Tag Archives: wealth

It’s Private, Keep Out!

What goes through your head when you see the sign KEEP OUT? Are you perhaps curious to see whats being hidden or protected? Or do you obediently go on your way, not giving it a second thought?

Whether or not we are curious to see what might be behind the sign, we all have a similarly private space within ourselves that we keep some people out of. A space for deeper reflection, wonderings and secrets, a treasure trove of inner self awareness.

For some of us we share our secrets and depths generously, perhaps sometimes too generously,  for others we are more guarded and in turn sometimes lonely. Whichever we relate too, who we let into that sacred space is important to us. It’s in that place where deep change can occur depending on what is spoken of.

There is a story of a man who lived in ancient times who we shall call Ben! He had obtained many things in his life, property, money, status, he had everything he could ever want, except one thing. Like many whose happiness is found in looking younger, the reality of ageing and the finality of it all bothered him, and so he craved what he did not have, the ability to live forever. This was his deep desire reflected in his choices and his motives, to become ‘someone of greatness’.

So Ben finds himself before Jesus with a question. For Ben as well as us the reality is the same, at some point we all leave, death is inevitable and inescapable. We all become separated from that which we have earned, gathered, or built up and from that which we love.

Ben decided at some point the next step on his journey for greatness was a spiritual one. Luckily it just so happened that Jesus was around when Ben was alive. So he began his conversation with Jesus, with the question; how can I inherit eternal life?

Jesus spoke with clarity and conviction, Ben would have to give up his wealth and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. Sadly for him this was too high a price to pay! For Ben, his keep out sign was around his connection with wealth. He was not prepared to let Jesus into that area of his life. Ben’s identity was wrapped up in his wealth and pride of all he had accumulated.

So the conversation stutters to a halt and the man who would become The Rich Young Ruler leaves, challenged to the core of his being. What happened next? Well we don’t know, perhaps what attracted him to Jesus in the first place over time made him willing to go that extra distance. Or perhaps Ben and all his possessions walked off into the sunset together.

Like the man in the story I wonder what things you are keeping Jesus from, what areas are simply off limits to the divine? Often it’s attitudes we don’t want to deal with, or fear of what might be challenged in us. It is fear that makes us put up such keep out signs. Fear of what if, or what might happen, fear of making new friends, sharing our faith, taking a challenge, starting something new, stepping into Gods call on our lives.

The rich young ruler could never have taken his wealth into heaven with him, yet was too afraid of what he would be without it. Today prayerfully consider what keep out signs do you have in your life? Why they are there and how might you benefit if you take them down, when it’s Jesus who is knocking at your door.

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Discover Your Place In Heaven

As we know the ministry of Jesus reflects the kingdom of God, through that ministry and life we discover numerous metaphors for describing His kingdom, for example mustard seed, treasure in a field, a sheep being found, to name three.

You and I realise, unless we have been living under a rock with nothing else to read apart from scripture. That the world we live in doesn’t reflect such values, the lost coin is rarely found, the treasure in the field, once Un-earthed, isn’t sold to help the poor, but instead lines someones pockets, or stands behind bullet proof glass in some museum somewhere in the world. Moreover, sadly we do not often celebrate the achievements of others no matter how small they’re perceived to be. Which unfortunately stands in contrast to the women’s celebration at finding her lost coin.

This got me thinking, as we know, kingdom values are in contrast to earths, then what might the kingdom be like when we get in? Where would I be placed? What would the place Jesus prepares for me look like? We might be in for a surprise!

 As we cross the threshold of Heaven, and Jesus thanks us for all the amazing things we have done in his name. We might discover that our earthly greatness, wealth and status might count for nothing, perhaps we will be the servants of those who have served us. Moreover perhaps we will be the ones living in the eternal equivalent of a rundown house, a cardboard box, a draughty door way. Whilst they who suffered in one lifetime, are offered an eternity of wonder.

Jesus’ challenge to the rich man was to give all he has to the poor and follow him. because all he had, got in the way of following. We might find that those with least in this world might have most in eternal dimensions, because they lived life light interms of materiality and were rich beyond measure in the things that sustained them, nourish them and help them across the threshold into Gods kingdom and beyond.

Let us live light with what we have, holding what we have in the perspective of Gods kingdom, where the last will be first, and the least get most, the last man that turns up for work gets paid the same as the first, where the thief on the cross gets a pass into eternity. Because it is possible to start over, it is possible for a leopard to change his spots it is possible to be and truly know you are forgiven.

Finally, I Believe that Heaven will be so much more than we can comprehend, when things about hierarchy, And who gets what won’t matter any more. Today let us share more the kingdom values, and honour the least with all have, lift up the brokenhearted with all of the love we have received, find the lost with all of the resources at our fingertips. And celebrate the little wins as much as the big ones.

Building Family Wealth

‘Why don’t we spend as much time together as a family anymore’? Their son asked staring up at his parents.

Mum had just taken some extra hours at work and dad had assumed increased work responsibilities, meaning that he was busier than ever. The family all loved where they lived and the increase in  income meant they could save a bit more, which was a real blessing. However, it wasn’t apparently what their children wanted. The question hung in the air and its truth and challenge caught the parents by surprise.

By the time the parents had formed an answer for their son, he was already onto the next thing, happily playing. Yet for mum and dad the challenge rested heavily on their hearts, and so internal intentions created to be more available, more present for both there son and daughter.

Its all very easy to make promises in the heat of the moment, as they had done not to the children but to themselves, to make things better. How actually could this work in practice in the cold light of day.

Looking at the schedule what realistically could be cut? Because work still demanded what it demands and then there is the child activities, cleaning the house, walking the dog, and hobbies, actually spending child free quality time together to keep the marriage strong, it all becomes too much, to huge and impossible.

For such a schedule to work there are perhaps some options that immediately come to mind that might help:

Firstly become very wealthy so you wouldn’t need to work, but the kicker is, that you would have to work even longer hours to get rich, which kind of defeats the object! Unless you win the lottery of course! Secondly one half of the couple stays at home, but then for us at least we couldn’t afford to well, live!

Thirdly do nothing, and let the distance grow between the family members. When the kids leave home, the fear might be though that for the children at least, they are actually just leaving a house where they lived once with some people they used to know.

Lastly live sacrificially. Put personal dreams to one side for now, store them away carefully and lovingly for tomorrow. There will be moments for those dreams when the kids are in bed, or the children are away or grown up. Then you can reward yourself and perhaps those dreams will blossom. For now its their time, these little ones we love and are loved by in return, that journey with us and for a short time who dwell with us.

Children will still demand the latest thing, or say to every advert on TV, “I want that.” But time is what they need, time to be loved and be known, time to flourish and be shaped by the wisdom of experience and a parents unconditional love. In that they become wealthy in what matters.

So as well as saving for christmas and birthdays, why not deposit time each day into the lives of your loved ones. The interest that will accrue will be far more than you could imagine, and you will become rich in away that truly matters.

A wise clergyman told me once, that despite a busy working week, he ring-fenced time with his children after school until after tea. I have committed to this and one week in, not every day but most days I have managed this. As the children were dropped off at school, my eldest asked, ‘daddy can we play lego after school’? ‘Of course’, I said. He looked at me again as if to make sure, ‘building stuff, together’? I smiled “yes we can”.

For him and our daughter they look forward with renewed enthusiasm for what we might be doing together after school as a family, indeed as we do. That is a measure of success long may it continue for this season and beyond as they grow and find their wings.

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