Make as much as you can

As part of the You Asked For It series at St. John’s, West Wickham we look at Money and Tithing. You can hear the sermon and Q&A here.

In it I spoke about John Wesley’s saying about money. To paraphrase:

Make all you can, Save all you can, Give all you can

It comes from his excellent sermon (50) ‘On the use of Money’. You can find text versions and an audio recording of it (for free) here.

The first clause can cause some concern amongst Christians, but the idea is not to be greedy or dishonest (see the sermons). Instead Christans are to be productive rather than lazy. Today I listened to a podcast on Proverbs where, amongst other things, they talked about the practical sayings which included this one:

Without oxen a stable stays clean,
    but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

Proverbs 14:4

The point (although it uses a dated analogy) is that if you don’t put in the intial effort with something you may not enjoy that much, you won’t reap the reward (and possibly starve!). It speaks into the same thing that Westley’s first clause does – put in the effort to make the most of what you do. Perhaps today we might rewrite the proverb something like this:

Without studying your evenings will be freer,

but you need knowledge and experience to get a good wage.

Peter’s Idioms  14:4

Till next time.

A God Vacancy

The expression “Out of the mouths of babes” comes to mind, although I’d imagine the author might not like that expression much since she is in the 10-13 year old category. But her 500 word story, submitted to the BBc competitij really got me thinking. Here it is in full, but you can find the audio recording of it here.

A God Vacancy by Aoife Maddock

 

Dear Gods & Deities Inc,

It is with much regret that I have chosen to resign from my position as Lead Deity of Area 25541, specifically, Earth. I have learnt very much from my time at Gods & Deities Inc. and will cherish the relationships I have formed with the beings there forever. This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is in the best interests of my career advancement and development as a sentient being. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working for you.

Actually, you know what? That’s a lie. I have not enjoyed my time at Gods and Deities Inc. at all. Would you like to know why? Humans.

I understand it’s unprofessional of me to complain about my clients in such a personal manner, but they’re just so frustrating. I have done everything in my power to please them, you know. My creative team and I have worked as best we can with them- but I’ve never met a species that is quite so needy!

First of all, they’re the only species to fight among themselves so pettily. War after war, I can barely get a word in edgewise; all in my name, might I add. I don’t want war, why would I want war? That doesn’t even make sense! If they’d listen for just one moment, they’d realise it’s not in my best interests and it’s certainly not in theirs, it’s nothing but a waste of time and money.

Another thing, never have I worked a job where I’ve received so much abuse! Anything they mess up, they blame on me- which is hardly fair. Do they really think it’s my job to sit around and ruin their day? I’m tired of them overestimating my power, I can’t solve world hunger! They caused world hunger! It’s clear they’ve mistaken me for the universal caretaker, here to sweep up their messes. There’s no working with them, there’s no splitting the load. They expect everything of me and I get nothing in return.

One last thing, this one really irks me, but would it kill them just to listen? For once? I’ve considered going vengeful, multiple times. They complain about my standoffishness, my refusal to step in when the going gets tough, but when I try to give advice they won’t take it! I feel I have been very clear about my expectations of our partnership. They take one step forward, only to take another two back, do you have any idea how infuriating that is? The spark I once had has been replaced by a resentful disinterest, and whose fault is that?

I apologise, this letter has stretched out longer than anticipated, but I really needed to get that off my chest. I hope now my sudden resignation does not seem so irrational, and that Gods & Deities Inc. prospers in the future. Whomever you choose as my successor, I sincerely wish them the best of luck.

They’re going to need it.

If I was (a) god, that would be me entirely. I’m glad to say that I have little frustration at work currently but I’ve had my share in the past and am certain that I will in the future. It is the reason that I have great sympathy for James and John! Dealing with people as a person is hard work. We can be hard work, violent, angry, selfish, greedy, lazy, ungrateful (I could go on), even when we have the best in life. If I had a contact where the other party was repeatedly found in breach, and where their general disposition was that unhealthy I would walk away as fast as possible.

Fortunately God is not like that. The story of the bible (and we see it very starkly in the Old Testament) is the reapeated unfaithfulness of God’s people, but then God’s extravagent mercy and grace in return, calling people back to follow Him. Again and again we see the goodness of God calling everyone to turn back to Him to find forgivenss and the fullness of life. He sees the goodness that we are capable of, that we were created for. He sees His image in us, even if it is greatly marred. He calls us to be who were were created to be. Praise God!

Here are just a few (of many) examples you can look up:

1     –     2     –     3     –     4     –     5

So thank you Aoife! Your story is a reminder to me of the fallenness of people – myself included – but even more so of the amazing goodness and faithfulness of God, beyond any human understanding.

 

 

 

Why I Believe in Marriage

At St. John’s we are currently going through a series called ‘You asked for it’ where the sermons are on what the congregation voted for. This week was ‘Marraige’

or you can find the audio of the sermon here: http://www.stjohnsww.com/latest-sermons/2018/6/18/marriage

Here are a few resouces that I found helpful in planning, not only for the sermon, but also for my own marriage:

Secular:

(by which I mean sources that are not coming from a religious bias – it is not a comment on the author(s) personal beliefs.

  1. Why would-be parents should choose to get married
  2. Society-wide benefits of monogamous marriage
  3. Why Get Married? These Answers May Surprise You
  4. Marriage Isn’t For You

  5. Office for National Statistics – Great for finding statistics on all parts of life (in the UK), incl. marriage, divorce and cohabitation.

Christian:

  1. Book: The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Marriage with the Wisdom of God A must-read if you are married, on interested for whatever reason.
  2. Book: Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? – A fascinating read on the spirituality of marriage.
  3. ‘Focus on the Family’ Marriage series – I particularly used 2.Marriage is Good for Children
  4. Church of England Marriage Service – Especially the introduction (which I read from in the sermon)

 

Hope these resources help you too.