Give Attention to Reading

Read through the Bible with friends

James 4-5: Don’t Let Tomorrow Mess Up Today

James 4:13-17 is a reminder I need today.

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (ESV).

I recognize the point of this passage is about relying on God and understanding that I cannot boast as if to say I am somehow by my own power going to ensure that I survive another year and by my own power will make sure the business I conduct is profitable. However, where this struck me today was the reminder that the reason such mental games are foolish is because I don’t even know if I’m going to be here tomorrow.

My problem is often the very opposite. Instead of thinking about how successful I’m going to be over the next year, I can get bogged down in worries. “Oh no, the economy is failing. What will that do to my income or my retirement or…” “Oh no, my kids are growing up and I know they are going to be faced with all kinds of temptations. What am I going to do about that?” 

One of the crazy “Oh nos” I have happened last night. My wife took the car to go to the store. It was raining like crazy and she lingered. Suddenly my mind was filled with fear that something bad had happened, at any moment the police were going to show up and now I was going to be a single father of four children. Actually, nothing happened to her. She showed up at home just as usual. However, this morning as I was stuck in traffic I started thinking about that scary possibility and I actually began to be filled with fear as if it were already true. How crazy is that?

The fact is, someday my wife will die. It may be before me or after me. It may be while the kids are at home; it may be after they are on their own. The thing is, it has happened today. She is at home right now doing her part of our family work. Why let all the possibilities of tomorrow over which I have no control mess up today.

You see it works both ways. I shouldn’t let my arrogance think I am going to ensure some success is going to happen apart from God’s will. At the same time, I shouldn’t let my fears about what might happen tomorrow send my today in a panic. Rather, I should just rely on God and pray “As the Lord wills.” Then, each day, I can rely on the strength He gives me to make it through whatever happens today.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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November 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Faith, James, relying on God, Surrender | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

James 2-3: Partiality, Racism and the Presidential Election

NN_27obama2There are a ton of things that catch my attention in today’s reading. But one overshadowed them all. James 2:1 says, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (ESV). It then goes on to describe  a form of partiality and expresses that to be partial is to “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4, ESV).

This struck me because of Barak Obama and the recent election. Let’s face it, whether we like Obama’s politics and philosophies or not (and I assure you I do not), we have to be able to see the momentous occasion his election represents. Since November 4, however, I have been seeing a disturbing trend even among Christians. For some reason many are just honing in on race. Some white people are quick to rebuke black people for being excited about finally having a black president. If a black person says anything about how glad they are that it has finally occurred, some white person somewhere is going to accuse them of being racist. Well, it is always easier to take someone else’s inventory than our own. It makes us feel better about that little bit of prejudice that still remains if we can point out how “they” are just like us or possibly even worse.

The fact is, I’m not all that smart and I have a hard time trying to be philosophical. I cannot possibly articulate what the right amount of happiness is for black folks this week. But here is what I say to all the white folks who are desperately trying to pin partiality on black people, we should be just as excited that we have reached a point where a black man can become president. This doesn’t mean racism has ended. In a practical sense, it doesn’t even really mean that any issues black people have faced in their every day lives will change. But it least it says something about our country in general. Let’s face it. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1700s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1800s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1900s. 

Frankly, based on politics, I can find so little to rejoice about regarding this election, I say we as white people should rejoice with our black friends and brethren who see this as a momentous, earth-shattering moment that is worthy of rejoicing no matter your political persuasion. I say we work to try to understand all that it means for our fellow men and women whose skin is darker than ours. The fact is, we white people cannot possibly understand what it has been like growing up black in America. Instead of tossing the joy of our fellow man in their faces and trying to act like they are sinning for being excited about the success of someone in their race, let’s work on being impartial. The fact is, if Obama had been a man from a particular college and everyone from that college was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be blasting them. If he was simply a man from a particular town that had not ever had anyone as president before and everyone in that town was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be pitching a fit. 

Frankly, I tend to think if Obama were a conservative Republican and had won the presidency, that few of the white people who keep blasting away at our black friends for their joy would be saying anything about it. So, let’s get over ourselves. Let’s be impartial. Let’s let folks rejoice at the great meaning behind having our first black president whether those rejoicing are black, white or some other race. Let’s quit trying to put everyone in their place and show them how wrong they are for some issue of race in this election.

Instead, let’s act like Christians and simply love our brethren, love our enemies, honor and submit to the governing authorities and let’s be impartial about it.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS: If you would like to listen to the sermon I presented about James 3:13-18 just this past Sunday, go here.

November 11, 2008 Posted by | James, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hebrews 13-James 1: Facing Trials with Joy and not Fear

fearI guess James 1:2-4 stands out to me right now because of our nation’s perilous perch on financial failure. We haven’t heard as much over the past few weeks since the bailout, but that was no more than a band-aid. A government bailout cannot fix America’s financial follies. It can only prolong the inevitable if business practices steeped in debt do not change. The great fear is another depression. What an amazing trial that would be. 

What if it does happen? 

We as Christians can count it all joy. Why? Because we know that the test of our faith will only serve to produce endurance and steadfastness. That will only make us stronger. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I lie awake at night praying for a depression. I don’t want to go through one of those anymore than anyone else. I’m totally unprepared for such an occurrence. But perhaps a testing such as that would be good for us. For Christians, it won’t be the end. It will merely be another time in which we can learn to more greatly rely on God. The more we rely on God, the stronger we will be. The stronger we are, the more we can accomplish for God’s kingdom, which is what is most important anyway.

Don’t fret the future. Just take it one day at a time. However, if the trial comes, lean on God and grow from it. The fact is, it is only the challenged who grow. The complacent who have it easy rarely do more than languish in their mediocrity.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Encouragement, Finances, James, money, relying on God | , , , , | Leave a comment