Have you ever gone to a stadium or amusement park and ordered food? It's outrageously expensive, isn't it? When was the last time you bought popcorn in a movie theater? It costs more than your admission ticket!
In 2002, my wife, Debbie, and I volunteered for several high school parent fundraisers. We were helping our daughter, Mary Alisa, raise money for the Pulaski High School marching band trip to take part in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Expensive, and very worthwhile.
One of the events we worked was serving food at Lambeau Field (the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Packers that day). I was trained to run a cash register, and starting to feel like I knew what I was doing by the end of the first quarter. I was caught by surprise when a man order a cheeseburger. Nothing else - just a cheeseburger.
I'd been ringing up $20 and $50 orders all day. But when this order came to $7, I thought I had hit the wrong key somehow. I voided the transaction as I apologized, and re-entered it slowly and carefully. Still $7. Now I was really apologetic. I couldn't believe that a cheeseburger cost $7!
My pastor, Rev. Dr. Thomas J. McCoy, spoke several years ago at Thompson Station Church on the subject of global missions. I'll never forget his declaration that day. After explaining that he and his family have pets, and assuring us that they were well-cared for, he said, "If you spend more on your dog this year than you give to global missions, you are living in sin."
Pastor Tom can be direct like that.
I thought long and hard about what he said. Our family has owned dogs before, and I have some idea of the expense involved. Food, flea collars, food, a new leash, Milk Bone biscuits, food, vet bills. It adds up. When I did have dog, I'm pretty sure I wasn't giving global missions an equal or greater share.
Nathan Sheets, a friend and e3 Partners Ministry colleague, reminded me today that the Israelites left Egypt with gold. Lots of gold, plundered from their former slave masters. God intended for them to use the gold in constructing first a tabernacle, and later a temple. It didn't take long, though, before they thought Moses and God had abandoned them in the desert.
In their despair, they used some of the gold to make an idol in the shape of a calf. To make matters worse, they arbitrarily decided that this golden calf had brought them out of Egypt and slavery - not the true, living God. They worshipped their new idol, which angered both Moses and God. Not exactly what the Lord had in mind.
How quickly we can move from clear understanding of God's direction and obedience to confusion and disobedience. And from there, it isn't far to worshiping something completely false. You can read the whole story in Exodus 32.
Special thanks to my e3 Partners colleague Mike Congrove for forwarding this thought-provoking video:
God's word is pretty clear about a Christian's responsibility to support kingdom work financially. So, when was the last time you bought a $7 bag of popcorn or an $8 hot dog? And how big a check did you write that week for global missions?
Food for thought, maybe.