Elaine and I recently watched a few episodes of “The Borgias”, a Netflix series that depicts the story of Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo Borgia) who with his family was suspected of many crimes including adultery, incest, bribery, theft, and murder. The depiction of the times helped me to understand a bit more about the churches historical views on usury (lending money with interest), which I found myself reading about and meditating on this morning. For most of church history, the lending of money with any interest was considered a sin. In modern society we understand intimately that money has time value, and functioning credit markets with rates of interest serve a vital role in helping people in all strata of society to improve their lot. If you look at the original verse on usury from the Bible, God relays to Moses and the Israelites that “if you lend money to any of my people who are in need, do not charge interest as a money lender would.” Note that this is specific to lending to the underprivileged, and the practice of lending at the time “as a money lender would” meant charging exorbitantly high interest rates. A modern translation might yield “don’t rip off poor folks.” But in a world that lacked transparency, where those with means could take advantage of those without, it was just simpler to say “all lending with interest is wrong.” Dear God, it’s so important to have a relationship with you, and not to rely solely on the wisdom of others. There is of course a role for godly council, and you call us to honor authority even though those in authority are often corrupt. But we love because you first loved us. If we waited for you to honor us when we were perfect, we’d be holding our breath for a really long time. People are not perfect, leaders are not perfect, but you are perfect, and it is in you that we trust. Thank you for giving us the gift of relationship with you. In your son’s name, Amen.
“Another word for temptation is options.” – Mike Bickle Over the last few days I’ve hit writer’s block for my vlog. As I made attempts to identify its root, I noticed that I have lots of options for different posts sitting in my folder. So I make a bit of headway on one post, but when I get a bit stuck I have so many other ideas waiting that I get distracted on another one. But all the switching back and forth grinds my momentum to a halt until I have no more steam to charge ahead with anything. In Luke 18, Jesus tells the parable of a persistent widow who harasses a judge for justice against her adversary. She was desperate. She had no other options. So she kept at him and eventually he caved “because she keeps bothering me” and “so that she won't eventually come and attack me!” Jesus told his disciples this parable to “show them they should always pray and not give up.” God thanks for reminding me that you are the only option. I submit all my plans to you and ask that you speak clearly to me on which idea to pursue. In the grand scheme of all that’s going on in the world, this seems so insignificant, but as a loving father I know you take great care in every detail of my well-being. Thank you… in your son’s name, Amen.
Yesterday I spoke to a friend who’s trying to figure out her next steps in work and life, which is proving more difficult with all the uncertainty in the world today. She’s very capable and there is no question in my mind that she will be successful in whatever field she applies herself. At one point in the conversation she said “my path has been relatively straightforward until now, but there are so many directions that I could take especially with the world the way it is. I sometimes wish I had a letter that told me what was going to happen for the next ten years of my life.” Of course I can empathize having felt many times the sense of unease that comes with an uncertain future. But I told her that she actually does have a letter about her future, and it’s really long and really deep! One line from it goes as follows… “For you know the plans I have for you” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11 Dear God, sometimes the world seems peaceful and sometimes it goes bezerk, but even though the world changes, you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. You always have your best in store for us, because you are a loving father and that’s what loving fathers do. I pray for all of us who are struggling with uncertain futures, lost incomes, lost loved ones, and all the issues that come with an uncertain world. But we declare that your plans do not change, and that those plans for us are good. In your son’s name, Amen.