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PRACTICAL BIBLE APPLICATIONS
NOTE: To avoid confusion I have substituted
the pseudonym "Deke" for the original pseudonym I used on the
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THE PURPOSE OF THIS PAGE
This page is dedicated to the purpose of James 1:5 which tells us:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (KJV)
It is the practical application of God's Inerrant Word, the Holy Bible, which is the foundation of this part of my ministry. If you have any questions regarding problems, ethics, morality, or any other area of life, the Bible offers a solution. I will be blessed should you ask me for Scriptural guidance.
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A Mother's Anguish Over a Lost Child
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS A SERIES OF LETTERS I HAVE RECEVED FROM
A WOMAN WHOSE DAUGHTER IS ENGAGED IN A LIFE OF SELF-DECEPTION. THERE IS
A PRAYER REQUEST FOR HER DAUGHTER ON THE
PAGE. THE TEXT IN BRACKETS [ ], AND THE WRITER'S NAMES (e.g. "Deke") ARE
MODIFICATIONS OR ADDITIONS TO THE ORIGINAL TEXT.
Jesus told us in Matthew:8:21-22 and Luke:9:59-60 to let the dead bury the dead. Remember there are living dead and croaked dead. Your quandary is that you do not want to admit that [she is] dead. Your problem is that it isn't your problem. [She has /they have] chosen death, and [she is] no longer your responsibility. Remember, your responsibility is to the living, and that a little leaven (as you observed) leavens the whole loaf. There is also the deadly issue of false prophets (believers, leaders) who appear to be Believers, but are not (Matthew 7:16-23).
Trouble is, that both my daughters seem to have their moments when they seem to be following the teachings of the churches/Bible. If they did not change so frequently, it would be easier to give up on them.
[Don't take only my word for this teaching.] Try reading through the Book of James, especially the first three chapters. Their problem is described in detail. Also look at Proverbs 26:11 "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." This is harsh, but it is God's view. They must have a [God-ordained] soul-deep desire to turn, not just play at turning, from their sin. It is obvious that they are unwilling to give up their ways; they worship what they cling to. They serve a deadly master.
As it is, I feel called to help, as long as they seem to be doing the right thing. [My other daughter] has been clean for a year and a half; though as you know, she has some things in her life, which are not exactly being honest etc.
There are many kinds of drugs, Sis. Some of them are not ingested or injected. Promiscuity is a drug for some, cars, boats, money, friends, success, children, or keeping up with the Joneses. These also take the place of God in the lives of many if not most human beings. These addictions, just as with drugs, are a violation of the Second Commandment, Exodus 20:4-6, " Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." [KJV]
Your daughter is [daughters are] serving the things she loves [they love], and making a superficial effort to be [a] servant[s] of the Lord. [She is] They are engaging in the self-deception that is so common in our culture.
I always have hope that she will find a way to correct things, before she also ends up in jail for perhaps years. And X. is having a good week, compared to the first ten days out of jail. She has settled down and made her calls and made appointments. She got up this AM and made an 8AM appointment to see an advisor. [She got herself up and rode the bus. I hoped she would stay in [area name] before coming back here, and go to a meeting and go to EDD, which is in the area, where she has to make a transfer to the bus, which comes out here. But guess, it was all she could do, to go to the appointment. She is waiting for G. to come take her to the EDD office.
I told her to take a bus. I can not handle that waiting and running with her, too many days in a row. Sorry!
Nothing to be sorry about, Sis. There's nothing wrong with taking the bus when you've made a mess of your life. My Grandma used to say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Substitute "cars" for "horses" and it fits like a glove. At least she didn't have to walk.
The meeting was to see about getting into a place called C. P. That would be a 30 day program, and they would put her elsewhere after that. It is a mental heath, drug program. She is on the waiting list, now. And while I am thinking about it, and trying to rationalize my own attempts to "help" her.....:-) isn't there a place in the Bible where God makes some excuses for children and mentally slow/ill adults? Perhaps that is another left over idea from my earlier church days. Maybe I should have said that He makes allowance for children etc.? X. is truly mental.
There are no "allowances" made for children. Psalm 58:3: "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." The Bible tells us to care for and comfort the infirm, but what you are dealing with is not infirmity, it is wickedness. I have known many retarded, even severely retarded people who were good and loyal servants of the Lord. What God defines as the consequence of wickness, modern psycho-babblers call by many names. It can be demonic, as witnessed by the case of King Saul (Samuel 16:14; 18:10). It is also indicative of God's curse for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:28; Zechariah 12:4).
