Archive | March 2012

Navigating Life – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV)

These are the lyrics of the song “Turn Turn Turn” made famous by the Byrds’. As I mentioned in my introduction to this study, I loved hearing this song performed by a church praise team several years ago. I later learned that the lyrics of the song are identical to the King James translation of this scripture, with the exception of the title phrase and the last line, referring to peace, “I swear it’s not too late”. It’s incredibly cool that a mainstream rock band chose to sing a song straight from the Bible! Even today, I love how contestants on American Idol and other pop-culture musicians have embraced contemporary Christian music. This genre may not be mainstream, but it’s wonderful to see so many younger musicians with a heart for God’s Word.

When I read these eight verses, I see a picture of life. There are fourteen pairs of actions that are polar opposites of each other. The order was discussed briefly in the commentary, but I don’t feel arrangement is the major takeaway, other than the first pair being about life and death; the ultimate extremes of the mortal life. The remaining pairs describe events that may occur in each of our lives on earth. Is the focus of this passage really meant to be on world peace, as the song suggests? I’m not so sure – if anything, I would take it to mean eternal peace, as there will not be peace on earth during our lifetimes.

I was thinking about these verses, in the context of my life, and I couldn’t help but tie it to interpersonal relationships. As I mentioned, to me, these verses paint a picture of our mortal lives. During our time on earth, experiences will take us from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. There will be times when we are enjoying every aspect of life and everything seems to be clicking. Our lives are fruitful; we are full of joy and hope, knowing nothing is impossible with God. However, there will also be times in life when we are questioning God’s plan, as we struggle through periods of darkness and hopelessness. It doesn’t matter who we are or how much control we think we have over our lives, every one of us will experience each of these extremes at some point in our life.

Luckily, the timing of the highs and lows will likely not be the same for everyone. This brings up the importance of authentic relationships! We were not created to live in isolation; we were designed to interact with other people – and these relationships are necessary to help us through the rough patches in our lives. The truth is, we need other people and other people need us! And, this needing is more than a “Hey, how are you?” “I’m fine.” We need to be emotionally invested in the lives of others, and allow others to know who we truly are, without our masks.

It’s pretty safe to say that we are pre-wired to be this way. As a culture, we love to gossip and we seem obsessed with reality television. We are clearly interested in the lives of others, but we sometimes like to do so from an arms-length to (I believe) keep our feelings in check. We enjoy the good parts without allowing ourselves to experience the pain. We can use other people’s experiences to feel better about ourselves without having to show our own ugly parts. However, I believe we were called for more.

The truth is, reality television would be unnecessary if we fully immersed ourselves in the reality of people within our circle of influence. We can help our friends through their difficulties and share their joy in the good times. They can do the same for us. The benefit is that no one needs to feel they are in this alone. Having close relationships is definitely a win-win situation for everyone.

God is showing me so many things through the lives of others. Most importantly, he’s teaching me how to love unconditionally. I certainly don’t like to see anyone go through a painful time, so seeing people near their rock-bottom completely breaks my heart. But, it also makes me want to do whatever I can to encourage, help, and share their pain. I also have the amazing privilege of sharing in their victories as God helps them overcome the darkness they are experiencing.

One of my friends has impressed me with her faith and perseverance through a horrible situation. I can clearly see the hand of God in her life, maybe better than she can at this point, and how He’s helping her grow and gain wisdom. It’s a truly amazing thing and such a blessing, hopefully in both of our lives!

I love how God brings people together at the exact moment they need each other. I treasure my friends who are always there for me when I am weak, and I pray that God will continue use me to help others when they are struggling. We really aren’t in this alone; we do need each other! Together, with God’s help, we can persevere and grow, with joy, throughout all of the seasons of our life!

When asked by a scribe what the most important commandment was, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31).”

The Vanity of Toil – Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26 ESV).”

I am blessed to have a great job, working with many coworkers who are believers in Christ. This makes the day generally go very smoothly, although we are never without challenge. The nature of our work is meaningful, and that definitely helps with our overall focus and moral. However, there are days when frustration seems to loom at every corner, and I’m being pulled in multiple directions!

