Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘need’

Tonight I’m thinking about how I’m not sure what my life is accomplishing. But on the bright side, I just made bread without a recipe, and it seems to be working.  I just kind of scooped and sprinkled and dumped, with yeast and oats and whole wheat flour and a handful of bread flour and honey, chia and flax and butter and milk (no yogurt since the stuff I had didn’t smell quite so great).  It was a fun experiment.  Recently I heard someone saying they don’t like baking because you have to be too precise.  I tend to disagree.

How ought one to communicate that they’re desperate for affirmation – as in, one cannot, on one’s own, perceive how God is making good use of them?

And, having begun asking such questions, how does one communicate need for time, need for physical affection, need to be given things/provided for?

At what point does hunger classify as a need? Or just a desire? “I’d like a snack” vs. “this is getting unhealthy” vs. “if I don’t get food soon, I’ll probably die”? Because I can tell I’m hungry for those things that communicate love.  I feel the lack, see how I could be a stronger person if I had them.  But if I’m not in dire need, is it right to be so bold as to ask for other people to give me attention?  Is anyone obligated to give attention to my needs?  Is there any point where it would be right to be “demanding”?

I’ve also been wondering, how do people keep going, who don’t know God? How do they survive the loneliness? Is it possible to be intentionally more numb to it, by being less self-aware and more focused on, say, entertainment?

Or would it solve a lot of these problems if I was more others-aware? But then, can you really give, give, give when you feel starved?

I’ve been focusing on random things.  Is it worthwhile to know things like improvising bread without a recipe? The history of medieval Spain? The way that purple and blue and orange go together? How to teach cube roots?  The work of the Holy Spirit during the pre-Jesus days?  Maybe these things go together.  Maybe they’re good in themselves.  Maybe someday they’ll combine to usefulness for a different stage of my life.

I read another quote from Anne of Green Gables today, but I can’t get myself to agree with it: “I believe that the nicest and sweetest of days are not those which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

While my bread was rising, and earlier in the day, I searched Pinterest making fanciful plans to visit Scotland – or less fanciful ones to do an afternoon trip to Ft. Collins.  I am feeling restless.  I want to be beautiful and in beauty and seeing beauty.  I want to go places I’ve never been, and really soak them in – not just drive through.  I want to see old things, but they might make me cry if they’re abandoned, and so many old things are.  Who abandons *castles*, after all?  If you ever don’t want your castle, give it to me; I’ll see that it’s inhabited!

What is my place?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

To

Read Full Post »

Several of my friends are learning about asking for help.  And when such dear friends are learning something, so am I.  They pose challenging questions, and as I meditate on my experience, my personality, I see where I also need to grow.  I’m on the watch, as are they, for opportunities to humble myself and ask for what I need. 

 

I practice gratitude, like a tight fist on the last rope holding me from slipping from trust.  I choose to see the ways that God provides and blesses.  I struggle to understand how grace is abundant and need still stands, inviting God, inviting His people, to invest.  I have been gifted many friends, time to hold children, nearness of God as I read Scripture, job to earn money, good food, moments to pray with God’s Church. 

 

But I am thirsty, needy.  I feel this restlessness for days.  When I take time finally to examine, I find that being with people is not enough.  That though giving is a blessing, sometimes receiving is all I can do; sometimes I am on my knees too weak to even hold myself up.  I need attention.  I need a hug, given to me.  I need some other to be strong.  And though God is the supplier of all, and though even without nourishment I would still have life eternal because of Jesus, there are some things that I need in this life that are not God.  I need food and water and air.  I need people to speak truth specifically relevant to the problems I face and the doubts that assail.  I need to be heard.  I need to not just be known, like the perfect God knows His children, but discovered, like a daughter, like a friend.  Discovered and not rejected.  Vulnerable and embraced and even delighted in. 

 

I ask my brother, confidante, “How do you ask for [attention]?  And then someone says ‘yes’ and what – stares at you awkwardly?”  So how do I confess my need?  What exactly do I expect from whomever I ask?  And when it is my turn, how do I meet needs that are this profound, this tender?   