She would have to be, to have this behavior, which is truly self defeating. Last weekend was awful, and the result is that she is trying to patch it up with the friends who could help her. Her friend [name] called me and made me out to be a bad mother, because I was trying to get her to stay elsewhere last weekend.
Do not listen to the accusers of the brethren, Sis. They serve Satan. You stick with what the Bible alone has to say! Anchor yourself in His rock.
Yesterday, we took her to a meeting while we shopped, then took her to the social services in [this] area, [we did other errands there in the area], and had a long day. [Name] suggested to X. that we all play a board game together.....This is a young under thirty man, with three children, who he has with split custody. He has no idea.
Ah, another real "winner," divorced at thirty and condemning you for not following his lead. Pathetic! [note: Jesus deals with this issue in his teaching about the blind leading the blind in Mt 15:14]
I tried to tell him Sunday, that I wanted to be able to have some quiet time with [Name] this week, with the girls gone; but that did not seem to do any good. He has told X. he would take care of her, and he loves her; but the minute it gets tough and she needs rides etc., he kisses her off.
Like I just said!
Last night, he told X., he did not know that her younger sisters were gone. I am very angry, with him, (to the point that if I did not know God would not like it); I would think that I would never forgive him, for leading her on. . . . .
It's the blind leading the blind, Sis. If you are angry with him for what he is doing, not about how it is affecting you, and if your anger is founded on Scriptural principles, you are rightly angry. Deceivers are not to be treated with kid gloves. [see 1Cor:5:6; Gal:5:9 and Psalms 101:7] When Jesus drove the money-changers from the temple, His anger was fundamentally founded in the desecration of a Holy place, and not in something that was done to him. It was "righteous anger." A rebuke might turn him to God. However, you must be VERY careful that you are not gaining a sense of satisfaction or power from rebuking a sinner. If he is shamed, you must not gloat over the victory. These Scriptures say it so well:
From Proverbs 24:  Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:  Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.  Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;  For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
I hoped that he would help, so we could have some quiet alone time. Course X.'s behavior last weekend did not do alot for her. [Name] is on a program and he says that she would threaten his sobriety. Makes sense; but he led us on. X. screwed up; but she has to get it straight again, and is doing it, because of her court problems in [location]. We will be in [location] tomorrow, for her court, and to sign her up as a drug offender. That is after she has a[n] appt at the welfare office, trying to get food stamps or something....good luck. Don't think she will be able to get anything; but she has to try.
I will be glad when the food stamp programs end. I would like to see a military barracks system for welfare people. No individual apartments or housing them with people who earn their way through life. Just give them all the same, simple, durable uniform, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. If it's good enough for our war heroes and military families, it's good enough for a welfare bum. [Exceptions should be made for the genuinely needy and physically or intellectually disabled, but not for career welfare parasites.]
Oh well, this too will pass. The Lord will provide. Please pray for X. to be accepted into a place where she can recieve the help she needs so badly.
I am doing that, Sis. Just remember that she can expect nothing if she is trying to con herself and God.
From a message dated 97-07-23
. . . . God is sovereign. Your acts, however, in following His commandments do reflect upon you and your desire to obey Him. They also bear witness to the world that you are a Believer. Those acts are your fruits. So, when 1Corinthians 5 says to cast out and do not associate with the unbeliever, DO IT!
I wish it was that simple....:-)
It is, but it isn't easy. I've had to wrestle with that idea many times in my own life, and have refused to associate with two of my relatives. I have told [a relative] that if he refused to obey God's law, I would not associate with him. He understands my reasons and God's way, so he accepts what I have said.
My [relative] has had a difficult time turning from her evil relatives. My [relative], on the other hand, after witnessing the process first-hand, has chosen to follow God's law after the one I have mentioned arrogantly and bluntly refused to marry the father of her bastard child when he told her that she should. If he ever confronts her again, he will tell her to stay away until she sets what is wrong to right. He can not and will not give any hint that he approves her rebellion against God's law. She is a fornicator, a practicing apostate, and is a prime example of the seared, probably reprobate, mind.
It is sad, but if we were to continue associating with her, we would be encouraging her evil and contaminating ourselves at the same time. There is no choice.
7/24/97 From a message dated 97-07-23
It is a sick government that forces these issues, and spiritually vacant people who join them [in doing that].
