Who Should Tend to the Poor?

President Barack Obama signs legislation in th...

Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.

Proverbs 14:31

The re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States has led to much discussion on how welfare may or may not have been a contributing factor in his re-election. And with the warnings of a “Fiscal Cliff” being reported every half hour (unless you pay attention to the cable news networks. Then you see it every thirty seconds), welfare cuts seem to be inevitable.

Both sides have strong arguments about federal welfare programs. Many in our country find themselves unable to support themselves (look up the number of single mothers whose incomes fall below the poverty line), and the aid they receive from Uncle Sam provides the resources they need to care for their children. However, our country is facing a financial crisis. One that may place our federal government in the same situation these families find themselves in.

One side argues that we can not turn our back on the poor no matter the cost. They see America as a beacon of hope, and if we cannot care for our own that hope may be lost. The other side is often painted as uncaring and unsympathetic. I do not believe that to be the case. They simply see the fact that if you make five hundred dollars a week, your expenses for a week cannot be six hundred. You cannot support yourself or anyone else if expense is greater than income.

At this point maybe you are wondering which side of this disagreement I am on. I can tell you I have no clue how the federal government should work this out. I do not know if there is a solution that will fix the situation Washington is in. Maybe we should stop looking to Washington to sort things out.

The church exists to help the poor, disfranchised, the hated, and the forgotten. Jesus left us with the task of loving those who society would rather forget. We are the ones responsible for caring for them. At some point in our history Christians in America decided that the federal government should take care of those in need, and it has contributed to the bankruptcy of the US. We stopped caring for the needs of those around us and focused on our own.

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Today I hear a lot of Christians on both sides argue over how to handle the situation. But everyone seems to be waiting for Washington to devise a solution (which is ironic for those who consider themselves conservative and want less federal involvement in their lives). We need to stop waiting on the Feds to solve the issue. Church we need to step up, perform the work The Lord Jesus has given us, and then so many will not be dependent on federal assistance.

If you want to really help those in need help them directly and stop paying the government to do it. We can do a better job if we apply ourselves.

If you want the government to stop wasting your money on failed programs, start taking care of those in your area. I agree with you that government wastes more than it spends. Lets show them how to accomplish something.

It is time the church starts a revolution. One that accomplishes not the work of our forefathers, but the work of our Holy Father.

So, what are some of your ideas for assisting those in need?

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5 Signs You Glorify Self, Paul Tripp

I want to share this great blog by Paul Tripp about self-glorification. It is true that we sometimes struggle with the temptation to get caught up in our little “celebrity” within our churches when we lead from the front.

“May he use it to expose our hearts and to redirect our ministry.”

5 Signs You Glorify Self

Welcoming A New Member To Our Family

Maybe you didn’t notice, but I have been away for a few days. I know, a shocker! On Monday morning, October 22nd my wife gave birth to our second child, Paisley Isabella. She was born before ten, and the whirlwind of friends and family began visiting. We didn’t expect to see her until late that afternoon or early evening. What a little blessing she has already been. It has been fun watching Alexis (our first-born) take to her and start to ask to hold the baby.

Paisley Isabella

Unfortunately, we did not all come home Wednesday night. Paisley’s bilirubin became elevated and she was taken to the NICU. Apparently there was a tear in the placenta that allowed their blood to mix. Mommy and baby”s blood types do not match, and so my wife’s body began rejecting the pregnancy. Thankfully we had scheduled an induction and she came quick. So now the little one is still fighting off her mommies blood cells and dealing with the elevated bilirubin. This morning they removed the last of the UV lights and we are expecting her to come home tomorrow.

It is hard to leave your newborn at the hospital and climb into your own bed at night. The sight of the empty crib was not an easy one. But we knew that our little blessing was being cared for by some of the best at the hospital. As we visited the next few days, I became more and more thankful for Paisley’s health. She may not have been ready to go home, but there were other families dealing with more difficult situations than ours. I am very thankful to God that despite the complications, she was never in danger.

