Dealing With The Spirit of Poverty, Part 4
May 18, 2018
Last week’s discussion on poverty provoked a lot of thoughtful comments. Today’s sit-down ought to do more of the same. Let me begin today’s sharing with some personal experiences.
Back when Della and I were living in Anchorage, we were making good money – really good money! Della was the manager of the largest Zale jewelry store in the state and acting assistant regional manager, taking oversight for 13 other stores. I was Chief Engineer for the FOX television station. I also had a newspaper distribution business on the side taking care of several paper routes for the Anchorage Daily News. My newspaper business earned me more money than my engineering position – and that was no small potatoes.
One day the Lord says to us – both of us – “Simplify.” Next day He says, “Consolidate.” Next day He says, “Get out of debt.” Next day He says, “Become mobile. Be ready to go where I send you at a moment’s notice.”
Whewww!! Get the picture? “Sell all thou hast, and come and follow me.” That was the essence of what He was saying to us. He just took a different way to say the same thing.
So I did what lots of other folks try to do. Interpret.
Yup! I’m not sure what it is about human nature that figures it has to “interpret” what God says when He says it so clearly, but that’s what often happens.
Here was my interpretation. Start downsizing. Get out of the six-bedroom home. We didn’t need that big a place anymore, anyway. Except for Rebekah and Joshua, all of our kids were grown and gone from home. So we found a four-bedroom house out in the country, about fifty miles north of Anchorage. We figured (I figured!) we could move our household goods – what we needed to keep – out to that house, put things in storage, and get ready to roll.
Hmmmmmm……. Not quite what the Lord said, was it? The Lord has a funny sense of humor, though, when you are making an effort – even if it is a screwed-up effort – to be obedient. OK, we can solve this problem easy!
Bang! Smash! Thud! Know what all that noise is? That’s us in a head-on collision with our almost brand new Chevy Lumina. A drunk pulls directly into our path a couple car lengths in front of us when we’re going 50 miles an hour. Know what? That’s not a fun way to come to a stop! Our van was that new kind of construction, though, that allows the front-end to collapse and protect the passengers. We walked away without a scratch. Our van was totaled.
Know what else? The drunk’s pickup was literally airborne and thrown into a telephone pole. He got out and ran away from the scene. Even though we identified the driver as being the owner, because he wasn’t present at the scene and an hour later claimed his pickup had been stolen, he got off scot-free. His insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Stupid me, I hadn’t made my primary insurance payment, and my policy had lapsed the day before the accident. I did have another policy that paid off the van, but wouldn’t replace it.
Presto. No more van. No more payments. No more insurance payments. And no way for us to move our stuff out into the country. We had to pass on buying the country home. We couldn’t afford to buy it and a new vehicle at the same time. Yup. You heard that right. We were so taxed financially making all that money we couldn’t afford to do anything.
See. The Lord was trying to teach us more than, “Sell all thou hast.” He was getting ready to teach us some fundamentals of prosperity and deliver us from a poverty mindset. Hate to say it, but I sure was slow to get deliverance!
So I rented one of those storage lockers. Paid a hundred bucks a month to store everything I didn’t give to our kids or sell in a garage sale. What a waste! I shoulda listened to exactly what the Lord was saying! We (I) hung on to stuff that was really necessary for our future plans. Know what I mean? And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge for sale.
Over the next four years, I wound up paying out nearly $5 grand in storage fees for stuff that rusted, molded or became obsolete and had to be given or thrown away. What a waste!
We got rid of the six-bedroom house. I resigned my engineering position. Della resigned from Zales, and I sweated little green apples letting go of my newspaper business. ‘S’funny isn’t it. How we attach so much importance to things, to positions, to jobs, to businesses that ultimately mean nothing in God’s scheme of things!
I’ve already shared with you in a previous discussion, our meeting Earle and Marcia, and how they offered us their ranch in Idaho as a place to go and establish a base of operations for ministry. That’s where we headed. Overnight we went from $10 grand plus per month in income down to a guaranteed 200 bucks. You know what the guaranteed 200 bucks were? The tithe from a faithful lady in Canada who had retired from teaching.
We lived better on those $200 than we had ever lived on the $10,000+. Don’t try to do the math. You’ll go crazy. But that’s the way it works when you obey the Lord. When we arrived at the ranch, we still had some $14,000 in unpaid bills left from Alaska. I can’t tell you to this day how it all happened, but during the course of the next year we got out of debt. Completely.
I don’t have the time in this article to tell you of all the adventures we had, but we started giving away everything. Mostly, we gave ourselves. We didn’t have lots of money – of course – but we did have our skills, our abilities, our talents. And we gave those away.
Somehow, there was always money to travel. And we did. We traveled throughout the northwest and Canada and across the northern tier states, helping folks who needed help. We chinked logs for a massive log home that belonged to some friends in Cochrane, Alberta. We painted the outside and inside of a large home for some other friends in Red Deer. We laid linoleum in Atlin, BC. We plumbed a house in Spokane. We tore out the old bathroom at the ranch house in Idaho and built a new, modern bathroom with a heated floor. We repaired and rebuilt another bathroom in Liberty Lake. And on and on.
And we began to learn a whole different side of prosperity. It wasn’t that we didn’t have hearts to give. We did. We’d always been givers. But we gave from our wealth – not from our need. Remember the widow’s mite – that dinky little coin worth less than a cent – that was worth more than all the wealth the rich men were dropping into the offering boxes?