We are presently in the never ending effort of applying for any benifits which X. may be entitled to, to keep her going for awhile and avoid using much of what we have earmarked at vacation money. I know your position on welfare etc. and mostly I agree with them. But how is a single person supposed to take care of herself and get the help she needs, to stay off the street, if she is not able to get some government help? It is a vicious circle.
As parents with a fixed income, we can not afford to support such a person totally, either. And we need to have her have some kind of independence.
Just an observation, C.
Consider the alternatives that were available only a hundred years ago. The present [paid bureaucrat sponsored] situation only supports and facilitates the behavior of X. and its other victims. Welfare should be shameful, not commonplace. The vicious circle is the product of self-deceived people who think that they can solved problems of character and spirit with money. They are "utter fools." (note: see Romans 1:21-23. Money is just another form of idolatry when viewed as a solution for spiritual and moral decay.)
Hi I am finally getting to catch up on some mail. Sorry that it is so belated. The lesson which you tried to teach is a good one; though also difficult to do sometimes.
In a message dated 97-07-28 20:29:09 EDT, you write:
[NOTE: THIS FIRST PARAGRAPH IS A DUPLICATE OF A PREVIOUS
My [relative] has had a difficult time turning from her evil relatives. My [relative], on the other hand, after witnessing the process first-hand, has chosen to follow God's law after the one I have mentioned arrogantly and bluntly refused to marry the father of her bastard child when he told her that she should. If he ever confronts her again, he will tell her to stay away until she sets what is wrong to right. He can not and will not give any hint that he approves her rebellion against God's law. She is a fornicator, a practicing apostate, and is a prime example of the seared, probably reprobate, mind. It is sad, but if we were to continue associating with her, we would be encouraging her evil and contaminating ourselves at the same time. There is no choice. --Deke
I am sure that this lesson could be applied to people like my X.. Actually, the advice is given even by those who know how to treat addicts etc. in real life. It goes by the advice of telling one to not condone or enable these people to do those social acts, which hurt themselves or others. Instinctively, when X. returns to the apparent sinful life, deep in filth and drugs and worse, the NA people who are themselves not into the drugs, turn away from her. She instinctively knows not to come around us, because we do not have anything to do with her, when she refuses to help herself and do the right things.
X. has returned to the other life, and left her friends who would help her, and our family behind. It is almost as if she is indeed a split personality. She has one life which is almost responsible[with the help of friends]. And she has another life, which has no relationship to any of us. The prognosis this time is worse than ever , since she is on such borrowed time with the law. I have been in contact with the ones who were most involved with her, except for [name]. I can only hope she is not with him. But he seems to be the drug dealer and treats her nicely ; but she indicates he often is rough with her. I can not imagine what it is that possesses her. [Name] says she needs to live on the edge, for the excitement. And [Name], says it is that she can not handle the responsibility. We have seen it often.
[Name] is close to the truth. She worships the god of rebellion and excitement. That god will destroy her.
When life is just aboutto settle out for her, she runs again. This time she was within hours of going into the [name] rehab.
Living with the [name]? That would be SOME rehab!
She had heard that they got the paperwhich made her ordered to be there,by the court. She was to have called on Monday[past]. I have not spoken to her, since last Sunday, and only for a minute or two. [Name] thinks she has not really had her downer, since she went on the drugs after she got out of jail. But she was not obviously doing them, or creating problems while she was here. All we know is that she prevented us from having a few days of peace, when both the girls were in Oregon. She was around the house most of the time, requiring more food and gas to take her places. The phone bill came in from [location]. It has ninety dollars of her calls on that one, so the bill was pretty high. She sure cost us alot this past month. She is supposed to go to Drug Court on the 25th of August.
She will be in big trouble, if there was a spot
for her, and she did not go. And she needed another aids test and to sign
up as a drug offender. She tried to sign up in [location], where she expected
to go to rehab; but they said she had to sign up in [city], because she
was living with us. And I have her probation report papers. She has to
sign one a month to send back there. And she has to go to meetings. Chances
are, she is not doing anything she is supposed to. Jail is inevitable.
But they will have to catch her. When she ceases trying, we cease trying
to help her. It only amounts to enabling at that point. And of course the
Bible advocates that we not continue to deal with people who refuse to
follow God's law, as well as Man's law. Of course the Bible tells us that
we must follow man's law also. Right? TTYL C.
Yes. As long as those laws do not conflict with God's law. When there is a conflict we are obligated to obey God and suffer the consequences (Daniel in the Lion's Den.)
Poor X. *sigh*.
I am doing that . Just remember that she [X.] can expect
nothing if she is trying to con herself and God. --Deke
You said a mouthful in this message. I am sorry that it took so long to get back to it. X. does seem to be conning everyone; but herself most of all. One friend says she likes to live on the edge, then is upset when she falls in. Seems appropriate. Another offered the thought that she still has not hit bottom, which is a necessary thing for an addict to do. We concluded that she comes out of it, enough to seek God's intervention and He helps her enough to teach her what would happen if she actually gave herself to the life, He wants for her. Much as she does with us. She goes in step with our expectations just long enough to prevent her going all the way to the bottom. Then when we all think, victory is in sight, she goes over the edge again. You are right, that it is wickedness. And the Devil seems stronger in her, than her will to do God's way, for her life, or ours for that matter. Sound straight?
Her efforts are weak and pathetic against the real master she serves. You must ask yourself, considering her fruits, how it is that you can say that God is doing even ONE of the ["good"] things that are happening to her. REMEMBER THAT SATAN IS THE ARCH-DECEIVER.
X.'s life indicates that she has Satan as her master. You must face the reality that according to the evidence of her fruits (what she DOES not what she SAYS) [*] she may be one whom God has not chosen [**]. Still we must continue to pray for His mercy upon her because we do not know His plan for her -- if He has one.
[*Mt:7:16: "Ye shall know them by their fruits . . . ." ]
[** Exodus 33:19: "And he said, I will make all
my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD
before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will
shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."
[Note: Below I have provided the following Scriptures and a commentary in support of my statement that the ultimate destiny of C.'s daugher lies solely in God Sovereign hands, and not in anything that she says or does. Sinful man has no capacity to come to God on his own. The sin which envelops and enslaves him totally separates him from God. It is only God's sovereign choice, His infinite mercy, and the blood shed by His Son on the cross of Calvary that can reconcile the sinner to Him. Without God's election and predestination which are unavoidable dual Biblical doctrines stated in the Holy Bible and necessitated by His nature, (omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence) all sinners would be enternally condemned.]
Isaiah 44:1: "Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:"
Isa:42:1: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles."
Isaiah:44:9: "They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed."
Isaiah:45:4: "For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. "
Isaiah:65:9: "And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there."
Isaiah:65:22: "They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
Romans:8:29: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans:8:30: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Ephesians:1:5: "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Ephesians:1:11: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
THERE ARE ALMOST 70 SCRIPTURES IN BOTH THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS WHICH SUPPORT THE DOCTRINE OF GOD'S SOVEREIGN ELECTION (CHOOSING) AND PREDESTINATION (FORE- ORDINATION OF THE FATE) OF HIS PEOPLE, AS OPPOSED TO THOSE WHO ARE CONDEMNED, ALSO BY HIS SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY. I can not explain why He chose Jacob and hated Esau, only He knows that. I simply accept His authority to make that decision because He is God. Always keep in mind Isaiah 55:8-9: " For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." God does not do things the way we think He should, He does them the way He chooses. If you believe otherwise, know that His Inerrant Word, the Holy Bible, militates against your position. The truth of Scripture is not negotiable. -- Deke]
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WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO STUDY THE BIBLE?
Several weeks ago I received a request from a brother
in Christ for my advice on how to study the Bible. I've received many of
these requests over the years. So, to save everyone a little time, here's
. . . . First, there's nothing wrong with you finding Bible studies and guides uninspiring -- unless there's something wrong with me, too. Save for the studies I chaired, totally separate from church influence, I learned little from study groups. The studies I chaired were the foundation of a new church, which generated another set of problems almost identical to those I sought to avoid. So, join the crowd (of two, at least).
The method I have used to study Scripture is, above all, self-directed. I used church doctrines as a focus of critical study rather than a source of truth. I recognized as a so-called "babe in Christ" that every church has an agenda, and that doctrine and theology held precedence over the Holy Bible. In one church I've visited, a doctrinal statement in a primary classroom posts the hierarchy as: 1. Doctrine, 2. The Bible.
