Happy September, Everyone! I hope you all have a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend.
This month's newsletter will probably be another "stream of consciousness" writing, but I think you'll enjoy it. For those of you who may be wondering how/why you received it, I typically put my Facebook friends and sometimes my Linked In connections on this list. It's a monthly newsletter, loosely connected to my e-book, Today's WORD on Money™. You can go to www.todayswordonmoney.com to read past issues. If the newsletter doesn't bless you, feel free to "unsubscribe" at the bottom of this page.
First of all, let me recommend a couple of books to you that I read in August. The Red Sea Rules, subtitled "The same God who led you in will lead you out," by Robert J. Morgan is a great little book, and a quick read. Morgan derives 10 principles that we can learn from Moses' experiences before, during and after he and the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. Rule #1 is "Realize that God means for you to be where you are." Pause, and calmly think of that (Selah). While you're doing that, just remember that God will bring you out on the other side, just like he did for Moses and the millions who were with him.
Second, I highly recommend Dr. Jim Harvey's book, Who Changed God's Name? When I was a teenager and young adult, Jim was pastor at a church in my hometown of Mangum, Oklahoma. Jim uses scripture, anecdotes and many wonderful personal stories to share why Yahweh's name is what it is, and how knowing the attributes of that name can benefit us beyond our wildest dreams (and I've been known to dream some pretty wild stuff!).
Both Jim's and Robert's books are available on www.amazon.com.
As I write this, representatives from Israel and several Arab countries are meeting in Washington, DC. I urge you to be in prayer for the people and countries involved. God loves the Arab people-He gave them at least 12 countries in which to live, and He has given them vast amounts of wealth and resources. The size of their countries is at least 100 times the size of Israel.
But God promised the land of Israel to the Jews. Please pray that well-intentioned politicians, Christians, and especially church-related organizations will not try to "play God" with this land. When you think about it, someone who says that this land should be divided is really questioning God's Word in much the same way as the serpent, who asked Adam and Eve: "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" For thousands of years, those who have tried to kill the Jews or to occupy their land have met with disastrous, even fatal consequences. So please realize that when God commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, our peace is also at stake.
"And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it." Zechariah 12:3
FAIR VS. JUST
Below is an excerpt from my book. Thanks to my Christian brother Patrice Tsague for helping me to understand the Biblical differences between fairness and justice.
Have you noticed how often the word "fair" is mentioned by politicians? Actually, fairness should not be our litmus test when deciding on a course of action, or for whom we should vote.
As you study the Bible, you'll begin to learn that God is a God of justice, not necessarily fairness. If you're like I was when I first realized this, you might be surprised, even upset or disappointed. How many times have we all said something like, "that's not fair," or how often have we taken up some "righteous cause" for someone who was being treated unfairly? What we too often fail to realize is that in this fallen, imperfect world, there is no way for everyone to be treated fairly. As soon as we make a concession to one group, someone else will perceive that concession as unfair, or they'll want a better concession for themselves. This "one-upmanship" has become rampant in politics-every legislator tries to obtain some kind of favor for his or her constituency.
Let's look at the Parable of the Talents, beginning in Matthew 25, verse 14. As we see how each of the three servants handles the wealth entrusted to them by their master, we begin to see justice, not fairness. The most obvious illustration of this is when the master gave the lazy servant's talent to the servant who already had 10 talents. If politicians who were ignorant of Biblical wisdom were in charge of the talents, not only might they have given the lazy servant's talent to the servant with 4 talents, they might also have made the servant with 10 talents give ½ of his talents to the lazy servant, so that each servant would then have 5 talents. But we would never ask the 4.0 students to give 1.0 to the 2.0 students, so that everyone could have a 3.0. So why should we do that with money? I'm not saying that poor people are lazy; I'm saying that no social program can do all that God can do. In fact I've seen Godly clients live prosperous lives, even though their incomes were very small. Likewise I've seen people wither without God, in spite of large incomes. But aside from these points, here's the truly critical question: was it fair or just that Jesus died on the cross for you and me?
These examples are not intended to say that we as Christians should not be merciful. Indeed, the parable of the unjust steward teaches us that since we've been forgiven such a great debt, we live out our gratitude to God by forgiving others. The Lord's Prayer says, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." But many Christians confuse mercy and forgiveness with fairness. What did Jesus say when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Him? First He made sure that the men knew that they were unqualified to judge her, since they also were imperfect sinners. But then, as He forgave the woman, He didn't tell her to continue living in the same manner as she had before she met Him. No, he said "Go and sin no more."
Most government and non-faith based programs of which I'm aware essentially say, "Now that's OK sweetie, we know you didn't mean it. So we'll just give you another chance." Another chance may actually be what is needed, but most of these programs don't equip their clients with the proper tools or motives to effect any meaningful, long-term (redemptive) change in their lives.
My friend Patrice Tsague used to run a "secular" non-profit organization. After he allowed Jesus to become the Lord of his life, Patrice realized that what he had been teaching wasn't truly changing the lives of his drug-dealing clients. Instead, his information was only helping them to sell more drugs! That's why you often see higher success rates in many faith based programs than in the programs of their secular counterparts. Chuck Colson, Mac Gober, Mike Barber and many other Christian organizations help their clients to change from the inside out, not from the outside in.
Last on this month's list: "Linked In." For those of you who are in business, or who are looking to expand your network of contacts, I highly recommend that you get active on the Linked In social network. It is much more than "Facebook for Businesspeople." In fact, I'll include my Linked In site here: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-sappington/7/698/3aa. Or you can find it and my other social media sites by visiting www.todayswordonmoney.com. If any of you would like to know a few (FREE!) powerful Linked In tools you can use to grow your business or ministry, call me at 254 751-0565. When you call, make sure you're in front of your computer on your Linked In page.
Blessings until next month,