The Christian and Debt

Debt is all around us, and most of us have some type of debt currently.  I just read a statistic yesterday that less than 50% of all Americans have any net worth at all, meaning that less than 50% of us have monetary value (including assets) over the amount of monetary debt we owe.  Financially, then, most Americans are worth less than zero. Think about that.  Our country has changed over time and we are a nation of debtors living in a nation of debt.  Yes, debt has always, and will always be around, but we are now going into debt for things people in the past would never have considered signing away their future earnings for.

So, what does God teach us about debt, money, and how we can faithfully handle our finances? Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to cover every scripture or every situation.  There are many good resources out in the market today that do a better job covering all of that than I ever could.  But, I did want to cover a specific aspect of debt that people tend to wink at; Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Really think that over; you are a slave to anyone you have borrowed money from.  Do you owe a  bank, credit company, hospital, the government, etc…?

Whoever you owe money to, you are their slave.  You work for them.  Your money is theirs, and that is a Biblical concept.  In an age where we borrow money from all of these places, we have so many masters we can’t count them.  Remember where it says that we can’t serve two masters? Wow.  We just don’t think of these things, and what we want, we want it now.  If we need an automobile, why of course we take out a loan because the masters make it easy to make monthly payments.  We demand a college education, so we take out a loan because the masters act as though we’ll be able to easily pay it back.  Our very nation is sinking in debt, and whoever holds our debt is our master.  Scarey, hunh?

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another… If we owe someone money, we give them power over us, and it limits what we can do with our work.  Everything that we have comes from God, and our best position is to be free to use what God blesses us with how He sees fit.  If we owe money, our money is yoked to the lender.  Now, if someone is in need, the answer can be giving, not borrowing.

Giving someone money (or things) freely, with no strings is different than lending.  It by-passes usury, and hard feelings.  The other answers come in how we view the world and our needs.  When I taught logic and philosophy at college, I urged my students to sit and write out their actual needs; what do you need to live?  It’s a short list.  We live in a world that tells us we NEED all of these various things, but it is a lie.  Don’t believe the lie, live below your means, surround yourself with wise people, read wise words, control you money, don’t let it control you, etc…

We should strive to be aware, strive after Godly wisdom and Godly ways.  We should also chafe a little bit when contemplating who are master, or masters are, and finally ask ourselves if our money is serving us (and God), or are we serving it?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Musings, Of Interest, Philosophy, Sacred Secular, Uncategorized

Proverbs 20:3

The book of Proverbs is one of those books in the Bible that you can read, read, and read over again, and always find something new.  These Proverbs are words of wisdom that we can glean important lessons from, if we actually take the time to absorb what is being said, and to meditate on it.  I have finally picked up the habit of reading the Proverb chapter of the day that corresponds to the day of the month.  If I get behind, I catch up by reading the previous day’s reading.

My studies yesterday included Proverbs 20:3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.  How often do we run into people that like to argue simply for the sake of arguing, for stirring up strife?  Honestly, in my earlier years, this was very often me.  I love conversation, and sometimes argumentation a little too much.  Looking deeper at this Proverb we see that we can differentiate ourselves from fools by becoming, in essence, peacemakers at best, and at the very least people that avoid strife.

I want to say that this idea isn’t limited to politics, religion, or other things people fight over,  but also includes silly things that we should never fight or get angry with out fellow humans about.  This also isn’t saying that we shouldn’t stand up for things that we believe in, but rather that we don’t argue for arguing-sake, because “any fool will quarrel,” so quarreling doesn’t separate or elevate you above the average human.  Calmly stating truth isn’t quarreling, and a quarrel usually takes at least two to tango, so the next time someone baits you into quarreling, remember that honor is yours if you avoid strife.

As I’ve previously stated on here, the same is true for the friends we pick to be around, so combining these ideas means we shouldn’t surround ourselves with friends that like to quarrel.  There is enough strife in this world to go around without deliberately exposing ourselves to it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Health, Musings, Religion and Politics, Uncategorized

Marriage.

Marriage has become a hot-button topic in our day and age mainly because of the same-sex marriage debate.  But, lets set that subject aside.  As easy as that, let’s focus on the real point.  Biblically, in the New Testament, marriage is indeed to be between one man and one woman.  Marriage is a sacred institution, and the tragedy is that somewhere along the way the church adapted marriage to the world.

Confessing Christians get divorced at rates that cannot be pleasing to God.  God hates divorce, while at the same time allowing for it.  I have the feeling that Christians don’t respect the idea of vows and marriage like they should. Duh.  So, what is some of the problem?  One major factor is the idea of love.

In our modern time, love has been redefined as a mix of lust and fluffy nebulous feeling.  That, esp. lust, has nothing to do with Biblical love between a man and a woman in marriage that is spiritually equal to a legal, binding contract.  We tend to forget that at one point in time divorce was pretty much illegal unless you could show hard evidence of something like ongoing adultery.   By tying marriage into lust, we cheapen it, and make it extraordinarily easy to make excuses to get a divorce from someone we don’t “love” any more.

But you have to love your spouse right?  No.  Not in the way the world defines love.  Look at arranged marriages, just for an example.  In the beginning of an arranged marriage, the two people don’t even know each other, instead they have trusted either their parents or an intermediary to pick a spouse that meets certain criteria.  I believe that we should be able to pick out our spouse; however, I also believe we have lost some of the common sense aspects of arranging a marriage that is going to last.

I don’t really care how good looking a person is if they can’t work.  I don’t really care about anything else if they don’t believe in the same God I do.  Whether I find the person sexually attractive becomes moot really quick unless they have the same expectation when it comes to kids; do they want them?  Can they provide for them?  How many?  How are they to be raised?  Is the mom going to stay at home or not?  What about education?

The family budget, and what money is ultimately for.  Where are you going to live?  Do they have a good relationship with their parents, and on and on.   Also, when we get married it is like starting a family that is as permanent as our former family, meaning that my genetic brother is still my brother no matter what happens.  I can hate him, or not talk to him for five years, but he’s still my brother.  My husband is the exact same. That is the important bit we seem to be forgetting.  Two become one flesh.

Annnddd, here’s something a lot people probably don’t want to hear; you need to decide who is in charge.  Not in a command way, but someone, at some point, is going to have to lead.  If everything is functioning properly, it should be the husband.  Women, marry someone with that in mind.  I truly believe the husband needs to be at least as smart as the wife.  I believe that women can be leaders in the church (such as deacons), and that when God used the term helpmeet, He did so deliberately, and that people miss the part where He uses the same word for Himself.

A weaker thing cannot help a stronger thing.  Just sayin’.  Men and women are meant to be complimentary, so that life is enhanced by their joining.  Ok, so you’ve picked a suitable mate; what kind of love needs to be there in the marriage over time?  Many know that there are different words for “love” in the Greek language used in the Bible, and these show us the type of love that should be there (keep in mind this isn’t a pick-one, leave the rest list, this is inclusive).

1) Agape love – This love is an unselfish love and is the key to all the rest.  This is the same type of love that God has for us, that unconditional love that forgives.  This is the love He had toward us that while we where yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly.  We are called to love our spouses in the same way.  If you start with selfish love, your mate is rightly going to feel manipulated and judged.

2) Epithumia love – Interestingly this type can, and is, both positive and negative depending on form.  The negative side is lust.  The positive side is desire within marriage.  This is the physical desire that results in fulfilling sex within marriage.  Guess what?  Sex is good if done in a Godly setting, sex was devised to bring release and intimacy for BOTH partners. This can also be abused if it turns lustful, esp. outside of marriage (or sadly even within).  When someone cannot temper this they will hurt their mate if they are demanding, obsessed, and insensitive.

3) Eros love – This is the romantic love often skewed by the media.  Romance in Christian marriage is all about pursuing your beloved… it is the chase within marriage.  It is seeking out your loved one and showing them how much you cherish them.  We have already covered the physical side, so this love includes more than that.  This is the compliments, the verbal praises, the together time, the day dreaming, the hugs, hand-holding, the planning, etc…

4) Storge love – This is the comfort type of love.  At home with our family we are to feel safe, and secure in love.  We should feel that we “fit” together.  You know those older pair of jeans that are so comfortable and are just “you?” Well, that’s storge-type love.

5) Phileo love – Friendship love is sharing time and interests together.  It’s that feeling of camaraderie and “liking” as well as loving the person you are with.  It’s ok to have our own interests, but we should also cultivate interests in common and pursue those as well as our own hobbies.

Again, all 5 types of love are what we should have in our marriages.  The key is to find our strengths and weaknesses, and to consciously change the weak areas and work on them, practice fulfilling them.  Another key thing to remember is that agape love calls for us to have all 5 types regardless of our mate… that’s the point of “unconditional” love.  Be friendly even if you mate isn’t (and don’t be attack-friendly to try to show how wonderful you are).  Of course all that assumes that you are not being harmed by an abuser.  God does not look kindly on an abusive mate.

If you find your marriage is on rocky ground, seek Christian counseling through a Christian psychologist or counselor, read some good book on marriage, pray and seek God’s help and grace.  All marriages hit rough patches, and they can only be smoothed out by understanding how God sees marriage, and what our roles are to be.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Health, Psychology, Uncategorized

A New Mitford Book!

Happy Easter to me and all Mitford fans!  I just discovered that Jan Karon is taking us back to Mitford in her new book, “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.”  It’s set to be published on Sept. 2, 2014! For those of you who have never had the pleasure of traveling to Mitford, here is my review of the series; The Mitford Series…  Please feel free to join several fans that comment on that particular article, esp. if you have any questions about theses lovely books.

Leave a comment

Filed under Of Interest, Reviews

Christ is risen!

Proclaim it today, just as they did when they found the open and empty tomb.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

True Feminism

Say you are a Feminist in Conservative circles and you are likely to get a lot of looks and raised eyebrows.  I still maintain that it is up to my generation of women (and the one following us) to reclaim Feminism.  There are also people who insist that the God of the Bible is some kind of sexist bigot, but that cannot be further from the truth.  God has always recognized the role and power of women, after all, He is the one that calls us a “helpmeet” and the He calls Himself a “Help”… guess what, in Hebrew they are from the same root word.  A weak thing with no worth cannot help anyone.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.  I really like this particular verse because it shows some very important concepts that are often quibbled over in Christendom.  For example, it shows that we have free will, even women.  If we did not truly have free will, could God tell us that a foolish woman tears down her very own house with her own hands?  Without free will that would make no sense for a bit of wisdom that we are supposed to learn from and implement; be wise, not foolish.

Another aspect to this verse to note is that we women do the building up.  I build my house.  I do so by what I choose to put my faith in, and Who I choose to put my faith in.  I do so by my work ethic.  I do so by the way I treat my guests, my self-respect, my morality, my choice of mates, my choice of friends, how I handle my money, etc… I do that, not my husband, nor my father, nor my pastor.  Do I spend all my time on Facebook?  Do I spend it with my nose in the latest tabloid or watching TV 24 hours a day?  Do I have friends that truly care about me and care about the Lord, or do they just care about gossip?  Am I taking care of my house, my spouse, my family or am I letting the world take care of them?  Do I keep track of the money, the expenses, the investments, or do I let my husband do all of that?

Have we taught our daughters, nieces, friends, etc… that their choice of spouse is extraordinarily important, and that there are certain factors other than how “cute” a guy is to consider when building your home? And to any males who have read this article this far; have YOU took a good hard look at what God desires for you to have in a wife?  Are you willing to let your wife truly be a help to you, while at the same time being a good, kind, respectful, loving, strong leader in your home?  We are to be like a team of oxen in marriage; equally yoked and watching out for one another, each pulling the load.

And, of course, the number one issue; have I built my house on Jesus Christ?  He is the sure foundation and the only thing that cannot be moved. Have I trusted Him, do I talk to the Lord, do I read and study His word?  I need to make sure I have built my house on Him and not trusted someone else to do that for me.  So your husband is the bible expert?  Fantastic… but his faith isn’t yours.  Do you know why you believe on Jesus?  Do you have a personal relationship with God and not just one that is attached to someone else’s faith?

Anywho, dear readers, just some passing thoughts and questions…

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Musings

Book Reviews; The Duggar Collection

I am going to review all 3 major titles in what I call “The Duggar Collection.”  They include; The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, A Love That Multiplies, and Growing Up Duggar. The first two in the list were both written by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the last was written by Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Jana Duggar.  If you’ve ever read my review of Do Hard Things, this review will be similar.

First, some background.  I do watch the television series about this family on TLC; 19 Kids and Counting so I was already familiar with the Duggars and there were no earth-shattering revelations for long-time watchers of the show contained in the books.  If you like the show, you’ll like the books, if you like to mock the show (or the family) you’ll mock the books.  While the Duggars’ particular brand of Christianity isn’t my brand, I still respect their morals, commitment to family, financial position, etc… so I did enjoy all three books.

Second, if you want to cut the list down, I can help do that for you.  If you want a book about the parenting principles and the life stories of Jim Bob and Michelle, read A Love that Multiplies.  It covers very similar ground as the first book, but it is more recent and contains the story of Josie.  If you want a book about relationships and courting from the perspective of 4 young ladies, along with stories of the Duggar clan, then read Growing Up Duggar.

The good; the Duggars are a breath of fresh air in this modern world when it comes to parenting.  They care about their kids (yes, all of them), and have committed their time and energy to making sure their family is taken care of and brought up within a caring and loving environment.  The books give the reader a window into their philosophies, which they obviously ground in scripture the way they interpret it. They include their perspectives on debt, modesty, parenting, homeschooling, morals, business, courting, etc…  If you are interested in these topics presented with Christianity mixed in to all of them, then you’d probably enjoy the books even if you disagree.

I think that large families, as long as they are self-supporting, are awesome.  I’m amazed that some people hate the Duggars simply because there are so many of them.  They don’t take government support, they all seem bright and healthy, intelligent, interesting, etc… Whether a couple has no children, or 19, it is their choice and they can be a strong and happy family.

The girls’ book particularly was interesting to me, because I’m always curious of what the “next generation” thinks about all this.  They tackle the area of relationships, and do so in a generally thorough (yet sometimes detail-lacking) manner.  Their discussion on courting, parental relationships, and sibling relationships was informative, and again, refreshing.

The not-so-good; although the Duggars deny that they are a part of “The Quiverfull Movement” in Christianity, it is hard not to see the connection.  Why such a large family?  Because they believe that it is God and God alone Who determines the number of kids that a couple are blessed with, and this means no contraception allowed.  So, what’s wrong with that?  This particular movement tends to draw Legalists in by the boatload, and to judge others who don’t follow the same philosophy.  Happily, I can say that I don’t pick up a lot of judgmentalism from the Duggars, who overtly say that they teach that their way is not the way for everyone when it comes to having kids.  They simply stand by their own convictions and cite scriptures that they feel back up their POV.

Another not-so-good aspect to the family is that they “follow” or “read” materials and philosophies of some individuals in Christendom that are questionable in their theology, and perhaps even in their private lives.  Bill Gothard is one such example.  Anytime there is a strong teaching of different gender roles, one must be extraordinarily careful and be on the look out for sexual misconduct.  I’m one that believes in different roles for the genders in certain areas, and I’m also one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to a philosophy that uses words like “sweet;” think sweet, be sweet, keep sweet, as applied to females. Ugh. FLDS anyone?  Sex abuse anyone?  Bill Gothard has had sexual misconduct allegations following him around for awhile now, and we have to be sure we look on someone as being innocent until proven guilty.  However when talking of certain philosophies there is a great chance in some of them for women and girls to be abused.

Thankfully, I see no sign of that from the Duggar clan.  I don’t believe in condemning someone because of the people they read, but I include this type of information in my review because I want to make it clear that it is is a red flag for my readers if they decide to delve into the Duggars’ books.  Know that many of the ways they interpret certain scriptures are not the way that I, or even a majority, of Christians interpret them, and many of their resources listed are impacted heavily by those like Gothard and those in the Quiverfull movement.

In short, I liked all 3 books, though there was repeating information in each.  I have learned a lot about large families and also how certain scripture are interpreted by those from this perspective.  I truly appreciate the information they presented on raising kids, morality, and their faith. While everything seems to be going well right now for this family and the kids, there is always a chance that things could change, such as if we see one or more of the kids joining more mainstream Christian churches and “rebelling,” then we could see a different side to all of this. In fact, statistically, we’d expect to see some Duggar descendent choose their own path, as God guides the individual.

The danger in some of the teachings they push are just that, which is the danger of demanding everyone be a foot, or all be an arm in the Body of Christ; “Cookie-cutter Chrisitians” in other words.  We also must be sure that we are not relying on good works or conformity to save us, but rather on Christ for it by grace we are saved through faith.  It is a good thing to rely on God to guide us and convict us, and at the same time to make sure we are truly understanding scripture as it is meant to be understood.  So, just make sure you are firmly grounded in scripture and in faith when reading books on other beliefs within Christianity (such as the Duggars have); test all things and hold to that which is good and true.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Ministries, Of Interest, Reviews, Theology