So, disenchanted, I developed my own methods. With
the help of several other brothers we held independent Bible studies despite
relentless criticism and opposition from the elders of a church we all
attended, but none of us were members. Here are the methods and materials
I found worthwhile:
I. Pray for wisdom, asking God to fulfill His promise found in James 1:5.
II. Obtain at least three translations of the Holy Bible, avoiding any paraphrased "translations." I also use several reference texts. I use each of them, but most frequently use the NIV and KJV. These are the study materials and methods I use (I've used tabs to set up columns): 1. New International Version 2. King James Version 3. New International and KJV The Zondervan Parallel (interlinear) New Testament in Greek and English. 4. New American Standard 5. The Layman's Parallel Bible, Zondervan, with five translations (mine includes The Living Bible which is really a biased commentary) 6. Nave's Topical Bible 7. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible 8. A Hebrew parallel
III. Diligently cross-compare the translations using the Greek interlinear with Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. D. Choose several teachers and/or churches that draw your interest. E. Use what you have learned to Biblically criticize the theology of the teachers you find most interesting.
IV. Ask questions, and reject teachers, pastors, and churches who side-step, avoid, or criticize you for asking.
V. Never rely on the theology of dead and dying human beings. Trust the Bible, and the Bible alone and in its entirety as your only source of truth.
VI. Pray for wisdom, asking God to fulfill His promise
found in James 1:5.
I believe that most if not all of the study materials I have listed are currently available on CD ROM. That can be a significant single-expense, but the speed of access to large texts like Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, and the ability to cross-reference Scripture in the many translations with lightning speed make the cost worthwhile. I am still using printed texts, but will probably purchase a Parson's Quick Verse set after I upgrade my hard drive -- and gather the bucks. I have avoided buying it in the past because of the impending publication of the modern English KJV and Hebrew Interlinear. Having those items available electronically would be a major time-saver.
At the moment the only CD Bible I have is Compuworks' King James version _Desktop Bible_. It was only $12.95, and has paid for itself many times over in time-savings alone. I'm really looking forward to CD versions of the modern English KJV, NIV, Greek and Hebrew interlinears, and Strong's. Those are my primary reference materials, and paging through the books eats a lot of valuable time.
I pray these suggestions are worthwhile for you. I understand and have abandoned the studies that you so kindly call "uninspiring." I would call them dull, boring, theological propaganda, designed to feed milk, not meat (1Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12). There is benefit for both religious and government bureaucrats in keeping their "flocks" on baby formula. Believers and citizens who can't think, don't ask hard questions. Unfortunately many if not most of today's leaders grew up with the nipple in their mouths, too, so they "don't have a clue" either.
Each time I receive a letter like yours I am encouraged to continue my ministry. I am overjoyed (not kidding) that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who find my "take no prisoners" ministry worthwhile. There have been many times in the past when the opposition of misunderstanding brethren, and the direct and destructive intervention of Satan did great harm. Satan physically and repeatedly attacked one of my ministries several years ago. The Father of Lies finally brought enough discouragement and financial loss to bear that it had to be closed, but that's another story. Suffice it to say that the brother who owned the computer system that was our frequently attacked "electronic church," remarked that we must be doing something right to be facing all of that destructive opposition. The growth of the World Wide Web, and the cost of repairs finally gave us no alternative but to close. Looks like I told the story anyway!
I hope the list, above, came through as I set it up. When I posted it, it was in nice, neat columns. I think I will put a copy of your letter and my reply on my web page, with appropriate name and e-mail address changes. I always provide anonymity for my correspondents unless they say otherwise.
Keep on fighting the good fight. Thanks for writing. Trust in God alone. He won't let you down!
Doulos kai Diakonos Chrisou Iesou
(Koine Greek: A slave and servant in Christ Jesus)
Copyright 1997 Deke (a pseudonym)
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THE CONFUSING ISSUE OF HOUSELESSNESS*:
LETTERS FROM A TEENAGER
*not "homelessness" because home is where you are!
This lesson is the result of series of letters e-mailed
by a young woman who is facing a tearing and difficult question that most
of us have wrestled with in this age of the houseless . It is also posted
on the e-mail page.
From: M Date: Fri, 4 Jul 1997 15:28:41 -0400 (EDT)
To: email@example.com Subject: Giving to the Poor
What does God expect from a teenage or younger child, with regards to donating to those people on the street, who appear to be needy. The "child" does not have a real job and receives money from parents as allowance, which is meant to pay for her lunches, grooming supplies, entertainment etc. The child may also babysit, or otherwise earn irregular amounts of additional money at times.
It seems difficult to realize that alot of those people are just scamming people, or doing this, to avoid working or behaving responsibly in their lives. At what point, do we give up our own foolish wants[our needs are provided by Mom and Dad], and give our "extra" money to those who request handouts on the street?