A previous entry (Do Not Worry About Tomorrow) was about not allowing worry to paralyze us in our daily lives. Worry and anxiety can keep us from experiencing God because we are allowing those worries to become greater than our faith. So this morning I wanted to share some scripture that has been helpful in my walk with God and especially this past week.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:4

We trust the Lord because he has always been. In our societies we often listen to the advice and opinions of those who have lived longer than us. God has created everything that we know, and the things not yet known. He is beyond our restrictions of time and space. He created space and time for our lives on earth. The creator is not hindered by his creation. So God is the one being with absolute knowledge and knows what we need.

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

My little girl has experienced a rough start in life, but I know that God formed her exactly as she is. He planned her body and consciousness long before we met her. He has built her and he alone can sustain her. He knows what lies ahead in this life and the next for our little Paisley. Her future is not uncertain. This verse leads me to praise my God for his mighty works. All of the many miracles that took place to form this chld, the many that have taken place in the life of our almost two-year old, and those that their mother and I have experienced. It truly saddens me to think that so many go through life never acknowledging or celebrating these miracles.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

As I look at my two girls, I am comforted by the fact that God is aware of everything they will go through in this life. He knows the difficulties they will see and the pleasures they will experience. I know that even through the most difficult times they and I can trust him.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for god, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:29

For those who put their hope in the Lord, we know that God has promised that our future is certain. We are sure of our eternity. Not because we are righteous, but because Jesus has shared his righteousness with us. Because of this, we have hope through our difficulties. We know that the storms that come have a clear sky behind them, even if that clear sky is not in this life. That is why we can face the uncertainties of this life. Because we know that our God is in control and that he has declared that all things will work to our good.

Proud Daddy

Idolatry and True Worship

Worship by nephilim919

I have been working on my book review of The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. But as I am flipping through the book looking over some of my favorite highlights, I am getting caught up in re-reading the book.

Tozer reminds us that Christianity is much more than a religion that dictates what you should and should not do. A follower of Christ is called to keep certain commands, but that is not the point of our faith. I am reminded of a catchy phrase; “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” (Thanks to Don Merritt at Life Reference, I now know the originator of the quote is Lee Iacoca). That main thing is God himself.

Church attendance, Bible reading/study, tithes and offerings, singing hymns and worship songs, prayer and quiet time… These are all very important to our Christian lives, but we cannot make the mistake of allowing these acts to become the very gods that we worship! It is possible to slip from the true worship of God and begin to worship idols in our lives that are made of precious acts of worship. The acts can never become greater in our lives than the one that they should be directed toward.

Do we attend church servicesto be known by God as good individuals. No we gather because our worship of him deserves a corporal setting. We go to services because there are others who God has called us to serve as an act of worship to him. We read our Bible not to achieve little gold stars on our record, but to better understand who God is and how he may guide our lives. We give not because God needs our money or so we can receive greater than we gave, but because by giving we place God first in our lives. We sing not to impress God with the gifts that he has given us, but because his greatness stirs a desire in us to let down our guard and allow our emotions to well up and praise as loudly as we can. Prayer should never become the time that we list our wants and cares to God without stopping to observe the fact that our pleas are going before the throne of our righteous King. Our prayers should always be more about God than ourselves.

Is it possible that we sometimes trade the worship of the one true God, for idolatrous acts of service/worship that become lesser gods? These acts were never intended to be our way to God, but our response to God. When you begin to understand the importance of God, a desire to know him more develops. He has left us much information about who he is, and we cannot mistake these acts as our God.

Stop for a moment and think on your understanding of who God is. If you do not get lost in a myriad of thoughts… ask yourself are you worshiping the one true God. He is a being that exists outside of space and time. Not a higher form of man, but something else completely. We are part of the creation, but God is the creator. He is not the same as us. Our thoughts of God should be so extraordinary, so high that when we stop to think of God our hearts should cry out in praise. There is no other response to a being of such magnitude.

