Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is frugality a command from God?

Today I've been pondering what God wants of us. Specifically, my income is probably going to go down significantly at the end of the year, and I want to know what God wants us to do about it. Does He want us to go into hyper saving mode? Does He want us to cut a few things that are of lower priority and wait for the mess to be sorted out? Does He want us to simply trust Him and do nothing and wait?

I don't know. I used to live by the following words: “Pray as though everything depended on God and act as if everything depended on you.” — St. Augustine (354-430). I don't want to dis a smart guy like St Augustine but there is something wrong with this quote in terms of it jiving with the bible. Again and again the bible reminds us that God is in control and self-reliance is just another word for disbelief. (Eph 2:8-9, Heb 3:12-13, Matt 6:33-34). If we credit the notion that we are to work as if everything depended on us then it follows that we didn't believe that God was omnipotent. If we were to completely believe that God was omnipotent we would do nothing to aid Him (for our efforts would be sorry at best) but through His divine mercy and love He asks us to help Him in fulfilling His will (not because He could not pull them off but because it helps us to worship Him fully). Okay, this is how I understand this concept: dogs kind of view us as their God. We all try to train the dog (even when we have the world's stupidest dogs --- as I do). Really it doesn't matter if Tommy will sit when I give him a has no effect on the kitchen or the house or the world, but it means something to Tommy, it means he must bend His will to mine and that makes him better behaved and thus makes his life easier. He may or may not know that I will not love him less if he doesn't ever sit, but it is nonetheless true. So it is with us, by continually practicing to bend our will to God's we learn to worship Him fully and grow in Him, but this will bending on our behalf does not inspire God to love us makes us love God more.

Okay, I believe that we should work hard to do God's will not because it helps Him but because it helps us. Then what does God want. Our belief, our love, our submission our praise our obedience. How do we do that? Or specifically, how do I do this?

In the bible there is the quote: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'” Matt 15:8. This verse from Matthew is referring to how the Pharisees had a habit of giving money that should have been going to their parents in their old age, to the temple (and from a book I learned they actually kept the land for themselves and it was only given to the temple on paper). My take on it is that, if a person does not do what is right and then fabricates excuses (the Pharisees went so far as to fabricate a law) to support themselves then it is all in vain. So with this verse (and I have no idea how I picked this one to make my, I think I need to evaluate what is RIGHT. Is it right to seek poverty? I am just speaking from the top of my head here but I think there are certain people who would do well to seek poverty. The man who talked to Jesus about how to follow Him and Jesus told him to give up all material possessions and follow was one (Matt 19:21). But Jesus did not recommend this to everyone. In John 3, he exhorts Nicodemus to believe.

Then I have to factor in that it is not just me affected by this situation. Maybe this is an occasion for someone else in the family to learn something or heck maybe someone not in the family.

So all in all, off I go to bed to pray whether God wants me to learn obedience to take down the high place of money. Or whether God wants me to learn to trust Him completely. Or if I should be on the lookout for God working in this area and follow His lead. As I am writing this I am thinking that maybe if I give up the extras and then give that money away, I will be learning all the possible things...but did you notice what I did. I came up with a solution before I prayed and put it before God. As Smeagol said in the Lord of the Rings "Master is trixsy"

So much to learn...good thing I have an eternity!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More growth

I guess 2009 is the year for amazing growth for me.

I am learning:

  • Tact (a very little bit at a time)
  • How to avoid situations where I will not use tact
  • How to relate better to my husband
  • This is a big one, I've learned that everyone has irrational preconceptions for something
  • I am learning to give myself grace. I don't feel like I am a failure as much. There are still some times when I do, but they are rare.
  • I am learning to do little things to help my health
On the way back from visiting my mom, who is doing well. I was listening to a pod-cast series. It was from John Piper's podcast. The series was about Pastor as a Scholar. The first segment I listened to was D.A. Carson. I mean WOW!! He is an incredibly intelligent man and he loves God with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Mind...yes we must love God with our mind. I need to open this part up. He thought that the Scholar had to ensure that they didn't go so far as to be Pharisee-ish. What I understood that it is important to keep the main thing, the main thing. God died for us and if you don't relate everything back to that it is not good. He also said that the Preacher had to keep going back to the word so that what they were saying was TRUTH. Emotion is good as long as it is directed by truth. I want to take a university course or some higher level bible study.

I then met with my sister to drive from her place to see mom. It was interesting that she was talking about spiritual gifts (charisms she called them). Hers were leadership and wisdom...yep my sister is gifted in both of those things. Then she said that she thought mine might be knowledge, not special knowledge, but knowledge of opening the scripture up to others. Oh how I would love to worship God in that fashion.

On the way home I listened to the second podcast, by John Piper about the Pastor as the Scholar. In the podcast, he talked about the people that have inspired him. I was so excited to read some books by John Piper, DA Carson and a guy named Jonathan ??? I asked hubby to write down the names because I knew I would forget them. I will look for a book by one of these guys in the Church library.