This week we continued our series on recovering the lost art of the blessing–Words With Life.
In this message we look specifically at what it means to speak the intention of God over someone’s life.
As Christians, God calls us to speak only words that build up and benefit others (Eph. 4.29). Becoming a student of the blessings in the Bible is a great way to develop this practice. Here’s a list of my top blessings from the Bible to file away in your memory bank. As I said in a recent sermon, let us memorize so we can improvise.
II Cor. 9.8
II Cor. 13.11 & 14
I Thess. 3.11-13
I Thess 5.23
II Thess. 2.16-17
II Pet. 1.2-3
Did I miss any of your favorites? Are there any you would add?
The words we speak can change the course of someones life. Words are powerful and transformative. In this series we will reclaim an ancient practice that can truly bring life to our families, friends and even total strangers that God may bring our way.
Can you think of a time when someones words literally changed the direction of your life?
(Tis the season to go shopping! But how does your faith influence your shopping? To help us with this question we have a guest blogger, Denise Flanders. Denise is a lover of Christ and his ways. She also loves to listen, pray and laugh. Personally, her thoughts have caused me to rethink how I reflect my values. Beware, this could ruin your next tip to Walmart!)
Becoming a Pro-Life Shopper
The caller on the radio said, “Why do all these pro-lifers buy stuff from China where they mandate abortions?” Wow. As someone who fit that category, the question grabbed my attention, and I was immediately convicted. He was right. It was time to ask myself some hard questions, followed by a lot of rationalizations.
Yes, China is a Communist country which means part of the money I spend on their products goes to support a government which dictates reproduction policy. Even government funded forced abortions.
We cringe at the fact that there are 4,000 abortions per day in the United States, yet there are 19,000 abortions every day in China? Or the outrage for how women are treated that dare to protest forced abortions and sterilization? Come to think of it, shouldn’t forced abortions and sterilization be offensive to pro-choice supporters, too?
But it’s not very much, right? And I can’t afford to pay more or spend time looking for not-made-in-China goods. People will think it’s stupid. They’ll think I’m stupid.
Then I asked myself if I would donate directly to someone if they were asking for money for an abortion. Could I spare just a few cents? It’s only this one time.
No. I couldn’t. Not even a few cents.
So how is it any different if I donate via Walmart? Are Chinese babies less valuable than American babies? My “reasonable” rationalizations weren’t holding up. And that’s what they were – rationalizations. Hence my little boycott began.
Paying the Price
Admittedly there are times, though rare, I get frustrated with the choices, or occasionally when I have to go to 2 or 3 stores to find an item, but as of yet I haven’t had to do without anything. I can always find the things my family needs made in any one of a dozen other countries. So whether it’s a hair dryer from Costa Rica, a can opener from Germany, Christmas lights from the Philippines, cell phones from Korea, electronics from Thailand, shoes from Viet Nam and cars from the USA, there are many choices.
Shopping on-line isn’t a problem either. There is a wonderful website dedicated to supporting goods made in the US: http://www.howtobuyamerican.com/index.php. Another good one is Sierra Trading Post: http://www.sierratradingpost.com where they list the manufacturing country. If a web site doesn’t list where something is made, I simply call or email for the info. Goodwill is also a great resource without the worry about where something was made, whether it’s new or used. No need to check to labels! Every cent spent at Goodwill, stays with Goodwill and goes towards community building programs.
This adventure continues to be such a blessing. There have been countless times when I’ve been asked why I don’t buy things made in China, and every encounter has been positive. Maybe it’s because this is one area where pro-life AND pro-choice people can agree – we are ALL against forced abortions.
Our Budgets Are Moral Statements of Faith
How and where we spend our money directly reflects our values. I didn’t want my message to be: I am against the killing of unborn babies, unless it causes me inconvenience or costs a little extra money. Stewardship doesn’t equal penny-pinching. Stewardship means being morally responsible with our money. And sometimes being morally responsible is inconvenient or costly.
How I spend my money has an impact on people’s lives. Particularly on children. My demand to have cheap, readily available goods covered a wide area. Children were/are exploited in clothing sweatshops, scavenging for minerals needed for computers and phones, mining and agriculture. There are 215 million children engaged in child labor, 115 million of them in hazardous work. I felt every child had the right to life, so didn’t I also have a responsibility to make sure I gave that child a fair chance once she was born?
The phrase “a budget is a moral document” is accurate. Where my money goes reflects my faith and what I value. My faith is in Jesus and I value life. All of it. Sometimes that means I spend more on certain things because to do otherwise is to add pain and suffering to someone else’s life.
When it comes to gifts, I cannot hold others to my buying practices. If someone is kind enough to give me something, I don’t check the label to see where it’s from. It’s from a friend and I cherish it as such.
(As always, feel free to chime in with civility and respect. How do you connect your faith to shopping? How have you personally been challenged by Denise’s words?)
What do you think about angels?
I’m struck by how intricately involved angels were in the birth of Jesus. They were essential players during Christ’s advent. Starting this weekend at Colorado Community Church the sermon series will be, Angels of Advent. I’ll also post the sermons on this blog.
What questions do you have about angels?
There are many fine books out about angels. Recently, I read Lifted by Angels: The Presence and Power of Our Heavenly Guides and Guardians by Joel Miller. What I liked about Joel’s book is how it evoked my imagination and got me asking questions again about these magnificent creations of our God.
“Through it all, at every turn, at every encounter, we find over and again that the angels pierce this porous present, this fragile moment of ours that seems so solid and certain. As with our forebears, so with us: God sends his angels to live among us and lift our fallen humanity toward Christ.”
Now that’s good news! It is a humbling thought that the God of the universe created a separate species to lift us toward Christ.
Social media fast.
See ya in a week.
The inspiring commitment of a young African
pastor from Zimbabwe
“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power, my die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, preached up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner will be clear.”