Sunday, November 13, 2005

my hidden agenda

I have a hidden agenda when I deal with Christian principles of personal finance.

What is this hidden agenda? Patience. I’m going to write about some random, seemingly unrelated thoughts. Don’t worry. I’ll tie things together. . . eventually.

Practicing the Presence of God. That is what I want to do. I’ve read and reread the Christian classic of that name by Brother Lawrence. I have a copy on my nightstand. It's a short book but I only read a few pages at a time so I can better absorb it. In the past year alone, I must have read it four times.

Friday morning I woke up early and was unable to get back to sleep. I got up, showered and was in my office a couple of hours before my first class. While I was reading email, checking my rss news feeds, and shuffling papers on my desk, I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley, LO$T Part 2 (see sermons on my personal finance page).

The sermon was absolutely, totally excellent. I could not imagine anyone doing better on the subject. It was so amazingly good.

I the started thinking about my life. You know, where I am and what I want to be. I am so tired of being an ordinary, regular Christian. I am tired of merely knowing I am saved, getting through the day with a minimum of “tribulation,” occasionally throwing out a prayer God’s way. Don’t get me wrong. These things aren’t bad. Believe me, don’t want more tribulation. It is just that there ought to be more to the Christian life than I am experiencing.

That’s when I put Brother Lawrence’s book together with Pastor Stanley’s sermon. Brother Lawrence practiced God’s presence by constantly reminding himself of God’s presence. God is always with the believer. Jesus lives inside the believer. However, we are seldom conscious of that reality. Brother Lawrence did everything “as unto the Lord.” He asked God constantly for wisdom and direction. When God seemed silent, he still acknowleged His presence, walking out what he was supposed to do knowing God was with him. I mean with him in a real, physical sense, not with him in the sense of “he’s on my side, he supports me from afar.”

Pastor Stanley was preaching what I already thought I knew. Our handling of finances is a spiritual activity. All we have is God’s, we are merely stewards of His resources. God uses our finances to test, train, guide, and sometimes even to expose our hearts.

When we go about our daily business, shouldn’t we be doing what Brother Lawrence did? Shouldn’t we practice the presence of God by constantly seeking God’s direction and wisdom with our finances? When God seems silent, then we can do the steward thing – we manage our time, money, and material possessions recognizing God’s true ownership.

God is with us always, whether we recognize it or not. I want a Christian life, a full-time Christianity that constantly recognizes His presence. I believe that as I practice this more, I will get better, more consistent at it. That is what Brother Lawrence found.

Here is my hidden agenda. Here is my confession: I really do not care that much about money or teaching people how to better manage their finances. What I really enjoy is seeing God move. What I really love to see is God become active and real in people’s lives. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love teaching on the subject, I love helping people with their finances. I love doing it because God is going to come through for his people, not because money is involved. God is going to move. God is going to manifest himself in peoples lives and I get to see it. I love it when someone stops me or calls me on the phone to give praise to how God unexpectedly came through for them. To me, it is not that God’s coming through is unexpected, it is just how, or in what manner, he does it that is unexpected.

I love when people realize that God really does care about them. I love it when God’s love becomes real rather than a theological concept. I love it when people can go beyond “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” to experience God’s love personally, confirming what the Bible tells us so. I love it when I get to witness people realizing, knowing that they know that they know, God cares about them.

I love it when people have a personal relationship with God, not just in the sense that God is a person, but because God gets intimate, God gets personal with us.

I love seeing healing miracles. I love seeing deliverance and seeing people’s changed lives. In the same way, I love seeing God move in people’s finances. Why? Because it can be just as dramatic, and more importantly, because it happens much more frequently. How often do you pray for physical healing or deliverance? How often will you approach God for fiscal healing and deliverance? All the time, if you practice the presence of God with your finances. This is where we live everyday. You don’t have to wait for Sunday meetings or for believers to come together. There are far more opportunities, far more prayers, and therefore, far more answers from God when you practice God’s presence with your finances.

When I practice God’s presence with my work, with my buying, and with my financial planning for the future, I am living the Christian life. I am walking with God. He’s is with me even if I ignore Him, whether I know He is there or not. However, I’m missing out if I don’t know it. I’m missing out big time.

So that is my hidden agenda. I just want to see God move in people’s lives and to see people awaken to God’s love for them.

Be blessed!

RB

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