 

 

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Need

Lately I’ve been learning about needs.  And learning to admit that I have them: to myself, to God, and to others.  I was homeschooled in a way that taught me to be rather self-sufficient in my learning.  Usually if I read something in a book and thought about it hard enough, I could figure it out.  There are dictionaries and encyclopedias, all examples of removed dependence. Now we even have Google, where with a click and a pressing a few keys, I can access a world of help – and never have to admit that I did.  There have been times when no school books, long thinking, dictionaries, or websites could help me.  When I wanted my grandpa’s desk moved to my room, I needed help getting it down the basement stairs.  Often I have read the Bible and been unable to make heads or tails of it, even with the help of concordances and commentaries. But asking a friend, or a group of friends, has been enlightening.

I’m hungry right now.  It is about 1 o’clock PM, and the only thing I’ve had all day is a bottle of orange juice.  So my stomach has that familiar ache that asks to be fed.  Hunger is part of our lives because we are responsive creatures.  Though there are things we can discipline ourselves to do, typically we eat when we are hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep when tired.  We blink when dust flies at our eyes.  And those impulses are good, because we need food, drink, rest, and defense to stay alive.

Just now I have another sensation.  I want to be held.  Not given a hand-shake.  Not a quick hug. The desire is for prolonged contact, tightness blended with gentleness.  And the feeling is so much like hunger and thirst and weariness that I cannot think that it is unnatural or purposeless. Perhaps the need is less urgent…  Perhaps I will even survive if I am never held.  Do I NEED my mommy?  A husband?  I think these longings point to that.  Were they not balanced by morality taught in the Bible, I would just go after gratification.  Outcomes don’t change the fact that the sensation is related to the other need-based instincts.

The philosophy is going around the Christian community that the only thing we need is God.  I suppose this is true if you are saying, “The only thing we need FOR salvation is God.”  Just like the only think we need FOR hunger is food.  The only thing I need FOR good grades is to know the right answers for the test.  But we live in a cause and effect world.  God made it that way.  So to reach certain outcomes, we NEED certain prerequisites.

To say, “I don’t need food; I have God,” is nonsense.  It is possible to starve to death while “having” God.  With such a being as God, it is possible for Him to maintain life without food – but He rarely does so, and has not promised it.  From a certain point of view, God was all that starving person needed – to accomplish God’s will, to bring God glory, maybe even to be happy. But God was not the sole need if the goal was continued life.

As Christians in the Church Age, God has seen fit to put us as individual members of one body. Without those individuals functioning as ears, where would the hearing be for those of us who are eyes?  Such is the metaphor Paul uses.  To accomplish the good works God has prepared for us, we NEED other believers.  Use of spiritual gifts demands at the very least, objects.  Teachers have students.  Shepherds have sheep.  Most often cooperation is also required.  Discipleship is not accomplished by one person.  Repentance is much more successful when it is confessed to a community.  “One another” fills the teachings of the New Testament.  We NEED others.

In a similar way, husbands and wives NEED each other.  If God wants me to be married, I need a husband to obey God’s call.  To function as a wife, I need a husband.  Husbands are not God. They are not sufficient for all a woman’s needs.  They cannot give her purpose like God can. Wives do need husbands, though.  To “be fruitful and multiply,” a woman needs a man – unless God is going to miraculously intervene like he did with Mary, but that was a very special case not ever to be repeated!

The reluctance to acknowledge these needs leads to weakness, as we attempt to live the Christian life in independence: praying by ourselves, serving by ourselves, confessing alone, studying alone.  It leads to the thinking that church is where we serve, but not where we are ourselves built into servants.  After all, if God is the only thing we need, we don’t need the discipleship offered from a community of believers.  And other believers don’t need us, since they have God. So when we gather, our purpose is either all about God (a sensory worship experience) or all about non-believers (let’s make it fun enough that they’ll stay to hear when we mention Jesus, the cross, and belief).  Problem is, that isn’t how the Bible describes church.  Believers gather for edification, fellowship, teaching.  Worship is rarely mentioned.  The possibility of non-believers present is addressed once.  Read Ephesians.  Read Romans, and 1 Corinthians.  Even the passages about pastors in 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter have the emphasis of building up.

