A Different Kind of Savings Plan

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My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.

That means you can sell your possessions and give generously to the poor. You can have a different kind of savings plan: one that never depreciates, one that never defaults, one that can’t be plundered by crooks or destroyed by natural calamities. Your treasure will be stored in the heavens, and since your treasure is there, your heart will be lodged there as well.

(Luke 12:32-34 The Voice)

God’s version of prosperity may be bigger and more freeing than you think.

And very different.

 

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Am I Hearing You Right?

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While there are birds, birds to fly…

I heard that Mother Teresa said “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”

I’m no Mother Teresa, and I already know that God will give me things I can’t handle. I also know that he gives me things that He can handle if I learn to do only what He asks and let Him do the heavy lifting. (“Will You Be My Alligator” link here.) But sometimes I wonder…

I didn’t feel like driving to Alberta again yesterday when I have so much to do at home. But the Lover of my soul knew I needed a break, so I ended up going. I spent the time in the car talking to God, pouring out my feelings to Jesus, and sitting quietly with Holy Spirit. I have evidence of transformation in my life because I have much more peace than I used to when my list of concerns to pray about gets longer and longer. But still I wonder if I could have done things differently (or sooner), if I said something I ought not to have said (or failed to say), if I am following the right path or if I have missed some crucial heavenly download somewhere. Am I doing this right?

Change is messy, I know, but it looks like I may have to exchange my rubber boots for hip waders soon. I cried out, “Lord! I really need to hear your voice about now! Just talk to me! What should I do?!” (I may have raised my voice.)

I was listening to music on my phone as I drove. (Gotta love a car with a USB port.) Road conditions demanded my attention so I left it on shuffle. The songs played in random order. Most of the music on my phone is a peaceful worshipful style aimed at reducing stress in city traffic. My other more eclectic collections are on a road trip sticks or CDs.

A song came on just as I asked my question. I tell you the truth. I do not recall ever hearing this song before or downloading on my phone. It was in a large, but inexpensive collection of classic jazz tunes I bought a few months ago, but I had only listened to a few familiar favourite songs on it.

This is what I heard: Trust in Me.

I think I have a new favourite.

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“While there’s a moon, a moon up high…”

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Especially in the Wilderness

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“To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love him.”

– Frederick Buechner

Sometimes we travel to the soundtrack of saints’ and angels’ song. Sometimes the sun shines warm upon our heads and the road is paved with the invitation to acceleration.

Then suddenly the clouds hide the sun, the cold north wind drowns out the music. The road is no longer dry and pothole-less. It has not been cleared of ice and snow drifts. In fact, not only is the road not paved with golden potential fulfilled, it’s not even paved.

Who knew that the wilderness is where the Lover of our souls takes us when he asks us to come away with him?

Who knew this is the place where he tells us who we are and shows us a part of his character we never understood before?

Who knew this is where faith is built, where we learn to lean on him?

Who knew this valley is the fulfillment that puts systems and material wealth and the approval of people who don’t think the way God does into perspective?

Who knew the wilderness is preparation for prosperity so that it will not distract and overwhelm?

Who knew the Valley of Achor (trouble) is where the door of hope awaits?

Who knew? The Lover of our soul knew. He planned it.

He invites us to come away to his upside-down kingdom where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, where his thoughts become our thoughts, and where, with his covenantal laser of sweet pain, he writes his law of love on our trembling heart.

Come away.

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Breathe

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The devil is a terrorist.

My friend, Jeff, pointed out yesterday that while the motivating force behind heaven’s actions is love, the motivating force the powers of evil try to sell us is fear. The world is saturated in fear and constantly trying to manipulate with fear. All stress is fear based and includes “What if [insert nightmare here].”

Graham Cooke points out that fear and intimidation is a low-budget item for the enemy of our souls.  But God’s love? Love is costly. And He was willing to pay the price.

This week we have again been hit with fear bombs, the ill wind of dire predictions, and a feeling of being corralled by lack of options. The devil is nasty. Terror is custom-made; it hits where you are most vulnerable. Many friends, some of my family and myself have had these kind of sneak attacks happening lately.

Jeff pointed out that those who have turned to Christ learn to thrive by breathing the joyful, peaceful atmosphere of heaven. If you panic and pull your mask off you will immediately breathe in the poisonous atmosphere of fear.

When we keep focusing on Christ we build a relationship with him through thanksgiving for what he has already done, by praising him for his character and attributes and by taking time to breathe the cleansing pneuma of the Holy Spirit.

When we cry. “Abba! Father!” and rest our weary heads on the chest of the One who loves us most the atmosphere changes and grows from the kind offered via oxygen mask that falls down in emergencies to entire bio-domes where the Kingdom of heaven is being established in a community and where Christ’s love is at the center of all our actions. Love casts out fear.

At the moment I am conscious of the need to firmly hold that mask of thanksgiving and praise and trust close to my face and to reject clouds of toxic fear swirling in the atmosphere. The joy of the Lord is my strength because I am loved by the Creator of the universe. I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

No matter which way the storm winds blow I am a much loved child of God and if you want to attack me, you’re going to have to go through Him.

John, the disciple who knew he was loved, wrote:

Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.

Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

 

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This Way

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Wonder knows that while you cannot look at the light, you cannot look at anything else without it. It is not exhausted by childhood, but finds its key there. It is a journey like a walk through the woods over the usual obstacles and around the common distractions while the voice of direction leads, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’

-Ravi Zacharias