Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ashes

by Dan Jones

I have to admit, I am not a big fan of Lent.

After all, it’s 40 days of contemplating over what a horrible person I am.
While I’m not contesting my sinful nature at all, it’s certainly no joy to immerse myself in it-- especially for six long weeks.

And it sure doesn’t help that it begins in the middle of February.

Whoever decided they needed to be more depressed at this time of year certainly was not from this part of the planet.

Martin Luther may not have had to beat himself with sticks for penance had he encountered a five-foot snow drift and a snow shovel whose handle broke half-way into it.

The word “Lent” comes from the West Germanic word “langa-tinaz” which means “longer days” or “spring.”

Right.

Maybe in West Germany, February is when there’s some hope that spring is just around the corner, but those of us from here know better than to entertain warm, fuzzy thoughts of spring in February.

There is a line between “having a positive attitude” and being self-delusional.

The seed catalogs haven’t even shown up yet, for goodness sake.

There’s a very good reason, brothers and sisters, that there are only 28 days in February.

Come to think of it, whoever added the extra day for Leap Year to February had to have been a very, very cruel person indeed. What possible kind of harm could have been caused by having a June 31st once every four years?

Yes, fast food chains will take this opportunity to put fish sandwiches on sale, but I’m pretty sure there’s a picture of a cheap fish sandwich in some lexicon somewhere under the heading “cold comfort.”

And that, dear friends, is exactly how NOT to approach Lent.

There’s a portion of our society that says it is good to “vent”-- and that is an absolute lie.

The previous 299 words were nothing more than whining. They did not make me feel better and they did not lift you up, support you, or make your life better. Perhaps you had a chuckle here and there at my infantile display, but it encouraged no one.

“Venting” does not get things out in the open and allow one to move on. 

 “Venting” is what the Israelites were doing when they complained about the manna.

And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” (Numbers 21:5 ESV)

Complaining only adds to the problem. It makes things seem worse than they really are.

And, if one complains long enough and loud enough, one actually starts to believe that things are worse than they really are. We start to believe life really is against us, that the flowers will never bloom again, and the robins are not coming back.

Worse, we start to believe there is no hope.

And that’s a very big lie indeed.

But the truth is that God in His incredible, infinite mercy and grace sent His only begotten Son to die for whiners and malcontents like me.

And the truth is Jesus would not stay in that tomb.

His resurrection-- and our salvation was as certain and as sure as God’s own word.

So, the hope is not only real—it is guaranteed. It is a hope that lives and moves and breathes and rises from the cold, dark, and sealed tomb with absolute and positive certainty.

And all of this is not to our shame, but to His glory!

That is why Jesus told us not to look like the walking dead when we fast, but to have clean and shining faces of joy. (Matthew 6:16-18)

The seed catalogs will come, the flowers will bloom, and the robins will return.

And it’s okay to enjoy that fish sandwich.

Today’s Praise

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What if it's NOT the End of the World?

by Dan Jones

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24: 9-13 ESV

The verses above are the words of Jesus, painting a dim and foreboding picture of the end times.

They ring in the ears of those who watch current events unfolding in this country and see how well they fit what is going on.

How can we not?

Certainly lawlessness is increasing in this country, and around the world, by leaps and bounds.

I’ve even come across some Christians who seemed to have thrown up their hands and written it all off because, well, it’s the end times and this has all got to happen before Jesus returns.

But what if that’s not true?

What if that’s a lie from the devil designed (like all terrorism) to get us to give up and just let evil increase so he can steal and kill and destroy?

I’m sure many of you are thinking right now that I must be living in a rose-colored bubble, insulated from the nightly news and all the obvious evidence of an America in decline.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know that’s not true.

America most certainly is in a state of advanced moral decline.  We have, indeed, turned our back on God time and time again. We are obviously engaged in sin and lawlessness and the enemy is having a field day here.

But, here’s the thing:

Our national ego—our pride and our hubris-- have blinded us.

News flash: The United States of America is not the center of the known universe.

Okay, before you jump right down to the comments section and start in with the richly-colored adjectives about my intelligence and my faith, hang in there with me for a few more paragraphs.

While we have serious spiritual problems here in the United States, the vast majority of the world is actually getting better and growing closer to Jesus Christ.

I recently found some fascinating information on this World Revival Network Blog:  http://worldrevivalnetwork.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-you-have-been-duped-into-believing.html

Accurate numbers are extremely hard to come by for Communist China, but there is a very good possibility that in this country where Christianity is illegal, there may be more Christians in church there on any given Sunday than here in the United States.

In fact, Christianity is growing so rapidly in China that by 2030 it is projected that there will be 247 million Chinese Christians—more than in all the United States.