When we think God is all we NEED, we reject His good gifts.  We do not ask Him for what we need.  Those people God has called to walk alongside us are not esteemed.  Our failure is discouraging, for when we fall, who will lift us up again?  I believe that God works in my weakness.  I do not believe this always manifests as a miracle.  There have been experiences in my life where I was trying to teach something, and my communication was weak or distracted. But other believers, equipped and brought forward by God, have joined with me and completed the lesson.  If I denied that possibility, I would have to believe that the lesson I was trying to teach never got taught.  Do you see?

God is rather fond of means and middle men.  When His word accomplishes universes, yet He creates angels to do His bidding.  Cooperation is not the most efficient possibility for the Almighty.  But then He created time, too.  God does not need anything more than Himself.  Since He set us in a world, not alone, with tasks to do by work and not by miraculous proclamations, we do NEED some things.  Some people.  And God.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I read a story last week: Return of the Guardian King.  Fourth and final of a vividly epic fantasy series written by a woman who knows my world, my type, and my God.  Her name is Karen Hancock, and her stories have invaded my imagination permanently.

It is a book about temptation, I told a friend.  Resisting in the slow way, wearied by the persistence, common days, small things.  And massive temptations: to betray all you have believed in, to denounce the promises of God for the power of ruling kingdoms, to trade love in the good God and His simple gifts to the extravagant suit of the alluring devil.  But the large and the small are the same. 

The characters are strong against deception and temptation when they have been faithful in the daily denying of self.  To live for others, in kindness and patience, prepares each person against bitterness and despair.  Immersion in the truth and promises of God is comfort and hope.  Even if their prayer is a single cry for help from God, bad things trun to good when people talk to their God. 

The story isn’t about what is happening on the outside as much as it is about whether the characters are trusting God, whether they know with all their might that He loves them and that His plans for them are good.  When they are rebelling against him, they are miserable.  So are those around them.  So am I. 

Kiriath is in the hands of the jealous and vengeful brother Gillard, possessed by a demon rhu’ema.  Already they treat and ally with the archenemy, Belthe’adi, Abramm had warned them of.  Abramm is known to be dead.  But Abramm is also walking the mountains, chafing under the waiting in a snowed-in monastery.  Maddie is back at her childhood home, a palatial life she never embraced, and her newest royal duty is to marry some rich aristocrat who can offer troops to defend the last stand of her homeland.  But her dreams linked with her beloved’s are back, and something tugs hope alive in her that maybe Abramm survived after all. 

Shapeshifters, dragons, and the critical people who are supposed to be his friends plague Abramm on his Odyssey-like journey back to his wife and sons.  Trap and Carissa mirror Abramm’s struggle with pride and longing but in a quiet domestic setting.  Detours take the exiled king and longed-for husband to places of faith and doubt he never would have imagined – and sometimes wishes he had never asked for. 

Every character learns the power of friends: locking them against temptation, praying for their dearest concerns, teaching and challenging with the truth, dividing the attacks of dragons, delivering messages, watching with unbiased eyes, guarding against betrayal.  Again Abramm learns that it is not his strength that conquers, and that God has not gifted him with leadership and military prowess to fight God’s battles for Him.  He is but a vessel. 

Maddie meets a charming man who is attractive in all the ways Abramm never was.  Tirus wants her, wants to help her.  He understands her and shows her off, showers her with gifts and protects her from scorn.  How long can she wait for her husband whom even her dearest friends still believe is dead?  Will she believe the light-born visions and promises from God, or the technological, repeatable sight from the stone sent to her by her suitor?  Will she change her mind about regal living and the purpose of marriage?  The things that stood in Maddie’s way when she wanted to marry Abramm, and the undeniable need they had for each other – will she forget those? 

When things go from bad to worse, whose job is it to protect the ones they love?  At what cost will they buy safety and love?  Will the armies of the Moon, and the powers of the air – dragons winging terror across the skies – will they succeed in doing their worst, in taking everything from those faithful to God?  Or will they be utterly defeated?  If they cannot be defeated, what is the point in fighting and sacrificing? 

