Monday, October 20, 2014

THE ISSUE OF OWNERSHIP

The critical issue of ownership undergirds our theology of giving and stewardship. To whom do the material goods and wealth we enjoy ultimately belong? I'm not talking about the legal right of ownership, but rather the faith-perspective -- stewardship -- that's rooted in thousands of years of Judeo-Christian theology and practice.

Fundamentally, we either consider the material things in our life -- our money, house, property -- as owned by God and belonging to God, and we manage them for God's purposes, or we view them as owned by us. If they are owned by God, then our tithes and offerings represent our returning to God what belongs to God already. What we keep also belongs to God, and we feel obligated to spend it wisely and not frivolously, and to invest it in ways that do not dishonor God's purposes. We try not to waste money or to live more lavishly than we should. We spend responsibly, allowing our relationship with God to form our minds. We manage God's resources as faithfully as we can.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


#3530

Friday, October 17, 2014

STEWARDSHIP IS RESPONSE

Stewardship is what we do with all we have, all we are, and all we can become. It is a spiritual journey in life, responding to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

-- Douglas M. Lawson


#3529

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PARTS OF ONE WHOLE

Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole.  If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this.  The soul's house is not built on such a convenient plan; there are few soundproof partitions in it.  Only when the conviction -- not merely the idea -- that the demand of the Spirit, however inconvenient, rules the whole of it, will those objectionable noises die down which have a way of penetrating into the nicely furnished little oratory and drowning all the quieter voices by their din.

-- Evelyn Underhill in The Spiritual Life


#3528

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MOLDING OUR MINDS

"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity." (Romans 12:2 Phillips)

If we consider the lives of Christians in their churches, we so often find that they make good sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, employers, and employees -- they have many individual virtues; but they have no way of life other than that which has been imposed upon them by their environment.  It is their sociological conditions, their social class, their neighborhood, their national characteristics, rather than their Christian faith, which determine their outlook and values: they are an overwhelming demonstration that it is the economic conditions and background of one's life which determine what one is and what one will think.  This is an intolerable condition, and so long as it persists we shall not be able to make any impact on the world, because it will be abundantly clear that it is the world which is making its impact upon us.

-- Douglas Rhymes in The Place of the Laity in the Parish


#3527

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

THE AMBIGUOUS GIFTS OF SUFFERING

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5 RSV)

One of the ambiguous gifts of our suffering (and they are ambiguous: they are gifts, and we would never have chosen them) is that it enlarges our perspective.  Petty complaints we had seem unimportant. People with whom we thought we had nothing in common become special friends.  Vocational prowess drops down on the list of our life's priorities; relationships are what matter.

At the same time that we feel more profoundly and gratefully connected to friends and family, we have a sense that all of us dwell in mystery, that we are connected to earth and sky, to the rhythms of the universe, to the whole range of living things in ways we do not understand.

Maybe I can relinquish my "white knuckle" grip on life, and trust that all will be well.

-- Martha Whitmore Hickman in Healing After Loss


#3526