24 July 2009

Simple Living According To Alcorn

After some of the things we've discussed here, both of you have probably thought I went off the deep end with the simple living stuff. Well, having just read chapter 16 of Randy Alcorn's Money Possessions and Eternity, I know I am not alone. He said exactly what I've been trying to say. He shows from scripture that the reason God grants us more resources than we need is so we can be generous with it, not so we can improve our own standard of living. At the same time he strikes the right balance by arguing that within a wartime lifestyle "there's nothing wrong with spending money for modest pleasures that renew and revive us, especially considering that our battle will last a lifetime."

I am tempted to quote the entire chapter. I will have to settle for less:

We might also call it a "strategic" lifestyle... If I'm devoted to "simple living," I might reject a computer because it's modern and nonessential. But if I live a wartime or strategic lifestyle, the computer may serve as a tool for kingdom purposes... Strategic living is kingdom centered.

We say, "There's nothing wrong with wanting to be rich." God says, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). We say, "There's nothing wrong with being eager to get rich." God says, "One eager to get rich will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 28:20). We say, "The rich have made it." Jesus says, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:23).

Referring to 1 Timothy 6:17-19,

Who are these "rich," and how rich are they? Nearly everyone reading this book is rich, both by first-century standards and by global standards today... If you made only $1,500 last year, that's more than 80 percent of the people on earth."

[John Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: "Will Thy Master say, 'Well done, good and faithful steward?' Thou has adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?"

Think about that as you consider that 58 inch plasma TV, the blood of the poor.

If you find yourself in a bookstore, go to chapter 16 and find the heading "Why Live More Simply?" Read it. (Or buy it.)

18 July 2009

Happy Birthday Nathan!

My little brother is a teenager today.

Nathan, even though the way your age is described has changed, that doesn't mean you have to change. Don't let the label of "teenager" define who you are or how you act.

And keep loving Mom.

Happy birthday!

16 July 2009

Was Paul Wrong?

Call me crazy, but I don't think the apostles would have ever imagined that 2000 years would pass by without Christ's return. Have you ever noticed how Paul seemed to expect Christ to return within his lifetime? If so, have you then ever wondered what he would have done differently had he not made this assumption?

Let's look at how it seems he assumed Christ's return to be in his lifetime.

1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1Th 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
1Th 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Notice how he says "we who are alive, who are left" as though he is assuming he will be counted among those still alive when this happens. Think I am making too much of this verse? Let's keep looking.

1Co 7:26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.

1Co 7:29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none,
1Co 7:30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods,
1Co 7:31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Apparently he felt "the appointed time" had grown so very short that he advised people not to marry, as though "the present form of the world" would pass away within a lifetime. In other words, "You won't be around much longer, so don't be concerned with things like marriage."

Now if you aren't tracking with me yet, thinking to yourself that these passages teach us the doctrine of Christ's imminent return, that we and Christians for the past 2000 years ought to have lived expecting Christ to return "any moment now", then answer me this: Are you living as Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 7:29-31? I mean, really consider yourself; do you really buy as though you have no goods? Do you really live with your wife as though you had none?

Even if you don't buy anything I say, if you believe Paul is here teaching Christ's imminent return today, I encourage you to live as Paul advises. (And if you've read here before at all, I would suggest that this lifestyle looks a lot like simple living.)

For those of you that, like me, wonder if Paul was wrong in making an assumption, or if you would just humor me, what then are the implications? The danger, I feel, is to start doubting Paul's teachings. I mean, while it may be entirely true that a married man's interests are divided (1 Cor. 7:33-34), it is tempting to dismiss the advice in this passage because Paul based it upon a wrong assumption. This is why verse 25 is so important, "I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy." So Paul's advice here is just that--his own advice. And if I think he is wrong, then I am not calling into question the inerrancy of Scripture, but the inerrancy of Paul. So the implication of Paul being wrong is that we can doubt and disagree with the things he says are from him and not the Lord without casting doubt upon Scripture.

What other implications are there? Would Paul have lived differently? Have you ever wondered?