Necessities of Life and Financial Priorities

Image result for poverty background black and white

Before getting into this topic, here are two recently published books for your consideration:

  • How Long, O Lord, How Long? by Dale Kreienkamp (Tenth Power) — The unemployment journey
  • Life, Love, Faith, Family by Jerry Kieschnick (CPH) — Perspectives from a veteran church leader

Dale, a friend of mine, shares both practical and spiritual insights on life after losing a job. Most of you know the other author. My book is available at www.cph.org/p-32843-life-love-faith-family-perspectives-from-a-veteran-church-leader.aspx. Dale’s is at howlongolord.org. Take a look at both.

Providing the necessities of life requires paying attention to financial realities people face every day. Should I buy the Lexus or the Lamborghini? The Maserati or the Mazda? The Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha for $6.00 or the McDonald’s Peppermint Mocha for $2.00? You get the picture.

Perhaps except for the wealthiest among us, people are cost conscious, to a greater or lesser degree. But many people around the world have never even thought about decisions like those above. They are concerned about the necessities of life and can’t even begin to think about the luxuries, even if they knew they existed. In many cases that is highly doubtful.

In a recent sermon I said: Making decisions about what to eat and what to wear are first world issues. Many folks in third world countries have only one choice and it’s not made from a full cupboard or a multi-wardrobe closet. Their choice is often: “Do I beg for food on the street or go to the dump to try to fill my empty stomach?” And “Do I wear my one pair of pants and my one shirt before or after I wash them in the Ganges River?” By the way, the levels of fecal coliform bacteria from human waste in the waters of that river near Varanasi are more than 100 times the Indian government’s official limit.

The topic of necessities of life became even more vivid for me when I read an Aug. 25, 2018 article in The Wall Street Journal: Pet Insurance Not So Niche Anymore. It stated, among other things:

  • In 2017 Americans spent $17 billion on routine veterinary care for cats and dogs
  • Pet accidents or illnesses can greatly increase veterinary costs
  • The old method of repairing a dog’s torn cranial cruciate ligament (canine ACL) costs $1,200
  • Setting the bone and putting in a plate to make the knee as good as new costs $4,500
  • In the face of such rising costs, Americans spent $1 billion for pet insurance in 2017
  • These policies cover only 1% of the 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs Americans own
  • With 12 million puppies and kittens being born every year, that number will explode

While it may be difficult to consider all pets a necessity of life, they are often very significant in people’s lives. For example, service dogs, comfort dogs, seeing-eye and guide dogs, owned by people who live alone, especially the elderly, are among the animals who play a very important and necessary role. Cat owners could probably articulate better than I how the feline species fills significant roles as well.

Puppies and kittens are God’s gifts to mankind. Yet spending billions to care for them in the face of worldwide poverty causes one to scratch one’s head about necessities of life and financial priorities. That’s particularly true as Christmas approaches. Especially during this season, Terry and I are acutely aware of the people and possessions God has entrusted to our care. He has blessed us with the necessities of life and many of the wants. Thanking him as good stewards is our Christian privilege.

Charity. Generosity. Stewardship.

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Today’s quote is from Francis Quarles, an English poet who was born May 8, 1592 and died September 8, 1644: “Proportion thy charity to the strength of thy estate, lest God proportion thy estate to the weakness of thy charity. Let the lips of the poor be the trumpet of thy gift, lest in seeking applause thou lose thy reward. Nothing is more pleasing to God than an open hand and a closed mouth.”

These are powerful statements, each of which is corroborated by the following equally powerful Scripture passages:

Luke 6:38: Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you … For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

1 Cor. 13:3: Paul wrote, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

Luke 21:2: Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 18:9-14: The Pharisee boasted about his tithe but the tax collector dared not to lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

2 Cor. 9:7, 11: “God loves a cheerful giver … You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.”

God bless your generosity through charitable giving, demonstrating your faithful stewardship of the blessings he has entrusted to your care!

Worship Service of the Future?

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Not sure where I got it, but in my file I found a prophetic prognostication (with obviously a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor intended) of what a church service of the future might look like. The service is posted below.

Please hear this disclaimer: I am not recommending this approach to worship!

Full disclosure: I do use a variety of very handy, nifty, free, resourceful iPhone apps to read Holy Scripture during Bible class and worship services. One of those apps provides the original Greek language. Most have search capabilities, enabling the user to locate specific passages quickly. I can also readily and easily compare different translations of the same passage. Very helpful!

In addition, Terry and I recently began submitting our weekly offering by electronic bank transfer. We still put in the offering plate an envelope with the amount and “electronic” written on the outside. Doing so makes me feel less conspicuous or guilty than I would feel if the person in the pew beside me were to notice that I simply passed the plate but put nothing in it. It’s also a blessing to know that when we’re out of town and miss worship at our home congregation, our offering is automatically transferred to Zion Lutheran Church in Walburg, Texas.

Worship is a matter Terry and I take very seriously, yet joyfully! I hope that’s true for you also!

God bless you and have a wonderful week!

Worship Service of the Future?

PASTOR: Praise the Lord!

CONGREGATION: Hallelujah!

PASTOR: Please turn on your tablet, PC, iPad, cellphone and Kindle Bibles to 1 Cor. 13:13. And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon.

(Silence while worshipers listen to narrated Scripture and view the sermon on YouTube.)

PASTOR: Now let us pray, committing this week into God’s hands. Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook and chat with God.

(Silence while congregation prays. At this point the reader must presume that if God can hear a silent prayer, he must also be able to receive prayers submitted via other methods/media.)

PASTOR: As we receive our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready. You can log on to the church Wi-Fi using the password Lord909887.

  • Ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers.
  • Those who prefer to make electronic funds transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church.
  • Those who prefer to use iPads, flip them open.
  • Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cellphones to transfer your contributions to the church account.

(Note: The holy atmosphere of the church becomes truly electrified as all the cellphones, iPads, PCs and laptops beep and flicker!)

PASTOR: Final Blessing and Closing Announcements

  • This week’s ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages, where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don’t miss out.
  • Thursday’s Bible study will be held live on Skype at 7:00 p.m. Please don’t miss out.
  • You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counseling and prayers.