June 29, 2014

The Treasure Principle

Randy Alcorn writes a wonderful book on what the Bible teaches on giving.

And he does it in less then 100 pages! I not only enjoyed this book, but also got a lot of practical and spiritual guidance from it.

I highly recommended it to everyone.


He shares six Biblical keys, he calls treasure principle keys.

Here they are:


1. God owns everything. I'm His money manager.

We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted - not given - to us.


2. My heart always goes where I put God's money.

Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.


3. Heaven, not earth, is my home.

We are citizens of 'a better country - a heavenly one.' Heb. 11:16


4. I should live not for the dot but for the line.

From the dot - our present life on earth - extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in heaven.


5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.

Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.


6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

God gives us more money than we need so we can give - generously.


In each chapter he elaborates on these points. In the first chapter he tells us what the treasure principle is based on.

He says here:

"Of course Christ Himself is our ultimate treasure. All else pales in comparison to Him and the joy of knowing Him (Phil. 3:7-11). A person, Jesus, is our first treasure. A place, heaven, is our second treasure. Possessions, eternal rewards, are our third treasure."

Jesus tells us to store our treasure in heaven. Why? Because we can't take them with us.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 
                                                                           Matt. 6:19-21

Randy continues here:

"Jesus takes that profound truth 'You can't take it with you' and adds a stunning qualification. By telling us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven, He gives us a breathtaking corollary, which I call the Treasure Principle:

You can't take it with you-
but you can send it on ahead.

It's that simple. And if it doesn't take your breath away, you're not understanding it! Anything we try to hang on to here will be lost. But everything we put into God's hands will be ours for eternity...

If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive."

In other words, the only way to store up treasure in heaven is by giving. Keeping for ourselves, what God has entrusted to us, only stays here on earth.

In the second chapter he shares his personal story on learning that God owns everything, even us and we are His money managers. It was a story I hadn't heard before and really made me more appreciative of Randy Alcorn and his ministry.

The third chapter moved me the most. It's on the second principle: My heart always goes where I put God's money. This is based on Matt. 6:21. (look above for verse)


This was the principle that made me examine myself the most. Where am I spending my money? Because that's where my heart is.

Randy says here:

"By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, 'Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement, and your receipts, and I'll show you where your heart is."

This chapter also reminded me of people like Brother Andrew, Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael, people who surrendered all to Christ and who gave generously. Their hearts were on eternal things and God always provided for them and their ministries.

In chapter four, Randy talks about Heaven being our home, not earth. He says here:

"We know that Christ commands us to give. and we know He offers us great rewards for giving. So why is it so hard to give?...

I'm convinced that the greatest deterrent to giving is this: the illusion that earth is our home...

Where we choose to store our treasures depends largely on where we think our home is."

Chapter four also talks about principle key #4: I should live not for the dot but for the line. The dot being earth and the line being eternity.


Randy explains here:

"Right now we're living in the dot. But what are we living for? The shortsighted person lives for the dot. The person with perspective lives for the line...

The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end up in junkyards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasure in heaven that will never end.

Giving is living for the line."

Lastly in chapter four he talks about the 5th principle: Giving is the only antidote to materialism. 

I really love what Randy says here about giving:

"The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it's all about God, not about us. It's saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God's money has a higher purpose than my affluence. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ's lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me.

As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish control, power, and prestige. At the moment of release the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears. I recognize God as owner, myself as servant, and others as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.

Giving doesn't strip me of vested interests; rather, it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven - from self to God.

Of course, money isn't all I can give. Time, wisdom, and expertise are wonderful gifts. Giving in any form breaks affluenza's fever. Giving breaks me free from the gravitational hold of money and possessions. Giving shifts me to a new center of gravity - heaven."

Chapter five starts out with this beautiful quote by Martin Luther:

"I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."

In this chapter Randy shares principle #6: God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. 


When I was teen back in the 80's, prosperity teaching was everywhere in the church. 'God wants you to be rich! It's a blessing, spoil yourself!' It makes me ill just thinking about all those teaching I listened to. I'm so thankful God reveals truth to those who seek Him.

