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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Love of Money

"The love of money is the root of all evil, and in the pursuit of it some have wandered from the faith and spiked themselves on many a painful thorn."  - 1 Timothy 6:10, Revised English Bible


"Do not live for money; be content with what you have, for God has said, ‘I will never leave you or desert you'".  - Hebrews 13:5, Revised English Bible


"Conform no longer to the pattern of this present world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds.  Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect."  - Romans 12:2, Revised English Bible


God is the Creator of all things material and spiritual.  Everything that He created is good.  Time and resources are a creation of God.  Money is an invention of man, part of the world system (or pattern), to control the resources of God.  That was worth pondering.


Ponder this as well...

1.       Love is defined as giving yourself sacrificially, for someone or something, without thought for what it may cost you.  This is based upon 1 John 4:10.

2.      Money is a tool measuring value in material terms.  It is used as an exchange.  In society, it implies standing and influence.  It affords deference to the holder.

3.      A root is that which sustains a plant. It is the source of ingesting and transferring nutrients to the plant.  It is the foundation for the plant.

4.      Evil is that which opposes God.


Paraphrasing the 1 Timothy passage above, using the thoughts above, we get the following:


"The love of money (that is giving myself, as a sacrifice, for a tool and what that tool represents, without thought for what it means or what it may cost me)  is the root (that which is my source, my foundation) of all evil (from which I find myself opposed to God)."


Worth pondering.    
6:04 am edt 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fear as an Idol

"In love there is no room for fear; indeed perfect love banishes fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and anyone who is afraid has not attained to love in its perfection." - 1 John 4:18


The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.  When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, he was clear: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me".   God intends to be our god and the only thing that is our god.  To have any other state, for there to be any other gods, is idolatry.  This is why there is no room for fear.  Fear governs our thoughts and behavior. 


I had a recent experience where I and my family's lives were threatened.  We were given instruction, by the authorities, to take certain precautions.  I acted out the direction I was given but then was confronted with still more instruction that was coming from the fear that accompanied the threat.  Not only was there a threat to my life, there was a threat to God because the fear wanted my attention and wanted to direct my behavior instead of God.  An idol is anything that commands our attention, our allegiance, and that directs our actions apart from God.  When fear exists, the kind of fear that drives our behavior and that commands our attention, it usurps God in his rightful role as god in our lives.


Fear, in the sense that the Apostle John wrote in 1 John, implies that God is not in control and that we are not right with God.  If God is not in control, then He is not God and there are many things we could and should fear including the fact that we are not right with God.  If we are not right with God, fear would be an appropriate emotion because there is an eternal consequence to not being right with God that is punitive (Revelation 20:11-15).  We have been given the gift of being right in our relationship with God.  God gave it to us.  It only needs to be accepted. 


There is a word in the 1 John passage above that merits closer inspection.  It is the word "indeed".  It means "in fact, in truth, truly".  I read it as a faith statement.  I read it as "I believe it enough to act - in deed".  This is accepting the gift God has given to us.  It is believing enough to act.  Believing that God loves me, that I deserve an "eternal consequence of a punitive nature", that He sent His Son to serve my sentence so that I could have a relationship with God for eternity instead of punitive consequence.  Believing that enough to act. To say "yes, I believe". To live each day in a relationship with God.  To live realizing what He did for you.  To live in Love, with God, because God is love.  Indeed!

7:36 am edt 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Defining Enough

How much is enough?


There are commodities which we can produce.  There are activities in which we can participate.  There are relationships in which we can engage.  There is one commodity we cannot manufacture.  There is a purpose to our being here.  There are values by which we should live.  How do we manage and balance all these?  Part of the equation is having a definition for enough.


We all only have 168 hours in a week.  It is never 169 and it is never 167.  It is always 168.  We can leverage it, optimize it, waste it, consume it, but we cannot make more of it.  Add to that, we will eventually die, physically.  In my book, that makes time the most precious commodity we have access to and our use of it of paramount importance, hence the need for a definition of enough.


With a definition of enough, we can leverage time to get the most out of it.  An example for me is exercise.  How much exercise is enough?  I view exercise as a tool to promote optimal health.  This requires me to define optimal.  Optimal for me is based upon the concept of stewardship.  I believe this body is a tool that has been loaned to me.  Stewardship of this body is doing what I can do to make it last, keep it in good working order, and enable it to serve its purpose.  Based upon those parameters and the knowledge I possess, my body requires 30-45 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week.  That is between 1.5 and 4 hours per week.  That is enough.  It is enough because spending any additional time does not substantially improve the objectives of exercise.  It becomes a point of diminishing return.  Could I be stronger?  Yes.  Could I be more fit?  Yes.  Will an additional hour, two, or three add a week to my life span?  Will it make my body more fit to do what I am asked to do?  I have determined the answer to be "not appreciably".  Therefore my 1.5-4 hours per week is enough.


