“….not grudgingly or of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Have you ever done something big, then the next day had “buyer’s remorse”?
Welcome to the club.
The important thing is that we who lead the Lord’s churches not be guilty of perpetrating that kind of thing on people. We were not sent to coerce or con anyone into anything. We are messengers of the King and are all about integrity and love. What Scripture calls “grace and truth” in the Lord Jesus (John 1:14).
They called him Tommy the Cork. Thomas Corcoran was a political fixer, fund-raiser, and go-to guy for many politicians of the post-War years. Robert Caro interviewed Corcoran for his books on Lyndon Johnson.
He had once told me one of his most effective fund-raising techniques. When the man he was asking for money wrote a check and handed it across the desk to him, Mr. Corcoran, no matter what the amount–no matter if it was more than he had hoped for–would look at it with an expression of disdain, drop it back on the man’s desk, and, without saying a word, walk toward the door. He had never once, he told me–exaggerating, I’m sure, but how much?–he had never once been allowed to reach the door without the man calling him back, tearing up the check, and writing one for a larger amount.
Manipulation means getting people to do your bidding whether they want to or not.
Baseball used to be called the National Pastime. Whether it qualifies for that accolade now is a good question.
My opinion is the level of excitement generated in the typical game of football is twice that of baseball. And that leads many to conclude that baseball is boring. It is not.
On the other hand, the baseball season is six months long and involves 162 games. Whew. The NFL’s regular season lasts from September to January and has only 16 games. That means baseball has ten games for every one football game.
Baseball is not boring. It’s quiet and relaxing much of the time, and downright exciting the rest of the time. (Reminds me of how an airline pilot described flying: hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.)
My wife Margaret would accompany me to games, but not to watch. She did not understand or care for the game, but she would take along a novel she was reading. And she was a people-watcher. Meanwhile, I was totally into the game. And she was fine with that.
Robert Caro had a problem.
He was researching and writing an in-depth biography of Robert Moses, the highly acclaimed “master builder” of New York City, who lived 1888 to 1981. Originally, Caro thought the book might take a year.
He was wrong. Bad wrong.
After a couple of years working on the book and with no income to support his family, his wife sold the house to raise money to keep them going.
That money ran out.
He kept working.
In time, he was embarrassed when friends would say, “What are you working on?” and he would tell them he was still on the same book. “How long have you been working on that book?” He would mutter, “Five years.”
Five years. Caro felt like a failure.
Earlier today, I posted a note on Facebook concerning a Ralph Compton western novel I’m in the midst of. Apparently the protagonist, a fellow named Nathan Stone, is riding a super horse.
The novelist has Stone leaving New Orleans heading toward “Indian Territory”–which must mean Oklahoma–and at the end of the first night, he beds down below Shreveport at Winnfield, Louisiana. “Wait just a cotton-picking minute,” I thought and checked the google map.
From New Orleans to Winnfield is 250 miles. Can a horse carrying a rider do that in one day?
The author had them arriving at their destination in two more days.
A few friends opined that this is a novel, it’s fiction, and the author can do anything he pleases. It’s called artistic license. But not so fast…
Believest thou this? (John 11:26) — Where is your faith? (Mark 4:40). — These things are written that you may believe. (John 20:31). — Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24).
“I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
I’m asking you to believe that. And rejoice because you are going to live forever.
“For we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
I’m asking you to believe that. And to look up with hope because the best is yet to be.
(Confession: This subject is never far from my mind, and this article was months in the writing. I send it forth not because it’s finished or has “truth,” but in order to light a match under someone else’s thinking.)
I slipped out of the house this afternoon with no particular destination in mind.
I drove to the mall, a mile from my house. I’d not been inside Dillard’s Men’s Store in six months, and I’m always on the lookout for their sales. The “Gold Label” dress shirts are the best anywhere, but I buy them only when they’re half price or less. Today, I bought two shirts that had originally sold for $115 for $9.95 each. Even if they don’t work out–always a possibility with me–I’ll pass them along to nice people at Goodwill.
Then, I stopped at McDonald’s which is a few blocks from home. Inside I ordered a small caramel mocha and sat in the back reading a “business” book I’d bought on sale in Office Depot several weeks ago. That book and one other, bought for 3 dollars each, had been waiting in the trunk of my car for the right moment . Today was that moment.
Note: I love to read outside my field. I’ll find an insight that works for a sermon or has an application for pastoral ministry, and feel confident no one else is using it.
Tracey Kidder’s “Truckload of Money” tells about an entrepreneur who made a billion dollars with his computer savvy, then went out and started over. The insights on every page about how he dealt with people are easily worth the price of the book.
“He honors (God) who has mercy on the needy” (Proverbs 14:31). “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what He has given” (Proverbs 19:17). “The poor you always have with you, but Me you do not have always” (Matthew 26:11).
Scripture has a lot to say about God’s people caring for the needy. But it can be twisted and made to say something other than was intended.
A friend sent me a letter from a disgruntled church member who was complaining that after he lost his job the church did not pay his bills and support him. The friend says the church gave him a great deal of help and “I personally gave him money.” But it wasn’t enough for the guy, who is now slamming the Lord’s church and wondering “Where is Jesus after 2,000 years?”
I suggested my friend ask the guy how many needy people he assisted when he had a job.
I think we know the answer.
(First in a series of unforgettable passages in Jeremiah. It’s a huge book–52 chapters–so this series will be ongoing.)
1:4-5 The Foreknowledge of God
“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Paul said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles….” (Galatians 1:15) He’s saying, “God set me apart when I was still in the womb.”
Other scriptures on this subject are Isaiah 49:1, Luke 1:13-17, and Romans 9:10-23. And of course the pre-eminent passage on “before you were born” is the 139th Psalm.
1:4-19 The call of God upon Jeremiah. You will enjoy comparing this call–and Jeremiah’s response!–to Moses’ in Exodus 3-4, Isaiah’s in Isaiah 6, and Paul’s, given in three different places in Acts (chapters 9, 22, and 24).
–First, God gives His plan for His spokesman
Betrayals. Disappointments. Constant conflict. Second-guessing everything you say. Griping. Negativism.
Like herding cats.
It takes a toll.
Most church members have no clue that the constant murmuring (the KJV’s favorite word for it) among the flock is offensive to the Heavenly Father and burdensome to the shepherd He has sent.
Moses is a great case study for us. For forty years–think of it!–he gave faithful leadership to the people of God who, far from appreciating him, were relentless in their eroding, grinding, burdening undermining, questioning, and outright opposition. Scripture gives a reason for this: Among the flock was a group of strangers, aliens to the faith.
They were the main problem.
Scripture says when they left Egypt’s slavery, “A mixed multitude went up with them” (Exodus 12:38). Some translations call them “rabble.” Since the Hebrews were not the only slaves of Pharaoh, when God threw off the shackles it must have been like a massive jailbreak. All who could flee the country did so. And since this Moses fellow seemed to have a glorious destination in mind, with no other place to go, many of the “mixed multitude” decided to accompany the Hebrews..
This bunch became the source of a thousand problems for Moses.
If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me (John 14:21). If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (John 14:23). If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love (John 15:10). You are my friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15:14).
Anyone see a trend in these verses? He wants us to love Him and tells us how: Obedience.
With that in mind, the question before us is this: Is it possible to do something so loving, so affectionate, so Christ-honoring here on earth that Jesus will feel it in Heaven’s Throneroom?
Can I do something loving for Jesus here and have Him feel the love there?
We direct your attention to the woman of Luke 7:36ff.