Archives For Money

Rarely is training glamorous; rarely is it exciting. Training is usually incredibly difficult and labor intensive. Seasons of training are hardly desirable but almost always necessary. The most compelling part of robust training is often seeing what is being produced. Here is an example of what is being produced from Eternity Bible College.

Lucas Everett is part of an amazing legacy. Over forty years ago his grandparents started the first school for deaf children in the entire country of Mexico, Rancho Sordo Mudo. As a result of this ministry, the deaf of Mexico had an opportunity for education. They now had access to vocational training. But even more importantly, this meant that the deaf people of Mexico could learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the very first time.

Lucas’ father, Luke, continued the Everett legacy of faithfully serving God at Rancho Sordo Mudo. God has given Luke an incredible story, and an amazing ability tocommunicate that story. As a result, awareness of the ranch has grown substantially and now has hundreds of graduates and over 40 fully residential students annually.

In 2009, Luke and Lucas visited Eternity Bible College; soon after, Lucas enrolled and began his training. Four years later, Lucas went back to the Ranch, degree in hand.

Lucas now serves alongside his father in caring for the deaf children. Lucas has served as a teacher, dorm parent, and spiritual mentor to many at the ranch. In addition to serving the students and staff at the ranch, Luke and Lucas are actively engaged in opening other schools for the deaf across Mexico and into Central America. Consistent with the original vision for Rancho Sordo Mudo, this is all being done so that the deaf community can learn about Jesus and be equipped to engage society.

In order for Lucas to be able to actively engage in advancing the Gospel within the deaf community, he needed to be trained. He needed to be equipped to know the Bible well. Eternity Bible College provided that training so that Lucas could think and respond biblically as he leads aspects of this important ministry. As significant as the training itself has proven in Lucas’ life, it’s also true that Lucas could not be doing the work he does if he had accumulated college debt.

Reflecting on his son’s leadership at the ranch, Luke says:

“It has been a beautiful blessing to see Lucas transformed into the Godly man he is because of God and Eternity Bible College. I was really sick and incapacitated during our first week of school at the ranch, and Lucas stepped right in, picked up the mantel, and ran with it. I’m not just saying this because he is my son (many have affirmed this), but Lucas is an amazing Bible teacher. I love hearing him ‘bring it’ to our staff every Sunday. He has such enthusiasm and joy when he is preaching/teaching, and his appetite to continue learning encourages me. Lucas has taught me a lot.”

It is exciting to see the role that Eternity Bible College gets to play in helping equip people for lives of Gospel service. The desire at Eternity has always been to provide biblical training without student debt. Will you consider an end of year gift or a recurring monthly gift to help further the mission of Eternity Bible College?

Learn more about investing in Eternity here.

The evangelical world has flown into turbulent skies over the last few months. From Phil Robertson to bakeries in Arizona, and more recently the World Vision debacle. Evangelicals are facing a potential fork in the road in how they think through homosexuality. Then there’s the never dying debates about spiritual gifts, women in ministry, and the timing of future things. Worship wars. Doctrinal disputes. Young leaders improving on old methods; old leaders suspicious of new methods. House churches ditching the whole “institutional” church. An unforeseen flight of young Protestants to the Orthodox and Catholic churches. And the massive growth of Christianity in the majority world.

If I were a prophet, I’d predict a major divide in evangelicalism in the near future, one which would rival the split between fundamentalists and moderates in the early 20th century. In the one corner, we have a millennial, internet-savvy, social media driven, post-9/11 brand of Christianity that’s seeking authenticity, justice, and community. In the other corner, we have baby boomer Christian leaders, whose theology was forged in the caldrons of the Cold War era, where debates about the rapture, sign-gifts, and the rise of post-modernism formed a church’s identity.

One version of evangelicals define themselves by what they’re against; the other by what they are for. One group elevates truth; the other, love. One seeks authenticity and community; the other races to Bible studies and marriage seminars. One will divide over eschatology; the other over homosexuality.

We are facing a split. A growing chasm that will spawn two distinct versions of evangelical thought.

As I reflect on this inevitable divide, here’s my challenge to both sides:

1. Be Biblical. Don’t just blindly rehearse inherited presuppositions, and don’t base your theology as a reaction to your inherited presuppositions. Neither inherited theology nor reactionary theology is good enough. We are Protestants; we believe in the authority of the text. We value fresh exegesis and letting the text critique our theology. We don’t bend the text around our theology, but our theology around the text—even if we don’t like it. Head in SandWe cannot debate this doctrine or critique that theology with a closed Bible. We desperately need to root, and re-root, our 21st century theology in the actual text, and not some vague inherited notion of being biblical—without knowing the relevant chapter and verse, and being able to identity and articulate the strongest argument against our view. Search it out. Study with blood, sweat, and calloused knees. Be biblical. Root your theology in the actual text of Scripture.