And, Africa is currently home to 472 million Christians—which is projected to be 670 million by 2025. Over two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa is now Christian. The increase of the gospel there is described as “stunning.”
Christianity has grown by 877% in Latin America since 1900. Brazil alone contains 109 million Christians. Latin America is said to be “literally exploding with the flames of revival.”

And in the Middle East, which we tend to think of as the exclusive domain of Islam, there are statistics that 667 Muslims convert to Christianity every hour!  Missiologists in the Middle East and Northern Africa are reporting that more Muslims have converted to Christianity in the last 20 years than in the previous 1500 years. There may be as many as 10 to 15 million undocumented Christians in these predominately Muslim countries.

Journalist George Thomas notes that,
 "A Christian revival is touching the northernmost reaches of Africa. In a region once hostile to the gospel, now tens of thousands of Muslims are following Jesus. As the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea, Muslims across Northern Africa are converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record numbers… What experts say is that there is a profound move of God in the predominantly Muslim nations of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.

Meanwhile, while all we see around us is doom and gloom, since the end of the Cold War in the 1980’s, war-related deaths have been plummeting and are currently at an all-time low in all of human history.

Dr. Steven Pinker, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard psychology professor said that “Today we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.”

Despite what is paraded in front of us every day in the media, most countries have seen a substantial and marked decrease in homicides, sexual assaults, rapes, and other violent crime.

Pinker concludes: The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world. Autocracy is giving way to democracy. Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete. The increase in the number and deadliness of civil wars since 2010 is circumscribed, puny in comparison with the decline that preceded it, and unlikely to escalate.”

Likewise, life expectancy is rapidly increasing throughout the world while infant mortality is dropping to the lowest levels in human history. 

Smallpox, malaria, and a host of other diseases are also dropping dramatically and have even been wiped out in some areas.

Even poverty is at the lowest level in all of human history. It is estimated that in 1820, somewhere around 90% of the world’s population lived in poverty. Today, the World Bank estimates that number at about 21%.

Granted, that’s still a huge number of people living in poverty and war and death and disease and destruction still exist.

And yes, there are still millions of people who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

If you look at the map I’ve included, you can see that Christianity is spreading more rapidly than populations are growing in the overwhelming majority of the world!

Yes, we have much work left to do on this earth, and it is absolutely imperative that we continue sending missionaries and doing all we can to alleviate suffering and misery on this earth until Jesus returns.

But it is an absolute lie that evil is winning and it’s just time to give up and pray that the end comes quickly.

From my perspective, all of this means we have some catching up to do with the rest of the world.

Today’s Praise


And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 ESV

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Acts 4 Church

by Dan Jones

Offended?

It’s not unusual to hear people talk about “the Acts 2 church.” 

Usually, it’s a reference to a rapidly-growing church that’s part of a “movement” with a membership absolutely on fire with the Holy Spirit.

In today’s terminology, it could be said that an Acts 2 church is a church in the process of going viral.

That’s a good thing and I’m all for that.

And, just to give ourselves a nice, clear setting in context, let’s take a closer look at Acts 2:

The book of Acts opens with Jesus ascending into heaven and telling the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit. There were also some house-keeping duties in finding another apostle to replace Judas.

Then, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit arrives like a mighty rushing wind. Tongues of fire appear over the heads of the disciples, a huge crowd gathers outside, and the disciples began praising God in all kinds of languages—which are understandable to the travelers from far and wide.

The crowd is astounded. Some think the disciples are drunk.

And then Peter stands up, proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, and preaches an inspired sermon:

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2: 36-41)

It’s a dramatic scene and I would have loved to have been there in person and seen it.  It’s no wonder people would want to be a part of a church like that.  

Can you imagine adding 3,000 people to a church in one day?

Amazing.

But, as I read on beyond Acts 2, something caught my eye.

In Acts 3, Peter and John are walking through the temple and Peter heals a man who had been lame for a long, long time.

This draws a crowd, and Peter launches into yet another impassioned sermon, again accusing those present of being responsible for Jesus’ death.

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (Acts 3:15 NIV)

In Acts 4, we find that this draws the attention of all kinds of officials from the temple, who throw Peter and John in jail overnight, and then haul them before the very people who had actually plotted and carried out the murder of Jesus. 

Oh, and now the brand-new church grows to 5,000.

The rulers of the temple want to know by what power or authority did they do this, and :

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4: 8-12 NIV)

Now, I checked these verses in 24 different translations of the Bible and I only found two exclamation points among the lot of them.  After doing a little research, I found that the original Greek of the New Testament did not use exclamation points.