I have always been diligent in my work and strive to give everything my absolute best effort. While I achieve separation between my work and personal life, I have always been incredibly passionate about my career. If I have unresolved work problems, I think about them and research them, even when I’m at home. It’s hard for me to turn my brain off, so much so that I used to really struggle with sleeping.

I can definitely relate to the Qohelet’s words regarding “the one who comes after me.” Honestly, this would trouble me from time to time. I have even wasted energy worrying if all of my striving will end up meaningless because “the one who comes after me” did not continue in my legacy.

That sounds so terrible, just to type it – that I could think so highly of myself to feel that only *I* could do a good job; my way was better than everyone else’s! Part of me worried that “the one who comes after me” will be negligent and erase the progress I’ve made, but the other part of me was concerned that they will find fault with my efforts. It’s silly, really, meaningless – a chasing after wind!

My job, while important, should not be the central focus of my life. One of the greatest aspects of my current job is that the day’s toil is over when I walk out the door at 4:00. I have never had a 9-5 type job before, and at first, I had to become acclimated to the structure, but I’ve really begun to appreciate the first ‘schedule’ I’ve ever had in the workplace!

I do not have a work laptop or cell phone, so I cannot work from home. This encourages me to be as productive as possible during my time at work, and then leave everything at the office when I am done for the day. At that point, I can go home and spend quality time with my friends, family, and God. This schedule has allowed me to start and end my day in the Word, and has really brought balance and peace to my previously chaotic life!

The Qohelet closes this chapter with a profound truth. The pursuit of anything on earth is meaningless when done in the absence of God. For without God, what does one gain? Personal strivings and victories do not last; everything that is accomplished will be erased by death.

Consider Adam and Eve… they pursued of wisdom apart from God. They were intrigued by the fact that there could be more to life and were drawn to the serpent’s temptations. Eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil essentially gave them exactly what they were seeking. They were illuminated to their nakedness and achieved separation from God. Their quest for wisdom brought sin and mortality for all generations to come.

It’s time to stop hiding from God. The only chance we have for true and perfect wisdom is through a maturing relationship with Christ. God will bring us wisdom, knowledge, and happiness if we live our lives for His glory. This doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect on earth, but if we focus our attention on our perfect God, our rewards will be amazing in heaven. We were created for God’s glory! I hope everyone will embrace this truth and life it out daily. A heart poured out for God and others is a beautiful expression of the love that He has given us.

April Showers Bring May Flowers (April 3, 2009)

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45, ESV).

Are you struggling through a particularly difficult period of your life right now?  Do you get frustrated when others seem to catch all of the breaks, often at your expense?  Do you find yourself remarking that sometimes life just isn’t fair?

There are times in life when events happen that don’t make sense.  We may be walking tightly with the Lord, and yet, we find ourselves in the midst of suffering.  Maybe you’re experiencing illness, or the death of a loved one.  Maybe you’ve finally understood the root of an addiction and are well on your way to overcoming it, and for no apparent reason find yourself falling back into your old ways.  Whatever it is, I understand the confusion and desperation you may be feeling.  The more difficult life becomes, the more we try to understand the purpose of our pain and wonder if we’ve caused it.

Truthfully, our suffering may be a result of our decisions, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sometimes, difficult life experiences are designed to help us grow as Christians.  We live in a fallen world, and must accept the reality that life may sometimes be tough.  But, take heart.  God is in control, and will use our struggles for His glory – if we open our hearts to this possibility.  The rain God showers us with will grow our hearts into beautiful flowers.

I’ve often told my customers that if science were easy, then everyone would do it, and it would not be rewarding.  The same can be said for the Christian life.  If we experienced no challenges, we would become complacent in our present state.  There would be no need for faith and our stagnation would leave us unfulfilled.  Having faith in God in the midst of tribulation allows us to become more mature Christians, and prepares our hearts for time when we will spend eternity with Jesus.

If you’re struggling, ask God to show you the path He desires for you.  Acknowledge that He is in control, and while you may not understand His will, He does and has a definite plan for your life.  Above all, have faith in God, and be open to the rainy days of life – for without rain, flowers would never bloom.

