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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3 Strategies to Solve Paralyzing Decisions

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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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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!

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

Why I Don’t Live a Life of Great Faith

As my economics professor spoke to our class, she taught us a very simple principle: opportunity cost. 

That is, for every opportunity that an individual takes, there is something for which they’re missing out. If a man purchased a sports car, the cost may be that he lost the opportunity to put a downpayment on a house for his wife. Sorry, but that white Corvette with accents of black looked so good.

It’s the same with time. If a student chooses to watch a college football game on a Saturday afternoon, the cost is that he (ok, it was me) loses the opportunity to prepare for a test on Monday. This raised an important question recently.

What is the opportunity cost of not following God and living a life of great faith?

Bailey and I have been reading a section of the Bible almost every day for the past year and a half. The other day, we read through Hebrews 11 which was a bit of a coincidence because the book I was reading at the time was Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.

I’ve told many people that this has been the deepest book I’ve ever read (aside from the Bible). It discusses quite a bit about faith and how our faith grows as we experience God firsthand.

Check out Hebrews 11:32-34,

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

It documents the acts of many men and women of faith. These people accomplished absolutely unbelievable things because of the work God did in their lives.

It made me realize that I don’t think I am living a life of great faith. 

I have a good wife with a good job and a good apartment. I don’t have issues at work. I don’t have many stresses personally. We don’t have financial difficulties. But almost nothing in my life requires great faith.

I know for a fact that I’ve become comfortable. That’s what scares me because in Sunday morning Bible study this week, we talked about the danger of comfort and where that can lead us in our personal and spiritual lives.

I think of myself as being an introvert. So staying comfortable in what I know is important to me. But regret takes so many people at the end of life and the last thing I want is to see the opportunity cost of my decisions to not live a life of great faith.

One thing that God spoke to me as I was reading Experiencing God was this: potentially the reason I do not feel like I live a life of great faith is because I am missing opportunities He gives and missing His voice on a regular basis. 

I am trying to combat this by God’s grace and with His strength. One way I am doing this is by getting up early with Bailey to read our Bible in the morning (when we’re more alert) and invest a bit of time in prayer. My prayer is that we open our hearts to God’s work and that He brings opportunities that require of us great faith. And if this is a training period for something bigger, so be it.

How do you listen to God? What are you doing right now that requires a great amount of faith? Just comment below and I will engage with you!


What if it Isn’t Economically Viable to Love Thy Neighbor (or Help Refugees)?

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is what the Bible says. And it’s what keeps ringing in my head as I argue with myself. Many of you know that there is a caravan of thousands upon thousands of people traveling up through Mexico from countries to the South, claiming they seek protection from the poverty, gang violence and general danger in their countries.

What are we supposed to do?

I have two conflicting arguments in my head. The first is this: I, as a Christian, am to love people with Christ’s love. I am to clothe those who need clothed, feed those who need fed, visit those who need visited. Therefore, it certainly seems reasonable to accept those who need help. Here’s the second argument.

What if it isn’t economically viable to settle refugees in our country? 

This year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) came out with a study detailing the cost of settling refugees in America. They said that in the first 5 years of a refugee’s time in America, it costs the taxpayers just under $80,000. This is per refugee and adds up to about $1.8 billion annually. This is an astronomical cost to the average American. And if we just look at the 7000+ people working their way up Mexico, if we let all of them into the States, that alone would cost over $560 million just in the first 5 years.

So what’s the solution? Do we take them in and bite the cost or leave them out because we can’t handle the financial load? 

As much as I don’t want to say it, this isn’t economically sustainable. Shoot, Americans aren’t even financially sustaining themselves. Herein lies my problem and I want to know what you think.

I personally think that we are called to love people as Christ loved us. He sacrificed on the cross for us and we are to sacrifice for others. But what if we have nothing to sacrifice? How can we love others (especially those in need from other countries) even when we can’t provide for them?

In 1 Timothy 5, when the apostle Paul talks about an individual who doesn’t provide for his own as “worse than an unbeliever,” does that only apply to the family unit or does it apply to providing for our country as well?

I do not know the answer. 

I think that we can certainly change laws and policies to give us more capability as a country to help those in need. If we merely lived by the “if one doesn’t work, he shall not eat” policy (1 Thessalonians 3:10), that alone would decrease the number of people who live on food stamps and government welfare. Certainly there are people who truly need the help to get back on their feet but many don’t.

If we can control spending on a national and individual level, that would work wonders for the system. If we as households paid off all debt, that would economically boost our nation’s prosperity and allow more financial room for helping and aiding refugees.

And there’s certainly a lot to say about entering a country legally, obtaining all the necessary work permits and abiding as a functioning member of society, even without citizenship.

I must admit, I fall drastically short of the command to love my neighbor, even the one that physically lives next door. We’re not even talking about people from neighboring countries.

But that command comes straight from Jesus. I don’t want to add to or take away from what He said on the subject but I’m curious what you think. I really want some opinions!

What do you think about allowing refugees into America? What do you think is a sustainable method of helping them? 

Do you think we can love the refugees even if we don’t allow them into our country? 

Please, comment below what your opinion is. I will be fascinated to learn more perspectives.

-Caleb

Why I Haven’t Written About Faith in a Long Time

Two and a half years ago, I was entering my fifth and final year of college at The Ohio State University. It was a tough run and one way I chose to mentally process all my experiences was through writing. I found it a slow, effective process to put my thoughts into coherent sentences (whether or not they were actually coherent).

So, as every rational, busy college student would do, I started a blog. The Buckeye Beacon as I called it. It was going to be the next thing that OSU students would read every week. I even imagined people recognizing me on campus!

A friend of mine, Ethan, would take turns with me writing a blog post every week. It gave our blog a consistent stream of posts while providing us a fun way of sharing thoughts and improving our writing.

We even reached a rather consistent three views a day. Not bad for a couple whippersnapper engineering students.

In May of 2017, I obtained that infamous bachelor degree, then subsequently exited the bachelor scene as I tied the knot with my girlfriend of two years. And I dropped off with my blogging. My Facebook friends actually got a break from Caleb’s stream of consciousness every week.

“He’s like everyone else on Facebook except he has way to much to say in one status update” I could imagine them saying. 

But I had a wife to spend time with every evening after farming my desk for eight hours at my new engineering job. I gave it a break. It didn’t, however, change the fact that writing continued to be an effective way for me to communicate. So, I wrote a book about graduating and entering the real world called Graduated and Clueless.

And I started this blog.

I have had this intense desire ever since I graduated to reach the greatest potential God has for me.

I wanted to grow in my leadership. I wanted to improve my communication both in writing and in speech. I wanted grow in my character and influence. And I wanted to have a consistent avenue through which I could communicate what I am learning and how I’m growing. The only problem is, I had branded The Buckeye Beacon as a spiritual-growth blog. Nothing’s wrong with that until you write about something personal-growth related and no one reads it. What a motivator.

Why not brand a new blog directed only towards personal growth for students and young professionals? Keep them separate. It’s like Church and State in blog form.

Now I had two blogs to write: one for my spiritual growth whenever I had time and one for personal growth every week.

This was when I realized: personal growth involves improving every major part of me. 

For me, Jesus Christ is the one person that affects everything I do. I believe in eternity (both Heaven and Hell) and the power of His blood to save me from my sins. Because of this deep belief, it influences my thoughts and my actions, my pursuits and my motives.

My faith directly affects my growth into who God wants me to be. 

I haven’t written on faith in a long time because I’ve been trying to focus my writing on branding a new blog. I will no longer be blogging at the The Buckeye Beacon but I will be sharing how faith influences me here at Master the Simple. I don’t want to feel like the two subjects I’m writing about are separate. They’re not because the one directly influences the other. Spiritual growth is even more important than personal growth and I will not be afraid to let the two connect.

If you don’t consider yourself spiritual, that’s ok. This blog still focuses on growth personally and professionally. However, my belief is that we are deeply spiritual beings and what I write will be impacted by that belief.

Thread Quest:

Do you allow your beliefs to impact the other areas of your life?

I certainly struggle with it. But I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb