Thursday, December 3, 2015

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).
We’re in the thick of the Christmas shopping season. This timeless quote from Jesus is particularly appropriate.
For the Jewish audience hearing this 2,000 years ago they knew the ‘heart’ as the seat of thought and intention and decision. This understanding is reflected in The Message Bible’s interpretation of this phrase: “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
While lots of us like to feel that it’s God’s Spirit that guides our hearts, if we’re being totally candid, more often than not this also includes the question lurking somewhere in the shadows of our souls: are able to fully trust in God’s Spirit?
For me to have this kind of full trust? When I really think about it, this kind of trust comes only after I know what I’m exchanging in order to get what? The habits born from our life experiences lead us to look at this as: “what’s in it for me?”
We come by this honestly – it’s in the big and small moments of life. Every day we come face to face with decisions that have us working out the angles and taking as much as we can into account before coming to a conclusion.
My wife and I bought a house, and while there was this “God moment” that led us to this particular house – we also considered the down payment and mortgage, in exchange for trusting that the neighborhood and the property values were solid.
We also find these decisions in the common place things; while standing at the fast food lunch counter – is the meal deal really is the better deal?
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ child, what do you suppose Christmas might do for you if you were to consider the quote from Jesus alongside this quote: “A man with money is no match against a man on a mission.” That’s from Doyle Brunson, a world championship poker player.
In weaving together thoughts from our High Priest Jesus and poker player Brunson, what life-giving understandings might the Christmas season hold for us if we dedicate ourselves to a heart-filled mission? A mission driven by thought and intention and decision as we follow Jesus who insists that God’s Kingdom - not the quest for stuff - is to shape the world.
What if we realized that Jesus gives us permission to not have to worry about buying gifts just to keep up with up with everybody else? I suspect that you would find great freedom from all of the anxieties that come with trying to keep up.
And beyond this; what if we were we set aside the question “what’s in it for me?” and instead replace that by sincerely asking “What’s in it for them?”
Perhaps this means re-directing some of your Christmas spending to homeless shelters, food pantries, veterans groups, or a church (our church is one of these) that works with the least, the last and the lost. 
How about as we shift our focus to "what's in it for them?" we think about the person receiving our aid…to imagine what life is like when it’s filled with tumult and always scrambling from hour to hour and day to day?
As our thoughts ripple outwards, we need to realize that this does have the power to get others to look at our actions, and it can cause them ponder: if this is not about themselves – then what and or who is it about?
And to realize that maybe this is what they ought to try to keep up with.

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mike

P.S. At a recent Presbytery meeting I got to talk about what excites us about our future . Check it our here: