In a conversation with my dad the other day he was telling me about his Blue Chip stock portfolio. Blue Chip stocks are highly rated companies that are known to be valuable, established, and stable. One writer says, “A blue chip stock is a stock you’d bring home to meet your parents: It makes a good impression and has the substance to back it up” (O’Shea, 2020). In other words, Blue Chip Stocks are a good investment (think Apple, Google, Disney or Amazon).
As my dad told me more about Blue Chip stocks, often a costly investment, I was surprised to hear that he had invested. But as the conversation progressed he informed me that his portfolio did not include stocks from Apple, Google, or Disney. Instead, his portfolio was a record of generosity investments in the Kingdom of God. His “Blue Chip” portfolio details and outlines the money he’s given to support the cause of Christ. It serves as a reminder that giving to God is the ultimate investment.
And if we are honest, generosity is a tough discipline. It’s easy to get bogged down on our wants and needs. It’s easy to make sure that we have enough money for the vacation home, the hobby, the fancy dinners, or the concerts. Often times, we sacrifice generosity for the sake of things we want.
At church on Sunday, we talked about the Widow who gave 2 small coins in front of Jesus. And instead of belittling this widow for such a small offering, Jesus honors her. He uses her generosity to teach a valuable lesson. He teaches us that generosity is not so much about what comes out of the wallet… But it’s about what stays in the wallet. In other words, what are we holding back from God? Why don’t we give him full access and full authority to our finances?
This is a total elevation of what it means to be generous. It’s not just giving from your surplus but it’s diving into that surplus to the point where you feel it. When the widow dropped in her two coins, she was abandoning everything for God. Nothing stayed in her wallet. She was making an eternal investment because she knew that the SUM of her heart was GREATER than SOME of her possessions. She was investing in the ultimate blue chip stock. She was investing in a Kingdom that is reliable. A kingdom that is stable. A kingdom that is eternal and of the greatest value.
So here’s my encouragement to you… Give till it hurts. Invest in the ultimate Blue Chip stock. Serve with your finances. Ask God for the power and the heart to let go of those things that stay in your wallet and keep you from being generous.
And as a way to hold yourself accountable, maybe consider starting a Blue Chip Portfolio. Keep track of your generosity. Not as a way to boast or become prideful, but as a way to remind yourself of the eternal investments you are making when you decide to be generous.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Where’s your heart? Does Jesus have it? Or is it in your wallet?
In his book Radical, David Platt shares a hair raising story about an Indonesian Tribe and how they discovered Jesus. Years ago the tribe was 100% Muslim when a missionary couple came to share the love of Jesus with them. Not long after their arrival, the couple was captured, murdered, and cannibalized.
You’d think that would be the end of it… But some time later another missionary came to the same tribe and preached the same Gospel. The tribal leaders realized that this was the same story that the previous missionary couple had shared and this time they decided to listen. After they heard about Jesus they believed. Today, there are more than three million Christians among the Batak tribe in Indonesia.
Stories like these don’t make sense. Who in their right mind would give up everything to help people they have never met? Who in their right mind would give up everything knowing that the people they are going to work with killed those who went before them? What kind of unbalanced, crazy, irrational thoughts must be going through their mind in order to make such a careless decision?
We call this crazy because it’s not common today. It’s not often we hear of people who lay down everything to go share Jesus with the world. But it’s exactly what every follower of Jesus has been called into.
Matthew 16:24 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”
I don’t know the missionaries who traveled to the tribe in Indonesia, but I think they understood the words of Jesus pretty plainly. They were prepared and willing to follow Jesus… No matter what.
But getting to that point of devotion and sacrifice is tough. So much of our lives are all about us. We want the big house. The fast car. The prestigious job. The beach house. We want the American Dream. We want comfort. But at the end of my life I don’t think I want people to say, “He lived a comfortable life.” What a way to be remembered.
This is where this call from Jesus comes in because He calls us into so much more than a comfortable life. Jesus calls us into purpose. He calls us into partnering with Him. He calls us into coming alongside Him and bringing the Kingdom of God to "Earth as it is in Heaven." I hope that at the end of my days people say, “He followed Christ. He served radically. He loved boldly.” Because that’s the kind of devotion and sacrifice that Jesus has called us into. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is worth it? You bet.
So I want you to know ahead of time… If you’re serious about following Jesus, it could cost you everything. You’re not guaranteed safety. You’re not guaranteed food or water. You’re not guaranteed the American Dream. Following Jesus requires all of you. So don’t be surprise when things get tough. Expect it.
But expect it knowing the reward is well worth the sacrifice. Death is the worst thing that could happen to us. And if we die, then rest assured that you have Christ for eternity. He’s promised to be with us until the end of the age.
Full disclosure… He requires full surrender.
And He’s worth it.
