Category Archives: Possessions

Maybe so, Maybe not. We’ll see.

There is a Chinese Proverb that goes something like this…

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

The moral of this story, is, of course, that no event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate, but that only time will tell the whole story. Additionally, no one really lives long enough to find out the ‘whole story,’ so it could be considered a great waste of time to judge minor inconveniences as misfortunes or to invest tons of energy into things that look outstanding on the surface, but may not pay off in the end.

The wiser thing, then, is to live life in moderation, keeping as even a temperament as possible, taking all things in stride, whether they originally appear to be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

What Are You Waiting For?

You may not even realize you are holding back. The truth is most of us are. We have justified our reasoning to wait to completely follow Jesus. Read Matthew 8:18-20 below:

The Cost of Following Jesus

Matthew  18 Now  when Jesus saw a crowd around him,  he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19  And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head .”

The sub heading for this passage confused me at first. I thought, “What cost is there to following Jesus that is represented in this passage?” MacArthur’s Notes in his study bible offer some insight:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 19 a scribe. As a scribe, this man was breaking with his fellow scribes by publicly declaring his willingness to follow Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus evidently knew that he had not counted the cost in terms of suffering and inconvenience.

Jesus saw this scribe’s heart, and knew the scribe did not know what he would be getting himself into. The scribe, fell in love with the idea, and was not thinking of everything else that would come along with it. Like a child asking for a puppy, but not thinking of the training, walking, feeding, grooming and caring for the dog over the next 10-15 years. The child just wanted a puppy to play with. We have all jumped into something too quickly without really thinking of the consequences, both good and bad, of what is to come. Jesus heeds a warning that denying this world offers little rest, safety and comfort. The text continues as others want to follow Jesus, but have some housekeeping to attend to first:

21  Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

Again at first glance this sounds insensitive of Jesus to not allow the man to bury his father. Yet MacArthur offers an explanation for this phrase:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 20 Son of Man. See notes on Mark 2: 10 and John 1: 51 . This is the name Jesus used for himself more than any other. It is used 83 times in the Gospels, always by Jesus himself. It was a messianic title ( Dan. 7: 13– 14 ), with an obvious reference to the humanity and the humility of Christ. Yet, it also speaks of his everlasting glory, as Dan. 7: 13– 14 shows (cf. Matt. 24: 27 ; Acts 7: 56 ). MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 21 let me first go and bury my father. This does not mean that the man’s father was already dead. The phrase “I must bury my father” was a common figure of speech meaning, “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance.”

The man was essentially saying I will follow you once I get the money that is coming my way. From our perspective this sounds foolish, but how do we make this same statement in our daily lives?

“I’ll take up my cross when I get that promotion.” “I’ll get involved in the church when my children move out.” “I’ll join a small group when I retire and can read more.”

How are any of these thoughts different? All of these statements boil down to say, “I will submit to God when He fits into my life.” But without missing a beat, Jesus comes back with verse 22:

22  And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Which MacArthur helps us interpret to mean:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 22 leave the dead to bury their own dead. Let the world (the spiritually dead) take care of mundane things.

All of those things Jesus calls Mundane. His direction is clear, let the spiritually dead, the ones driven by society and what this world has to offer, deal with the mundane things, the things that in the end do not matter.

All of those mundane things are excuses that we try to justify to God. I’m too busy. On the fast track. Almost retired. I’m tired. I need just a little more money. More friends. More stuff.

After these mundane things are accomplished, then, and only then will I reevaluate where I am at and let my Idol factory (Heart) make something else to strive towards other than God.

In the end our earthly bodies and sinful hearts will always find ways to focus our energy, time and money towards something other than the only thing worth pursuing. Only until we give it all…ALL to him and submit, whole heartedly to his purpose can we begin to move from the mundane (check out the definition of this word) world and into a spiritual (the antonym of mundane) world.

So pray. Repent and ask God to work in you through the Holy Spirit, to be able to walk away from this mundane world, and let the world worry about the world. What are you waiting for?

Can I Borrow That?

Think of a time when you borrowed something from someone else. Maybe it was a power tool, a vehicle to move or even money. Did you use those items differently than if they were your own? Were you more careful not to damage the tool, or returned the vehicle washed and with a full tank, or did you pay back the money with interest, or a sincere thank you, after you of course used it for its borrowed purpose, instead of using it for something else?

Why do we handle things that are not our own so much better than our own possessions? Is it the accountability of knowing we have to give them back? Is it because we would have to explain our carelessness or deceit if we did not use the item properly? Or is it because the item is not our own to be mistreated? I think it could very well be all of these reasons and more.

Now think about how much longer some of our things would last if we treated them the same way. As if they were not our own, as if we had to give an account for how they were used, either how effectively or how wasteful we were with them.

As Christians are we not called to do so already?

“For everything comes from him [God] and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36 NLT)”

If your mindset with all you have is “intended for his glory”, how would that change your habits or purchases?  The average cost of a wedding ring in 2012 was over $26,000, Is God more glorified by the greater cost of a ring?

By running our purchases and choices surrounding our possessions, time and money through the test of “Is this intended for his glory?” we may find ourselves rethinking and modifying our decisions.

Why do you want to skydive? Is sky diving glorifying God? It could be. If it were to raise funds or share the gospel skydiving could very well glorify God. If it is to say you did it, to bring up at the next cocktail party, your stewardship may be called into question.  Nothing is inherently good or bad, but how it is used that determines if we are being faithful stewards or making decisions based on pride. Money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Notice this stands to mean it is your intentions that determine whether your act or purchase glorifies God.  Your intentions are strongly linked to your mindset towards them, and having the outlook that all you have is God’s and is to be used for his glory will drastically effect not only how something is used, but if something is even worth doing or having.  Why am I buying a new car, a large house, or expensive ring? Again, all of these purchases could very well glorify God, but with heavy cultural influence, we make many decisions based off of how others will perceive us because of them, not how culture will perceive God.

Let’s help others perceive God the way he intended. Let our actions and purchases be made with the forethought that its intended use at the end of the day is to glorify God.

Eleven Giving Guidelines to Fight the Pull of Materialism by Randy Alcorn

Eleven Giving Guidelines to Fight the Pull of Materialism-By Randy Alcorn

“I believe the only way to break the power of materialism is first, to see ourselves as stewards that God has entrusted these money and possessions to, and second, to give. Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish the control, power, and prestige that come with wealth. At the moment of release, the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears, and I recognize God as owner, myself as servant, and other people as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.”