How much is enough?(Money rant)

This post is more questions than anything else.  (And the second part is more ranting than anything else.)  I want to know what you guys/gals think.  In short, I need help.  It revolves around the spending of money.

Money.  How much of it is enough?  Anette and I talk a lot about this because at the moment we do not have enough of it, or perhaps I should say, we do not generate enough income for ourselves, but we have enough because God provides for us.  But in a few years, if everything goes according to plan, Anette will earn a huge salary and I am already weary for when that happens.  How will we know where to stop buying stuff?  How much stuff do we NEED?  What car to buy?  What home to buy?  WHEN IS “WHAT WE HAVE” ENOUGH?  Is there a place where we are happy with what we have, or do we always need more and more and more?  Is there a point that we can reach in our lives where we have enough and then start to give all the excess away?

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

I ask these questions because I believe we have to decide on money before we have any, because when you get used to it, it becomes the worst drug of all.  It is my observation of human nature that we are never satisfied with what we have.  We always NEED more or better.  Take cell phones or mobiles as they are called in some countries.  Do we really NEED an i-pod?  Why?  Will we feel more valuable if we have one?  Take the cars we drive.  Do we need the newest model?  Can I forgo a new car to buy a good second hand one in order to help where there is need?  Where will we draw the line and say we have enough?

Our town had a building boom the last few years.  What mostly happened is a house or three would be demolished and then flats of townhouses would be built in it’s place.  Each inch of space would be used to cram in as many living units as possible to make as much money as possible.  Now we have something we never had before.  Traffic jams.  Our roads were not made for these loads.  People’s tempers are starting to flare up and they need more time to get to work.  At the root of it all, lies the love of money.

The Bible of course says “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Timothy, 6:10.”  Or “all sorts of evil” as some translations say.  Of course somebody will point out “the LOVE of money” not money itself.  Let me tell you, there really is no difference.  Money is the means to do stuff.  We look to money to save us.  If only we had more of it.  Ask anybody in ministry that is helping the poor.  What will help them the most?  God or money?  I believe if the church had a choice between God or money, it would choose money.  You can do so many good things with money.  Almost all ministries are DEPENDENT on money.  God?  Well in would be nice if He joins us…

I cannot recall a place in the new testament where Jesus gave people money.  What then did He give them?  And more important, how are we like Him?

There is a bigger reason for these questions.  Look at what is currently happening in the world economy.  I find the word “growth” very interesting.  Companies need to grow they tell me, but grow to where?  How much is enough for any company?  How much money do companies need?  What drives growth?  Is it all the little people like me that do not know that the love of money is the root of all evil?  Does our growth depend on our love for people or on greed?  Greed is a vicious circle.  Work to have money to spend.  Spend to create jobs.  Grow, grow, grow, more, more, more is our mantra.  To what end?  Where will it stop?  When the earth is consumed? (Please go and read MORK on this if you haven’t already.)

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” Ellen Goodman

I believe we need people who will draw a line and say, ”We do not need more.”  I believe christians or followers of Jesus are in a position where we can draw such a line.  Jesus makes it possible for us to let go of money because we have Him.  He did not come to free us from 10% of our income but all of it.  Yes, we need money.  Yes, money is important.  But where do we draw the line, because a line will have to be drawn by someone and that someone might as well be us.

Also see Out of Ur on this topic.

For something very scary, go to Jesus People Pray That False Idol Will Save God’s Economy.  (Look long and hard at that picture.)

Funny quotes (2)

Here are a few quotes from Henry Youngman.  I love his one-liners.

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.

My Grandmother is over eighty and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says “You’ve been brought here for drinking. The drunk says “Okay, let’s get started

Context

I am going to kill you.

What do you think when you hear those words?  Some person killing another?  Let me sketch you a few scenarios to add some color to those words.

I say it through clenched teeth after you killed my wife and all I can think of is revenge. 

I say it laughingly after you threw me with some water and I now chase you around in the garden.

I say it smilingly to you before we go on the tennis court to play a match.

I say it to you because I am a psychopath and you are about to die.

I say it to my group of friends before I tell a joke.

I say it because I wear a scary costume and I want to scare the living daylights out of you during Halloween.

You can add your own scenarios, but the context matters, don’t you think?  The same with emotion.  How does regret sound when you read just a sentence?  How does sarcasm sound when we read a sentence.  Hope?  Joy?  Anger?  Where am I going with this?  I want to take you to the harsh words of God in the Bible.  For example:

Mat 23:23  “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others.
Mat 23:24  Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel!
Mat 23:25  “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.
Mat 23:26  Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too!
Mat 23:27  “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside.
Mat 23:28  In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.
Mat 23:29  “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You make fine tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who lived good lives;

You may ask, “where is the love of Jesus in this?  He seems very angry and He is giving them quite a tongue lashing.  Where is the patience?  The tolerance?  How does the picture change if I tell you Jesus was crying when He said those words?  (Go on, read them while you are crying.  What are the emotions you are feeling?)  Does the picture change when I tell you He wanted to hold them in His loving arms, and show them the damage they were doing?  Does the picture change when I tell you there was sadness and regret in His voice?  Does the picture change when I tell you that every time Jesus saw the Pharisees, His heart broke?