2. Be humble. We believe in absolute truth. Absolutely! But such truth is harnessed and understood through fallible human interpretation. So be humble. Work your exegetical minds to the skull, but be humble in your conclusions. You may be right. You probably are (if your conclusions are backed by solid exegetical evidence). But recognize that you are human and you therefore might be wrong. And that’s okay. God is right. God is mysterious. God is beyond us, and He is always right. We are sometimes wrong. We are wrong more than we think. Much more. Our beliefs are clouded by presuppositions, cultural baggage, unexamined assumptions, and experiences that fog up our interpretive lenses. So be humble.

3. Seek truth and practice. That is, seek to live out and love out the truth you say you believe in. The world—and the evangelical left—is passionately unimpressed with unpracticed doctrines. Truth is validated and confirmed through doing it. So be biblical. Stay humble. And do it. Live out what you say you believe. For example, more than 2,000 passages in the Bible lambast the misuse of wealth, and only 6 address homosexuality. Align your values accordingly. Don’t be a stingy gay-hater, for this is not Christian. Become a Jesus follower who serves people who are attracted to the same sex. God served you when you when you were serving yourself—and idols. I don’t care if you are pre-millenial, post-millenial, or amillenial. Do you love the poor? Are you radically generous? Are you submissive, humble, and eager to love your enemies? Do these, and then I will know that you are a follower of the crucified and risen Lamb.

4. Study hard. I don’t say this because I’m an educator, but because the next generation of seekers are also thinkers. They ask hard questions and they get irritated at pre-packaged answers. With the rise (or world domination of) the internet, people have access to piles and piles of information. The anti-intellectual, Jesus-and-me, don’t-think-but-only-obey version of Christianity isn’t going to work with the 21st century generation. We need to think deeply and critically about sexuality, epistemology, science, and ethics. And if you don’t know what epistemology means, you need to. We need to think. We need to pull our heads from the sand and shed the stereotype that Christians have their heads in the sand. We need to think, interact, debate, and believe with our God-given minds the beautiful story about a God born in a manger. Millennials are asking very hard questions; recycled answers won’t work any longer. And we need to prove the truth we believe in not only with logical arguments—though we will always need these—but with an unarguable life that lives out the truth we say we believe in.

Let’s press on and obey and imitate the crucified and risen King, who pulled us into a beautiful story about a loving God who sought and saved the lost.

Purge with PassionI have to admit, when I first heard about Purge with Passion: Organizing Principles from a Christian Perspective, I was skeptical. First of all, I’m a dude. Were it not for my intensely organized wife, I would not value organization. But I was also skeptical from a theological perspective. I was afraid that this was going to be a book on organization with a few verses tacked on in an attempt to “Christianize” it. But I was happy to discover that Purse with Passion delivers, and I heartily recommend it to our readers.

Jodie Watson is a professional organizer. She is the organizing expert on TLC’s Real Simple, Real Life, the founder of Supreme Organization, and has been featured in InStyle and Real Simple magazines. In other words, Jodie knows about de-cluttering and getting organized.

But Jodie is even more unique in that she is a careful student of the Scripture, and views organization through the lens of her Christian worldview. Purge with Passion is not a handbook to organization decorated with out-of-context Bible verses. Jodie begins her discussion of organization in the right place: with the heart.

If your home is packed with too much stuff, you can always put your belongings in a closet or a storage container. But how long will that last? For Jodie, you have to begin your organizational journey by asking yourself why you’ve accumulated so much stuff. If your heart is set on the things of this world, then setting it all in good order will only help you so much. If you clean up your home but don’t deal with your heart, then what have you really accomplished?

But if you first deal with your heart, learning to see all of your possessions, all of your time, and all of your resources as gifts from God to be used for his glory, then you will begin to see your stuff in a different light. Suddenly, letting go becomes a lot easier. And having a clean home or workspace becomes more than a means of impressing your neighbors or coworkers. It becomes a way to free up your time, space, and assets to be used by God.

Jodie addresses the full range of human disorganization—your stuff, your finances, your time, your information, and even your inner world—and shows that each of these areas of life can and should be ordered according to God’s design and for his glory. Purge with Passion strikes a skillful balance between biblical interpretation, wise counseling, and practical tips to help you order your life.

Few would argue that modern America is not a materialistic society, generally speaking. We seem to be insatiable accumulators. If you see any hint of this impulse in your life, whether that accumulation and disorder is material, digital, or spiritual, Purge with Passion will help you understand why you have this tendency and how to reverse it.

I’m biased about this book, because Jodie is a friend of mine and a student at Eternity Bible College (we’re proud to say). But I can affirm that this book was helpful for me, and I’m sure it will be for you. I encourage you to take a look and prepare to purge!

Money

The rich young man in Mark 10 approached Jesus with the most important question imaginable: What must I do to inherit eternal life? With so many in our modern world caught up in fleeting pleasures and superficial pursuits, this man’s question is refreshing. This guy knows what’s important in life and he’s looking to the right source to find the answer!

But take a closer look. Perhaps this young man isn’t on the right track after all. He approaches Jesus as the “Good Teacher.” He has a theological question to discuss, and he approaches Jesus as a noted theologian.

