Mar 8, 2012

Running Amuck on God’s Ranch

Living a life of scarcity in the midst of God’s abundance.
We live in the West and we love it out here. We have quite a few ranchers and plenty of space for grazing. I have had the opportunity to help out and do a bit of work moving cattle. At a dinner a while back I had the joy of sitting next to a rancher and his wife. I felt pretty proud of myself when I was able to use a bit of the lingo. I asked the old rancher if he was running cow-calf pairs. He said he was and we talked a bit about it. I then asked him how many pairs he had. He folded his arms and said; “Now son, you never ask a rancher that! That’s just like askin’ how much money a man has saved up at the bank.” 

Raising livestock is the same, in many ways, as it was thousands of years ago in Bible times. We read about wealth in the Old Testament all the time. Verses throughout speak of how many sheep and goats a family had. Before there was currency folks bartered and a reasonable measure of trade was an animal.
For every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills…
The world is mine and all that is in it.

                        Psalm 50: 10-12

David believed that all of the cattle belonged to the Lord. His wealth and everything he had was from God. David realized that he was on God’s Ranch, watching only a handful of the animals and that he was called to shepherd those resources well.  
Do we believe that today? 

In 2011 lenders foreclosed on more than 100 churches. In the U.S., Ministries are underfunded, non-profits are struggling and statistics show that church attendance is up while gifts in the offering plate are shrinking.

Something has gone very wrong! We are not living as if God is in charge of the ranch. Christ came that we would have life and that we would have it more abundantly. In the midst of it all, Christians are living in a mindset of scarcity. Instead of giving, we are hoarding. Instead of trusting in God as our provider and the true owner of our wealth, we have taken over the ranch and run-a-muck. Our cattle are spread out and poorly tended to. If we are to save the ranch we must immediately put God back in his place and trust him as we steward his resources. 

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
                        1 Timothy 6:17

Where do we start?
Realizing our true capacity. The first step is to account for our resources… all of them. This doesn’t mean we need to create a detailed net worth statement--that would be far too short-sighted. We need to look beyond assets and debts. What experience do you have, what relationships? What knowledge do you possess? What memories are important and what values do you cherish? Do you have influence in your neighborhood, workplace or community? What are you passionate about? What makes you feel strong? What makes you come alive? List them. “Count your blessings, name them one by one.”
These are the resources that God has provided for you. He made you and knows everything about you. He packed your bags with these specific things to serve a purpose and to love others.
Realizing the need. Now look around the community. What do you see in disarray? Who is in need? What is the ideal future for your community or your ministry? A group called Hillsong has a great song with this lyric; “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause.” Pray that the Lord would show you needs in your community. Write down the needs as you see them and determine which you are called to fill.
Play the matching game. Now combine your strengths to fit the need. Again, the financial gifts are just the beginning. Find a way to use the other resources you have as effectively as possible. Prudent planning will allow you to make more of an impact, meeting more needs than others could ever dream of filling because you are using your gifts for their intended purpose. Like using the right tool for the right job, you will get the work done efficiently and effectively. By looking for needs and seeing the strengths and passions you have, you will find meaning and purpose and you will be able to meet needs with joy and ease. 

Collaborate. Just as your bags are packed for a certain purpose, your neighbors are as well. God created us to be unique. They say that the jack of all trades is the master of none. Find out what you are good at, and what you love, and stick to that. Find others who have resources and talents that you don’t and work along side those individuals. As you seek a common goal of furthering the kingdom together you will sharpen each others skills along the way.
God owns the ranch. His resources are abundant. Let’s begin to shepherd them well together. As we do, real change and abundant stewardship will begin to be the norm. As we move from a mentality of scarcity to the ‘life to the full’ that Christ promised, we will see healing in our homes, our communities and our country.
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