Read again some of the angry words of God in the Old testament.  Was He ONLY angry when He spoke them?  Could He been crying when He said them?  Do our version of God allow for a God that cries?  Did a great sadness sometimes come over our Father?  Did He say words with regret?  Was there hope in His heart that the situation would turn out differently?  I think we want Him to be angry, mad and fuming all the time.  We can please an angry God(we know how), but how will we heal the heart of a heartrending God?  Can we run into the arms of an angry God and cry with Him?

Did God get angry?  Yes, of course, but how did that anger look?  I wonder…

Context matters don’t you think?  There is so much of the Father’s heart we still have to discover and just maybe…when we get angry about all the wrong things happening around us, our anger will have a heart broken by Love.

(This post dedicated to Tracy Simmons)

I have to get to Jesus

This comes from Brennan Manning.

Upon being told by her sister Martha that Jesus had arrived in Bethany and wanted to see her, Mary got up quickly and went to Him (11:29).
Mary of Magdala is heartbroken and tearful when she finds the tomb empty. At the moment of recognition when Jesus calls her name, she clung to him—”Do not cling to me, because 1 have not yet ascended to the Father” (20:17).
As soon as Peter and John receive word of the empty tomb, they ran together to the garden, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first (20:3-4).
Peter, the denier of Jesus, a failure as a friend in the hour of crisis, a coward in his soul before the servant-girl in the courtyard, jumped into the water almost naked once John told him Jesus was on shore. “At these words ‘It is the Lord,’ Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water” (21:7). John notes that the boat was about a hundred yards offshore.

These biblical characters, however clean or tawdry their personal histories may have been, are not paralyzed by the past in their present response to Jesus. Tossing aside self-consciousness they ran, clung, jumped, and raced to Him. Peter denied Him and deserted Him, but he was not afraid of Him.
Suppose for a moment that in a flash of insight you discovered that all your motives for ministry were essentially egocentric, or suppose that last night you got drunk and committed adultery, or suppose that you failed to respond to a cry for help and the person committed suicide. What would you do?

Would guilt, self-condemnation, and self-hatred consume you, or would you jump into the water and swim a hundred yards at breakneck speed toward Jesus? Haunted by feelings of unworthiness, would you allow the darkness to overcome you or would you let Jesus be who He is—a Savior of boundless compassion and infinite patience, a Lover who keeps no score of our wrongs?

Watch out Jesus, here I come!!

What kind of people are we?

Our view of God is mostly influenced by His largeness.  He is this big, gigantic, huge, massive, enormous, vast, giant of a Being.  The Bible also says that He is love.  From our viewpoint, this vastness plus the fact the He loves puts Him in a place where we expect one thing from Him.  He MUST give.  According to our want.  What good is He if He does not give me what I want?  He SHOULD provide.  He should make my life easier should He not?  Sure, I will worship my ass off, sing songs till I am blue in the face, give all I have to the poor and do what He wants me to do, but I EXPECT something in return.  I WANT inner peace.  I WANT healthy children.  I WANT a fair life.  Why else should I follow these rules?  Just to get nothing?  In all of this there must be something somewhere in this for me.  You want me to be friendly?  Sure I’ll be friendly, but where is my reward?  I don’t do this for zilch you know.  Where is my return?

I know I sound crude in the above paragraph, but test yourself.  Somehow God should do something in your life.  He should do certain God-like things.  This means one thing.  When He is in our company, He can never just Be or be Himself.  We do not allow Him to be who He is, because then there is a possibility that I may just get Him and nothing more.  Where are the perks? 

Sometimes I believe God must be the loneliest Person of us all.  Does He have any needs or wants?  Do we even care about that or for that matter; do we care about Him at all?  Is there someone around who will love Him for who HE IS?  Not for what He can give us, but for who He is.  Can I stick up my hand and say, “God no matter what, I will be your friend.  Even though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, I will be your friend.”  Can He rely on us?  Can we be trusted to be a friend to Him or are we the fair-weather-sort-of-friend?  Do we really love Him?

What kind of a person am I?  Am I the kind that makes friends with the rich in the hope that I will invited for the feast?  Do I despise the lowest because there is nothing in it for me?  Jesus came as the lowest of the low and somehow there were people that came to love Him, not for what He did for them, but for whom He was.  “Peter, do you love Me?”  Sheesh, why that question?  Because it matters to Him, that’s why.

All’s quiet on the homefront

Hi, just to let you know that I’m going through a very quiet patch at the moment.  I have stuff to say, but they are all scrambled and my mind is not really fixing onto one topic.  At the moment I’m enjoying all your posts 🙂

I leave you with a quote from Joan Baez.

The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.”

Is this also true in your life?