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God’s Economy

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Ever feel like God doesn’t give a flip about what you are experiencing?

Of course, we all go through times where we pray and do our best to walk the walk of faith but it seems that our needs and desires are ignored by God.

I’m not going to do a Bible study here on the book of Job, the trials and tribulations of the apostle Paul or the prophet Jeremiah. I just wanted to take a minute and talk about God’s economy.

Economy is based on value. Human beings tend to value tangible things or things that we interact with :

  • Money
  • Time
  • Health
  • Fun
  • Family

We know by reading Scripture that God’s economy is based on some other things such as:

Love 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves is born of God, and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 ESV

Justice, Kindness, Humility

He has told you, O Man, what is good;

What does the LORD require of you

But to do justice, love kindness,

And walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 ESV

We need stuff, we need health, we need time. But sometimes, in God’s economy, what He appears to be valuing is something different than what we value.

Take for instance: The Story of Lots of Stress vs the Crickets.

There are lots of stressors in my life. Everyone has lots of stressors. What I’d like is for God to intervene and change the stressors. It seems logical to me that if God loved me, He would fix the tough circumstances, right? Easing the difficult things is an important value, in my opinion.

What I know from years of experience is that God is working in HIS economy and giving me gifts from HIS economy. His economy is different from mine. In His opinion, the things that have value are:

  • His grace
  • Some tangible things (not all the things I feel I need or want)
  • AND the beauty of the world around me. For instance: Right now it is August. In August where I live the crickets and cicadas sing ALL day long- loudly! In the early morning, the sun comes up all golden through a mist over the farm fields with the cricket and cicada songs at an almost deafening din.

In God’s economy, the crickets’ songs are more valuable than what I feel I genuinely need. God is abundantly giving me the more valuable things.

I wonder what it would look like if I could see God’s version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? (Maslow’s hierarchy defines needs going up a scale from physiological needs, to safety needs, to love and belonging needs, to esteem needs, and capping at self-actualization needs. We can’t truly proceed well to the next need if our lower need isn’t met.)

I wonder if God’s hierarchy of needs for us looks more like:

God’s love for us needs, to grace for daily living needs, to gifts of beauty needs, to giving/sacrifice/justice needs, to fruit of the spirit needs, and capping at worship needs.

I know God cares about the more tangible things, too, but in a different way than I do.

My job is to change my values. I can recognize my needs and wants. They have value, but in God’s economy, not as much value as the crickets’ songs.

In God’s economy the cicadas and the crickets are what are important. Those are his gifts to me.

God gives a flip and He gives gifts…gifts that He values from His economy. If I can tweak my values a little to notice His, then maybe it will strengthen me for the trails of the present.

A Little Twist on Faith

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A Little Twist on Faith

A Small Twist on Faith VickiTalksPrayer.com

Faith is a multi-faceted thing, don’t you think? In my many years of religious experience, I’ve had lots of opportunities to be educated about what *faith* is. Can you relate to any of these?

When I was a child, I was in a denomination that only used the word *faith* in the phrase *saving faith*.

Once I had confessed that I was a sinner and believed that God raised Christ from the dead (accepted Christ’s sacrifice), I had a saving faith. That was cool, but eventually I needed *faith* to be more than insurance against hell.

Saving Faith is one kind of faith VickiTalksPrayer.com

I had some learning time in a fundamentalist denomination where not only do you receive a saving faith but you learn that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV).

So learning the word of God (Scripture) was the way you helped your faith to come (or grow). That makes sense to me: How can I truly have a relationship with someone if I don’t know what they:

  • have done
  • do now
  • how they talk?

I learn about God from Scripture. In that fundamentalist denomination we focused on the Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (KJV)

Respect for Scripture and eagerness to learn about God through His word was strengthening to my faith, but it seems to me that faith is more than that.

Then I had some fun but name-it-and-claim-it… or *Word* churches. They took a totally different view about God. This *faith* was about God looking out for US.

In a harsh and uncaring world, I found it a great relief to know that God loves me and cares about the minutiae of my life. This kind of faith taught that Scripture knowledge was the door to growing faith so that I could know God better and be rewarded by receiving what we will.

It was sort of on the *God is a cosmic vending machine: I do my part and He’s required to do His part*. One of the big Scriptures we were taught was John 15: 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. (KJV)

Faith Comes Through Knowledge of God VickiTalksPrayer.com

After a while, I got tired of it. However, I do believe that faith is a thing that grows. It is fed by knowing who God is, by loving Him, and by time with Him. My faith tells me God cares about all the parts of my life. But I wanted more.

Recently, I was reading in Luke 17 during morning devotions. It is the story of faith and gratitude. Here is the story (thanks to BibleGateway.com)

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (KJV)

It seemed to me that Jesus was appreciating the leper’s gratitude. Jesus was connecting faith and gratitude and healing for the leper.