Here's what Randy says on material blessings:

"God has given you considerable material blessings. Have you ever asked yourself, Why has He provided so much? You don't need to wonder. Paul tells us exactly why He provides us with more money than we need:

"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. you will be made rich in every way so that..." (2 Cor. 9:10-11)

So that what? How will he finish this sentence? Prosperity theology would finish it, 'so that we might live in wealth, showing the world how much God blesses those who love Him.'

But that isn't how Paul finishes it. He says, 'so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.'

God comes right out and tells us why He gives us more money than we need. It's not so we can find more ways to spend it. It's not so we can indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It's not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God's provision.

It's so we can give - generously.

When God provides more money, we often think, This is a blessing. Well, yes, but it would be just as scriptural to think, This is a test.


I'll leave you with these questions Randy asks in the last chapter. Ones I'll ponder and pray about myself.

"When you leave this world, will you be known as one who accumulated treasures on earth that you couldn't keep? 

Or will you be recognized as one who invested treasures in heaven that you couldn't lose?"


Buy it HERE on Amazon



June 27, 2014

Speaking Truth

Friday's Thought:

"We are so afraid to offend, so afraid of stark truth, that we write delicately, not honestly." Amy Carmichael

Amy sure never minced words! It's something I really admire about her.

Jesus never minced words either.  He wasn't afraid to call people out.

Literally call people out of themselves and to Him.

He knows our hearts.

Here Jesus speaks truth honestly in love.

He basically tells the Pharisees, they do not know the God they proclaim and then proceeds to call them liars!

Did he offend the Pharisees with this truth? Yes, to the point they wanted to kill him.

The Pharisees asked:

"Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?'


Jesus answered, 'If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.

Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.

'Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.'


Then the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?'

Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' 

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."   John 8:52-58


Here's another great quote from Amy Carmichael:

"To hide the truth is no less falsehood than to spread error."

I agree with Amy, when we share only half truths, so we don't offend, we are just spreading falsehoods. Have you ever been politically correct so that you wouldn't offend someone? I believe God is grieved when we sugarcoat the truth and just as much grieved when we share the truth without love.

Paul urges us to walk in truth:

"We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God."  2 Corinthians 4:2

And to speak truth in love:



"...we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ"  Eph.4:14-15     

June 10, 2014

The Sunflower Blogger Award


My blogging fiction friend, Faye over at labor not in vain has awarded my blog with the Sunflower Blogger Award!

Thank-you Faye!

If your enjoy Christian fiction stop by and visit her blog, she has some great reviews. : )

The rules for this award are to share 11 facts about yourself, answer 11 questions, then ask other bloggers 11 new questions as you pass along the award.

I always enjoy these blog award posts. Reading other bloggers answers to their questions, and getting to know them a little bit better, is always fun.

Hope you enjoy.


11 Facts About Me:

1. My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary this year. It's gone by so quickly!

2. We have 3 children. 24, 22 and 18. My youngest is graduating high school this month. Again the time just flew by! But I am excited for what God has planned for all my children.

Here's a casual picture of my family:


3. I'm tall. 5'9" and I wish I wasn't.

4. I like to keep a clean and organized home. It's one of the ways I show love towards my family.

5. I love Italian food. Chicken Parmesan. Yum!

6. The sound of waves crushing on the shore is my favorite sound. I could sit at the beach all day. : )


7. Driving exhausts me. I usually let my husband drive any long distances, while I nap. : )

8. My biggest pet peeve is when people judge people they don't know. I've been deeply hurt by gossip and wish everyone would judge each other by what they know and not by what they've heard.

9. I'm a cat person. Our kitty of 13 years recently passed away. : ( One day we will get a new kitty...

10. I love thunderstorms. When I was a little girl my mom would say it was God rearranging the furniture. I think because of that, thunderstorms are often a reminder, to me, that God is near.

11. My favorite time of day is just before the sun goes down. Everything looks so pretty then.


Faye's 11 Questions for Me: 

1. What are you planning on reading this summer?

Not sure yet, so many to pick from! Check back in July for my next '5 books on my future reading list' post. 

2. What book are you dying to read?

 

Fiction: Laura Frantz - Love's Fortune.

I'm in love with this series! Can't wait for this one to come out in September. So much historical detail and beautiful story lines.


 

Non-Fiction: Randy Alcorn - The Treasure Principle.

I'm excited to learn some great principles on finances from this one.



3. What TV show are you most excited to have return?

Call the Midwife. By far this is my favorite show!

4. What surprising talent do you possess?

I honestly don't have any talent that I can think of. I'm pretty average at everything. But I'm beginning to see God uses the average. : )

5. What was the last book you read?

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew and it was so good! You can read my thoughts HERE

6. What book (besides the Bible) would you recommend to have everyone in the world read?

Fiction: The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. One word: Pow-er-ful.

Non-Fiction: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This book was a turning point for me in my Christian walk.

7. Where is your favorite place to read?

 The beach


8. What is your biggest fear when going shopping?

Biggest fear in book shopping is spending money on a book that is not interesting.

9. Do you like eBooks?

Yes. I love my e-reader to read fiction, but I prefer reading paperbacks for non-fiction, cuz I like to underline...alot. : )

10. What is your favorite book genre?

Fiction: Historical

Non-Fiction: Autobiographies 

11. What is your favorite childhood book that you still love today?

'Bread and Jam for Frances.' by Russell Hoban. I love all the Frances books.



Instead of passing this blog award on, I'd love to invite you to answers these questions too. If you would like, you can leave them in the comments.

Thanks for visiting! : )



June 6, 2014

My Feelings Are Not God...

Friday's Thought: 


"My feelings are not God. God is God. 

My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes - many times - my feelings are out of sync with the truth. 

When that happens - and it happens every day in some measure - I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth."     
                                                                John Piper
                                                     

June 2, 2014

God's Smuggler

I loved reading Brother Andrew's story!

From his early years growing up in Holland, to his coming to Christ, to his missions into communist countries in the 1950's and 60's.

I loved so many things about this book.

So I'm going to share about it in a little different way. I've broken my thoughts up into six themes that stood out for me in his story.

The Gospel, Hope, Joy, Prayer, Longing and Normalcy.

1. The Gospel

I love how God uses ordinary people to share His truth. All He asks for is a willing heart. Since childhood, Brother Andrew always wanted to be a spy. The books starts out this way:

"From the time I first put on wooden shoes- klompen we call them in Holland - I dreamed of derring-do. I was a spy behind the lines, I was a lone scout in enemy territory, I crept beneath barbed wire while tracer bullets scorched the air about me."

God would literally use this adventurous and daring boy to bring the gospel, in the pages of the Bible, to hundreds and thousands of people in communist countries.


2. Hope

God can change and work through anyone. Never give up hope for that loved one who doesn't know Him. He changed and worked through a rebellious and mischievous Dutch boy. After quite a struggle, he finally gave his life over to the Lord. He says here of that moment, on a stormy night in 1950:

"What was it I was hanging on to? What was it that was hanging on to me? What was standing between me and freedom?

The rest of the house was asleep. I lay on my back with my hands under my head staring at the darkened ceiling and all at once, very quietly, I let go of my ego. With a new note in the wind yelling at me not to be a fool, I turned myself over to God - lock, stock, and adventure. There wasn't much faith in my prayer. I just said, 'Lord, if You will show me the way, I will follow You. Amen.' 

It was as simple as that."


3. Joy

When we think of dangerous missions we rarely think of joy, but not with Brother Andrew.

The joy of the Lord shone throughout his story. When he would met another Christian he was overjoyed, when he was able to find an underground church he could preach at, he was overjoyed, and when he could give someone a Bible in a country the forbid them, he was overjoyed. He doesn't actually say this, but I felt his joy through his experiences. It was so encouraging.

One time in Russia he attended a church were the pastor didn't even own a Bible. During services the pastor would borrow a Bible from one of the few in the service who had one, then hand it back. Brother Andrew was all out of Bibles by this time, but suddenly realized he had one more...