Walking Toward the Light – Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

“So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 ESV)”

This passage starts off very strong with points I really want to share, but it ends in a rather pessimistic manner. I wish I could say the next portion of scripture immediately resolves the negativity, but we still have a few verses to endure before we get there.

Don’t give up on me – it’s just part of our journey! Sometimes we’re struggling up the hills of life, questioning everything and feeling distant from God; but, other times we’re enjoying the wind at our backs, looking forward to a promising future, counting our blessings, as we coast downhill…

There is some great imagery in this passage that I really want to focus on. In fact, I was just looking for a verse about the conflict between light and darkness and I was excited to find what I was looking for in today’s passage!

This is the first time the Qohelet has specifically stated one of the major themes of Ecclesiastes, which is that wisdom is better than folly. It’s certainly an appropriate truth to today’s generation!

I think many of us pursue folly because we’re looking for the best out of life. We think that if we enjoy all of the things life has to offer, we will find meaning in our existence. Subconsciously, we know there is more to life than we see around us, but often we look in the wrong places trying to gain happiness!

By making bad choices, we essentially ignore the plans God has for us and this ‘happiness’ we seek becomes even more allusive, a chasing after wind. I always related well to the book of Ecclesiastes because I had tremendous experience striving after folly, and all I ever gained was heartache and frustration. But, at the time I initially read Ecclesiastes, I had just enjoyed my first taste of wisdom – and I knew that its pursuit was a much better choice! But, how exactly does one ‘pursue’ wisdom?

The truth is, I don’t think you pursue wisdom as much as it pursues you! Wisdom can be gained by making bad choices, provided you’re open to learning from these mistakes. God has an amazing way of using my poor decisions for His glory. In fact, I wouldn’t change anything in my past because those experiences have made me the person I am today! Flawed, broken, incomplete, humbled, but wiser…

I understand why people, especially young women, look to ‘complete’ themselves apart from God and I pray for opportunities to interact with those who are struggling in their own strength. It’s taken me a while, but now I realize my efforts apart from God are futile!

Experience is not the only teacher of wisdom; it’s just the remedial course I signed up for! People can gain wisdom by studying God’s word, interacting with more mature Christians, prayer, etc. The most important part is that you are open to gaining wisdom, as it is given to us; we do not acquire it on our own. Wisdom results from our being in the light!

It’s easy to conclude that light is better than darkness; we experience this every day in the non-spiritual realm. But, God is light and light is directly opposed to darkness, and this truth is worth considering.

In the past year, God has repeatedly been showing me the negative effects that can result when people are unequally yoked. I was thinking about this yesterday, and the thought came into my head that darkness cannot stand the light; conflict results!

This may be an oversimplification of reality, but let’s consider a hypothetical relationship (disclaimer: this is entirely fictional-as I have no experience in this area). I’m going to choose to describe a marriage where both people start off in the same place spiritually. Technically, this hypothetical relationship is not limited to marriage; it could be two best friends, a parent/child, or any two people who are very close to each other. Let’s assume they are lukewarm Christians – they believe in God, but are comfortable being in control of their current lives.

As the relationship progresses, one or both partners begin to realize they are not experiencing the level of eternal bliss they signed up for. A pursuit of folly may result, but communication with the other partner regarding the dissatisfaction may not. People are often so afraid to hurt someone they love, with negative feelings, that they keep them inside, and allow their frustrations to build! But, even if communication does occur, it might not alleviate the problem.

Time progresses and the void is not filled by folly. So, let’s assume one partner, having no where else to turn, takes their problem to God. This causes the one partner to understand that there is no perfect relationship apart from God and they come to peace with their situation. They value their relationship, and are determined to make it work at any cost.

This person has been illuminated to the light! However, if the other person has not come to the same conclusion, they remain in darkness and thus the problem may not easily resolve itself… Now there is a definite disconnect in the two people, and as one person grows in the light, the opposition of light and darkness intensifies. Eventually, this (left unresolved) could lead to dissolution of the relationship.