What this story said to me is that gratitude is a KIND of FAITH.

Luke 17 affirmed to me what I’ve already been experiencing. As a prayer discipline, I’ve been keeping a daily written gratitude list for about a year now. As I’ve noted the big and small things that I have to be grateful for, it has helped me calibrate my soul with the way that God does things. This has, I believe, given me a deeper and quieter faith.

I had never thought of faith and gratitude as being interconnected. It was a *twist on faith* for me.

Gratitude is offering my faith back to God VickiTalksPrayer.com

Understanding faith is a journey for me. So far I’ve learned that there’s:

  • Saving faith
  • Faith that grows as we learn about God through Scripture
  • Faith in a God who looks out for us
  • Faith given back to God in the form of gratitude

What have you discovered about faith? What helps your faith grow?

A Little Twist on Faith

 

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

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This post is running concurrently at VickiTillmanCoaching.com.You shall love your neighbor as yourself VickiTillmanCoaching.com

In case you ever wonder what you should do, Scripture has some wise advice:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.

That’s pretty clear.

And if that’s not clear enough. God made sure this sage advice was repeated in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles (parentheses mine):

  • Romans 13:9-10 You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (giving you this command)
  • Matthew 22:39 The second (commandment from Christ) is like the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • James 2:18 Show me your faith without works (of love), I will show you my faith by my works (of love).

If you’ve read much Scripture, you’ve probably noticed that:

  • If God says something ONCE, he means it.
  • If he says it TWICE, you better not ignore it.
  • If he says it 3 TIMES, you’re going to start getting “woe unto thee”.

So if it is in Scripture more than 3 times? I’d say that was high priority in God’s eyes.

How to Start a Revolution or Revival

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How to Start a Revolution or Revival

There are lots of revolutions in this world. A revival is a spiritual revolution. There are fashion revolutions. Musical revolutions. Cultural revolutions. Political revolutions.

I propose that our nation is ripe for a revolution. Mostly it needs a spiritual revolution. We need the type of revolution that would look prayer and culture-changing-type lifestyles of the loving-kindness that Christ would be proud of.

We also need other types of revolutions. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, you can see need revolutionary change in culture and politics.

How do revolutions start? There’s a great discussion at Top 40 Philosophy’s podcast #30 episode.

My paraphrase of  that podcast episode: Micah talks about revolutions being something that people find themselves doing when there is enough flow. Like emotions (or yawns), revolutions are contagious events that spread. Change for good or ill happens as the revolution spreads.

One of my favorite revolutions is the 1904 worldwide revival. It started in Wales. A young youth group pastor, Evan Roberts, was teaching his teens the necessity and power of prayer. He led them in prayer for repentance and personal revival, in prayer for their nation, in prayer for the world.

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

The Holy Spirit moved on those teens as they used their words in prayer. The move spread to the adults, then across Wales. By the end of 1906, the revival had hopped around the globe and landed in Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, CA. There was a revolution of prayer and Christ-like living for a time. It was a cross-cultural, multi-racial, multi-denominational move of God.

It started with prayer. AND words.

Evan Roberts used his words to describe for his teens a world-changing life of prayer.

I think it is this way with all revolutions: Words.

We humans are largely afflicted with a lack of words to describe what we feel and want to think. We simply muddle through our days knowing there are things that are wrong. Something’s wrong. But we can never fully describe the wrong, much less do something about it.

Then along comes someone who has words. That person uses his/her words to describe the wrong and propose a change. That person becomes a word-giver.

When people who don’t have words hear the word-giver’s words, they have a way to think about what is wrong or give names to the feelings they feel. When people accept the word-giver’s words, something in them ignites and they are ready to follow the word-giver. The follower-ship of the word-giver grows into a revolution. Things change.

When the word-giver is wise and good, the world is changed for the better.

We see this in little ways, like kids standing up for a bullied kid. It took one courageous kid to use his words to his friends, “Hey, let’s stand up for little Billy.” Others follow. Billy’s world is changed.

When the word-giver is greedy or cruel, ESPECIALLY if he is also loud and angry, the words fill the broken, angry parts of people’s souls and they follow him with zeal. These loud and angry words create a loud and angry revolution. It is quickly contagious. (I won’t give any illustrations from current culture where one can see a leader mock disabled people or greedily write orders that take advantage of, or harm, minority or disadvantaged populations because you might have already noticed this happening anyway.)

What’s the point? We can start a revolution.

  • How about WE become word-givers?
  • How about WE become the word-givers for a godly revolution to help create a world of loving kindness, looking out for the weak, aiding those in need of comfort, defending the strangers and the widows and the orphans.

How do we do it?

Use words.

use-your-words

First, use words in prayer. (II Chronicles 7:14: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.)