Jesus’ first step is to correct the young man’s view of him. Jesus is indeed a teacher, but he is not interested in merely satisfying theological curiosities. Jesus points to his deity (“only God is good”) and in doing so draws attention to his right to make demands of this young man. He lets the man know that he can teach him the truth, but he will also call him to follow. This is more than the rich young man bargained for.

Jesus points out that the answer to the man’s question is simple: “You know the commandments.” What this man needs is not further instruction. He needs to obey. He needs to follow. “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus statement here might seem odd. Is he calling this man to perform a good work and thereby obtain salvation? Of course not. Jesus is cutting directly to the heart. This man is not ready for salvation. One thing is lacking. And it has nothing to do with knowledge. It has everything to do with his allegiance.

Jesus effectively points to this man’s wealth as his god. If you want eternal life, it comes from only one source. So get rid of those things that tie you to the false god, and follow me instead.

The rich young man’s response shows that he was not ready to follow Jesus. He knew he wasn’t ready—that’s why he walked away disheartened and sorrowful. But before we take too harsh a view of this young man, we have to look at the response of Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus explained that it is very difficult for the rich to change their allegiance from their wealth and power to follow instead the humble Jesus. We might be tempted to ask how wealthy a person has to be before he falls into this category. But the disciples understood what Jesus was saying. They were “amazed at his words” and “exceedingly astonished.” They asked Jesus, “Then who can be saved?”

They didn’t ask why the rich couldn’t be saved or which rich people he was referring to. They saw the broad implications: who can be saved? The disciples felt the sting in Jesus’ words.

Our churches are filled with the rich young man. We are all the rich young man. If the one thing this man lacked was an absolute devotion to following a Person rather than intellectual agreement with theological beliefs, then we can all identify with him, regardless of our assets. We all find it impossible to let go our commitment to our goals, commitment to our dreams, commitment to ourselves.

But Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question gives us hope: “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

If Jesus were to walk up to you today and tell you, “You lack one thing,” how would he finish that sentence? If Jesus looked beyond your intellectual fascination with Christianity and pointed to that one thing (or those many things) that hold you back from following him—not in intellectual curiosity but in actual obedience—what would he be pointing at? And would you be ready to let go and follow?

 

 

Danger SignEverything comes with a warning these days. Open ditches might cause injuries and hot coffee is liable to burn you—good thing they’re warning us! Commercials for prescription drugs (which should make us wonder why these companies are advertising to us instead of our doctors) are almost comical in the warnings they’re required to give. Sure, this product will curb your sneezing fits, but it’s likely to make you drowsy, give you constant diarrhea, and it just might kill you.

But one of the most dangerous activities our modern world offers us—an activity that almost every single person is engaged in—comes with no warning whatsoever. Unless we read the Bible. What is this dangerous activity? Pursuing wealth.

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:6–9, emphasis added)

Paul is advocating contentment here. If you have food and clothes, you’re set. Jesus reminded us that he provides these things for the birds and flowers, so we shouldn’t be worried about going without.

But Paul gives a warning to those who lack contentment, “those who desire to be rich.” What happens to them? They fall into temptation, they get caught in a snare, and they get lured into “senseless and harmful desires.” The result? These people are plunged into ruin and destruction. Yikes.

What would you say the big ticket sins are? Lust? Unfaithfulness in a relationship? Lying? Stealing? Murder? Doctrinal Error?

All are bad. All will lead you into trouble. But according to this passage, the American Dream belongs on that list. For Paul, the American Dream is nothing but a big bear trap, ready to snap down on the legs of those blinded by dollar signs.

Let me be clear. There are many things that make America great. But if we asked what most Americans share in common, if we asked what makes up the heartbeat of the American Dream, the pursuit of riches is probably the common denominator. We’re not all greedy, but we do want a little bit more. Desiring God’s good gifts glorifies the Creator, but if you find yourself driven by that nagging urge to obtain just a little more, you’re in dangerous territory.

We tend to measure success in dollar signs and potential influence. Everything about God’s economy cuts in the opposite direction. We know this. As Christians, we’ve never truly believed that happiness comes through stuff. And yet the lie is all around us. Everyone believes it. The rich in this world appear so happy, so many of our problems could be at least alleviated with an increased cash flow, everyone around us is focused on the pursuit of wealth. Given enough time and enough subtle influence, we all find ourselves in the unrelenting pursuit of riches.

LadderSo be careful. If you’ve ever wondered where that ladder you’ve spent your career climbing ends, Paul can remove the mystery for you. It doesn’t end at happiness, as you’ve been promised since birth. The ladder ends with a sharp drop. Ruin. Destruction.

It’s better not to climb that ladder at all. Or to climb it with a sharp focus on the God who is the Giver of all good gifts and the Sustainer of all who find their satisfaction in him alone. If he leads you up the ladder, then he has a purpose in doing so. If he keeps you on the bottom rung, then he will keep you better fed than the ravens and more gloriously clothed than the lilies. After all, there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.