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:7-9 ESV)

I’ve seen the effects of this, and it’s heartbreaking! I cannot, nor ever want to, imagine how it feels to have a part of you ripped out by divorce. I am eternally grateful that my quest for folly did not lead me down this path of pain and destruction…

Darkness and light can not coexist. Either the light will be dimmed, or the darkness illuminated. If both people are not on the same page, conflict is inevitable! Dating someone with the intention of helping them see the light will not work either, as every person must make the decision to accept God’s gift and trust in Him individually.

For me, I choose light…and oppose darkness. In my life, I desire wisdom and despise folly. That might make me unattractive to many people who are comfortable living in darkness, but I want God’s light to shine through me and want others to see how magnificent life is when God brightens your path!

Here, the Qohelet tells us that this is meaningless because we all end up with the same outcome, which is death, but because of Jesus, we know that’s not the case! Therefore, I do not hate life, because I embrace what it represents and look forward to my eternity with Jesus!

No More Leftovers!

Around this time last year, I started reading “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” by Francis Chan. I got a couple of chapters in, but could not continue reading the book; it was too hard! At the time, I had some un-repented sin in my life that I was not ready to let go of, and the book made me uncomfortable because I knew I was deliberately doing things that were against God’s will. Shortly after that, I took care of my sin problem, but for some reason, I did not pick up the book again until last Thursday.

I am currently on Chapter 5, “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God” and the book’s timing is perfect for where I am spiritually. Remember all of those posts I’ve made about salvation?…. Chan’s thinking is along the same lines. Let me share a paragraph from the book and pass on Chan’s challenge to study the gospels, with an open heart and mind, regarding what it means to be saved.

“Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded? You’ll notice that He didn’t add ‘But, hey, if that’s too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians – you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything,’ …. To call someone a Christian simply because he does some Christian-y things is giving false comfort to the unsaved. But to declare anyone who sins ‘unsaved’ is to deny the reality and truth of God’s grace.”

I’m speaking to myself, here, too… as I think I have a long way to go with the whole surrender thing. But, I’m trying….it’s just such a slow process!

Chapter 5 continues talking about how “rich” we are, and tells the story how hard it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of God. This is an area where there are plenty of opportunities for my own personal growth!

I’m just grateful that I don’t have to do everything on my own. I just have to keep trusting God for my spiritual maturity and continue to work towards complete submission to Him. This is the third time I read this particular passage this week! I think God is trying to tell me something…

I want to switch gears here and address a question that a friend of mine emailed after reading parts my blog. I think it’s a great question, and would like to try to publicly share my answer. The question was, “I can see you spend a good deal of time on this-please let me know how you find this time.”

What I am learning is that studying the Bible is absolute the best possible use of my time. I have a true hunger for knowledge of the nature of God, as well as myself, and by reading other people’s perspectives and meditating on scripture, I gain so much in every area of my life. I can share what I’m learning with my son, to hopefully encourage him to put God first in everything. I stay much more focused at work, remembering that I can do anything through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I have compassion and love for others, and enjoy encouraging my friends and even strangers through their problems. Most important, I am focused on the future, and I am figuring out exactly what God wants for my life on earth, and how He wants me to grow before spending eternity in heaven.

In my heart, I sincerely want to put God first. I think it’s too easy to give God the “leftovers” because of our busy lives and I really want to give Him so much more of me!

As far as the writing part…that comes easy; it’s very therapeutic! I have always enjoyed sharing whatever I’m learning with people. My last two jobs involved teaching and training, and I’m sure at some point my current position will move in that direction. I’m also an open book, and get really excited about things that are going on in my life. I’m like a ten-year old kid in this respect! I find writing to be the perfect outlet for my personality. Besides, it saves certain people who are close to me from having to hear yet another story about something I learned! I admit, I can be overwhelming at times…. 🙂

I just hope that God uses my blog to encourage someone out there, friend or stranger, to continue along their own personal spiritual journey and grow closer to Him. That’s what it’s all about… Loving God and Loving People!

I will end with my favorite verse from the song “In Christ Alone” since I’ve heard this over and over recently too…

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry, to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Could ever pluck me from His hand.
Til he returns, or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I stand!