M. age 16
This question really must be divided into two parts. First and foremost, there is the Biblical standard. Second, there is the cultural aspect. I will deal with the latter first.
You are very right in your observation that there is a real "scam" being perpetrated on our nation. We have a long history of generosity and caring for those unable to fend for themselves. We also have a long and powerful history of self-reliance and independence. In the last sixty years, socialists, statists, and Marxists have worked ceaselessly to end self-reliance. They have found willing accomplices in the federal and state bureaucracies. The economic pressures the bureaucrats have created to line their own pockets a t your and other children's expense is the reason that you have to ask this sad question.
In past centuries the poor were cared for by the church and by private donations. It was not a good thing to be poor; it was the bottom of the manure pile. Today the leftists and their bureaucrat lackeys have tried their best to make poverty what it is not: an acceptable way of life. They whine and carp about self-esteem, welfare " rights," and "entitlements" to make what was and reall y is tragic and worthless seem admirable. They have used high-sounding words to make what is shameful seem proper.
The real tragedy of the entire system is that it has created a whole new class of welfare slaves, and torn away any dignity that they might have gained as free citizens. The social welfare bureaucracy has created "rights" and "entitlements" for people who have neither earned nor have any Constitutioal right to them. They accomplish this by taking MORE THAN HALF what YOU and your parents EARN under threat of imprisonment, and then give their extorted booty to people who produce nothing but more welfare slaves. They have visited a terrible cruelty on the worker and the welfare recipient alike.
So, the "scam" is more than you suggest. It is far more dangerous and insidious than the guy with his hand out at the next stop light. It has robbed you of an honorable responsibility by destroying your opportunity to exercise it. The State and Federal bureaucracies and your "representatives" who began the real "scam" have seen to that.
Ok, so how should you respond as a Believer to the next panhandler you meet? The Bible gives some answers, but they are not too crystal clear at first.
First, keep in mind that the heart-felt lending and giving to fellow Believers is commanded in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 15:7-11), In the New Testament we are instructed to give without public ceremony to those in need (Matthew 5:42, 6:1-4; Romans 12:8), and freely and without compulsion (2Corinthians 9:6-7). In each of these cases God is talking of your giving help to a brother or sister Believer who has fallen on hard times, not to an unbelieving stranger or bum.
In Matthew 19:16-30 and Luke 12:33 Jesus is teaching a spiritual lesson by using the act of giving up possessions as a metaphor for the believer's duty to put God ahead of the things of the material world. These are not really commands to sell all you have gained to achieve acceptance before God. God already owns it all (1Corinthians10:26), and will accept or reject you according to His sovereign will (Matthew 20:16; Eph 1:4-6; Romans 9:13). Jesus makes the meaning of His teaching about giving, quite clear in Luke 12:34.
God has provided well for His people. Good stewardship of both the spiritual and physical aspects of that providence is your responsibility. It is unwise to give to just any scruffy bum because someone told you to do it (Matthew 13:1-22). Your giving must come from your heart, without reservation (2Cornthians 9:5-7; Galatians 2:10; 1Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 13:15-16), because if you withhold your bounty from a brother or sister in great need (1John 3:17-20), you do not have the love of God in you. It is this final Scripture which makes the process clear. It takes action, not talk, and awareness of and response to our heart's prompting to be a good steward of God's gifts. You must be led neither by guilt, nor by cultural pressure, but by a desire to please only Almigty God when you give of what He has provided to a Believer in need.
So, where does that leave you as a teenager? You must first examine your motives for giving VERY carefully. If there is "something in it" for you, a good feeling, a smugness, a sense of self-righteousness, or a sense of relief from guilt, then you should not give. You must give out of a spirit of generosity, not out of compulsion; out of love, not out of guilt. Next, you must be careful to whom you give. Select Believers in need, not the "rocky soil" of the unbeliever. Finally, you must remember that you are already being FORCED by our government to "give" much of what you have need of from your parents, leaving little to meet your needs.
If you can succeed in balancing all of those things, then you should give to your needy brothers and sisters in Christ as God leads you, not as you are told to give by ANY sin-enslaved human being. To that end, since you are young, you would be wise to give of your time rather than of your money. I know your circumstances, that you are not wealthy except in spirit, and that you do desire to help those Believers who are not as fortunate as you. So, give freely of your time, and enjoy it. Leave financial largesse to those who can afford it. When God has blessed you with financial success, then will be the time to give of your material blessings.
Doulos Christou Iesou
Bible Teacher and Editor
The Christian Conservative Opinion Pages
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