Opposing the idea of "enough" is the fact that there are entities that are unwilling or incapable of defining enough and only operate on the premise of more.  This creates a tension that must be resolved within the individual.  For instance, my employer is an entity that operates on the premise of more.  Would it (my employer) take more than 40 hours a week if I gave the time, the answer is yes.  More than 50 hours?  Yes.  Since my employer will not or is not capable of defining enough, I must define and enforce it.  This leads me to a nesting of parameters. I work to make money to purchase resources to sustain and enjoy this life.  How much money is enough to do that?  How much time do I have to work to obtain "enough money" to do that?  In my world, the amount of time I spend has a correlation to the amount of money I earn.  If I operated on the premise of "more", I would spend every hour I could to make every dollar I could.  If I operate on the premise of "enough", I spend the amount of time that produces the desired amount of money to sustain and enjoy life to the parameters that satisfy my definition of enough.


All this enables me to manage time and get the most out of that limited commodity.  The Doctrine of Enough can be applied to everything... resources, emotions, relationships.  Anything that impacts time can be submitted for a definition of enough.  This leads us to how to manage to "enough".


By operating within the parameters of enough, I know when to stop or when to keep going, when to speed up and when to slow down.  That doesn't mean that the entities that I interact with see it the same way I do.  When conflict arises, how do I resolve it?  This leads us to a conversation of purpose, priorities, responsibilities, the law of consequence, and the principle of contentment.  This is the most complex part of operating under any "Doctrine".  The more clearly these points are understood and  internalized, the more easily we can reach and make decisions, the more consistent our decision making will be, and the less stress we experience in the process.



Why do I exist?  For whom do I exist?  This is a variation on the Doctrine of Enough.  Purpose provides direction and helps qualify people, events, and activities into or out of the domain of "fitness" for us.  It helps us exclude and include which in turn impacts how we spend our time and on what we spend our time.



What is the most important thing I could/should be doing?  This is a working out of the tension between the Doctrine of More and the Doctrine of Enough.  I could always find something to spend my time on but what should I spend my time on?  Then I can answer the question of how much time I should spend.



Who decides for me?  Upon whom will a value judgment be made of any action, word, thought or life?  ME!  I am responsible.  I really do get to decide.  I may not always like the decisions I am confronted with.  I may not always like the options of consequences that could result.  But I do get to decide.  This is an essential point in the Doctrine of Enough.  If I am unwilling to take responsibility for myself and make decisions, it will be an impossible task to enforce any definition of enough.



What is the result of any thought, decision, word, or action?  There is a consequence to everything.  Consequence is benign.  The value of a consequence is assigned by us or others based upon our principles, purposes, and priorities.  In the Doctrine of Enough, it is important to know or plan for consequence.  The better we understand the principle of consequence in any decision, the better a decision we can make and the more consistently we can act out the Doctrine of Enough.



Am I OK with the state of things?  Contentment is a validation of our definition of enough.  It is a validation of our decisions in enforcing the Doctrine of Enough.  Sometimes it requires a belief (or faith) that the definitions and/or the decisions were right in spite of how I may currently be feeling or in spite of the consequences being experienced.


Here is an example of it all fitting together.  Earlier, I used the example of my employer and the amount of time that I work.  Let's say I decide that 40 hours is enough.  I concluded this because my purpose is to know and serve God; therefore, my job is a means to an end and not an end in itself.  While my job is a priority and I do have a responsibility to provide for my family, I believe that God ultimately provides based upon my commitment to knowing and serving him.  The conflict arises when my employer asks for more than 40 hours.


Does this request...

1.         Exceed my definition for enough?

a.       If no, accept it.

b.      If yes, go to 2

2.       How does this request fit in my understanding of my purpose?

a.       What are the potential consequences?

b.      How important is this decision and how important are the potential consequences?

c.       What is the responsible decision?

d.      Am I willing to be content?

3.       Make the decision and be at peace.


Life is an art more than a science.  The doctrine of enough is a guide (as is any doctrine).  It brings a balance and sense of priority, a rubric for decision making and a frame work for personal peace.  The ultimate Definer of enough is God. When we know what he wants and accept His definitions for each of us, we will ultimately have more than enough.

8:41 am edt 

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