November 28 – Turkey and Dressing

He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him. Proverbs 19:17

There is no rich and there is no poor when it really comes down to it. If I have, you have, and if I don’t, you don’t. Now that doesn’t mean we act that way. On the contrary, we have a long history of misuse and abuse toward each other.

The guy and gal I passed on the corner yesterday holding that sign is a part of the story. Unfortunately, the poor they suffer from is not a lack of money or shelter.

True compassion for them doesn’t deal in band-aids or conscious appeasers. It is consumed by the fact that but for the grace of our Father, so go I.

Turkey at Thanksgiving is the celebrity that is selected at times with the utmost scrutiny. And the old Dressing is the staple that is all mixed up with a little of this and a dab of that.

But regardless of the Turkey or the Dressing, we are one in the sight of God. Each one needs the other. In much, in little, in a moment it all could be gone.

November 21 – Rich Man, Poor Man

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
 the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
 and like a high wall in his own esteem. Proverbs 18:10-11

Fiddler on the Roof is truly a classic work. If you haven’t seen it or it’s been awhile, today’s proverbial thought might spark an interest.

Tevye the milkman is the father of five daughters and desires a better life for them…if only he were rich!

If I were a rich man,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
 All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
 If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
 Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
 If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.

He describes all the wonderful things he would buy and all the “special” people he would associate with and all the servants his wife would order around. The song is amazing!

And there are many of us, right here in the good old USA, who live as if Tevye’s song is the theme music playing in the background 24/7. More is only enough until the next shipment of more than enough comes in.

So we stack it, and stuff it, and want some more of it until it forms a wall around us. We feel safe. The economy goes south, we’re safe. Unexpected medical emergency, we are safe. Natural catastrophe, covered.

But we forget, wealth is based on what already exists. Its value is relegated to intelligible humanistic appreciation. If I have apples and no one wants apples, I have nothing. History is filled with “riches to rags stories” brought on by “unforeseen events.”

The Name of the Lord, however is quite different. How can a name protect you in times of unrest and upheaval in the world? Where can you spend it and what is its’ net worth? That’s just it.  Though it’s not from here, it created here! When you boil everything down that man has accomplished since the beginning of time, it doesn’t even come close to “buying the vowel” that holds His Name together.

If you’ve got a good thing going and it allows you to feel like you’ve made a difference in the world, great! Keep up the good work.

But don’t forget. Safety is in the tower, not behind the wall.

September 30 – Show Me the Money

My fruit is better than gold, yes, than refined gold, and my increase than choice silver. Proverbs 8:19

My granddad had a collection of special money. He kept coins that are now considered valuable today because they are not in general circulation. One day I got to look in his “money chest.” As he gave me a wheat penny for a job well done, I saw a few stacks of two dollar certificates, a few jars of Eisenhower silver dollar pieces, some buffalo nickels, a bunch of Kennedy half dollars, and more wheat pennies than I could count. In my ten year-old eyes, my “big daddy” was rich!

My goal that day was to one day follow suit; I would have my own money chest…like big daddy. And as time progressed, I was well on my way, hustling odd jobs at a very early age and cultivating a healthy shrewdness about my spending habits. But the more I made, the more attention I paid to the meticulous caretaking of my earnings. That in itself wasn’t all that bad, but I found myself thinking almost exclusively about money or the ability to make more of it. Something was out of balance.

That’s when God and wisdom stepped in and began to guide me toward the ageless balance between God, People, and Things. Money is a wonderful tool of assistance in any of the three areas. But if it ever becomes the master of any one, it will wreak havoc for the whole. And without Godly wisdom, the soul who possesses it has no way of knowing if the money and the power it wields is taking possession of him or her.

One of the best things wisdom taught me is the act of giving. Instead of looking at the money I make as mine, I view it as a harvest God has allowed me to help him steward. Therefore, He gets the first slice as a token of my appreciation and then wisdom gladly helps me administer the rest.

