3 Ways Giving Impacts Your Soul

Growing up, my parents paid us kids for chores we did around the house. We always called it an allowance but now I understand it was more of a commission — we didn’t get paid unless we did the work.

Regardless, when the highly anticipated payday arrived (yay, $1.50 in the BANK!), my parents would use it as a two-fold learning opportunity.

  1. They taught us how to tithe from our very first dollar earned.
  2. They taught us how to figure out what 10% was ourselves (that decimal point is a tricky one).

For those who don’t know, the tithe is a form of giving that God commanded the Israelites to do back in the Old Testament.

Here’s the definition straight from the dictionary.

tithe | tīT͟H | 

noun | one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.

My parents taught us that as Christians, we give 10% of what we earn to the church and then we give offerings as well. To be clear, the “tithe” and the “offering” are different. Tithe is the first tenth, and offerings are above and beyond the tithe.

Okay, but why give?

For one, God commanded it. Seems legit.

Giving started in the Old Testament and continued into the New Testament as a way to provide for the needs of widows, orphans, and church workers.

God has given each of us certain possessions that we value immensely. Some more, some less. It doesn’t even have to be money that we value; the point is that it all comes from God.

But what are some practical reasons we should give away what we’ve worked so hard to gain?

Here is why Bailey and I give and why you should, too:

1. Giving builds our trust in god to provide for our daily needs

What better way of surrendering your trust to God than by giving away something you need to live?

This act of faith is expressed very well in Mark 12 when a widow gives her last two pennies to the church of her day. Jesus makes note that she gave more in faith than all those who put bags of money into the treasury.

2. Giving Reminds us whose money it is that we hold

This may be difficult for some to understand but literally nothing we have is actually our own.

In the Bible, Job had everything anyone could have asked for at the time. He had a large family, servants, and an unbelievable number of livestock. The Bible describes him as “greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3b). However, God allowed the devil to take away everything from Job, leaving him with nothing but a nagging wife and a horrible skin disease.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible shows his reaction at his weakest point.

And [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Job went from owning everything to nothing in less than a day. And yet, he understood the source of his wealth. He held everything he had with an open hand. What he had was taken, but if you read to the end of the chapter, you’ll find even more was given back.

Again, let me say, he understood the source of his wealth. Living with this kind of attitude honestly gives a lot more room for happiness in life. It’s a lot easier to give a friend’s Xbox back to him when you know it was only yours to borrow in the first place.

3. Giving creates the ultimate retirement account

We like to think that giving is an entirely selfless thing to do. It is selfless if it is done with the right intensions, however, there’s definitely a rewards system mixed in. Giving is kinda like a retirement account.

What is saving for retirement? In essence, it is delayed gratification.

You have to delay buying what you want in order that you will have money later in retirement. God created us humans to be motivated by rewards which is why he puts some motivation straight into the Bible.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 19-21

What is being said is this: Here on Earth, everything we have is temporary. Our money, our possessions — we will lose it all when we die. But by giving our money to God’s work and those in legitimate need, we are building for ourselves the ultimate retirement nest-egg — eternal treasure! The delayed gratification of not buying everything we want here on Earth is that we get much more in heaven.

P.S. This talk about good works is not to be confused with the work of Christ dying on the cross which is the only way to heaven.

I love what the famous missionary, Jim Elliot, had to say on the topic of giving:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

~Jim Elliot

FOR BAILEY AND I, Giving is personal

I can honestly say that giving has influenced how Bailey and I handle our money. I am naturally materialistic.

Like, recently, I have had this fascination with the new Chevy Colorado. It’s a pretty sharp vehicle and I want one just for the sake of having one.

Giving, on the other hand, puts the money we have into perspective. And I find that as Bailey and I have increased our giving from just the tithe into the realm of offerings, it humbles me. And that makes it really personal for us when we put a check in the offering plate.

How does giving affect your view of your possessions?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

If you’re interested in reading an absolutely excellent book about giving and what it means from a Christian perspective, check out The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. I loved this book and wrote about it briefly in a post about the books I read last year.

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The Truth About Marriage Two Years Later

Ok, ok, I’m going off script just a bit today. Why?

Because Bailey and I have been married for two full years as of today!

