Author Archives: Clark

Press Your Luck?

 

So, if you woke up today and found out your lottery ticket was one that won, what would you do different? The American dream…to get rich quick, and expend as little energy as possible to do so. That pretty much sums up the hopes people put in the lottery. The same can be said of any type of gambling (cards, casino, stock trading, new business ventures, etc), most of which I am not a fan. To be honest, for fun, I bought a ticket this past weekend and made some promises to people that they would get part of it, if I won. I would have honored my word, but it is easy to make promises with money you ‘might’ win. It is also interesting to talk about or consider what you would do if you did win (or earn) $1million, $1billion, or any amount of money. Would your values or priorities change at all? Would your relationship to God change?

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

In my experience and from what I have heard in the media and comments by friends and others, the lottery basically promotes greed, jealousy, and false hope. Chances of winning are slim to none and those who play the most are usually those who can’t afford to play. You can list all the benefits gambling may provide in tax revenue, jobs, etc, but you may ask if the benefits outweigh the costs. It may be fun to dream, but what is it doing to your heart?

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. I Timothy 6:10

If you win the lottery, does that mean God likes you better than others? If you never win the lottery, what does that mean…either you are not good at math, or God is not happy with you? I had a friend state a prayer the other day that one of us would win the lottery. I am sure God heard lots of these prayers this past week, but is that a prayer we should even be saying? Really? Honestly, the lottery would likely be one of the last things God would use to bless you. God doesn’t need me winning lots of money to further His kingdom.  If we put our hope in the riches of this world instead of God, who are we? A people who think, or at least act as though they don’t need God.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.   Matthew 19:23

Another question you should ask is ‘what would you do if someone gave you/you won $10,000?’ What you do with the small amount of money you have to steward, is indicative of what you will do with $1 billion. You may need more guidance, but your motives will be about the same. The same comparison can be made if you got promoted, or doubled your income somehow, would you be more or less wise in how you spend the money you have? The more disposable income you have, the more frivolous one tends to be. There are always exceptions, but that is the trend I see and have experienced firsthand.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

The truth is, if you have come to know the joy of salvation found in Christ, you are better off than having won any lottery. Is there anything you know of which is more valuable? The irony is that the most valuable thing we can find in this life is relatively one of the easiest things to obtain. When you come to the knowledge of God’s plan for you in Christ, you can simply repent, receive Him, and follow Him.  While many people will spend their lives chasing after a little more money, they may miss out on the greatest riches available to them.  Share this wealth!  I would not trade my salvation for any amount of money. What is your price?

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Richly Blessed to be His,
Clark

Sacrifice

 

We have it pretty good. We live in a land flowing with milk and honey, as well as drinkable water, coffee, orange juice, soda, wine, beer, candy, meat, nicotine, gasoline, or whatever else we want at the local convenience store that suits our desires. If any of these were to dry up and never be as easy for us to get as they are now, would we feel slighted? That our rights to the availability of these things has somehow been infringed upon? When we give up any of these conveniences in life, such as for Lent, we may feel we are making a considerable sacrifice in our lives. Are we? In our on demand, have it now society, if we don’t get our selfish way all the time, we may cry injustice, without a real sense of what true justice is.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

When I took economics as a freshman in college, besides the supply-demand curve, I recall that most transactions and decisions we make have a cost and a benefit. Even if we decide not to do/buy something, there is a cost to that, an opportunity cost. If we choose not to have insurance, maintain equipment, or have an emergency fund, it may cost us more at a later time. When we choose not to invest time, money, or energy into the growth, development, and education of our children, ourselves, or others, we may only regret those decisions later on down the road. When we keep choosing only what benefits us instead of others in life, the outcome is fairly sad.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

When I read the above verse, I used to think that laying down one’s life meant ‘taking a bullet’ for them. It can mean this, but it can also mean living for the benefit of others instead of just myself. It can mean taking a few minutes to help someone in need even though I am running behind schedule. It can mean tough love toward a child or a friend who has trouble seeing the consequences of their actions. It can mean living a life of integrity over the years in front of those who look up to you, or to others who don’t share your faith. It can look a lot of different ways in each of our lives, but in almost every way, it looks like what Jesus would do.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:7-8

Christ is our perfect example of how to live a life of sacrifice. We may never live up to the example or notoriety of Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, or others in the impact of our sacrificial living, but to those in our lives, it can make a huge impact. In our own lives, while they were not perfect, we can look to our own mother or father and consider what they gave up for our own benefit. When we look at the cross, we start to learn what true sacrifice really is. The cross serves as a reminder of what Christ did for us, of how we ought to live for others, of how selfish we can become. It reminds us that we can live for something greater than just ourselves and what is in this world. It stands in stark contrast to what the world stands for. It stands for love.  What do we stand for?

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Living for Him,

Clark

Image

What did you see when you looked in the mirror this morning…Your need for more sleep, your potential, your faults, evidence of aging, your image as a child of God, or just blank eyes staring back at you?  You have probably heard the phrase ‘Image is everything’. Maybe when you were in high school is was very important – how you dressed, what your friends thought of you, and through their adult years many are still motivated by this image. While I wouldn’t put the most value on keeping up appearances, I would venture another statement…’Image is Something.’ Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.    Genesis 1:26-27 If you see the selfish or hurtful actions of others, is it possible to see them as created in the image of God?  When others just meet you, or when you ask someone you have known for years…can they tell you are a follower of Christ? In your daily life, business dealings, and interactions can others see Christ shining through you? That is a question I ask myself occasionally…”Do people see me as a representative of Christ?  Do they see Christ in me?” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.    John 13:34-35 We are bombarded by thousands of images every day…from the newspaper, internet, and television, from people we see each day, and even from our own imaginations, dreams and memories. The first memory in my life where I can pinpoint a date is a couple months before my third birthday…sitting in my dad’s pickup watching a special train go by. Why some images stay with us and others don’t is not exact, but unique circumstances seem to imprint in our brains and help form who we are.  Positive images can encourage us and negative ones can haunt us. When we see someone for the first time we can make 20 judgments about them in 2 seconds whether we realize it or not…based on their clothes, car, skin color, haircut, complexion, height, faults, scars, body size, etc we can form an impression of whether they are someone we want to spend time with before we even speak to them. If you are married, there must have been something about your spouse that first caught your eye. The experience of seeing a beautiful image in nature can inspire us for years. Images are powerful. They can also be powerfully damaging. Images imprinted on your mind from abuse, bad choices or pornography can pull you into a pit of despair, regret, and enslavement that seems impossible to climb out of. With God all things are possible. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.   Romans 8: 26-30 So, treat images with respect. Avoid those things that tear you down and set you apart from God…dwell and meditate on those images that inspire you and draw you closer to Him. This is a painting that a brother in Christ did several years ago that has been inspiring to me…it says that in spite of the sometimes chaotic mess that is my life, God is calling me and using me for a purpose higher than just myself. He sees beyond the clutter that often distracts me to who I truly am in Him…my true Image in Christ. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.   Colosians 1:15-20 In His Image, Clark

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