It’s all a matter of perspective. Where are you giving from: your wealth, or your need?
Prosperity (and I said this last week) begins in how and whether we apply the principle that Jesus taught, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Della and I learned that the more you give, the more you receive. We gave and gave and gave. And we received, and received, and received. Understand that we weren’t receiving lots of money at the time, but we sure were receiving a greater measure of the personal, living presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, we did receive money. Plenty of it. Not enough to get rich – financially, that is – but plenty to meet our needs. We lived better, and ate better, and drove better than we ever had before.
It’s a funny thing, though. We still didn’t have a home to call our own. We moved about from place to place – even though the ranch was still “home.” We just didn’t own it. Pretty soon, Earle and Marcia returned to the ranch from Alaska, and all of us were living there.
And it really didn’t matter. Our frame of reference was changing. We still didn’t have much in terms of this world’s goods, but we were richer than we’d ever been. And we were out of debt. We didn’t owe a red cent to anyone.
Prosperity begins in the mind. Think I said that before. It begins in one’s spirit. It begins in giving. There’s a whole lot more to it, though, and I can see that I’m not even going to scratch the surface today. Looks like this is going to have to be a two-parter.
“Sell all thou hast” has a lot more implications than initially meet the eye. It’s not just getting rid of stuff. It’s getting rid of the “stuff mindset.” It’s getting rid of the way you think, the way you reason, the way you plot and scheme to acquire things so you won’t have needs, the way you think life ought to be lived, the way you think God wants you to live.
OOOOPPPS!! Did I say that? It sounds like I’m saying that “sell all thou hast” means getting rid of rational thinking. You’re right! That’s what I said. And that’s what I mean. Exactly! God doesn’t need your logic to prosper you. God doesn’t need your rationalizing of anything to bless you. He needs your simple, unqualified, uncompromised obedience. No matter how illogical it may seem.
True prosperity comes with obedience to all that God commands of you – logic or no logic. True prosperity comes with following some fundamental principles the Lord has laid down for us to follow.
Some of the richest people I’ve ever known have more money than you’d spend in your lifetime. And…...some of the richest people I’ve known have very little money in the bank, or financial assets of any kind.
By the same token, some of the poorest people I’ve known have so much money you’d never be able to spend it. And…..some of the poorest people I’ve known seem to have it all together. They have friends, they have position, they have power (or think they do), they have status in life and academic recognition. And they have nothing!
As I’ve said many times, prosperity is not having lots of money, owning properties and expensive cars, and having Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Prosperity isn’t having power, position or being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Prosperity isn’t even happiness. Happiness will come with true prosperity, but happiness is a state of mind – not a state of being. So, let’s talk about what prosperity really is.
Like I said. Happiness is a state of mind. Joy is a state of one’s spirit. We are triune beings, created in the image of God. We function first and foremost in our spirits, then our minds or our souls, and finally with some action in our bodies.
Lots of folks try to prosper by just “thinking” it, then following their “think” with some action. That works better than “thinking” poor, but unless prosperity begins in one’s spirit, one doesn’t have their entire being “in agreement.”
Let’s talk a principle for a minute. In John’s third epistle to the body of Christ, he writes, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper (euodoo) and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” Lots of folks think that phrase “mayest prosper and be in health” applies strictly to one’s spiritual state of affairs.
Huh Uh! Nope. That Greek word, euodoo, translates literally to “help on the road,” but is used metaphorically of “succeeding in business and economic affairs.” Prospering. Doing well. Making it financially.
So much for the phony baloney that it is God’s will for folks to be poor and live in poverty. That really is a demonic doctrine that has populated the church world.
When you grow up in church like I did, you hear just about every teaching conceivable – much of it coming from folks who either don’t really know the Lord, or just don’t know His heart’s desire. As a result, they draw silly conclusions by looking at the way Jesus lived and think that’s the way we’re supposed to live. Humility equates to “poor.”
One of the most misunderstood statements Jesus made is, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” People read that and think, Jesus must not have had a home to live in. He was a street person.
What He really meant was that His home was not of this world – that while engaged in this ministry that changed the face of the globe, He neither had the time nor the inclination to waste what few years He had on living in the lap of luxury, going home and sleeping in a nice bed, satisfying his creature comforts. He could have, you know.
Jesus wasn’t poor. He had enormous wealth at His disposal. He chose, instead, to take every available moment investing Himself in the eternal investment that would ultimately pay the dividends that would bring Him a yield of folks with whom he could fellowship as His co-equals.
Jesus was sacrificing the ease of His flesh for a spiritual return that would last for eternity. Thus, as He began his three and a half years of ministry, He said,
Matthew 6:19-21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
OOPS! Now I’ve opened up a can of worms. I’ve heard the arguments from this Scripture ad nauseam. Next week, we will deal with the flaw and error that has crept into the body of Christ as a result of a serious misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying.
For those of you who’ve participated during the past three years in our Monday night Healing Prayer Conference Call, this is just a reminder that the calls have resumed on a once-a-month basis, the first Monday of each month. If you have a need for healing, or you have friends in need of healing, here is the number to call: (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available by Skype. If you wish to participate by video on Skype, my Skype ID is regner.capener. If you miss the live voice call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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