And when God’s people fail, bitterly weak, The Return of the Guardian King resounds with display of God’s mercy.  God knew we were weak when He chose us.  He knew we would fail when He sent His Son to suffer for those sins.  And a single prayer, sometimes the end of God’s longsuffering chase, brings grace empowering His servants to do the right thing.  He cannot deny Himself.  His promises will be true, however faithless we are. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Proverbs 22:7, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

 

The Bible is fairly clear that debt is a bad idea.  The Jews were allowed to loan money to each other, and even to take a deposit – but they could not charge interest.  Only outsiders were to be a source of profit to the Jews.  Proverbs teaches that giving to the poor is much better than lending to them; it is compared to lending to God, who will “repay” the generous man. 

 

Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”

 

Luke 6:35, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

 

With this in mind, I have chosen to be neither slave nor master, borrowing nor lending.  I don’t have a credit card, bought my car with cash, and prepay my auto insurance every year.  The most money I owe is paying my share of our family cell phone plan each month, and I try to never get even a day behind.  As a result I have a no credit rating, but I defy an economy built on spending tomorrow’s dollar.  Isn’t it rather foolish of them to base trust on the fact that people are NOT responsible enough to save money ahead of time? 

 

I don’t want to lend money, either.  But living in modern America, to have any sort of normal life one must have a bank.  Banks are institutions that take my money and your money and loan it to others in order to profit from the interest.  The banking crisis of 2008 was precipitated by a ratio of loans to interest received that was too disproportionate to maintain a profit.  The expenses of banks were not being paid by the interest on loans because too many loans were “bad.”  Payments were not being made.  Banks can’t reinvest foreclosed property immediately.  Their funds became tied up, invested in non-liquid assets.  And this is not a bad thing except that they had been too greedy, and left insufficient cash in hand to meet the demands of their customers.  Some of their customers were the depositors, some the borrowers (small businesses were a big concern; apparently they function on future dollars almost exclusively), and many bank clients are paradoxically both.  That this is bad for the economy as a whole is becoming more and more evident. 

 

The practice of profiting from loans (associated with shady characters for centuries) to people in need is hurting individuals as well.  Obviously to give an interest-free loan, or even a “hand up” gift in hard times would be much preferable financially.  Traditionally this would be done relationally, by capable friends who would be able to assess the legitimacy of the need and the efficacy of the gift.  To those not in need loans ought to be less available.  Politically and economically the Levitical law on charging interest to foreigners corresponded to the idea of duties (benefiting the people directly, rather than the government).  To participate in the God -directed and –blessed economy of Israel, a Gentile could borrow money from a Jew, but the Jew was allowed to charge him for this privilege, taking the form of interest.  (This is as covered in the law; it is plausible that Jews could charge other things like duties or rent for market space.)  I suppose that business loans resemble this category, but it is not sound business to rely so heavily on borrowed cash. 

 

Here is where I would like to introduce the concept of investment.  What is commonly considered investment today is more accurately called “speculation.”  It is a risk, calculated or wild – a gamble.  Either a bank is taking a risk on a loan, betting that the interest yield will be profitable and that the debtor will not take off with the money; or an individual or institution is throwing money into stocks hoping the value of the stocks will go up, and that they can sell at a higher price in the future.  Investment is different.  Investment relies on dividends for profit.  Dividends are a share of the profits less than the total profits divided by all the “shares” of stockholders, so that some of the profits may be reinvested in the company for continuing productivity, like farmers not selling all of their produce, but saving some for seed and planting a portion of it the next season.  Sound investing is to give (as in not expecting or requiring the money to be returned) a sum to a company that one believes will be making profits long enough that dividends will meet or exceed the amount of the investment.  This happens over time. 

 

Another type of investment is in assets, which ought to appreciate through supply and demand.  This property ought to have inherent worth by reason of usefulness.  A few common kinds of investment are land, houses, and gold.  A person may also invest in a service, like education, which makes his skills greater and his labor more valuable.  Investing this way does not always require the sale of the investment to profit.  There can be “dividends” on this as well: rent money from rental property, use of a house or farmland, or application of the skills acquired through education. 