I am going to go back to my book review now, but I had to share my thoughts with you as I spent some time wondering about God.

Writing A Blog – A Picture Essay

Someone asked me the other day how I come up with topics to blog about. I am new to blogging, but having written ten published articles (and quite a few that are not completed yet) I feel like I have created a process for writing an article that works for me. Caution, this article will be a little sillier than previous posts. Read at your own risk.

Sometimes an article just comes to me while I am reading or studying, and sometimes I have to put a lot of thought behind what I am going to write about. I have decided that I would like to publish at least one article a week. I do not always write the article when I first think of it. I like to think the topic over for a while.

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What can I write about today?

When writing a captivating blog, it is important to think through your topic and plan the direction you want the article to go. I always begin in my iPhone’s notepad or my computer’s word processor. I never submit my article before I have proofread and scrutinized what I have written. (except this blog…. Can’t you tell?) This allows me to work through my thoughts and leads to a much better article.

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I wonder if anyone would want to read about washing dishes…

Because I am a bit of a scatter-brain and jump thoughts often… there are times when I get a little lost in my thoughts and find myself “chasing rabbits” that make the entire blog so confusing and random that I just throw it away and begin again. (Kind of like the use of “chasing rabbits” in this paragraph). I find it difficult to stay on topic and sometimes one article becomes two or even three!

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Maybe I can write about rotating my truck’s tires…

However, there are times this brainstorming actually leads to a single good idea. Something that I can become excited about sharing, and enthusiastic about creating. I am often surprised that the article actually makes sense, and even more surprised that you take the time to read it.

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That is so crazy, it just.. might.. work.

And in that good idea something profound and maybe life changing may take place. A topic so encouraging, so motivating that I can not wait to get it published.

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Or I could write about how cheese puffs are the greatest invention of mankind!

Once the blog has been written, proofread, and submitted I usually take a moment to reflect on what has been written, and bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.

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Now THAT would be a good article…

If you are still reading this article, thanks for checking out my blog. Studying The Way has been created to be an encouraging and uplifting blog, and I thought I would have a little fun with my iPhone’s camera. Hope I was able to provide a little laughter to your day.

Welcome to Studying The Way

This is my first attempt at a blog. Sure I have Facebook and Twitter, but a blog…that requires a little more work. I toyed with the idea of blogging for a while, but have always decided against it. It does seem to require a bit of work, and it isn’t like I have a ton of free time on my hands. I am a husband, a father of one (and one on the way), I am studying to earn my college degree, I am a volunteer leader in my church’s student ministry, and I work full-time. Life is very busy right now, and blogging seems like one more thing to eat up my time. Blogging also seemed self-serving to me. And maybe a little scary. I mean, what if no one ever reads this? As much as I want to shake it, I have to give it a try.

So welcome! Welcome to Studying The Way.

Studying The Way actually came about over a year ago. I believe that as a disciple of Jesus we are meant to view our lives from the perspective of our faith. I believe that the Bible offers us much more that a list of rules and regulations (in fact, Jesus came because we could not fulfill the law that God gave through Moses!). The Bible is a work of love that teaches that God is for us, and He wants to know us on an intimate level. God has attempted to reach us through a text that He has preserved through the centuries. The Bible is a single story stretching over the course of centuries, about God’s redemptive plan. When someone believes in the work of Jesus, professes devotion, reads His Words, applies them to their life, and allows the Holy Spirit to guide them that person will experience the life that they were made for. That is what this blog is about.

I will spend most of my time blogging about the Bible, Church Issues, Culture, Family, Parenting, Discipleship, and Leadership. I hope that you will join me, and that together we can grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the First and the Last, the Lamb that came to take away our sin, that Author and Perfecter of our Faith. Without Him and his Resurrection our faith would be worthless

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