interesting word.  It speaks of a certain stubbornness, unwillingness to give up, the ability to keep going when everyone else says its time to quit.  Persistence in some matters may be the only thing that can turn certain failure into success.  Persistence may trump wealth, brilliance, strength, and other attributes.

Pursuit is a daring word.  Pursuit implies stepping out, taking a risk, and doing something.  Pursuit involves effort, work, and sometimes danger, with no certainty of the outcome.  Pursuit requires one to step up, and to sometimes fail.  Pursuit is an action word, not filled with flowery prose or promises.

Patience, persistence, and pursuit are brothers, and work together towards a common purpose.  They don’t always win the battles, but they will win the war.  If we look at the antonyms for these words it tells us what we don’t want to be:

Patience – Impatience.  Unwillingness to give God time to work out a solution.  A lack of faith that God knows what time it is.

Persistence – I tried once, and that is enough.  If it doesn’t work the first time I’m through with it.  I will never do that again.  I simply can’t do it.

Pursuit – I won’t go.  Too much danger, too much risk.  Not only that it takes too much work.  And even if I pursue my goal and get there, what guarantee will there be that I’ll receive my just reward?  The road is not clear, the path seems uncertain, and there are bound to be pitfalls, I think it safer to stay home and watch another episode of Golden Girls.  Better yet, let someone else do it.

Teddy Roosevelt said it better than I can say it….

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

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Giving

January 4, 2019

[Note:  This post may not apply to everyone.  I’m only addressing our traditional customs of Christian tithing and giving, mostly to the churches where we attend and worship.  There are many other kinds of ‘giving’ which are not addressed here, maybe for another post.]

There are as many opinions on giving as there are people, so take this posting with that in mind.  In this post I’m mostly concentrated on our giving to God and His work, but there are many other types of giving that at least some of this may also apply.

To start the ball rolling here are Chuck’s rules he has learned about giving, or at least the rules that apply to his life experience:

  1. Impulse or emotional giving is fine, but is small in comparison to ‘committed’ giving practices.  In other words, committed giving is powerful and invokes self-discipline and can yield more consistent results than impulse or emotional giving.
  2. I believe most people fall into the impulse or emotional giving practice, and only a few actually learn the benefits of committed giving, and the special blessings God has for them.
  3. The amount is important, but only as a measure of your relationship and commitment to God.  God is not impressed with how rich or poor you may be, or in the actual monetary amount involved.  He is impressed with what is going on inside your heart, and what your giving means to you.
  4. The primary motivation for giving should be from the standpoint of love and not of commitment.  Commitment and love go hand-in-hand, however, and both are required.  But, the point is – God loves a cheerful giver.  If the commitment is going to cause you to be bitter you need to reevaluate things.

Giving is such a private matter between one’s self and God that I hate to give specific examples, but in the interest of illustrating a point on commitment I offer the following snippet from my life going back about 15-20 years ago.

Years and years ago, God had challenged me to change my giving in the offering plate that came around every church service.  Instead of the token dollar, He challenged me to give a minimum of $5 every time the plate arrived at my spot.  Ok, fine.  But, since there is Sunday School, Sunday morning worship service, Sunday evening worship service, and Wednesday night worship service, that $5 does add up.  But, since God challenged me I began my journey.

Sometime later God told me, “I think you can do better.  How about $10?”  So, I accepted and began giving $10 every time the plate came around.  Things went along fine.  It was sometime later when God approach me again, “What about doubling that to $20?”  Now this was becoming serious.  I was not a wealthy man, and still raising a growing family, but I accepted the challenge, and off we went.

Then we went through a financial ‘downturn’.  You know the kind.  Unexpected unemployment, bills rising, unexpected repairs and medical expenses.  Things were beginning to look grim.  Any savings were being quickly depleted, and there were few options left, but I had maintained my $20 commitment.

I remember sitting in my pastor’s office talking about the situation, and all of a sudden I felt a strong spiritual push and proclaimed,  “Pastor, it looks like I’m going down, and there is little hope for a recovery, but if it comes down to it the last $20 I have left in the world is going in the plate as my commitment to God.”

While some may think this ridiculous and have no common sense, I can tell you with truth and accuracy, that from that moment forward things began to improve, and we did come out of our financial crisis, and I never had to put up my last $20.

Now, what does this mean?  Is this a pat on my back?  No, you will miss the point.  The real point here is that God honors commitment, small or great.  He honors the individual who will lay their life and resources ‘on the line’ and put full trust in Him.  Does this mean you should take all your money out of the bank and give it to God?  No.  Does it mean you have to make your own offering commitment?  No, unless God directs you so.  It simply means that giving is a relationship between you and God.  If giving becomes something that is only done to make us feel better about ourselves we have lost the true meaning.

There are other things that I’ve learned about giving, but my time for this post has run out….