"All of the ones we had brought with us were gone - and then I remembered. The little Ukrainian pocket Bible! 'Wait!' I shouted. I jumped up from my chair. The Bible societies would just have to take my word for it. I raced outside to my car, threw open the door, got the little Bible from under the seat, and ran back to the study.

'Here.' I shoved the Bible into the pastor's hand. 'This is for you. To keep.'

The translator repeated the words, but still the pastor did not understand.

'Whose is it?' he said.

'It's yours! To keep, to own.'

When Hans and I left that day, our chests ached from the embraces of that group of elders. For now their pastor had a Bible of his very own. A Bible he did not have to return at the end of the service. A Bible to pick up whenever he wanted. A Bible to read and to love."



4. Prayer

Prayer is a huge part of missions. Really there is no missions without it. Prayer seemed to be second nature to Brother Andrew. He talked about it like it was just part of life.

One time he was carrying Romanian Bibles in his car and got to the Communist Romanian border with just a few cars in front of him. He thought: "Well, I'm in luck. Only half a dozen cars. This will go swiftly." But when the first two cars in the line up took 40-60 minutes each to get through, he started to worry.

He prayed:

"Dear Lord,what am I going to do? Any serious inspection will show up those Romanian Bibles right away. Lord, I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen. Then, Lord, I cannot possibly be depending on my own stratagems, can I? I will be depending utterly upon You."

When it was his turn the border officer looked at his papers and then waved him immediately on! No more than 30 seconds!

So many more wonderful stories of prayers honored and answered from this willing and humble heart. God is good.



5. Longing

Brother Andrew longed for a wife. He prayed and felt God was steering him towards a single life, but still his longing for a wife grew. One evening he prayed:

"Lord, in a year I'll be thirty. You made a helpmeet for man, and somehow I have not found my own. Lord, I'm going to ask You for something, I ask You tonight for a wife."

He wrote the date down in his Bible, April 12, 1957.

He continues:

"And five days later the answer had come. In my Quiet Time I had suddenly known - with quite uncanny certainty - that Isaiah 54:1 was God's reply to me...

'The children of the desolate are more than the children of the married.'

Again and again I read the words, trying to apply them to myself, trying to rejoice in God's will. I might feel desolate, but He was going to give me more 'children,' spiritual children, than I could ever have as a flesh-and blood father. I had written the answer beside the request.

But now as I drained my coffee cup beside a field of spring flowers, I knew that spiritual children were not at all what I had in mind. I wanted real, live noisy, running-and -jumping children, with sticky faces and wooden shoes to mend after fights. Above all, I wanted a wife, a living, loving human being who would make my life one fabric, instead of this patchwork quilt of places and people based nowhere, instead of this heading home to no one.

Suppose I asked Him again, right now?"

He did and God answered him again with the same answer! Isaiah 54:1

'The children of the desolate are more than the children of the married.'

He then prayed:

"I don't like the message, Lord, but at least it's clear."

Brother Andrew laid down his will for God's will and because of it, God later blessed him with a wonderful wife and 5 children. I love this. It reminded me of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God and how God then blessed him for it. That's what God wants, our willingness and obedience.


6. Normalcy

I love the normalcy of Brother Andrew's life. God used a regular guy. Someone who desired a wife and family, a guy who longed for adventure, and a guy who appreciated the simple things, like God's creation all around him.

He simply follows Christ and Christ does all the work.

These days many people chase after miracles. They want to see evidence. They listen to this guy and that guy. They want the supernatural experiences and power from on high, but while they are doing this they are missing the simple miracles of the everyday normal. Never realizing each breath they breathe is a miracle, every sunset and sunrise is a miracle, every mountain they see is a miracle and in Brother Andrew case, each Bible he hands over to someone who needs it, is a miracle. Everything God does is a miracle. God shows Himself in the everyday normal.

This is how I felt reading this book. God working through a normal everyday guy.

A guy with simply a willing heart to follow Christ.


I thought I'd share this video of Brother Andrew speaking. I love what he says at the end. Something we all need to be reminded of. We as Christians are called to share the gospel, not attack other religions, not to put down others beliefs, but to lift the name of Jesus.



Buy it HERE on Amazon



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