First of all, it’s been so much fun being married to Bailey. She’s funny and quirky but also so caring and considerate. We’ve done all the cliched things together.

We’ve laughed together, cried together, fought together and learned together. So that’s cool.

I love her so much. Happy anniversary, Bailey Bug!

Throwback to our wedding day

In honor of today, I looked back at the post that I wrote on our wedding day. In my post “A Letter To My Bride On Our Wedding Day,” I love getting to see what was going on in my head just hours before we got hitched. Here are a couple of my favorite paragraphs:

Bailey, I love your heart. How you love the Lord and seek to follow him with your life. How you interact with people and truly show God’s love in how you treat them. I love your giggle but I love it best when I make it come out. You’re so thoughtful, mature and humble in your normal life. You are a true treasure! 

This is still true. She is still a true treasure.

Bailey, I know I’m not perfect and I’m confident you’ll realize this more and more as we go into marriage! I pray that as your husband, I can learn to serve you and give myself to you as Christ has done for the church. When I hurt you, tell me. When I fail, forgive me. When I’m discouraged, uplift me. When I lose track of the goal, point me back to Christ. That’s what I ask. 

This is also still true. I want Bailey and I to continually go back to Christ for the perfect example of a perfect marriage.

That day was so special. Bailey and I finally got to get married with all the people we love around us. We were surrounded by prayer (as you can see in the photo above) and I know that people still pray for us. It was awesome and a day to be remembered (though it was blazing hot outside).

Marriage is a promotor of growth

And here’s the connection to this blog — there’s been a lot of personal and relational growth in the past two years. I say this rather facetiously, but if you want to grow a lot, get married. Man, I’ll tell you what.

Marriage reminds you that you’ve got someone else to look after, not just yourself. It teaches you selflessness beyond what you may have expected (and I have not perfected this).

It causes you to realize that you’re not the only one losing out on hopes and dreams if you don’t work towards them now. It makes you more responsible because, once again, you aren’t the only one you have to look out for now.

Marriage is an incredibly humbling journey.

I joke about getting married for boosting growth. Of course that would be a horrible primary reason. But marriage will promote growth because when you get married, you can’t stay the same.

Trust me.

In what ways has marriage caused you to change and grow?

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found any value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

click here for our wedding Music Video

I love our music video of our wedding day. A buddy of mine shot it and I edited it. I thought I’d share it here.

3 Strategies to Solve Paralyzing Decisions

This post contains affiliate links.

Decision-making can really keep you up at night. In this post, I want to give you three strategies to solve paralyzing decisions.

My sister, Atalie, recently decided to start working full-time in ministry. There’s a mission organization called International Friendships Incorporated that matches up international students with local families over holidays. They also lead events and Bible studies for students during the school year.

My family has been involved with IFI for several years so they asked Atalie if she would be interested in coming on full-time as a part of their small media team. There was a catch:

She would have to fundraise her entire salary.

Here’s a little tidbit about the Bale family: we are not exactly sales-people. The prospect of convincing enough people that her ministry time was worth their hard-earned money was (and still is) utterly terrifying to Atalie.

She prayed about it, sought out advice, looked at her ministry goals, and made the decision. She just completed training for fundraising strategies last week. This prompted me to think a bit about how we can handle decisions effectively.

How can I solve decisions effectively?

Decision making is so hard! I’m certainly no pro at it. But based on much reading and discussion with others who have much more experience, here are some major strategies to help in the decision-making process.

1. Seek God’s Guidance

If you are a person of faith, this will have much more impact on you. If you are not, I don’t expect that this will make much sense. As a Christian, I believe that God is a divine being that has a plan for my life. I want to follow that plan to the absolute best of my ability. Thus, when making a decision, I want to ensure it’s in line with God’s will.

Henry Blackaby makes some excellent points about decision making in his book Experiencing God. He has four chapters that outline decisions. In them, he describes that God speaks:

  1. Through the Bible
  2. Through prayer
  3. Through circumstances
  4. Through the church

When these four line up, it is clear that this is the direction God is calling you to go.

It is crucial to look at everything through the lens of the Bible. Even though a decision may appear to be clear, it might not be the right one. Blackaby communicates this warning with this:

Christians often talk about “open” and “closed doors,” asking God to close a door if they are not headed in the right way. While it is admirable to seek indications of God’s desires, the danger in this thinking lies in assuming that God’s will is always the path of least resistance (i.e., the open door).

-Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God (p. 113)

2. Seek the input of trusted advisors

The pastor of my church (Pasto D as I call him) has what he calls “A personal board of directors.” Just as a company leader must go to the board of directors to gain their approval of a new plan or large expense, Pasto D does the same. When faced with the decision to move his family from a 45-minute drive to church to a 3-minute commute, Pasto D asked each board member for his or her opinion.

Some members are close friends, some are pastors, one is a physician. They come from different backgrounds and have spoken into Pasto D’s life in some way. They give unique perspectives on how large decisions will affect his and his family’s life.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to develop a personal board of directors. But making a list of people you trust and who have a good reputation will give you some direction when making your next decision. My biggest suggestion (at least to those my age) is to ensure that almost all (if not all) of your advisors are individuals who have a lot more life experience than you. A lot more.

3. Look at your goals and where you want to go in life

Something I’ve recommended in previous posts is developing a life plan based on Michael Hyatt’s book Living Forward.

Hyatt says one of the benefits of creating a life plan and reviewing it regularly is that it will make big decisions easier when comparing to the direction you want to go.

A Life Plan will enable you to filter your opportunities and focus on what matters most. […] Things didn’t change overtight, but I suddently had the clarity—whcih gave me the courage—to manage my opporunities rather than be managed by them. I was finally able to say yes to what truly mattered and no to (almost) everything else.

-Michael Hyatt, Living Forward (p. 49)

Is the decision you’re trying to make taking you in the direction of your long-term goals?

Make a choice and move forward (or stay where you are)

The point is, making decisions is hard but if you don’t let them paralyze you, you will make progress.

One thing I must note as a person of faith is this: Sometimes God’s plan is completely opposite of ours. Look in the Bible for time after time after time where God’s plan didn’t align with their desires—Moses, Elijah, and even Jesus before he was crucified.

Sometimes what want to do is in line with our future plans but not with God’s—and God’s plan should always trump ours.

So easy to say but not easy to live out.

Unfortunately, life is uncertain and decisions still aren’t clear after having made them. Atalie still isn’t sure she’s in the right place. But as the Bible says in Romans,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

What decision you are trying to make right now?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

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The best way to get physical books

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I’m really liking my Panda Planner. I’m learning how to use it to make my time more productive. It would make a great gift for a new graduate! Especially those who are heading into college and don’t know how to plan out their time accordingly.

You’ll Understand If You’ve Been Abandoned

Normally I would do a Resource Friday today and give you a resource for personal development. But given the significance of today being Good Friday, I elected to give you a look into my walk of faith. I hope you let me know about yours in the comments!

I grew up in the church and because of that, I frequently have a difficult time fully understanding the magnitude of what Christ did for me on the cross. He was utterly abandoned. I struggle with it throughout the year because I know that I take it for granted. But even more so, I struggle with it around Easter because that’s when Jesus actually took on our sins.

Sometimes I wish I could experience what it’s like to become a new Christian — to experience that overwhelming gratitude for what Christ did. 

I always try to force myself to understand Easter’s significance but it always proves to be a challenge. I had a realization this past year, though.

I have some incredibly close and deep friendships. My close friends and I don’t have shallow relationships – they’re deep and continue to deepen. For purposes of this blog post, I’ll talk specifically about my groomsmen (I talk about the depth of these friendships in my book Graduated and Clueless). These guys are tough and strong. They encourage me in ways that others don’t. They are part of the reason that I have a strong faith.

Similarly, my dad and I have a very deep relationship. He taught me how to become a man. He taught me my faith along with my mom, but having that male example in my life is partly what led me to take my faith as my own.

Having said that, this was my realization:

If my groomsmen abandoned me in the face of difficulty, my strength would be severely threatened. And if my very own dad turned his back on me, it would be only by God’s grace and sustaining love that I could continue on.

I would feel unbelievably lonely and abandoned. The reason I say this is because this has been the first time in a very long time that I have (somewhat) been able to begin to comprehend what Jesus experienced on Good Friday.

The utter abandon jesus felt

Photo by Pixabay (Pexels.com)

Jesus’ twelve closest friends (with whom He spent every waking moment) abandoned Him when He needed them. One denied that he even knew Jesus, one betrayed Him to His enemies, and the rest ran away. His own dad abandoned Him. 

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”

Matthew 27:46

I can kind of begin to understand that loneliness. And if you’ve ever been abandoned, you can understand even better. What I can’t comprehend is experiencing that while being physically beaten beyond belief and simultaneously carrying the weight of the world’s sins.

I am incredibly grateful for the life that we can receive if we give our lives to Christ. I just struggle with understanding the weight of my sin and what He had to suffer for it.

My life for his

What’s unbelievable is the worth that God places on our lives individually. When I purchase something, I’m saying that it is worth the value of money with which I am purchasing it. With Christ’s death, God placed the value of each of our lives with that of Christ’s. He equaled our value to that of His own son.

The weight of sin is significant but if you have knowledge of what comes on Easter Sunday, there is an immense comfort that comes with it. Sin didn’t win when it seemed like it did. Look at Luke 24 for the account of the resurrection.

How do you prepare your heart and mind for the Easter Season? 

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and me a follow!

And Happy Easter, everyone!

– Caleb

Thanks to Rene Asmussen from Pexels for the feature photo!

Jesus’ Actions That I Don’t Understand

For many years, as I’ve read through parts of the Gospels, I’ve been confused by a certain action of Jesus’. Let’s look at Mark 7: 31-36.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

My immediate reaction is

Why would Jesus command people to tell no one?

In Luke 7: 18-23, John the Baptist asks Jesus from prison if He is the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t say “What the heck, John? I thought you knew I was the Messiah!” Instead, He says to John’s followers

Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Why Doesn’t Jesus give a straight answer?

The ESV Study Bible suggests that Jesus’ command to not tell anyone about the miracles is because He didn’t want people to follow Him only because of the miracles he performed. That makes sense to me but I want to look at it from a slightly different angle.

Personally, I wonder if Jesus wants people to come to their own conclusion about Him.

Think back to when you were in grade school and you couldn’t remember how to spell a word (it still happens to me, dang it). To resolve the issue, you may have asked a parent how to spell it. And what did they say?

“How do you think you spell it, Caleb?”

I suspect your parents didn’t use my name unless you and I have the same name in which case, that is awesome. My point is this: If I could spell the word correctly, it was more likely I would remember how to spell it correctly in the future.

Your own conclusions

When Jesus doesn’t give straight answers in the Gospels, I wonder if He’s trying to get people to come to their own conclusions about Him (of course, within the context of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives). I think that when people come to their own conclusions about Jesus being the Savior of the World, it gives them much more clarity and strength in their spiritual lives.

When I was growing up, I was a true believer in Christ and what He did for me on the cross. I went to church because that’s where my parents took me every week. When I hit college and spent much more time away from home, my parents, and my comfort zone, that was when I really took my faith as my own. Yes, I was a Christian before that.

However, I see that as the time when I came to my own conclusions about Jesus. 

It was when I really took my faith to be my own. It wasn’t just what my parents believed. It was my belief and I believe that was something that caused my faith to increase. I owned it and it helped solidify my faith in Christ for when I entered the real world.

Why do you think Jesus doesn’t give a straight answer?

I honestly want to hear what you think in the comments below! What conclusions have you come to about Jesus?

-Caleb

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Thank you to Wendy van Zyl from Pexels for the use of her photo! Check out her Instagram here.

Profound Impact List: Jim Stalder

I make a habit of writing blog posts about those who have been a major influencer in my life. It’s called my Profound Impact list. It’s my tribute to those who I have looked up to in life and remember fondly in death. The first one of these would be my grandfather, Clifton Raeke, who I wrote about two years ago in a blog post.

Pastor Jim Stalder joined my list this past Friday when he went to be with the Lord.

He was my family’s pastor from when I was a baby until I was about five years old. We stayed close with their family as I grew up. He attended my parents’ Bible study and I got to witness first-hand his passion for scripture and evangelism. After I got married to Bailey, we attended the church where he used to serve and still attended. I would talk to him occasionally on Sunday mornings. 

Honestly, I didn’t even know him that well but I observed him closely. Pastor Stalder loved his wife, his family, and the Church. He loved being in fellowship with God’s people. He was a humble man with a deep conviction for peoples’ souls. He made them laugh. He added many years of wisdom to the Sunday morning Bible study. I wasn’t the only one he influenced, though. I saw his grandson, Ben, follow in his footsteps and begin seminary last summer. He impacted a lot of people.

Most importantly, however, he was a strong follower of Christ. He held onto Christ as his rock because he knew nothing else could save him from his sinful heart. He would readily admit his faults. Pastor Stalder pointed to Christ in everything he did because he had a deeply held belief in what his Savior did for him on the cross.

The reason he fits into my Profound Impact list is because he baptized me on Christmas day, 1994. He acted as a tool that God used to cleanse me of my natural sin. As Christians, we believe that baptism is a means by which God gives us grace and gives us His Holy Spirit. We are part of His family. And because of that, we don’t believe baptism is anything that we do ourselves but totally and completely God’s work in our lives. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Pastor Stalder believed that. He truly believed that he was merely a tool in God’s toolbox. He didn’t believe my baptism was anything that he did but that it was completely God’s doing. That’s why he’s on my list. He’s someone I saw give God everything he had so that God could use him wherever needed. And because of that, he helped start me on a spiritual journey that is not yet finished.

That inspires me.

-Caleb

Abortion Is a Heart Problem and It Takes a Change of Heart to Stop It

With the new abortion laws passed in the state of New York, there has been an unbelievable influx of pro-life/pro-choice posts on social media. People are on fire about this topic. Most people try to convince others that their viewpoint is right. Everyone’s got reasons. Everyone’s got arguments. But we can’t do anything to convince someone one way or the other.

Let’s set the stage

I’m pro-life. Thus, I disagree with the act of abortion. Biblically, I see evidence that from conception, a baby in the womb is a full-fledged human being (e.g. Jeremiah 1:5). It doesn’t make sense to me that we would set someone’s personhood based on their physical location (in or out of the womb).

It doesn’t make sense to me that we would make rather shallow excuses about the quality of life a child would live if he or she were born. Just because a child wouldn’t have the life that all children deserve, somehow we think no life is better.

It doesn’t make sense to me that abortion is legal and yet, if a criminal murders a pregnant woman, he or she will have two counts of manslaughter placed on his or her record.

I believe every single life has equal value — white, black, Christian, Islamic, young, old, born, and unborn. We’re all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).

It starts with perspective

It really does. If a woman believes that life begins at conception, that changes everything (at least it should) because now she has to consider another human life.

If a woman believes that when pregnant, all she has in her uterus is a clump of cells, I get it. I would be furious if that is what I believed and people were trying to regulate it. If that’s what you believe about pregnancy, I understand why you would have a problem with pro-lifers.

It starts with perspective.

It ends with the heart

During the past two weeks, I’ve wanted to write something on this. I wanted to write a big blog post that changes people’s minds — one that helps people understand and appreciate the significance of life. Then I read a section of scripture a couple of days ago that changed how I thought about the whole subject.

It was from Exodus 15-17. God had just delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt by using a man named Moses. Through an unbelievable display of power and providence, God destroyed the entire Egyptian army in the Red Sea. The Israelites were safe and praised God for His deliverance.

Then the complaining started.

The Israelites were thirsty and found a pool of water but it was bitter. God made it sweet. They were hungry and God provided manna for them every morning. They were thirsty again and He gave them water from a rock (a rock!). They faced opposing nation after opposing nation and God led them to victories time after time.

And yet, they complained the whole time. They said to Moses

Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. (Exodus 16:3)

It didn’t matter how God protected and provided for them — they still thought they’d be better off back in Egypt as slaves. This reminded me:

People will believe what they want to believe. 

It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be illogical and irrational. Even when presented with facts, people are stubborn (me included, by the way!). It’s a heart problem.

The solution

People have historically had a heart problem. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the human race has had a heart problem.

In His word, God says

Ezekiel 36:26:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

We must stand for what is right and fight for those who have no voice. By all means, speak up! Do something! God is a God of action and will work through you even in the smallest of ways.

But remember, it’s a heart problem. It takes prayer. Only God can change the hearts of those who have influence over legislation in this space. Only God can change the hearts of women who plan to abort their children (pray for them because James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous man has great power). Only God can give people a heart of flesh. Only God can bring people to Him.