I still like the special coins and I do have a few here and there. But my highest hope is that the treasure I’ve laid up resides mostly in heaven. And never would I have imagined how rich that kind of money management could make me feel. So grateful!

You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
 truth-ready minds will see it at once. 
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
 nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. Proverbs 8:18-19 The Message Bible

September 19 – Caught in a Mouth Trap

You are snared with the words of your lips, you are caught by the speech of your mouth. Proverbs 6:1 AMP

Talking comes so natural, even for the quiet people. We come into this world one coo away from our first words. And when we begin, that’s “all she wrote.” We will use words the rest of our days to transact business, to express emotional desires, and put people in their place.

That is why every single misunderstanding has a verbal DNA. At some point, something was asked or said, then acted upon. And the outcome was toxic or imprisoning for one party or all involved.

When I was fourteen, I awakened to the fact that money was required if I was going to do all those “fun things” I had a notion to do. Therefore, I started hustling and rustling up odd little jobs around the neighborhood.

Then, one day, a guy came by the house selling (or trying to sell) my mom a vacuum. He was saying everything he thought he needed to get a favorable response from her. All of a sudden he made her a proposition; “If I can get your son a job, will you buy one of my vacuums?” That got our attention, and mom strongly considered.

He asked me how bad I wanted to work. I said “really, really bad.” So after mom signed some initial paperwork, he made a phone call to a buddy who managed a pizza parlor across town!

That night, it all sounded great and I went to bed thinking prosperous thoughts. But in the end, it was all smoke and mirrors just to get my mom to sign. She was smart enough to not be ensnared by the potential scheme, but I was so thirsty for a “real job” I was willing to put blind confidence in the words of a stranger. In my little mind, I had my first check estimated and spent before I went to sleep that night.

Words are so powerful. Our scripture in Proverbs reminds us that if you look up and see ropes around your wrist or chains around your heart, check your mouth. Somewhere along the way, words opened the door and issued an invitation.







August 25 – First

Honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency [from righteous labors] and with the firstfruits of all your income; So shall your storage places be filled with plenty, and your vats shall be overflowing with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

I have to say, there are a lot of things I do now that I’m over 40 that made no sense whatsoever when I was in my 20’s.

Take for instance, my shoes. When I was 20, cool was all I cared about. And if I could get cool and a good price, well that was just more money to burn on gas. But at 40, there is definitely a word that starts with the letter “c” that’s at the top of my list when looking for shoes . . . and “cool” ain’t it! “Comfort” is my friend these days and I will pay about any price to secure her for as long as I can. Because time has taught me, I only have one pair of feet!

This old-world word found mostly in Biblical culture also meant nothing to me as a young man. “First fruits,” in my estimation, reflected a day gone by when the world was just a big ol’ garden. But today, I can shed a little light on what I believe is a spiritual principle that yields incredible benefits in any generation when properly applied.

Today’s Proverb seems to suggest that in the eyes of God, the “first” of anything is reflective of the “whole thing.” And when I am willing to put Him first, particularly in my livelihood, He showers the rest with blessings.

Now, there are some out there like me that also thought this was just a Jewish thing (an understanding between God and His chosen people). However, I recently came across this Genesis account of a story many of us are familiar with, yet may have never put two and two together.

And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed (Genesis 4:3-5.)

Both men brought an offering. But Abel brought the “first fruits” of his livelihood. Matters not what it is I’m bringing. It just matters what order I’m bringing it in.

I know most who read this will relate this truth to their monetary “fruits” and that’s definitely alright. But my prayer is that we will all see the deeper picture laden within the first fruits explanation . . . Us!

Before we do anything, to God, WE are “first fruits.” And if we will just roll over, look up, or stop where we’re standing and just say, “Good morning God! Here I am…my “first” belongs to You,” then I think we could expect the unexpected response of a lifetime, every day, and all day.