So,  it’s understandable that our Bibles don’t contain a lot of dramatic punctuation, but I have a very, very strong suspicion that when Peter actually spoke these words there were quite a few exclamation points along with some underlining, bold face type, and possibly even some all caps.

I would not even be surprised if Peter (known to be a bit impulsive) included a few gestures.

After this the temple big-shots tell Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus at all anymore.  Then:

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20)

There’s an exclamation point!

The rulers of the temple threatened them after that, but Peter and John went back to their fellow believers and reported all that had happened. 

They responded by praising God and praying:

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4: 19-20 NIV)

So, what I take away from all of this is that in every instance where Peter preached here, he came straight out and accused those listening of killing Jesus. No soft-sell. No toning it down. No being “tolerant” or “inclusive.” 
He was not soft-spoken and he most certainly was not concerned about the possibility of offending someone.
“You killed Jesus.”
That’s pretty offensive.
But, here’s the deal:
Peter was just as guilty as the people he was talking to. He had denied Jesus three times. After having pledged that he would die before letting Jesus be killed, he had failed.
But he had been restored. He had been forgiven.
And, he had been filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
So, while I understand the desire of those who are looking for an Acts 2 church, and I long to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and the breath of that mighty rushing wind, Lord, grant that I could speak the gospel with the boldness of the Acts 4 church.
Amen
Today’s Praise
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31 NIV)



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Itch

by Dan Jones

I must confess that I have had an itch lately.

Regular readers of this blog may remember that exactly one year ago, I was in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip.

It was a wonderful, amazing, life-changing experience and I itch to go back.

The itch sometimes even borders on “ache” at times.

It afflicts me when I am cooking, (The staple Dominican beans and rice dish is delicious almost to the point of addiction.) when I am reading my Bible, and even today as I was loading firewood into the bucket of the tractor. It sneaks up on me even in church when I want to shout “GLORIA DIOS!” and “ALELUYA!” during a song or in the middle of the sermon.

The thing is, the itch is entirely selfish.

Whenever you go on a mission trip, people ask you, “What are you going to do there?”

As if, because we are American Christians, we are somehow more spiritual, or smarter, or somehow better than these poor people living in this “third world” country.

That’s a bunch of nonsense.

From what I saw, the Dominican Republic does not “need” Dan Jones in any sense of the word.

The Dominicans are absolutely capable of doing anything they need to do without my help at all. They know how to do things I am clueless about. I was absolutely humbled when I tried to “help” them break up some concrete to level a floor. There was a little girl there about four feet tall who was far better at that task than I was.

And as for their spirituality…

The church service I attended at the Iglesia Altar de Jehova (Church of the Altar of God) in Sabana Perdida consisted of three hours of genuine, heartfelt praise and worship. It’s a good thing there is no stained glass in the windows, because the sound of the praise would probably rattle the glass right out of the frames.  And, there’s no need for a church bell because when they praise God, the whole neighborhood knows it.  

Yes, it’s loud, but that’s not the most noticeable part of a Dominican worship service.

The most noticeable part is that the Holy Spirit is not just present--the Holy Spirit is on fire there.

You can feel it. It’s a burning, loving, grateful, unrestrained incredible joyfulness.

And the Holy Spirit is noticeably present in the people.

Even with a language barrier, even working through an interpreter (Thank you and God bless you, Luis Felipe and Hector and Sor.) I could feel that all was done con amor. (With love.)

Certainly, the Dominican Republic is not perfect. It absolutely is part of this broken world.  Certainly not all Dominicans are as filled with the Holy Spirit as the ones I met. They have criminals and drug addicts and murders, too. 

They have problems with corruption in their government, with pollution, with the safety of the water supply, with the reliable delivery of electricity, and most certainly with poverty.

The average Dominican lives on about $300 per month—which is below the poverty level.

Let me say that another way.

The average Dominican subsists on less than is needed to subsist. They are able to survive only because families love each other and support each other.

So what they do not have is the material things we take for granted.

They also do not have millions of babies murdered on the altar of abortion. They do not have their government mandating that gay marriage is the law of the land or judges fining bakeries and putting them out of business because they refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. (Although it should be noted that the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic openly hosts events at our Embassy with his “husband.”) And they do not have a 66-year old grandfather going public with the announcement that he is now female. 

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that they should be sending missionaries to US.  The Dominican Republic is not in need of being evangelized--we are.

So, yes, my itch to rejoin the hermanos (brothers and sisters) is entirely selfish—because they gave me far more than I could ever possibly give them. Yes, I long to be among a people where the Holy Spirit burns like a million power searchlight in this dark, dark world and sings to the glory of God at the very top of its lungs.