The Doctrine of Regeneration (Shared Video)

Please watch this video… It’s called “The Lost Doctrine” by Paul Washer. A friend posted it on Facebook this morning…. and although his opinion may not be popular in the modern church, I’m afraid it’s Biblical. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this guy, but I really like what he has to say…

Salvation doesn’t come from signing a card accepting a superficial invitation. Salvation comes from complete belief and a true desire to have a new life in God. As I’ve said before, you don’t have to immediately have it all together when you accept Christ, but you have to be open to the change. You don’t even have to change yourself; God will change you, and these changes are evidence of your ‘regeneration’. It won’t happen overnight, as it is a process, but if someone is still the same today as they always were… maybe they might want to reevaluate their definition of what it meant to “believe” in what Jesus did for them on Calvary.

I can say with 100% confidence that I did not change myself; God began a new work in me, and is still in the process of straightening me out. I can assure you that I did not consiously make a decision to be a ‘good Christian’. In fact, some of the things I believe with all of my heart are so foreign to my ‘old self’ that people who ‘knew’ me probably think I’ve been brainwashed! And, maybe I have….but it’s by God, not man, and I like the person I am becoming so much better than the one I used to be.

P.S. If anyone can tell me a better way to share another person’s YouTube video on my blog, that would be really great 🙂 I could share to Twitter or Facebook, but I didn’t see a way to share here.

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence – Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 ESV)

Every morning, before work, you will find me in my neighborhood McDonalds enjoying a large Diet Coke and working on one of my Bible studies. This particular franchise plays Christian music and is very well managed. It’s a great way to start the day! Poor planning caused me to take today off from work, but I am still partaking of my morning ritual, this time using my laptop to work on this blog. The cashier saw my laptop and said, “I hope you’re not doing work on your day off.” I explained to her that I enjoy writing and am currently studying the book of Ecclesiastes, and today’s topic is – “The Vanity of Self-Indulgence”.

Self-Indulgence is a topic I am very familiar with, in fact, my experience with self-indulgence could fill an encyclopedia! Couldn’t yours? It doesn’t hurt that I live in America – the country where we can have everything we want, in excess! About a month ago, my son and I watched the movie “Supersize Me” and he was disgusted at how quickly someone could become so unhealthy by making poor choices.

In America, our forefathers fought for our freedom, allowing us to have freedom of speech, a right to bear arms, freedom of religion, freedom to choose our leaders, and freedom to enjoy ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ As Christians, we have another, even more important freedom – freedom from sin! Unfortunately, today, much of society chooses not to live in freedom, but rather bondage. Paul warns us, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).”

You may question why anyone who is free would deliberately choose to be a slave, but the reality is that we often do this. Society gives us the opportunity to enjoy anything we can imagine, which on the surface sounds like a great thing. However, this can lead to unwise choices, offers a high potential of abuse, and can ultimately cause idolatry. When our love for anything becomes all-consuming, we are essentially slaves to that desire; our freedom has been traded for bondage. Even ‘good’ things can become idols in our lives when they begin to take over! A good life requires balance, thus having too little or too much of anything can cause problems.

It is easy to lose ourselves in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ especially when we know that our sins have been forgiven. “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up (1 Corinthians 10:23).” The blank check we have been given as our freedom can quickly turn into a slippery slope leading us to a pit of destruction. The dangers in life are not the same for you as they are for me; we all have unique strengths and temptations.

Focusing all of our attention on worldly possessions, worldly gains, or any worldly measures of success can be very dangerous. People say that ‘Money can buy happiness,’ but I’m not so sure; as having money brings about a whole new set of challenges. Rich people can become ‘owned’ by their wealth, and thus not rely on God. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24).”

This does not mean we should not enjoy the blessings of our life. We are not called to live destitute lives of eternal misery. We should enjoy life to the fullest, but this requires moderation, as there are always consequences of our actions. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26a).” It’s not what we have that is important; it’s what we do with that we are given. This is true for our money, as well as our freedom. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more (Luke 12:48).”