Practical Proverbial, from 2 Thessalonians, 5 September 2018

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8 (NIV).

Rush Limbaugh is fond of telling the true story of Thanksgiving.   He even wrote a children’s book about it.   Without diving into politics, the gist of the story is this:  the Pilgrims resorted to the concept of trusting God while “working for one’s self” in matters of earning a living and providing food to eat.   They had tried communal pooling of everything and nearly starved.  The next season, they scrapped this socialistic approach, accepted help from friendly Indians, and began to practice free-market capitalism.  This soon thrived.  At the end of the growing year, they held a giant feast to thank God and celebrate all the ways He had provided for them.   Within a few years, the indebted Pilgrims had repaid in full the English and Dutch sponsors who had been their financial backers.

It seems the Pilgrims put 2 Thessalonians 3 into practice.

Now, even I am not going to try to justify capitalism with the Bible.   Instead, let’s focus on the idea that God gives us talents to provide for us.  Further, especially when in the company of strangers, He gives us talents and abilities to prove ourselves to these strangers so that His word may spread from credible sources.   Paul was a tentmaker and worked as such to earn his way in Thessalonica so that his expenses and living wouldn’t be a burden to newly-made friends and believers.  He would pay his own way so that he would also have the available resources to continue his ministry unimpeded.

All because he could work using the talent that God gave him.  Paul could earn a living, spend his earnings on Kingdom work, and thrive.   Sounds pretty capitalist to me.

Again, my purpose isn’t to defend capitalist, though the combination of freedom, capitalism, and Judeo Christian fundamentals have done more to advance the human condition than anything else in all of human history.   Instead, this is a reminder that God gives you interests, talents, knowledge, abilities as a means to provide for you.   Like to play video games?   Figure out a way to make a living at it.   Like to write?   Write a blog or a book and sell them.   Good with wood-working?   Make furniture and sell it.   Paul and Rush would agree:  what you’re doing is actually glorifying God by using what He gave you for His good.

For further reading:  1 Corinthians 4:16, Acts 18:3, Ephesians 4:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.

Lord, thank You and I praise You for the talents you give to me.   Help me today to use them to your glory and for my godly benefit as well as to benefit others around me.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 14 May 2015

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. Mark 7, verse 31.

We need to go with our faith.   What would Jesus do?   Stop stalling by asking that trendy question and pay attention to what He did.   He went.

Now, I’m a big proponent of overseas mission work.   I’ve been on overseas mission trips to Asia and Africa. I’ve done mission work in Minnesota, California, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, and here in Texas.   This blog is my mission work every day and it’s my privilege to share it with you, to send it to where you live in the hope that it helps you, and that you’ll send it on to parts unknown.   Between us, over 4000 people a day see these words.

Big freaking deal. It’s what I can do but it doesn’t mean much. I’m capable of more and I haven’t done more. If this is the best I can do then I have let down my Lord.

Yes, I mean that.   There are still so many places in the world where people haven’t heard about Jesus, and there are even more where people don’t want to hear about Him. They’re right under our noses.   My last foreign mission trip was to Uganda four years ago.   My life was in turmoil then, heading out of the most tumultuous year of my life.   My head and heart were upside down; I had turned my life inside out and was destroying people I loved. Ten days in Uganda changed me, exposed me to the heights of faith in the depths of poverty.   I met some of the finest men and women there, and they are my brothers and sisters to this day.   To say the trip moved me was an understatement because I felt I was doing what Jesus wanted me to do:   go on the road and love like He would.

Yet almost immediately after my last foreign trip, a friend of mine upbraided me, saying I shouldn’t have gone overseas. That there are real people really suffering in real ways here in the United States. At first, what she said ticked me off.   The more I thought about it, however, the more I saw her point. Anybody up for doing some outreach this week along 8 Mile, or maybe on Charles Street in Baltimore?   Been to West Philadelphia to hand out tracts, or have you worked in a soup kitchen in Oak Cliff lately?   Me neither.   Indian reservations, prisons that hold 2 million Americans, depressed towns all throughout Appalachia and the deep south, those war-zone urban areas challenged by Crips and Bloods, and the oh so complacent suburbs where consumption is the American Idol of choice:   my friends, right here in the US of A is a foreign-like mission field in itself.   After all, have you read the survey (published by Pew this week) saying how, since 2009 the percentage of people in the USA professing themselves to be “Christian” has shrunk by 8%?   Seventy percent of us still call ourselves “Christian” but 30% not so much.   Do the math and that’s almost 100 million under the red, white and blue who don’t want Jesus.   That’s a ripe field for us to go be Jesus.

Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus led by example?   He didn’t sit on His brains to ruminate, cogitate and contemplate.   Jesus went.   Go we and do the same.

Lord, empower me to go where You lead me.

Read Mark 7, verses 31-37.