The problem is, all I have to offer them is filthy rags by comparison.

And, when I think about that, two things occur to me:

1. That’s all I have to offer Jesus.

2.   It’s not their job to evangelize the place where I live. It’s mine.

Today’s Praise

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1: 8-11 NIV)


En espanol:

Debo confesar que he tenido una picazón últimamente.
Los lectores habituales de este blog pueden recordar que hace exactamente un año, yo estaba en la República Dominicana en un viaje misionero.
Fue un increíble, una experiencia maravillosa, que cambia la vida y me pica volver.
El picor incluso a veces raya en "dolor" a veces.
Me aflige cuando estoy cocinando, (Los granos dominicanos básicos y plato de arroz es deliciosa, casi al punto de la adicción.), Cuando estoy leyendo mi Biblia, y aún hoy en día como lo estaba cargando leña en el cubo del tractor. Se cuela en mí incluso en la iglesia cuando me dan ganas de gritar "GLORIA DIOS!" Y "ALELUYA!" Durante una canción o en medio del sermón.
La cosa es que el picor es totalmente egoísta.
Cuando usted va en un viaje de misión, la gente te pregunta, "¿Qué vas a hacer allí?"
Como si, porque somos cristianos americanos, somos de alguna manera más espiritual, o más inteligente, o de alguna manera mejor que estas personas pobres que viven en este país "tercer mundo".
Eso es un montón de tonterías.
Por lo que vi, la República Dominicana no "necesita" Dan Jones en ningún sentido de la palabra.
Los dominicanos son absolutamente capaces de hacer cualquier cosa que tienen que hacer sin mi ayuda en absoluto. Ellos saben cómo hacer las cosas que estoy desorientado sobre. Yo estaba absolutamente humillado cuando traté de "ayudar" a romper un poco de concreto para nivelar un piso. Había una niña allí cerca de cuatro pies de altura, que era mucho mejor en esa tarea que yo.
Y en cuanto a su espiritualidad ...
El servicio de la iglesia que asistí en la Iglesia Altar de Jehova (Iglesia del Altar de Dios) en Sabana Perdida constaba de tres horas de genuina, sincera alabanza y adoración. Es una buena cosa que no hay vidrieras en las ventanas, ya que el sonido de la alabanza probablemente recitar el cristal a la derecha de los marcos. Y, no hay necesidad de una campana de la iglesia porque cuando alaban a Dios, todo el barrio lo sabe.
Sí, es ruidoso, pero eso no es la parte más sensible de un servicio de adoración Dominicana.
La parte más notable es que el Espíritu Santo no es sólo presente - el Espíritu Santo está en llamas allí.
Usted puede sentirlo. Es un ardor amoroso, agradecido, alegría increíble desenfrenada.
Y el Espíritu Santo es notablemente más presente en las personas.
Incluso con la barrera del idioma, incluso trabajando a través de un intérprete (Gracias y que Dios los bendiga, Luis Felipe y Héctor y Sor.) Podía sentir que todo estaba hecho con amor. (Con amor.)
Ciertamente, la República Dominicana no es perfecto. Es absolutamente es parte de este mundo roto. Desde luego, no todos los dominicanos están tan llenos del Espíritu Santo como los que conocí. Tienen delincuentes y drogadictos y asesinatos, también.

Tienen problemas con la corrupción en su gobierno, con la contaminación, con la seguridad del suministro de agua, con la entrega confiable de la electricidad, y sin duda con la pobreza.
El promedio Dominicana vive en alrededor de $ 300 por mes, lo cual está por debajo del nivel de pobreza.
Permítanme decir que de otra manera.
El promedio Dominicana subsiste con menos de lo necesario para subsistir. Ellos son capaces de sobrevivir sólo porque las familias se aman y se apoyan mutuamente.
Así que lo que no tienen es las cosas materiales que damos por sentado.
Asimismo, no tienen millones de bebés asesinados en el altar del aborto. No tienen su gobierno ordenando que el matrimonio gay es la ley de las panaderías de la tierra o de los jueces multar y ponerlos fuera del negocio porque se negaron a hacer un pastel para una boda gay. (Aunque hay que señalar que el embajador de Estados Unidos a la República Dominicana acoge abiertamente eventos en nuestra Embajada con su "marido".) Y no tienen un abuelo de 66 años de edad a bolsa con el anuncio de que ahora es una mujer.
En realidad, cuanto más pienso en ello, más me convenzo de que deben estar enviando misioneros a los Estados Unidos. La República Dominicana no tiene necesidad de ser evangelizada - somos.
Así que, sí, mi ganas de reunirse con los hermanos (hermanos y hermanas) es totalmente egoísta porque me dieron mucho más de lo que podía posiblemente darles. Sí, deseo estar en un pueblo donde el Espíritu Santo arde como un reflector millones poder en este mundo oscuro oscuro y canta a la gloria de Dios en la parte superior de sus pulmones.
El problema es que todo lo que tengo que ofrecer ellos es trapos de inmundicia por comparación.
Y, cuando pienso en eso, dos cosas se me ocurren:

1. Eso es todo lo que tengo para ofrecer a Jesús.

2. No es su trabajo para evangelizar el lugar donde vivo. Es mío.

Elogio de hoy
Dios es testigo de cuánto los quiero a todos vosotros con el entrañable amor de Cristo Jesús. Y esta es mi oración: que vuestro amor abunde más y más en ciencia y en todo conocimiento, para que puedan ser capaces de discernir lo que es mejor, y sean puros e irreprochables para el día de Cristo, llenos del fruto de justicia que viene a través de Jesucristo, para gloria y alabanza de Dios. (Filipenses 1: 8-11 NVI)




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Riches

by Dan Jones

The world is all abuzz today with talk of the Powerball jackpot at $1.5 billion.

Someone even posted a picture of a chalkboard a couple of days ago with an equation that showed if you divided the (then) $1.3 billion jackpot by the 300 million people in the United States, there’s enough money so that everyone could get $4.33 million dollars and poverty would be solved!

Think of the misery that would be prevented if every man, woman, and child in this country had over four million dollars! There would be no more hunger, no more strife, we could all pay our taxes with ease, we could afford any car and house we wanted, there would be no more health care costs we couldn’t afford to pay, and none of our churches would ever have red ink in its budget ever again!

Of course, the person posting this has ignored basic economics in that if every person in the United States was given $4.33 million dollars today, we would wake up tomorrow morning to find that the cost of a loaf of bread had gone up to $1000.

The other problem is, the math is wrong.  The correct amount is $4.33.

Four dollars and thirty-three cents.

One of the problems with enormous amounts of money is we’re not good with the math. 

When you’re down to the last $47.13 in your checkbook, it’s easy to conceptualize how buying an ice cream cone will affect that.

When we start talking b-i-l-l-i-o-n-s, things get a bit more complicated.

And so it goes with the lottery.

In 2014, Americans spent over $70 billion on the Powerball Lottery.

That’s an average of $630 for each and every household in the United States. It’s more than we spent on sports tickets, books, movies, video games, and music--combined.

And, it’s long been known that the lowest-income people spend a higher percentage of their income trying to strike it rich in the lottery than people of middle or higher income.  Generally speaking, lotteries return a little less than a dollar to the person wagering for every two dollars spent. It’s like a 50% “entertainment” tax—and mostly on the poor.

While it sounds pretty lucrative for the states involved, and indeed some states take in more in lottery proceeds than they take in from corporate income tax, the lottery will use up about 9% of its revenue in advertising and administrative costs. Retailers are paid another 5% - 6% for selling the tickets.

Winning the lottery also carries a hefty tax.  It varies from state to state, but it’s safe to say that the actual cash in pocket is about half one’s winnings after taxes.  There’s a certain “house always wins” irony in taxing winnings from a state revenue-generating lottery.

Oh, and of that $1.5 billion, that’s not actually a real number. That’s the value of your winnings, pre-tax, paid out over 30 years, with a generous adjustment for how much inflation is expected over that time span.  If you take a one-time, lump sum payment, you get about $868 million. Lop off half for taxes and you’re left with $434 million—about a third of the advertised amount.

But, that’s still a LOT of money and somebody is going to win, right?

True, somebody will win, but you’re actual odds of winning are one in 258.9 million. (Roughly.)

Statistically, you are more likely to be crushed by a meteorite, become a movie star, get canonized, become the next Warren Buffet, write a New York Times best seller, become an astronaut, go to the ER with a pogo-stick related injury, die from being a left-handed person who misuses a right handed tool, win an Oscar, win an Olympic gold medal, or become the President of the United States than win the lottery.

And, let us not forget that about 70% of people who suddenly come into large sums of money are bankrupt in less than seven years.

So, the lottery isn’t really a win-win for anybody, but here’s the deal:

As Christians, we already have more riches and wealth than all the winners of all the lotteries ever:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  (Romans 11:33a)

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, (Colossians 2:2)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

The amazing part is that sharing this wealth with others does not give us a math or economics problem at all because sharing the richness of Jesus Christ does not divide it up—it multiplies it!
So, go ahead and share the wealth!

Today’s Praise
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19