 

I understand how the sale of stock arose, and how useful it is.  I’m not opposed to that being an option.  It should not, however, be the common practice of banks, investment companies, or sound long-term investors.  There would be two reasons to sell stock: 1) You can no longer afford the investment.  Liquidity is more essential to you than long-term profit.  2) Your share in the company is losing value in a way that makes you think that no profit will ever proceed from it again.  In this instance, to sell is to take advantage of another investor, profiting from selling them an asset worth nothing.  Like loaning money or running a casino, it is preying on the risky ambitions of foolish men.  It ought to be legal in a free market, but it is not moral. 

 

All this to say that the ideal bank for me would be one that does not loan money, nor speculate in stocks.  Picture a community of people.  Many of them have money to spare, which they wish to store in a safe but accessible location.  They get together and store their money in a bank.  This bank is managed by a man who guards their cash and processes transactions: deposits, withdrawals, checks, debit cards, transfers.  To pay for his services, the depositors allow him to use a portion of the total money in the bank to invest.  At least a portion of the dividends, if not all of them, would pay for the building, the administrative fees, and the banker’s salary.  The investments ought to be diverse, and published to the depositors for review.  If there was sufficient concern that the investments were imprudent, the depositors could attempt to advise their banker or transfer their money to a more trusted banker.  Depositors would understand that not all of their money would necessarily be available for withdrawal or transfer at once, but at a contractual set period after such a request is made.  As always, more deposits are an insurance against a misjudged investment or a large withdrawal.  If the investments are consistently successful enough, a bank may offer its own dividends to all of its clients, or to those whose deposits are large enough (this is done today through “interest-bearing” checking accounts). 

 

This is slightly simplified.  A larger bank would obviously employ more than one investment manager, for example.  I don’t know all the laws involved.  Many banks, I believe, were begun by one wealthy man (or a few partners) who put up his own money to ensure both initial liquidity and sufficient funds to participate in the market at a profitable level.  In fact the whole idea is similar to a trust, in which multiple parties get together in order to make investments too large for their individual capital.  (If I wanted to invest in gold, I am pretty sure the smallest portions I can buy in a portfolio situation are ounces, so if I don’t have enough extra cash to buy one ounce, I cannot invest in gold.  But if my brother and I pool our investment money, we could afford the ounce and participate in that market.)  Trusts are strictly regulated by contracts defining shares, inheritance, selling out, and management. 

 

I don’t think owning stock in a company should be restricted to corporations or investment firms or banks, nor should it take an expert to understand the buying and selling of stocks.  There is a place for the investment firm that lets investors manage their own portfolios as well as for an investment bank such as the one I describe.  If a client is benefiting from the bank-like services of an investment firm, it is fair enough to let those employed by that company control the investments made, even if in the form of creating a list of acceptable investments or advising on investments (veto power), for the security of their business and thus the continued availability of the demanded services. 

 

My idea here is not brand new.  Think of what banks are called.  You can still find some today called such and such “bank and trust,” or “investment bank.”  I want a bank that does not loan money, and one that does not speculate in stocks.  Do you know of any? 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

For a few years there has been a Sylvan Learning Center near my house.  Driving home from church Monday, I noticed that it is now empty and “for lease.”  Whoever owned that franchise location probably felt like they had a good geographic.  The neighborhoods nearby have plenty of kids whose grades tend to teeter on the passing line.  Whether English wasn’t their first language, so they’re playing catch-up at school, or if they’re simply not disciplined enough to learn and do homework, students in this part of the world could really use some one on one tutoring. 

 

But more, it would appear, was necessary for the success of the business than identifying a need and providing the solution.  First of all, there had to be interest.  The parents of the students had to care about their grades and the solution Sylvan offered.  Secondly, the parents had to have the currency to pay for supplemental education: the currency of money and of time. 

 

Five minutes home from church ought to be a short period in which to fit analogies for life, but one struck me.  At our church I see several high school girls who need older ladies to care about them, to spend time with them, to ground them in faith, and to guide them to maturity and godliness.  So a friend and I, under our youth pastor, are offering a small group.  This would also enable the girls to get to know each other and encourage each other.  But most of the girls aren’t coming.  Either they don’t have the interest, or they don’t have the currency of time to invest. 

 

What’s the solution?  Should we close up like Sylvan?  Is our tactic wrong? 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »