Monday, October 20, 2008

Redistribution of Wealth: what are we really talking about?

I am not exactly sure how I feel about this very concept, and I am even less sure that I will ever have confidence in our government’s ability or capacity to determine exactly how this distribution will go or what standards will be applied. To be perfectly honest, I am not even sure what Obama meant when he stated to “Joe the Plumber” that he wanted to “spread the wealth around”. He further explained: “It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too," Obama responded. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." 10/13/08

The media push to discredit “Joe the Plumber” after he questioned Sen. Obama on his tax plan notwithstanding, there are elements of the Democratic candidate’s vision that I not only question but find highly disturbing mainly because this whole campaign season has been so long on rhetoric and painfully short on substance – from both sides. I do not pretend to fully understand what an Obama presidency will hope or expect to accomplish with his tax proposals, but I am not comfortable with the socialist elements of these statements he has made.

It is not a bad idea that we are always cognizant of the so-called “bottom rungs” of the economic and financial ladder to ensure that equality of opportunity still exists for these people, that everyone has an equal chance to succeed or to fail. When a political candidate starts talking about methods by which to enforce equality of outcome or attempt to forcibly manipulate that outcome, however, I get nervous because the only way such a standard can come to fruition is by government mandate. It is, as is often said, “taking from the rich and giving to the poor” for no reason other than that they are poor. The only way such a concept can be considered just on any level is if it can be proved that the poor somehow had been unjustly denied a reasonable opportunity.

There will always be disparities between the rich and the poor; this gap existed in this country before our nation was even born. It is a reality that some people enjoy certain advantages for varying reasons that do not necessarily mean that an injustice exists. Essentially it is, very generally speaking, that those who enjoy more success are typically those who take initiative and are willing to take risks, if only conservative but certainly calculated risks.

It is not unreasonable to acknowledge that our economy is as it is because such entrepreneurs exist and are willing to stick their necks out. When they do, the economy begins to hum and we all stand an equal chance to benefit from someone else’s willingness to take a risk by buying into a share of that risk by stock purchase or by employment opportunities which may come as a result. I think, then, that the problem which will always exist is not in how we arrive at a point in which we can take advantage of someone else’s good fortune and, undeniably, some measure of good luck: it is in the opportunity which may not always be “equal” but may exist within a system that is entirely “fair”.

If government is going to take away the incentive for reward which comes as the result of even calculated risk by way of higher tax rates, what incentive is left to risk more and employ more if the government is going to take a bigger bite off the top? All things being equal, the tax liability will be greater while other expenses remain the same. There no longer exists an incentive to reach for more or to put any more at risk than is absolutely necessary just to function. None of this even speaks of those whose own ambition and drive have opened doors for them that other less motivated workers only find closed to them.

I doubt there can ever be a system that is completely fair to everyone. I’m not even sure that such a system can be devised that will be more fair to a greater number. What I am sure of is that if left to the government to take and redistribute, by whatever means, and given the complacency of the average American voter to reelect the same incumbents they cursed only a few days before, there will be left in this nation exactly three classes of persons: the rulers (the elected), the very rich (whose wealth politicians will always depend on), and the rest of us. What takes place after this is anyone’s guess.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Unnecessary Risk

Isaiah 45:1-7
1 Timothy 6:6-12
Matthew 25:14-30

It is a delicate balancing act to speak for or against what may appear to be a political issue without sounding political, but I feel I would be remiss in the duties of my office as pastor if I were to remain silent about a particular issue coming before Arkansas voters. I am aware that many see no harm in lotteries - and lotteries seem harmless enough - but we Christians have to look beyond what is right in front of us and make sound choices based on the words of scripture and reason rather than what may seem harmless on its surface, for it is written: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25 NKJV)

Suggesting that a lottery could be a “way of death” may seem a little over the top, but we cannot afford to accept this proposal at its face value without considering everything it may mean not only to us as individuals and as Christians but also what it could mean to those for whom economic and financial distress are ways of life that seem inescapable. For these people, the illusion of “easy money” is compelling and difficult to resist especially if its ultimate “promise” is college money for their children.

Are we our brother’s keepers? Are we responsible for deciding what might be best for those whose lives seem marked by one failure after another? Are we charged with taking from them a supposed “right” to fall on their own faces, make their own mistakes, and dig their own graves? In a manner of speaking, yes. We are charged in a particular way to serve USEFUL roles as our brother’s keepers, as stewards of the Kingdom’s resources. And these are things we must be mindful of whether this issue passes or not.

It is written in Romans 12:2 that we “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Is gambling in any form the “perfect will of God”? Or is the notion that it is a harmless vice something the world wishes us to believe and embrace?

It is also written, again in Romans 15:1-2, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification (building our neighbor up instead of contributing to his downfall).”

Now just a couple more scripture passages that we must necessarily consider. In 1 Corinthians 3:18-19a it is written: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

Finally, consider the words of 1 Corinthians 8:9 in which it is written: “Beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”

As I have shared previously, issues that seem to revolve around money such as economics, finance, and gambling – and even tithing - have little to do with money itself. We all need money to live on, to pay our bills, to save for our old age, to offer to the church, to educate our children. Money may not be needed in heaven but as George Bailey told the angel Clarence in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, money comes in pretty handy down here!

But isn’t money incidental to Kingdom things? Should our lives be spent in pursuit of money? Should money be our sole, if primary, focus in everything we do? It is with gambling, including lotteries. It is taking from the mouth of a hungry child for no reason other than the misguided (and very worldly) hope of acquiring more for ourselves. It is taking from the very hand of the Lord God in a very selfish measure of greed. From a practical standpoint, it is taking from an interest-bearing savings account or tax-deductible donation to a college scholarship fund of one’s choice, both of which will almost certainly pay off in the long run even if it does not seem like much in the beginning. These, of course, are the “sure things”. In gambling, there is no such thing. There are only such sure and certain facts as 80%-90% of gamblers will lose.

How does a lottery measure up to Jesus’ parable of the talents as told in Matthew 25:14-30? One might try to suggest that at least Arkansas’ lottery has the noble intent of ultimately providing college scholarship money but as Bishop Crutchfield points out in his letter to Arkansas Methodists, “the end does not justify the means.” “Only a small percentage of the funds will be used for scholarships.” There will first be expenses, advertising and other production costs, and prizes (if any) to be paid long before “any educational value is realized”.

But Jesus’ challenge goes far beyond even this. The talent itself served as a measure of money in its time, equal to about 6 thousand denarii (a single denarius equaled about a day’s wages for the typical worker), so the sum of money being spoken of is nearly incomprehensible to the folks who were listening to Jesus. And such a huge sum was probably being used in this parable to mean “immeasurable” wealth. This is precisely what Christians are entrusted with even today (immeasurable Kingdom wealth), but the measure has little to do with money itself. It has to do with ANYTHING we’ve been entrusted with by the Lord to do, as the parable points out, “profitable” things for the Master.

In the parable those who used Kingdom money for Kingdom things showed a positive return of the Master’s investment. Having shown themselves trustworthy with so relatively “little”, they were each then entrusted with even more than the “immeasurable” worth of the talents they had started with. However, the one who buried his talent (in parable-speak, kept it to himself and did nothing for the Kingdom) was cast out as “useless” to the Master and to His Kingdom.

One might suggest that the one who did nothing should not have been so severely punished because he didn’t “do” anything evil, but we must remember that doing nothing for the Lord is anti-Lord because Kingdom people are “doers” of the Word (James 1:22). Kingdom people cannot sit idly by while a government, our government, attempts to fool people into believing that it is games of chance that will enhance our lives and serve as our educational “salvation” rather than solid policies that encourage hard work, discipline, and sound investment in an economy in which people can do and provide not only for themselves but also for the society in which we all live.

We cannot afford to be taken in by something that appears to hold promise but is actually an abyss into which we must not fall. Gambling in any form provides nothing positive for our society, and it is a bottomless pit for the faithful. Gambling may indeed be a worldly reality with which we must contend, but it is not a fruit-bearing tree of the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is important that we be mindful of our social obligations in the context of biblical principles, especially in avoiding being part of actively creating that dreaded “stumbling block” that does far more harm to the weak among us than it will ever produce anything positive. The risk is far greater than the reward which, according to reasonable odds and statistics, will never be seen.

Everything in His Name. Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Arrogance of Complacency

I freely admit that even as I try to convince myself that I am a little more open-minded than the average voter, I certainly have my biases. I believe in certain things a certain way. Whether in politics or religion, I can enjoy and even appreciate a conflicting point of view but more often than not will defend my prejudices and priorities.

In our democratic republic, one of the things I absolutely believe in is fair and open elections. More than this, I believe in open and honest debate. In the race for the US Senate seat currently held by Mark Pryor, D-AR, we will not get this because the Green Party candidate, Rebekah Kennedy, made a request to Senator Pryor’s campaign in August that has yet to be answered. That is, until Wednesday 16 Oct when Ms. Kennedy asked Sen. Pryor at the Political Animals Club why he had not answered her request, as reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s own Seth Blomeley. Now Sen. Pryor suggests it is “too late” and that he is “busy”.

It should bother us all that, as earlier reported when the Pryor campaign stopped collecting money for this race, Sen. Pryor stated he takes all challenges seriously (in an oblique reference to Ms. Kennedy’s candidacy) but apparently not seriously enough to answer a straightforward inquiry and request from a challenger until confronted in public. This, in my opinion, is being less than honest with voters and is indicative of the prevailing congressional exclusive country club culture to avoid conflicting opinions and honest inquiries from “outsiders” unless or until forced to do so.

No candidate, especially an incumbent, should run unopposed, and every responsible voter should be disappointed that the Republican Party did not mount a challenge in this race. A contested race is the only way an incumbent is forced to account for his or her time in office, and a serious contest will apparently not come to fruition unless it involves a Democrat and a Republican, even while so many decry the existing two-party system.

Absent this contest there is no compelling reason for an incumbent to take unnecessary risks, and I am afraid this is where we find our current senator. He did not answer Ms. Kennedy’s challenge because he did not have to; he will win this election in a walk because he’s a “good ol’ boy” or because his family name is familiar to most Arkansans. Too bad for us all because this will truly be “more of the same” in DC. Same begets same because an unchallenged incumbent has little incentive for “change”, the mantra of most elections.

I hope Ms. Kennedy and other third-party candidates get more serious attention in the future because we can ill afford to continue as we are. Sometime soon we will be jolted from our complacency, and the arrogance that is DC will come crashing down … just as soon as we come to our senses and call all office holders to account with honest questions and straight up debate. Whether they like it or not.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In the Dark No More

Exodus 32:1-14
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

2 Chronicles 7:14

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the current economic crisis has a lot of people running scared and is making a mockery of the election season in which should be a healthy debate and exchange of ideas about where we should go from here. Instead we are treated to a litany of excuses, accusations, truth spin, and finger-pointing, none of which gives the voters a very good idea of what is before us regardless of whom we elect. And we can’t really use what is being told to us now as to how we got here because no one is willing to step up to the plate and accept responsibility. All we can really be sure of at this point is that our days of living high on the hog by borrowing money we didn’t have in the first place instead of saving what little we do have are probably over. At least until the next time.

This may not be an entirely bad thing except for this: when we react out of fear to any situation rather than think it through with calm reasoning and good information, we can make things worse than they really are. And when we encounter and engage in such challenges without faith, there is nothing to lean on except politicians vying for a prominent, if dominant, place in our lives by trying to convince the frightened and uneducated masses that they alone have the answers and can solve all our problems. All we have to do in exchange for this peace of mind is to hand over to them our very souls.

And incidentally, it is my humble opinion that a certain group of pastors in recent news who have chosen to endorse political candidates from their respective pulpits as a matter of protest and challenge to IRS rules are more in sync with the world than with the kingdom of Heaven and are selling out their congregations for a headline. My dearest friends, we are nothing if not Kingdom People.

If this all sounds pretty drastic and overly dramatic, it is. Very much so. Because what we face today is no different than what has confronted not only Americans as a nation more than once but has also challenged man as a whole long before the US was even conceived of as a nation, and Sinai seems to be the crossroad for the faithful. Sad to say, however, we don’t seem to have learned much since then and will likely soon forget this current situation in only a couple of generations.

In Exodus 32 Moses has been away for forty days and nights. For over a month the people have waited, maybe patiently at first, for Moses to bring to them the word of the Lord. This Word will create and solidify a nation wholly called forth for one reason: to proclaim the Lord God to the nations. At this point I’m not even sure that the people are aware of what they are waiting for exactly, and this could partly help to explain their growing impatience, perhaps even fear.

Essentially the Israelites are in the dark as to where they are and where they will go from this point. And there is no indication that Moses told them that he would return in 40 days, so their anxiety is entirely understandable except that this much we should always be mindful of: it was their collective prayer (“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry …” Exodus 3:7) as a people that got them this far.

It may also be reasonably said that the people of Israel were completely in the dark as to their place in the story of human history but to be fair, there is no reason for them to believe that the story which has already begun to unfold will eternally be one of the greatest stories ever, a story unmatched on any level, a story that speaks of redemption in such a profound way as to be very nearly incomprehensible. So if the story is incomprehensible, how can it possibly be embraced? And if the story cannot be embraced, how can one be expected to even care, let alone understand?

Are we any better off now than the Hebrews were then? Our Christian theology teaches us that we were redeemed and set free by Christ’s blood at Calvary. Then He was raised from the grave to give us hope for the Resurrection, to show us life after death. After this He ascended into Heaven but will one day return. So far it’s been 2000 years. How much longer do we need to wait before we begin to lose our focus and our patience, and begin to show sings of anxiety and fear? How much longer before we finally succumb to other gods?

Far too many people believe this nation is going to Hades in a hamper anyway, so it would appear that the luster of final deliverance has long gone and that focus and patience are now far-away concepts because we are virtually lusting after politicians who make promises they cannot possibly keep and worldly riches that cannot possibly last. And yet – knowing this - we are more willing to believe them than to believe the Lord God.

Jesus encourages His followers to “seek” so that we may expect to “find”, so we have no one or nothing to blame if we find ourselves in the dark regarding the Lord’s place and intent in the story of humanity. And James urges us to “be patient … until the coming of the Lord [as] the farmer waits for the precious crop of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains.” (5:7) In other words, the Lord will determine when the Harvest is ready. And perhaps like the farmer, the Lord will not declare the Harvest until the ENTIRE crop is ready, not just a portion of it.

How do we remain properly focused so that our patience does not wear thin and we lose our focus on the Divine and choose instead our own shiny, gold calves? By busying ourselves with prepping, caring for, and sustaining the crop until its season. We cannot separate the wheat from the weeds lest the good wheat be damaged by our efforts since we cannot always tell the difference (Matthew 13:24-30), so we focus on caring for the crop as a whole. The Lord alone will decide who is the wheat and who are the weeds in His time and by Himself; He asks only that we help to make the crop ready when the time of the Harvest comes. And, my dear friends, Kingdom People are not in the dark about this.

Covenant = promise. We are the people of the New Covenant. That means we live under a perpetual and eternal PROMISE the Lord has made to all of humanity. How can this not be GOOD NEWS?

The Wedding Feast is coming sooner than we might think. Let us be prepared to take our place at the table of the faithful so that we may not find our presence at the table of the Feast questioned.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Life's Priorities

Isaiah 5:1-7
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

One of the tricks to reading from the Hebrew prophets is to put the context in its proper historical setting. That which was written and intended for a particular audience during a particular time is not necessarily applicable to a particular contemporary period and is not always an instance of foretelling. And within this approach to the Hebrew prophets should be at least a tacit understanding that the people of Israel and Judah were probably no different then than we are now, with the obvious exception of technology.

The other stark difference, of course, is that Judah is largely in exile, having been driven from their land by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, ostensibly at the direction of the Lord Himself; we are safely nestled in the good ol’ USofA with hardly a threat of exile. And given the reality that it is unlikely we will face exile anytime soon, it is hard for us to take seriously what the Exile meant to the people of Judah and how it affected the relationship between them and the Lord.

Humanity has been at war with itself since Cain and Abel, and the period of the Exile is no exception because even as Babylon as a power overwhelmed Judah, it still faced a threat from Persia and eventually did fall to Persian king Cyrus which ultimately led to the release of Judah. These are kings who were looking to expand their territories or making pre-emptive strikes to protect their interests, and little of it seems to have a direct influence from the Lord although the prophet is quick to point out that the people of Judah and Israel have no one to blame but themselves.

If it can be disputed that the Lord did not directly guide Nebuchadnezzar to overwhelm Judah, it still seems clear according to the prophet that the Lord did nothing to stop him because the “vineyard” that was Jerusalem did not produce the tasty “grapes” the Lord had intended.

Whether we believe that the Lord will guide and direct men with evil intent or whether we believe that “the devil made ‘em do it” is not nearly as important as it is to understand that when we fall, we fall according to our own neglect or our own actions. It is unfair to “blame” the Lord, and it is unreasonable to blame the evil one unless we are willing to admit that the devil has more influence over our lives than he should. It is that cursed and, at the same time, blessed free will that keeps getting in the way whenever we refuse to own up to our part in our own calamity.

While we may not be physically driven from this land, I cannot help but to wonder sometimes what the political landscape will look like once the Congress, the president, and Wall Street get done with this recovery/bail out proposal. Think about this: the people of Judah lost all that was dear to them, but how much of what they lost really mattered? Many right here in the US have lost, or are about to lose, much or all of what is nearest and dearest to them, but how much of what is at risk has real and lasting value? We reason that it is the Wall Street “fat cats” and their greed and/or incompetent government officials that have brought this country to the brink of financial ruin, but that would not be entirely true or fair.

And of course, Americans’ favorite pastimes, besides baseball, are griping about the Congress or the president and spending money we don’t actually have in a vain effort to either “keep up with the Joneses” or exercise our “right” to the so-called “American Dream”. Politicians are easy to blame because just about anyone will agree with us if we gripe! We get no argument; in fact, we probably are more apt to get more ammo to use when we talk to someone else about how this president or this Congress or those Wall Street “fat cats” have ruined our lives and threatened our way of life. And we do all this while still refusing to consider what we might have been able to do for ourselves to avert this potential disaster.

Lest you think otherwise, there is no subtle or implicit political endorsement coming from me. Not here, not now. Because in spite of the political landscape surrounding Judah before, during, and after the Exile, there are still the people being forced to evaluate life’s list of priorities, just as here and now – if we can get past the “blame game”. We may be able to appease ourselves and salve our own consciences by blaming someone else, but we – like the people of Judah – cannot escape our own free will decisions to shoot ourselves in the foot and – as a people – turn our backs on the Lord’s unmerited favor.

Jesus is even more pointed when He points out to His disciples in clear language that the Lord God will not arbitrarily pull from His faithful that which He intended without cause. The Lord will not merely wake up in a foul mood one day; He is, instead, provoked. The principle is no different than what you or I may choose to do with a mutual fund or a financial manager that is not performing up to standard. We would jerk our support and our money and put it where it would do some good according to our priorities.

It is not always easy for us to admit our mistakes. Being the prideful animals we are, we would rather believe ourselves to be clever, smart, and savvy. The reality is often another matter especially if we are so inwardly focused as to dismiss the ideal of the Lord’s glory. And the glory of the Lord is His vineyard. Then it was Israel; now it is our hearts. How will our priorities produce the good, sweet grapes of the Lord’s planting?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not So Funny

Watching a recent episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central and expecting complete irreverence toward the current financial market crisis and those who are involved in “solving” the problem, I was a little taken aback by Jon’s guest, Bill Maher, whose new movie, “Religulous”, is about to hit theaters. From what little I can gather, the movie is akin to Michael Moore’s recent foray into the health care crisis in which a professional entertainer attempts to enlighten us on a particular topic. Michael Moore was attempting to inform and enlighten his audience on the health care industry; Bill Maher delves into religion in general.

I know nothing of either man’s credentials except that they each work as entertainers, but this is not to suggest that neither is capable of learning something on their respective paths of discovery. Religion is substantially trickier than health care, however, because one requires a measure of abstract faith while the other presupposes certain facts.

On “The Daily Show”, they shared a clip from Maher’s movie in which Maher stood on a street in London railing against Scientology, but his discussion on the TV show turned toward his perceived fallacies about Christianity, some of which I found interesting, most of which I found offensive and all of which was not so funny at all even though Maher seemed to be extremely pleased with his feeble attempts at humor. What is funny, however, is his seeming absolute intolerance of those whose faith carries them from day to day as he is of the ilk which demands tolerance.

Even funnier, Maher continually referred to Alaska governor and Republican VP pick Sarah Palin as his Christian lightening rod, suggesting that this Christian who might one day be a heartbeat away from the presidency is somehow unfit for such a job exclusively because of her willingness to live by her own faith while overlooking the public proclamation “his man” Barack Obama made recently, affirming his own faith in “Jesus Christ, who died for my sins”. Why is it that Palin’s Christian faith is a threat to the nation, but Obama’s faith is of no apparent consequence?

One cannot deny that religion in general has been at the core of many a violent conflict throughout history and that Christian “enforcement” has cost many innocents their very lives merely because they did not believe “correctly”. One also cannot deny that such extremism still exists today not only in the guise of Christianity but also of Islam. Religion can indeed be hazardous to one’s health, but faith is another matter altogether.

It is because faith cannot be pinned down or defined in absolute terms that Maher and other pseudo-intellectuals, who poke fun at those who choose to live by faith as “weak” or “gullible”, come across as ridiculous themselves just as Maher did on the TV episode in which he denied, in absolute terms, the tenets and the core of the Christian faith: “It just did not happen”, according to Mr. Maher. That he does not believe it is a given; that he can state in absolute terms that it “did not happen” is not so well established.

At the heart of the episode with Maher, however, was the division which continues to plague this nation. As liberals continue to blame President Bush for the very existence of such a nation divided, those such as Maher continue to feed the certain reality that we have, as a nation and irrespective of partisan preference, lost a willingness to at least respect those with whom we disagree. Just as the Inquisition demanded absolute allegiance to a particular way of thinking and believing, so does the contemporary political and religious environment in which we find ourselves ensnared. And the thumb screws are ever-tightening.

It will not be the financial crisis that will be the end of us as a civilized nation.

A Story of Faith and Mysterious Ways: the "God Thing"

Shortly after my family and I relocated to another town in Arkansas after my new church appointment, my wife began her search for a new job since her previous employer’s satellite offices in the area had no immediate openings. A position was advertised in the area for an activities coordinator at a local assisted living facility, so my wife applied and was interviewed. Long story short, she did not get that job even though she had been convinced it was a “God thing” which led her to this opening.

Shortly after this, she found another opening which suited her very well in that she would still be dealing with and helping people but on a much grander scale. Praise be to the Lord, she landed this job and has not regretted one moment. She’s working hard to learn new things and settle into the position and is having a great time along the way. The potential that is this new career (not just a “job”) is probably far beyond anything either of us could have imagined. I am especially happy for her because of the potential I know to exist within her. Whether her employer will ever know that her presence is a “God thing” or not is irrelevant; she will take the Lord with her to work each day.

The story does not end here, however. Recently the previous position for which she had applied suddenly became available since the one who had been hired for the job did not work out. The hiring authority left a message on our home voice mail inviting my wife to consider the position again if she were still available. Obviously she is not, but she made the courtesy call to thank this person for remembering her.

The very afternoon after I had heard the message on the voice mail about the position, I returned to my office. Working on Sunday’s sermon, I was interrupted by a lady who happens to be a recipient of our church’s food pantry. She had recently lost her job and was hanging onto her faith by a thread. The world seemed to be closing in around her, and she was wondering if there was ever to be another “God thing” in her life again.

I mentioned to her that I happened to know of this new position at the assisted living facility being open again and suggested that she might at least give them a call and apply for the position. Another long story short, the lady left me a message at the church just to thank me for listening to her and sharing some prayer time. She also thanked me for the job lead which turned into her new career! Talk about a “God thing”!

As a pastor of a church and a preacher of the faith, even I am amazed – sometimes even stunned – at the way the Lord works in and through us when we allow Him the latitude to do so. When we get too busy chasing our own tails and reacting out of a sense of desperation, we can too easily miss the “God thing” and fall into the “world thing”. Other times, however, we get hit right between the eyes because the “God thing” is just too big to miss. It is both gratifying and humbling to know that when the time is right, He can direct as needed when He is allowed in.

Sink or swim? Not when there is the “God thing”!