Second, use words describing a better world.  Talk about a world of loving kindness. In order to do that, you need to imagine what that world would be like. (The Old Testament word for that kind of world is held in the word, Shalom. Do a word study on Shalom. It will give you hope.)

Third, increase your vocabulary so that you can better describe a better world. Read:

  • Thinkers, philosophers
  • Poetry
  • Scripture

Fourth, write your words. Write the words about a better world (Habakkuk 2:2 talks about writing the vision and make it clear so that those who read it can run with it.) Social media, blogs, journals, and books need written words of a better world.

The more that there are word-givers who speak prayerful loving kindness, the more chance we have to stand up to those word-givers of greet and hatred.

Will you join me in the good kind of revolution and revival?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture as Prayer

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Scripture as Prayer

I was reading Mark 4 today. You remember Mark 4? Jesus tells a bunch of parables:

  • The sower (who sowed the word and the seed on good ground brought forth abundantly)
  • The light under a bushel (the one about being responsible for what you hear…)
  • The kingdom of God is like a man who sows a seed and while he waits, it grows
  • The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (starts so small and becomes large enough for birds to nest)

Then Jesus fell asleep in the boat as he and his disciples crossed to the other side. The a whopper of a storm came and was swamping the boat. How terrifying!

The disciples woke Him up asking why he didn’t care that they were perishing.

Jesus calmly rebuked the wind and told the sea, “Peace, be still.” And it was so.

Then he asked them why it was that they were afraid and had so little faith?

What did the wind and the waves swamping the boat have to do with faith? Usually I will study a passage out. I love good hermeneutics with historical context, word study, scriptural context, etc. It seemed to me that today this passage was calling for more.

A passage like this has much to say at a spirit level, a heart level. Simple study won’t teach me why Jesus fussed at his fearful disciples just because they were about to drown. So I did a Lectio Divina (click here for one way to employ this Benedictine prayer practice).

Lectio Divina is a way to allow Scripture itself to become prayer. One prays as one reads, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach through the Word and at times, sanctified imagination. Often I find enlightenment or inspiration as I read prayerfully.

Today I began to understand that as I allow my heart to be good ground for the seed of God’s Word, that I can become fruitful by His work in me. His work causes natural spiritual growth. And when I am allowing God’s kingdom to grow in and through me, perhaps when the storms come, I will remain fruitful (or at least less fearful).

Of course, I have to give myself some grace. If the disciples who were right there in Jesus’ presence got fearful when their boat was swamping in a storm, I shouldn’t feel so bad when I panic or get out of sorts over my very real stressors. I visualize those disciples bailing out the boat, crying and arguing over whether or not to wake up Jesus and why the heck doesn’t He care what’s happening. I take comfort in watching (in my imagination) Him calming the storm…and though He was chiding them, giving them patient grace.

That’s a good way to pray through my own weaknesses and fears.In praying through that Mark 4 story with Lectio Divina, I was able to ask for grace more quickly myself when I just don’t seem to have enough faith.

 

 

Besetting Sins, Forgiveness, and Grocery Stores

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Besetting sins, forgiveness, and grocery stores. VickiTalksPrayer.com

We had a cat crisis yesterday. They ran out of their favorite food, which is not safe for any of us. So after work, I stopped off at a grocery store that I’ve visited for years. There was a strange feeling in the air. Quickly I realized that shelves were half bare. Then I saw the “STORE CLOSING” signs.

I wasn’t surprised, really. Over the past years, I had found that I had to make sure I was in the checkout line of the old cashiers because the new ones behaved rudely. I quit buying food from their deli because I could see unsanitary conditions. No wonder that shoppers quit going there. Did greed or laziness keep them from training and supervising their employees? Did their own bad choices drive them from business?

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (KJV).

We old-timers often talk about the bad habits, bad manners, bad behavior that we naturally slip into as “besetting sins”. Some besetting sins we are quite aware of: like the tendency to snarl at family members before the first cup of coffee. We even joke about it.

Some besetting sins are obvious to others, but we are blind to them. Perhaps we have a streak of greed that causes us to make rash decisions, or jealousy that drives others away, or co-dependency that makes us cling fast to toxic relationships.

I have a suspicion that besetting sins hinder us in running the race that God has set before us. Do you remember the movie Chariots of Fire and watching the scenes of the runners starting a race? They were watching for the goal line. If they took their eyes off the goal, they might trip.

The problem with besetting sins is that they cause us to look at the wrong things, think about the wrong things, and tangle our own feet. We wonder what on earth (and we often think someone else did this to us…).

That’s why the Lord’s Prayer tells us in Matthew 6:12 to ask God to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (KJV). We need God’s forgiveness for obvious things, but also for those entangling, besetting sins.

I’m praying for my old cashier-friends at the grocery store to find new jobs quickly. I thanked the one who waited on me while I paid for the cat food for her years of friendly service.

And I’m asking God’s forgiveness for my own besetting sins.