I disagree with abortion and those that support it. I mean, I’ll still be friends with those who do. I’m friends with lots of people that are fine with abortion. But I am praying that God would change the hearts of this nation. I’m not going to pretend I know all the factors in every abortion situation. However, I do know that everyone deserves a chance at life, even when that chance isn’t under ideal circumstances.

Abortion is a heart problem. Not only does it stop a heart but it takes a change of heart to stop it. 

What are your thoughts on the subject? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Please, be civil.

-Caleb

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What Should I Do When God Doesn’t Work on My Timeline?

Ever wonder why humans develop so slowly? I come from a farm where we saw animals being born in the great outdoors.

There were many early mornings our family would gather in the barn to watch the incredible (and absolutely disgusting) miracle of birth happen in our small flock of sheep. A baby lamb, all slimy and gross, would gradually acclimate to its new and much less favorable surroundings.

What’s more unbelievable is that within a couple of hours, this very lamb was walking.

Do you know how long it took me to walk? A year.

A whole, freaking year.

The worst part is that I fell down and decided I didn’t want to try again for several weeks (or so I am told). Why do we develop so much more slowly than something like sheep? My lambs could be pregnant within a year of being born for goodness sake!

Personally, I think it’s because God has far greater plans for each of us. For one, we’re made in His image. Secondly, it takes so much longer to make something absolutely great. 

Beethoven didn’t compose his ninth symphony in an afternoon. Neither did Michaelangelo complete the Sistine Chapel in a week. A masterpiece takes time to develop.

I know that God’s developing me now right now.

But gosh, sometimes I just can’t wait.

I like to think I am an individual with a lot of passion and drive. I push myself to grow personally. Just like almost everyone else I know, I want to make a difference in the world.

You may be like me and struggling with where you are at sometimes. You might want to just skip all the menial stuff and get to the big stuff. The really important things.

The parable of the Talents

In the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30), there is a story about a master who had three servants. He gave one servant five talents (a form of currency), to one he gave two, and to the last he gave one. The master left and said he would come back. While he was gone, the first servant invested his five talents and doubled it. The second servant invested his two talents and doubled it as well. The third servant took his single talent and hid it.

Upon the master’s arrival, the first servant presented his increase of five talents and the master was pleased. The second did the same.

To them both, he said

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

But the third brought nothing more than his single talent and the master was disappointed.  The master said,

You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Here’s the deal

We’re given talents ourselves.

Maybe not the literal cash that was given to each servant to manage, but we’re given interests, skills, and resources for sure. What we do with those gifts makes a difference on what other things God entrusts us with (Oh my word, I just ended a sentence with a preposition).

Yes, I’m impatient about the future. But that’s where Mastering the Simple comes in. To Master the Simple is to be “faithful over a little.”

I may not be the servant who was given five talents to manage. I may not even be the servant given two talents. But if I’m only given one talent or even half a talent, I want to double it so that God is pleased with my management over a little.

Be faithful over a little.

Can’t wait to graduate? Be faithful in your homework and it will pay off. Want to be in management? Be faithful in your work, have a good attitude, invest in relationships and strive for providing value.

Don’t waste your time of preparation. Be faithful over the little you have. God certainly doesn’t promise fame and success if you are faithful in it.

But rest assured, He will continue to use you in significant ways. 

I need to keep plugging away in the life that He has given me. I may be in a time of preparation which is that much more reason to double what He has given me right now!

What talents do you have (maybe literally) that you can be faithful in right now?

Comment down below and give this a like if you found value in it!

-Caleb

God Came in a Christmas Whisper​

Merry Day-After-Christmas! People get through Christmas day and start looking towards the new year and everything that it brings. Same with me! But today, I write a Christmas post because Christmas isn’t over (and yesterday was pretty busy). In fact, we celebrate Christmas all the way through January 6th because that’s when the church celebrates the coming of the wise men (Matthew 2).

Our church has a Christmas day service. In the sermon, our pastor made note of the significance of Christ’s name “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He talked about the Jews’ expectations of Jesus. They thought He would be a mighty warrior. They thought He would save them from the rule of the Romans. But none of that happened. In fact, Jesus was nothing like what they expected. Expectations are what connect this to another Bible story.

In the weeks running up to Christmas, our pastor has been working through a sermon series titled “God With Us.” In one sermon, he connected the story of Christmas with the story of Elijah.

Elijah was just coming off the major high of showing God’s power to King Ahab and his false prophets. But when threatened with death, Elijah fell into utter despair until God spoke to him about God’s plan.

God spoke to elijah

Here is 1 Kings 19:12-14:

And He said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Despite God’s power, He showed up in one of the quietest ways. Something so quiet that if Elijah hadn’t been listening, he may have missed God’s voice.

The whisper

Pastor’s connection was that when Jesus was born, God whispered because when someone whispers, they have to be close by. I thought I’d take it just a slightly different direction.

When Jesus was born, He was the whisper.

Jesus was nothing like what the people expected. Figuratively speaking, they thought He was going to come in as a mighty wind, a trembling earthquake, and a blazing fire. They thought He was going to wipe out the Romans and establish Himself as the King with a huge display of power and glory.

Jesus’ actions fit the expectations of the people so poorly that they didn’t even think He might be the King (of course, except for the few to whom He revealed Himself).

A whisper seems pretty humble compared to wind, an earthquake, and fire. Compared to what they thought the Christ would be like, Jesus was the whisper. Not only was He introduced to the world as a baby, but He wasn’t even born in a house. He spent His first night as a baby in a barn.

He wasn’t welcomed into the world by wealthy people. The first people to meet their savior was a bunch of shepherds. Those who weren’t listening for the whisper completely missed it.

Different Expectations

In so many ways, I find Jesus changes my understanding of how He works. We make movies that emphasize strength and power. Yet God’s entrance into humanity didn’t garner any newspaper headlines. It was just a simple whisper.

As a long time follower of Christ, I always appreciate a new perspective on a piece of Scripture I know well. Not that this has to change your perspective on Christmas. I merely wanted to share because it gave me a different understanding of what Jesus’ birth really meant in the story woven through Scripture.

Merry Christmas, all!

-Caleb

Quit Making Your Goals Into God’s Goals

My goals are regularly self-focused. How can I make myself better? How can I increase my physical strength? What about my finances? What ways can I improve my relationships with others?

However, what I really haven’t considered is this: As a Christian, I claim that God is the Lord of my life.

But I haven’t asked God what He wants my goals to be for the coming year.

I routinely ask God to give me guidance for long-term direction. You know, general stuff like where to live and where to work. But not the smaller day to day goals.

Previous year’s Goal Strategy

It’s like this (a paraphrase of my goal blog post from last year):

“Ok, goal-making, here we come. I’ve got a goal to lift this much weight by the end of December. I’ve got to finish writing my book by the end of June. We plan to save this much for Bailey’s education by the end of October. And I plan to read this many books. Oh! And God, to satisfy you and make me feel better about myself, I’ll read this many spiritual learning books, listen to this many sermons, and read my Bible every day. Capiche?”

To be clear, I am not trying to take anything away from the significance of daily Bible reading, learning from other Christians through sermons and books, or even improving oneself through physical, financial, or personal goals. I believe it is more about the mentality with which we create goals.

Henry Blackaby, the author of Experiencing God, says this about our plans:

“Noah did not call on God to help him accomplish what he was dreaming of doing for God. In Scripture, you never find God asking people to dream up what they want to do for Him. He never urges His people to set impressive goals and generate grand visions for Him and His kingdom.”

The fact is that I tend to dream up things on my own. And to be sure, I ask God to help me accomplish those dreams. I don’t set goals and dream dreams that are out of line with God’s will. At least not on purpose. But I don’t necessarily pursue God as I plan my goals for the coming year.

New Mentality

I am trying to hold my goals for 2019 with open hands for several reasons. First, it is frequently difficult for me to understand what God’s plan is for me and my dreams. Because of that, I want to make goals that are glorifying to Him, but if he wants those goals to change, I don’t want my plan to be so locked-in that I’m not willing to change it to join Him in His work.

Secondly, when my hands are open, He can take the plans out of my hands and replace them with better ones. I wish I could say that’s easy, but it’s not. However, I am attempting to have this attitude.

Quit making your goals into God’s goals! I’m working on it by His grace.

Your Turn!

How do you think we can be glorifying to God as we create goals for our lives? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

-Caleb