Kevin Singleton told me that I should start a blog, so I figured I would. I have a bunch of things in a file on my computer that God has taught me, so I'll just start posting those here, maybe talk about some of the other cool things that God does occasionally. Oh yeah, and some of my crazy dreams. In any case, it should be good stuff.
Here's an interesting topic to start with, very timely considering I just got a job offer from microsoft (woohoo!).
Love of money vs. having money. Back when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after graduating, I heard a lot of people give talks about the problems with the western church. Most of these talks focused on how the west is overloaded with money and therefore has become complacent. This is by and large true. These talks would then conclude, unless God has explicitly told you to stay in the united states, then assume He wants you to go overseas. For some reason they wouldn't mention actually seeking out the will of God, perhaps because they assumed that nobody would really bother to check with God if they did. So if you aren't listening to God, they perhaps reasoned, you might as well be not listening to God in another country rather than not listening to God in this one. Nevermind how that might produce a Works mentality, result in many people going overseas who shouldn't, to counterbalance the people who stay here who should rather be going overseas, and not really doing anything about the core problem, which is ignorance of God and lack of concern for the things close to God's heart. (For the record, I have since spoken to one of those people and without me bringing it up, he said that he wasn't worried about me because it seemed to him like I was seeking God's will. So I'm just talking above about how it *seemed* to me, even if that wasn't what they were really saying)
So I listened to these things, and prayed vigorously, and declared that yes, I would give up everything and become a long-term missionary. Since I had heard God tell me that I am a teacher, I decided that I would thusly become a teacher in a foreign country, like perhaps China, as cover for missionary work. Not all that bad of a plan, if it weren't for the fact that I probably wouldn't be very good at missions work and that it really doesn't seem like God's plan for my life. At least it seemed like it was at the time, and I really was seeking out the will of God for my life, so I'm sure I would/will find His will for me sooner or later. God very well might tell me to go do missions later, but that's speculative.
Anyway, one factor that played into my decision was to prove to everyone, both human and God, that I really was serious about living for God. I could go around telling my family and people on campus that I'm going to devote myself to long-term missions, and therefore it would become undeniable that I was serious about being christian and that I hadn't simply "christianized" my regular life by throwing in once-a-week church services; that I was allowing myself to be radically transformed in irreversable ways. I got to listen to many sermons about the complacency of the church, and every time I heard one I would check with myself about whether or not I truly was complacent. Most of the time my answer would come back, "no, you aren't complacent". But looking at this issue so many times, I was slowly starting to think, "maybe I really am complacent. I mean, I haven't done what the early church did which is give up all their possessions." So I then decided, I could prove that I really wasn't like the rest of the complacent church by becoming a missionary, because nobody could possibly care about money if they went overseas as a missionary. This brings up the relevant point; love of money vs. having money.
Simply giving up money doesn't get rid of your love of money. Like Paul subtly refers to in 1 Cor 13, you can give up your life and be martyred but not have love. Like Jesus talks about, you can pray, give alms to the poor, or go to church, and do all of these things out of selfish ambition. All you have to do is simply do them for yourself to prove your righteousness to others, and you're doing it as sin. Jesus says love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself. That is, you can be a missionary and still love money. You're simply denying yourself something you love as works, to prove to others that you really are righteous. You're doing it to earn something from God. Now this is all fine if the reason you're doing it is love of God, then surely God really will reward you. He has said as much in many places. However, if the reason you're doing it is to work for a reward on your own merit and not because you have broken your love of money, then you're doing it in your own will and in your own power, and the love of God is not in you.
On the other hand, you really can have a lot of money and still be righteous because the love of God is in you. Just look at David for an example of that. So we see that the problem, as the bible explicitly states, is the love of money, not money itself. If you simply give up money without giving up love of money, then you're still in your sin. If you give up your love of money, then it doesn't matter if you have money or not, either way you're living righteously and God will reward you either way.
I know that many people use this sort of thinking as cover for their complacency, but the way to combat that is not to simply say, "anyone who loves God must go overseas." I recall something about different body parts in 1 Cor 13. What we need to do is say, "anyone who loves God, LOVE GOD." Everything else will work out if we can just learn to love God.