Tuesday, March 29, 2016
There are 7.3 billion people on this planet. Half of the people on this planet live on less than two dollars a day. They spend their days trying to find enough food, clean water, education, medicine, housing, and transportation. Many of these neighbors daily have to avoid violent predators.
Just to visit a Third World Country leaves us uncomfortable. To be exposed to suffering even temporarily is difficult for us Westerners. Following Jesus includes delving into the lives of sufferers. Maybe that’s what Philippians 3:10 is all about. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.”
Dare we evade the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 16, “Take up your cross and follow me.”? Suffering may be a consequence when we follow The Way. The “cross” is not your irritating friend, boss, or relative. The “cross” is a determined choice to show the love of Christ, no matter the circumstance or cost. We are called to be Christ-like, 24/7. We serve the Lord in the light of God’s love and mercy, that knows no limits.
There is more mercy in God than sin in us!
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
I was in Houston when the Enron Corporation imploded. I knew Ken Lay, the Chairman and CEO of that billion-dollar corporation. Fortune called Enron, “America’s Most Innovative Company.” December 2, 2001, Enron filed for the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The trust of thousands of employees and shareholders was violated.
We all deal with trust issues. Human fallibility is real. Our culture is permeated with mistrust. Ask anyone if they trust the IRS? The answer is a quick but declarative NO! The tax code is now ten times the size of your Bible.
Leadership needs the context of trust. Trustworthy leaders ooze integrity, dependability and a desire to communicate. When trust is broken it is difficult to rebuild and takes a long time. As a Christian, it is my obligation to keep my word. If I commit to someone I do my best to avoid betrayal. I want people to know they can count on me. Among your expectations of me is that confidentiality is taken seriously.
Trust is also a Biblical concept. Proverbs 3 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” You can trust the Savior. He died for you. He rose for you. He intervenes for you.
Praise the Lord!
Monday, March 14, 2016
When the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, asked Pilate for the body. After the Roman Centurion affirmed that Jesus was dead, Joseph was granted the body of Jesus. Joseph wrapped the body in a linen cloth and laid it in a newly hewn tomb. It was then that the large stone was rolled against the entrance to the tomb. The witnesses included Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus.
Probably, that rock-hewn tomb was about four feet in height. No doubt it was dark, tight, and claustrophobic. Hard to grasp – the light of the world in a black crypt.
The next time you find yourself entombed in a tight spot, in a dark place of despair and fear, remember, the Savior went there before you and for you.
The proof of the resurrection of Jesus is not an empty tomb in Jerusalem. The proof of the resurrection is in the changed lives of his disciples, people like you and me.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Americans love Easter candy. We spend over $2 billion on it every year. My favorite candy is M&M’s. The color from the candy shell has no taste. It’s that milk chocolate that tastes so good. There are over 400 million M&M’s produced every day!
M&M’s are available in red and green for Christmas. Red, pink and white emphasizing Valentine’s Day. Orange and black for Halloween. Pastel colors are designated for Easter. Somehow, that fails to capture the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.
God’s redemptive actions always exceed the boundaries of our imagination. Yes, Easter is fun and exciting: Lilies, new clothes, family gatherings, worship, music, eggs and chocolate bunnies all make for a wonderful celebration.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is:
- The central cosmic event
- The turning point in history BC/AC
- The most important day of the year
- The victory over death, fear and inhumanity
- And, the day meaninglessness was cancelled!
God has not left the entire created order unanswered in our cries for salvation. We do not explain the resurrection, it explains us. The power of the Risen Christ is at large in the world. We may be biodegradable but not disposable to our designer.
Now, that’s worth celebrating!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
It is shocking to learn that 37% of the folks who go to church regularly give nothing! Only 8% of Wills contain any directives regarding charitable giving. Charitable giving for Christians is about 3% annually, given out of income not net worth.
If Christians increase their giving from 3% to the biblical standard of a tithe, 10%, an additional $150 billion would be available for the redemptive work of the Kingdom of God annually.
When it comes to a lasting legacy, what should we consider?
- The intergenerational transfer of wealth in the next fifty years will exceed $100 trillion.
- Charitable Gift Planning is different from Planned Giving. Charitable Gift Planning focuses on current gifts, not deferred gifts. It starts the process of spiritual multiplication today.
- The goal is to help our heirs without harming them and managing their expectations.
- 80% of men will predecease their spouses.
- Providing for the business of the Kingdom of God is a high priority for Christians.
- Do the heirs clearly understand the donor’s charitable priorities and intentions?
- The estate should be tax efficiency driven.
- We will leave all of our estate behind, but we get to choose the next steward.
- This is the last stewardship decision we will make.
- The question is not, “How much can we leave our heirs?” Rather the questions should be, “How much will our heirs need?”
- How does God want us to allocate the resources entrusted to us?
These items are worthy of our consideration.