I hate snakes. Like more than anything in the world. They are the physical representation of evil. They stand for all that’s wrong in the world. And if they were sent into the pits of hell to never be seen again, I would rejoice. When I stumble upon a snake, my skin crawls. My stomach turns. My legs get weak and I begin to squeal. I have never been diagnosed, but I’m pretty sure I have Ophidiophobia.
Many of us have lived or are currently living our lives in fear. We fear getting sick. We fear losing loved ones. We fear COVID-19. We fear our financial positions. We fear losing our jobs. We fear losing relationships. And when it is all said and done, what we really fear is death; physical, emotional, and spiritual death.
And that’s no way to live. My fear of snakes, doesn’t impede my ability to live my life, but many of our fears do prevent us from living.
We fear getting sick, so we stay home. We fear financial ruin, so we work insane hours. We fear losing a relationship, so we obsess over and refuse to trust. We fear death, so we don’t live. Shan Wood recently said, “Fear doesn’t stop death… Fear stops life.” And if you live in constant fear, you know what he’s talking about.
And often times our “reactions” to fear (worry, not sleeping, obsessive research, extreme caution, etc) prevent us from living as well. So what do we do?
In Psalm 49, the writer reflects on some of his fears:
Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave (Psalm 49:5-9 NLT).
Are you scared yet? According to this writer, there’s nothing we can do to avoid death. There’s no amount of money. No amount of good deeds, good thoughts, or good vibes that we can obtain to prevent death. Seriously, are you scared yet? Fortunately for us, the prayer isn’t over. Look what he writes a little later: But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave (Psalm 49:15 NLT).
According to this Psalm, the only thing that can save us from debilitating fear… The only thing that can save us from death is no thing at all… But a person. Only God can give us victory of death. Only God can deliver us from the grave.
On Sunday, we celebrated Easter… The day where Jesus rose from the grave. And Scripture tells us that because of His victory, we too are victorious. That no matter what happens, we have the promise of Eternal Life in His kingdom forever.
Which points us to one overwhelming truth. The antidote to fear is not caution… It’s Christ. And when we look to Christ as the antidote to our fear, there’s two really important practices that we can do everyday to combat fear:
1. Root yourself in reality
We love to dwell on worst case scenarios. But most of those worst case scenarios never come to pass. One speaker said, “The devil’s greatest tool is a lie… So you and I need the truth.” You’re healthy. He loves you. You have enough. The truth squashes the lies the devil throws at us and roots us back in reality.
2. Remember you’re rescued
Psalm 49:15 is key here. God has and will redeem your life. Even if the worst case scenario comes to pass, in Jesus, we don’t have to fear. He’s already conquered the grave. And he’s promised that we too are more than conquerors with Him.
Need encouragement? Try listening to THIS song.
Skeptical of the resurrection and victory over the grave?
Check out THIS article.
Or THIS one.
I don’t know about you, but with COVID-19 dominating our thoughts and dictating our schedules, it’s easy to get fatigued mentally and, in a weird way, physically. Yet, as I was feeling the exhaustion, I noticed that I don’t have much work as I did before COVID-19. For many of us, our workload has actually decreased over the last few weeks. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do most of my work from home, but even still, things have slowed down drastically, and I find I work much faster at home in my cave then I do at the office (maybe there’s a lesson in there for the future!).
With the decrease in my work load, there’s a dark place that I go in my mind that constantly says, “You’re lazy. You’re not doing enough. You should be working harder in the midst of a pandemic, not slowing down.” But despite my efforts to do more, I still find myself with more time on my hands than usual.
And I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about this. But unfortunately, it’s our culture. We are a driven society. We thrive on a fast pace, long weeks, and overcrowded work days. We gotta keep the business going, the family, growing, and the bank account flowing. We are a culture consumed with hurry. We are a society that has fully embraced the motto once spoken by Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
So how do we combat it? How do I combat that feeling of uselessness and laziness in a time when work is slowed down (for many of us) and I find more time on my hands? My suggestion to you would be: take advantage of the time to rest.
There’s always a silver lining in everything. My church is praying hard for the health and wellness of everyone in our country and for the disease to be eliminated. We hate that this is happening. We hate the pain and separation it is causing. But for those of us who haven’t been directly affected yet, could this be an opportunity we may never get back? What if, while we isolate ourselves in the home, we took advantage of our time to rest?
Paul the apostle wrote a letter to a church in the ancient city of Ephesus and here’s what he said:
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. (Eph 5:15-16 NLT)
It seems that there is a sense in which we grab time by the horns and make it bend to our needs. And in this time of exhaustion and isolation, use the time to rest. Rest so that you can refuel, recharge, refocus… And when all this ends, you can relaunch energized and ready to make a difference in the world.
Need some help with ideas on how to rest? Here are some great starting points: