Take Another Look

When I was 7 years old I got my first pair of glasses and I hated them! I didn’t like the way I looked. I didn’t like the jokes and name calling. I didn’t like the inconvenience. I didn’t like being different than most of my classmates. What I DID like was that I could see! Those new lenses gave me new vision and put things in focus. I could read better and see the ball coming more clearly. I could avoid obstacles easier on my bike and I was more confident in my abilities when I wore them, but I struggled to wear them because of the negatives that I perceived, so I did not embrace them.
At the age of 11 I got my first pair of contact lenses. I loved them! I could now enjoy the benefits of improved vision without anyone knowing it. I could avoid most of the perceived negatives and enjoy the positives.
Cataracts form gradually as our eyes get older, and 9 in 10 Americans develop them by the time they are 65. The good news is that cataract surgery is one of the safest, most common, and most effective procedures performed today. Cataract surgery is a routine procedure that involves removing the natural lens in the eye that has become cloudy and replacing it with an artificial lens. There are some perceived negatives. What if the lens isn’t correct? What if the new lenses cause other issues like eye irritation, halo effects, or I chose the wrong lens and I cannot adjust to it? What if something goes wrong and I am blind in that eye?
This past month, I had the opportunity to have this surgery. I now have new lenses that help me see more clearly. Faith is believing that God is in control, and it is taking a step that acts on that belief. I have to be willing to take hold of what God has provided.
Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I feel like I need help to see more clearly. What is God trying to tell me? Is this really what it means? I might be embarrassed to ask someone if I understand it correctly. Perhaps I will just avoid that topic or wait for someone else to answer. Maybe I will Google it. 
Such is the case when I first read, I Chronicles 29:11-12 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”
You see, I believed intellectually what these verses say. I could clearly read and understand them. But when I looked deeper, was I living like I believed it? Did my actions match my belief? If I truly believe that “all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours,” then why do I talk about my car and my house and my family as if they are mine? My retirement account, my gifts and abilities, my reputation, my image, my plans and dreams, all of these things would not be mine, but God’s.
I came to realize that in fact these things were not mine. They belong to God. However, God had given them to me to steward during my life. I was to be His money manager, His reputation manager, His manager for the family He placed me in, His manager for the abilities He gave me, His manager for the property He has me living in.
I needed to look at these things through a new lens. Not the lens of the American culture that I grew up in. Not through the lens of “mine,” but through the lens of “His.”
The verse goes on to say that riches and honor come from Him. Who am I looking to be the provider for my family? Is it me or God? Not that I don’t have to do my part, but He is the ultimate provider. I have to look to Him and His plan first. Only then can I ask about what my part is in His plan. For example, He provides my job, but I need to be faithful to show up to work. 
For most of us, the primary problem is failing to consistently recognize God’s part; that riches and honor come from Him. We totally forget about His part and think that we have to turn what He gives us into much more, but He doesn’t need us. He allows us to participate in His plan. Our part is stewardship of His resources. I Corinthians 4:2 says, “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” While we are to be found faithful in handling His Word and His resources, I am focusing on being a steward of His resources that He has entrusted to me.
Let’s briefly look at 3 Principles of Faithfulness. First, if we waste possessions, God may remove us as stewards. Luke 16:1-2 reads, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’” Being a steward, or manager, is a big responsibility. We need to take this responsibility seriously. While we can all do better, we need to strive to be found faithful. Second, we must be faithful in the little things. It is rare that anyone can make a dramatic change in any area of life. It requires a series of smaller changes or actions. Actions that we can practice, that become part of our routine and who we are. I have heard it said that if you want to know how your child will take care of their first car, look at how they took care of their bicycle. Finally, we must be faithful with the possessions of others. Are you careful with your employer’s office supplies and travel expenses? Do you waste water and electricity? Some people are not entrusted with more because they have been unfaithful with the possessions of others (see Luke 16:12). God promises to do His part; our part is to be faithful.
I was taught that I was to give 10%, a tithe, to God and the rest was mine. However, this is not the case. God owns all 100% of what He has entrusted to me to manage. Both time and money are 100% His. How do I spend the time He has given me and how do I spend the money He has given to me? These are questions that reveal much about our relationship with Him. 
As I take a fresh look at life through my new lenses, I would encourage you to take a fresh look at your relationship with God through His Word. Do the actions of your life demonstrate that you believe the Bible? Ask those around you if they see contradictions. Where do you struggle to believe? Talk with someone about the areas in which you struggle. Your pastor, GC, DNA group are there to support you, take advantage of their insight to help you get a fresh look, through a new lens.
Heartland Church’s Finance Team’s primary responsibility is to oversee the church’s finances, budget and manage risk for the Church as a collection of Covenant Members. A subset of that responsibility is to help each individual Covenant Member explore and learn how to take steps of action in their faith walk to see more clearly God’s design for them as stewards of God’s gifts. Whether you are 15, 55 or 95 years of age, we are here to serve you in this area. If often surprises Christians when they discover just how much the Bible talks about money. In fact, there are more than 2300 verses on money, wealth and possessions. It was Jesus most talked about topic. It is my hope and prayer that you will set aside any perceived negatives and take steps of faithful actions in this area of your life. A set of new lenses can change your outlook completely and bring everything into focus. Feel free to ask us questions about Heartland financial matters and personal financial matters. We are here to serve you as we serve our risen Lord.

Because He Lives,

Bill Prichard
For The Heartland Finance Team