Giving Part 1: My Next Door Neighbor

The next few blogs are excerpts from a study I wrote a few years ago on financial stewardship.  This was a study initially written for youth, but is relevant to all Christians.  I am hoping this first blog will help us reorient our lives on Christ as we see the big picture of eternity.  When this happens, we can begin to have a renewed perspective on money.  A perspective that is eternal, healthy, and gospel-centered.  In the posts following this one, I will answer two questions:

1.  Why should I give?  

2.  How should I give?

My Next Door Neighbor

As a fan of the 90s television show Seinfeld, when I think of a next door neighbor I think of Kramer.  Kramer was always coming over to his neighbor Jerry’s apartment for anything he could get from him.  Without asking, he would eat his food, watch his TV, use his table, his shaving cream or anything else he could find.  When Jerry was at home, Kramer was always just a door away and would visit frequently.  Kramer was the type of neighbor who did not have to be invited in order to visit Jerry’s apartment.  There was never a time when Kramer was not expected to make an appearance at Jerry’s apartment.  Even when Jerry did not want Kramer at his apartment, he would often come anyway because he had his own key.

Similarly, death is like Kramer.  He can come at any time.  There is not a day when death cannot take us.  Death does not have to be invited in order to come over because he has his own key.  Death is just one door over from your apartment, but unlike the way Jerry treats Kramer, you don’t even acknowledge death as your neighbor.  You walk past his door everyday but never think this will be the day he will visit.  You think if you ignore him long enough he will just move away.  But in reality, he has not leased the apartment next to yours, he has bought it. Because of this, you know he’s not moving, so you better be prepared to meet him.  

Consider this parable that Jesus taught in Luke 12:  

 “And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’”

In this parable, Jesus tells a story of a farmer who is very wealthy and uses all of his wealth for himself.  He sees success, satisfaction, and total security in everything he has acquired.  He figures there is nothing more to life than to take care of himself and relax, eat, drink, and be merry.  But like many of us, this man has false hope and security in his wealth.  He is also very selfish with his wealth due to the false hope and security it brings him.

No Security in Wealth

When it’s time to die, wealth will not keep us alive.  There is no security in wealth or any material thing in this world.  The only security we have is in Jesus Christ, and tragically, this man did not profess faith in him.  Author and Pastor Warren Weirsbe writes about this man, “The man lived without God and died without God, and his wealth was but an incident in his life. God is not impressed with our money.”  

When my sister died at the young age of 18, I realized that I was not bulletproof anymore.  We all live with a false sense of security until that imaginary rug gets ripped from underneath us.  We think, “Death is what happens to other people’s family members, not mine.”  And we certainly do not believe anything bad could ever happen to ourselves.  When we believe this nonsense it is easy to give more value to our money than it deserves.  Without an eternal perspective on life, we will become like the farmer, becoming overly concerned with riches we can attain while on earth.  What a sad existence it must be to live as if this earth and our time spent here is all there is.

So snap into reality.  With death as your next door neighbor, the only way we can be prepared to meet him is not by obtaining wealth.  The only way to be prepared is to have already met the Conqueror beforehand.  And good news, Jesus has conquered death long ago.


We will continue tomorrow answering the question: “Why should I give?”

Think eternal,


Grieving Death and the Hope of Christmas

I remember pretty vividly the Christmas of 2007.  Not because of the gifts, the food, or anything like that. But because it was the last Christmas I had with my little sister before she died the next year. Since then it’s been tough to have Christmas. Christmas was always a time to get together as a family and have a good time, but when someone is missing from the family it is very difficult for that to happen.

What about you?

Maybe you have experienced the same thing. You recently had a sibling, mother or father, or maybe even a child pass away, and you wonder how you are going to make it through Christmas without them.  

So what is the answer to this grief?  How do we handle it?

This time of year we celebrate the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We hear this story every Christmas.  But every Christmas I wonder if we have allowed this to penetrate our hearts.

Let’s consider this from Matthew 1:

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

God with us!  

This is the very best news we can hear.  Jesus would come as God in the flesh to dwell among his people and save them!  He would come to experience everything his people would experience.  The pain, hurt, tragedy, and even death would not be lost on him.  This means the hurt and pain you are experiencing during this season, he has experienced.  Not only has he experienced it, he has defeated all of it through his life, death, and resurrection,

In light of this, how do we handle the grief during this time of year?

Knowing this does not mean that we do not grieve for our loved ones.  But as Christians, we grieve with hope.  The hope that all things will be made new one day in Jesus Christ.  

Why is the birth of Jesus so important for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one?  

Because it shows how much God loves you.  In the midst of trials we can often feel that God is so distant and he could not possibly love us.

In his book, In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado writes about the birth of Jesus, “Stepping from the throne, he removed his robe of light and wrapped himself in skin: pigmented, human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He whom angels worship was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on cow’s hay.”

God saw his hurting people on earth and did not stay distant.  He saw the low, the dying, the weak, the poor, the broken, and those filled with grief and despair, and he said, “I am going down there to heal them.” So he put on skin and came to heal us.  He did this not because we deserved it, but because he loves us more than we know.

So during this Christmas season, I hope you will remember the magnitude of the birth of Jesus.  Yes, it is still going to be a difficult Christmas without your loved one, but you are not hopeless.  You are loved and have ultimate hope and victory in Jesus Christ.

You are loved,



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