Monday, January 18, 2010


Frugality--Webster defines it as "economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful." I have pondered not just the term but also the lifestyle for quite some time now. I believe with all my heart it is the better way to live. The issue then becomes, exactly how does "living frugally" look to those around me...and to me.

At first I thought living frugally, or living simply, meant denying myself of all things extra. If my shoes had no tread on the bottom (which they do not) but have no holes in them, then they do not need to be replaced. My daughter disagrees vehemently with this by the way. She has been pressuring me for months to buy a new pair of shoes.
"Why?" I ask her. "There is nothing wrong with these."
"Mom," she replies, "If it is raining you almost fall. There is nothing left on the bottom of those shoes. Do you feel me pushing on the sole?"
"They keep my feet dry. That is all that matters."
I still believe my shoes are fine.

Does living frugally mean eating beans and rice and very little meat to not spend as much money? I already do that so if that is part of the concept, I must be on the right track. Or maybe living frugally means making everything from scratch or never eating/ordering out.

Does living frugally mean I tell my son "No" to ALL those extra activities he feels he needs to do. So far this school year we have paid the theater department $210 for his participation in 2 productions; we have paid an audition fee of $20 for All State choir; we have paid over $50 for honor choirs for which he applied and was accepted; we have paid a fee of $20 for tux rental for band; yearbooks will cost over $60; prom will cost close to $100; we have not paid yet but will be required to soon at least $600 for his participation in the exclusive music training program at Macphail in Minneapolis; voice lessons so far for just him have totaled over $200 since July. Come this summer there will be Lone Tree again plus a host of other expenses that come along with having a 17 year old son...who by the way, is so busy with his activities he cannot find time to get or work a job. If I bring this subject up he responds by asking if he should drop leading worship on Wednesdays or Sundays. He knows where to hit. What about the other kids? How do they factor into this? Mr. Gameboy is pretty self sufficient at 20 years old so he doesn't really. But the others still do.

God promises to supply all our needs...not our wants. Do we have a part in this at all? Are we supposed to live frugally in order for God to bless us? I tend to think yes simply because the book of Proverbs has so many verses on money and being wise in our stewardship of it. How, though, after so many years of waste, do we redeem what the "locusts" ate--that is, how do we start anew, the right way, after having spoiled our kids for so long? That is something I certainly do not have an answer least not without a wave of guilt splashing over me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

a debate

A little over a month ago now, a very good friend of mine, a fellow believer, a sister in Christ, became upset with some of my beliefs of the Bible. The issue stemmed from a comment I had made about my back pain. My back pain is caused from a car accident three years ago. I have had several procedures to try to relieve some of the pain but none has worked. My friend encouraged me to go to a woman pastor who claims to have the gift of healing. My response was that while I believe God can heal and occasionally does heal, I didn;t believe that going to a "healer" was the answer. She did not take kindly to my response and some e-mails were exchanged on the topic. I finally decided to drop the subkect--she would not be swayed nor would I. A friend and mentor agreed that this was the best thing to do. Yet, in the weeks that have followed, I have thought often about the issue and have been digging through the Bible as well as archives of good teachers of the Word to enlighten me on the subject. Here is what I have found.

John Macarthur, on his websire Grace to you, has an article on the gifts mentioned in the New testament. He categorizes the gits into two categories--permanent and temporary.

The permanent gifts were those that were used to build up the body of Christ. These gifts are still in existence today. I, however, want to focus on what Macarthur refers to as the temporary gifts. These gifts were given as temporary, and were designed to confirm the words of the apostles and prophets and ceased when their offices ceased.

The temporary gifts are the gifts of miracles, healing and tongues. These were gifts designed for the apostles to use so those they preached to would have physical evidence that they were telling the truth. The New Testament was not written yet so they did not have the Bible for authority...therefore, the apostles needed these things to prove they were legitimately from Christ. Hebrews 2: 3-4 is a reference for this--“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him (the apostles), God also bearing them (the apostles) witness, both with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.“ Certain gifts of the Spirit were specifically for the apostles, for the purpose of confirming the Word and establishing its veracity in the minds of people who had no other standard. There was no written Word of God. The standard of the New Testament was not yet in existence, so signs became the confirmation of the Word.

In the early church, the sign gifts were a necessary adjunct to the preaching and teaching of the apostles and early prophets. In fact, there is no indication anywhere in the New Testament that anybody had these gifts other than by the laying on of hands by the apostles. It was a direct ministry geared to the apostles and the initial prophets of the early church. B. B. Warfield says, “These miraculous gifts were part of the credentials of the Apostles, as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confines them to distinctly the Apostolic church and they necessarily passed away with it."

The church today no longer needs the confirmation that the early church once needed. We do not need miracles as a standard by which we verify somebody’s declaration. We don’t need somebody to stand up and preach, then do a miracle so we will know he is telling the truth. We have another standard--the Word of God. When someone preaches, we can match him to the Word of God. If he does not stand that test, we know that he is not a true teacher, but a false one. We do not need confirming miracles because the Bible is our confirmation.
In Luke 16:31, Abraham told the rich man in Hades, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.“ If the Word of God isn’t sufficient, miracles won’t change a person’s mind. Now that Scripture is complete, it is to be our standard. So, confirming miracles are irrelevant, immaterial, and extraneous.

The New Testament writers knew that the spiritual gift of healing was coming to an end. Even in the latter years of the apostles ministry this gift began to disappear - people who were sick stayed sick!
1) God refused to heal Paul (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
2) Timothy was sick with a probable ulcer (1 Tim. 5:23). Did Paul tell Timothy to go find someone with the gift of healing? No. He told him to “take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake.“ In other words, medicine was on its way in and the gift of healing on its way out.
3) Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20). If Paul had the gift of healing (he had healed previously), would he not have exercise it on behalf of Trophimus?
4) James said to pray for the sick (James 5:13). The book of James was written long before 1 Corinthians. Do you know what he said to do when someone was sick? He didn’t say, “Find the person with the gift of healing.“ Rather James said, “is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.. Is any sick among you? Let him call or the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick“ (Js. 5:13-15). Before 1 Corinthians was ever written, James knew that in years to come, the apostolic gift of healing would be nonexistent. The wisest counsel he could give the church was to seek, by faith, the healing that God offers.

Macarthur also writes about tongues and why the tongues movement today is a false doctrine. That is another issue and one I won't go into in ths entry. I have learned much in my study on healing. I believe that God CAN heal and sometimes God DOES heal but I do not believe we are all entitled to be healed on earth simply because we are Christians. As Pastor Taylor told me one day at church in discussing my back, "Sometimes it is not healing God provides but rather the grace to withstand the ailment. Sometimes that is healing in itself."