Monday, May 17, 2010

Giving

Those red words are so full. I've read them, and still I read them, but do I live by them?

What if I really believed Jesus in Luke 6:38?

Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

We were at a graduation party last night for one of our senior K-Life guys. After food and playing outside, a group of ladies plopped themselves down by the kitchen to talk and laugh. One of the little girls, not yet 4, was trying to take a rubber snake from another kid. Her mom, a gentle woman I respect a lot, stopped her. "Honey," she said. "We don't take toys; we give them. We are givers."

That really caught me. I've heard parents tell their children not to take toys away, but I've never heard a three-year-old encouraged to give at the point at which it hurts her.

I wondered, this morning as I read Jesus's words, how much I live that way. I don't take things from people, but am I an active giver? What if I gave and gave and gave and considered it a joy? What if I believed in God's economy--that the measure I receive is directly in proportion to what I give? That is a radical thought, and it rubs against my view of "grace", which actually, if I am honest, really translates as my view of what God "owes" me. Isn't He supposed to bless me because I am His child? Whoa. Whoa.

No where does the Bible say God has to bless me materially. In fact, the Gospels seem to indicate that following Him results in quite the opposite. So, this makes me think:

Do I know You, Jesus?

He has said a lot of things that I do not daily remember. He has said a lot of things that I, we, have tried to water down. Well, maybe He meant giving emotionally, giving our time, our energy. I'm sure He did. But read verse 30 of Luke 6 and tell me you don't think He wants us to give our possessions too.

What kind of Jesus have I been guilty of crafting on my own? Is it me that Christ was speaking of when later on in verse 46, He says:

Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?

My response to that should be:

1) Do I know what Jesus has said?

and

2) Am I doing it?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Obedience

Convicted this morning by James 2:14-17.

What good is it , my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

How am I caring for the poor?

Faith without action is no faith at all, James says.

It is the empty frame of a car, oooh, nice leather seats, power windows and locks, but whoops, no motor to get it up and running.

I keep looking for some type of artful compromise...
A deal we can perhaps work out, God and I...

50/50

40/60

Some quota where I can draw the line.
There.
Enough has been given,
righteousness achieved,
I feel good; God is pleased.

I don't think it works like that.
He wants all of me.
"None of what you have is truly yours," a whisper comes.

But I've spent weeks, months, listening to the wrong whisper:
"Find fulfillment in what you have."
"Glean comfort from these trinkets and tchotchkes you gather around you."
"Count them, number them, insure them, protect them."

A cushion created that surely is comfortable.
A callousness created that surely suffocates my soul.

Is this what Jesus meant by
abundant life?

A house, a car, a set of matching dishes, 300-thread count sheets?

I don't think it is.

Daily surrender is my lesson here lately.

God is prying my heart from the things that have become my treasure, things that, sadly, shamefully, will be taken by moth, rust, and flame in a few decades.

It's hard. I don't deny it.

It's not a one-time sacrifice. I won't buy that shirt so that I can send a check to missions.
It's not even a quota.

The Jesus Scripture portrays doesn't seem to be too interested in the occasional offering.

Seems He wants my life. All of it.

My obedience.

Open up the doors I've closed off, Jesus. Throw my tables over. And let Your whisper resound in my heart, louder and louder and louder:

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his posessions...Provide purses for yourself that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted...What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul...I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Am I?

Am I the seed sprouted in thorns
a good intention, choked out by worry and the false hope of wealth
Am I the builder without the plan
in a spurt of passion I pour the concrete, then step back, hang my head, wring my hands
Am I the wanderer in the field
sincerely drawn to the pearl, but it costs more than I will give

Are those slumped shoulders mine
of a rich young man
He was offered a place in the company of God
He couldn't leave the kingdom he already had

The question hangs in the air
fallen from the Messiah's lips
"Will you follow me?"

Oh Jesus, help me, please.
Buttress my heart
to carry the cross
to count the cost
to not look back at what I have lost.

You are worth every sacrifice asked, dream deferred, treasure cast off.