Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bible Study Magazine Contest

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

Friday, February 13, 2009

What is the recession for?

Seems like longer that a few days ago, but just Monday Nate suggested we check out John Piper’s message, What is the recession for? (this link will take you to the text, or from there you can select to either listen to or even watch the message – which I highly recommend because the text fails to convey Piper’s passion).

Not only have I ‘borrowed’ his title, but I am going to ‘borrow’ some of his words, too. Piper points out five of God’s purposes behind the recession:

  1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
  2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
  3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
  4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
  5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

The rest of his message goes on to break down these five lessons God has for us. Again, please listen to it, my take on it is weak at best and my hope is to stir some thought about our thoughts on money.

Here’s something to think about. Add up your total expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, etc, etc) and figure what you spend per day. I’m going to use the average American income of $26,000 for my calculations, as well as assume the average American does not save (yours may be more or less). Only making $26,000 still gives the average American $71.25 per day on which to live. Thinking about Piper’s second point above, 50% of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. 80% of the world lives on less than $10 per day.

To further put things in perspective, a single person household making less that $10,400 living in the lower forty-eight, is considered living in poverty. At that amount, one still has $28.49 per day on which to live. In the poorest countries on the world, the poverty line is set at $1.25 a day ($2.50 a day in developing countries).

For a family of six in the lower forty-eight, here in America, the line is set at $28,400 a year or about $12.96 per day per family member and easily in the richest 20% in the world.

All this to say: when was the last time you complained about your financial situation? Being employed in a profession directly related to the number of homes being built, I know I'm guilty, especially as my overtime hours have dwindled to nothing. And not just that, but how much longer am I going to have a job?

And that, sports fans, is exactly what is so incredible about this recession (Piper’s 3rd point listed above), it will help me refocus on Him instead of my wealth, my stuff, my comfort.

To be honest, I’m a bit nervous. The opposite of comfort is pain, and I’m not a big fan of pain. But it’s like the dangerous prayer of asking God to do whatever He needs to do to so that you might draw closer to Him. My list of ‘whatever items’ are giving up cable tv, living in a small home, etc – they’re things I’ve already done. God’s list of ‘whatever items’ tend to be different that ours (what did Jesus ask of the rich young ruler? or John and James? etc).

It is the hope He promised and the truth that He works all things for the good of those who love Him that I can truly pray: God, I don’t know how the economy is going to pan out, but You do. I pray You use this time to turn the people of this nation, and the world, away from our sin and, instead, toward You. Please let Your light shine through Your people. Amen.

The two sources I used for the facts mentioned above are: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States