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Eyes Right

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.  Luke 11:34

Have you considered how much your life is impacted by the way you see things? Most of the time, I am convinced that the way I see things is the way they really are. The sad fact is that my eye does not see, focus and filter the way it ought to. My first problem is not my eyesight, but my worldview. My second problem is my culture which shapes my lenses. I generally attribute dark areas in my life to sin; here Jesus links them to the way I see things. This includes my presuppositions, my thought patterns, my assumptions, and my honed ability to see things in a way that suits my idiosyncrasies. I prefer a bad lamp to one that scatters the cockroaches in my soul. 

I have been pondering the lens through which my three children see life. I love their uniqueness, cherish their differences. At the same time, I want their life-outlook—their eyes—to be good...

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Eternal Big Picture

till I entered the sanctuary of God
Psalm 73:17

Do you ever lack an understanding of the bigger context of life? Do you think your life is worse than others? Do you wonder why you have a hard time and those who don’t know God do fine? Asaph had the same challenge, and in Psalm 73 as he gives us a good reason to do “scorecarding,” to measure…but it has to be in the right context.

Although he is in a bad place personally, he knows enough about God to start with the general truth. “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” This is as true as “God loves everyone.” It is true, but it lacks the personal touch.  “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped…”  What follows is verse after verse of bad news for Asaph and good news for the rich. Finally, he arrives at the middle of this song and says, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me,...

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But In The Future

but in the future Isaiah 9:1

I was reading Isaiah 9 and felt it had strong relevance to the challenge we see of getting people out of the common way of doing Christianity and into a kingdom walk. The big hurdle of “recruiting” people for this or that initiative has little to do with leave, time commitments, or finances; it has to do with the possible new future for people, and how our enemy is determined to help people avoid it. The two phrases that hit me from Isaiah 9:1 were “In the past…” and “but in the future.”

As we end another Venture season (which feels much like the Old Testament times when kings returned from war) I am so blessed that the future of many people has been radically changed by God’s interjection these past four or five months. The future of many consultants has been changed forever because of the training they received. They grew spiritually when they had to serve clients in a way that went beyond their skills...

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The Mule and the Donkey

We are living in times when many are being as “stubborn as mules” about things that may or may not be critical. Anyone with a passing thought can post it on social media and, if it is provocative enough, garner the support of international miscreants. We have learned how the more controversial thoughts get more reactions, so we opine without expertise, post without wisdom. Yet there is something winsome about combing grace and truth. Truth on its own can be harsh; grace without truth can be sloppy. The combination, however, builds up and infuses courage. When grace and truth are backed up by action the outcome can be nothing short of splendid.

Income-producing ass

We remember the unusual story about a mode of transportation being co-opted for a historic ride into town. More specifically, it was someone’s means of income or income-producing ass, that was conscripted into greater service. If this happened today the story might read:

“Go to the town ahead of...

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Stupid money

I lived in Silicon Valley for over 30 years and often heard the phrase “smart money” which meant funding that came from investors who added value beyond just capital. Smart money brings know-how, industry experience and networks that are often more valuable than just cash. 

Scripture alludes to “stupid money” in Psalm 40 which ends with this phrase:

“Rich people with no understanding are just like animals that die.”

Living a life without purpose is terrible; dying rich and leaving this life without having figured out the meaning of money is… well, no different than living and exiting the planet like an animal.

Stupid money has not found its purpose. Stupid money meets the needs of this life but does nothing for the rest of one’s life in eternity. Stupid money focuses on consumption, not multiplication through others.

If smart money has discovered its purpose, what are some of the broad purposes of money? The usual answers include...

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You can't take it with you

It has been said no one has seen a hearse with a U-Haul trailer behind it. (Strangely I found many images that tell a different story.) There is even a popular song by Kristian Bush with the same sentiment.

Everybody wanna die rich

Diamonds, Champagne,

Work your way down that list.

We try, everybody tries

Tries to fit into that ditch

You can't take it with you when you go

Never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch

Never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.

Our last two blogs have highlighted various aspects of Psalm 49 and the dangers of disconnecting wealth from eternity. The Message translation of scripture gives us a simple summary:

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
...

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Death ate the rich man for breakfast

We don’t like to talk about death, but the older I get the closer I am to it. We have this illusion in the Western World that having a lot of money will somehow shield one from the tougher side of death. Psalm 49 talks about how we try to cheat death. Some name buildings after themselves, extending their legacies. Others write books, endow foundations or leave great wealth to their families. Even if you name a country after yourself, you will end up living in a tomb.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,

    their dwellings for endless generations,

    though they had named lands after themselves.

My last blogpost cautioned us to be careful who it is that we follow: are they the self-made rich concerned about this life, or have they connected their wealth to eternity? For those who know God there is the assurance that death has been defeated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So the apostle Paul can ask, “Where, O...

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Pause the podcast

Wouldn't you like to make a boatload of money in just a few hours a day using only your cell phone? There are plenty of “how to be successful” podcasts, not just the Top 10, but the Top 45! Influencers and followers are nothing new.

Psalm 49:13 cautions about people who trust in themselves and their own ability to get rich: “That’s what happens to those who trust in themselves.” Prior to this the writer explains, “They trust in their wealth. They brag about how rich they are.”

The psalmist points out the blatantly obvious: we are all going to die.

10 Everyone can see that even wise people die.

    People who are foolish and who have no sense also pass away.

    All of them leave their wealth to others.

11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever.

    Their graves will be their homes for all time to come.

    Naming lands after themselves won’t help...

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A derivative calling

“I the Lord have called you in righteousness.”  Isaiah 42:6

We live in a world where there is economic crisis partly because so much money is flowing around the world chasing speculative transactions that are not linked to payment for goods and services. A recent estimate claims that only 3% of the international money transfers each day are in payment for goods and services. The rest of the transactions are often connected to derivatives of something that may have a real value. (Derivatives are financial contracts, or financial instruments, whose values are derived from the value of something else (known as the underlying).)

There is no question that Jesus has a specific calling. Part of it was unique. He did some things that you and I cannot replicate: he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, made a substantial sacrifice by giving his life, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. These no one else can touch or come close to. But what about the rest of his...

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Fast company

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

God did an amazing job in completely changing the mindset of a whole nation. Here were people who had lived immersed in another culture. The Egyptian boys had the cool haircuts, they drove the fast chariots and had a nice tan. The Egyptian girls were allowed to have tattoos and body piercing. So how do you take a whole nation—men, women and children—and cause them to have different minds and different hearts from the culture they have lived in for 400 years? I believe there were some keys:

    • Persecution: I doubt that they would have been ready to leave Egypt had they not had a really rough time.

    • Leadership: they needed someone to say, “God has said…”

    • Miracles: the probability of the Israelites believing God without an awesome demonstration of His power was low.

    • An impossible dream: the dream of the Promised Land was huge....
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