Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Need to TESTIFYYYYY!

So if you know me, you know that I try to live consistently what I believe and preach.  One of those things is trusting God no matter what...particularly in the area of finances. (Because if there's one area that competes with God for our trust it is our trust and dependence upon money)  As such I am a big believer in tithing.  Long before I was in ministry I gave my tithe (10%) of my (gross) income to the Lord via my local church.  I also have always given extra in offerings for special projects, guest speakers, missions giving, etc.  Since getting married Susi and I have given anywhere from 25-40% of our income to the Kingdom of God (again...through our local church as is Biblical)  God has invited us into a covenant relationship with Him and invites us to test Him in the area of money. (Read Malachi 3)

Anywayyyyy, I resigned from my position as Lead Pastor back in the beginning of October at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, plus we face my wife's impending layoff of her job. (details here) So my salary and income ceased mid-October.  Since then the only income I have had has been from a few speaking invitations at other churches and working at UPS in December (part-time for minimum wage).  All of that totaling about 15% of  of my previous income while factoring in the extra money needed for Christmas gifts, travel and other holiday related expenses.  We have always lived a very non-extravagant lifestyle and also lived within our means.  We have not made many cuts in lifestyle living since my resignation, because there weren't a whole lot of areas to cut.  



The testimony part comes in the fact that since my resignation, not only has our savings remain untouched, but every time I go to pay the our tithes and the bills (in that order) I notice our checking account balance keeps INCREASING!  


I wonder what would happen if we as the Church (and as a nation!) began trusting God and obeying Him again in the area of finances...


The point in all this is not the FORMULA of tithing, but rather the loving God behind the promises.  He is our Father and will provide for us as we seek Him and His Kingdom first in our lives.  But don't take my word for it...(http://bible.us/Matt6.19-34.NIV and http://bible.us/Mal3.6-12.NIV)


   ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. " (Matthew 6:19, 24–34, NIV)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas story if Facebook would have been around...

video
The Christmas story if Facebook would have been around...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Get Over Yourself and GO TO CHURCH!

Feeling a little feisty due to two recent events.  One, I read an article in the paper this morning about a 16 year old teen who is charged with murder via Craigslist.  I won't go into the details of the case, but this "alleged" (so sick of that term) killer wrote a letter to his dad that was in the paper and it said "There's a chance I might be out by the time I'm 42,' the boy wrote.  'I know there is no way in hell that any kind of God would do that to me."  Seriously??  People are so messed up and confused right now.

Secondly, I started working for UPS for the month of December while I am interviewing with churches. (the 4am-9am shift...UGH!)  I spent the majority of the other night (morning??) trying to talk to a guy about Jesus.  Now apart from getting in trouble because I wasn't moving as fast as I should have due to some serious sharing o' Jesus, I discovered this guy has done what so many others have done these days.  You know...they've made a Mr. Potato Head Jesus.  They pick different parts that they have heard and like and put that on the potato.  But the parts they don't like they cast to the side.  And much like I did growing up when I stuck anything and everything (Q-tips, forks, thumb tacks, etc.) into those holes apart from the standard issue Mr. Potato Head accessories, this guy had thrown in reincarnation, karma and "virtuous living."  Though I was direct with him I didn't preach at him (as much as I was tempted). Rather I tried to coach him in seeing the holes in his way of thinking. He was completely making up his own god.

Bottom line in all this?  People are not going to church, they are not reading their Bibles, and are only listening to the likes of Joel Osteen on tv on occasion. (Not bashing, but come on!)  The result?  In this pluralistic society people are crafting their own view of God and banking their eternity on it.  Again I ask... Seriously??  If I have told you my name, that I live in Ohio (O-H!), and am married to the most wonderful woman for almost 17 years and have two great kids, but you insist that I am a single guy named "Joe Bob" who lives in the back country of Louisiana does that in fact change who I am?  God has revealed Himself and everyone will be held accountable to that, otherwise Christ died for nothing.  

How do you get to know this self-revealing God?  Well of course the first step is to invite Jesus into your heart as you confess and repent of your sin.  You enter into a relationship with Him.  He connects you to Himself...but He doesn't stop there.  He then connects you to His people where you continue to learn.  I'm so tired of those that are saved trying to tell me they don't need to go to church to be a Christian.  You don't need to go to church to make it to Heaven, but if you want to be a "Follower of Christ" (Christian) then actually, yes you do, because He will lead you into deep and regular community with other Christians.  Apart from this community, chances are great that you will live a weak and powerless life and risk very easily being swept away by the deceit of the Enemy.  Some might rebuff with various verses about their strength in Christ, their beliefs are right, etc, etc., ad nauseum. The fact is that you were created for community and that Jesus died to create the Church, the Body and that is expressed in local bodies of believers gathering to worship, to receive God's Word together, to serve side by side in various ways. 

Does simply being in church fix everything? OF COURSE NOT!  I am not suggesting that if this 16 year old was a regular attender at church that nothing like this could have happened. (although statistics show that it would have been highly unlikely!)  
But alone:
You are weak
You live a really small self-centered life
You can easily start lying to yourself. (compromise, blind spots)
You stunt your growth
You rob people of the gifts and calling that God has put in you to bless others.
You can easily get confused and fall into sin and error ("Did God really say???" Genesis 3:1)
You wind up living like an orphan when you have been adopted as a Child of the Most High God
You develop a cheap grace view like the 16 year old "alleged" murderer.
You slowly begin to remake God into your own image rather than who He has revealed Himself to be.

In my ranting, I do realize that there are a lot of people who have been hurt by past experiences in churches.  I also realize there is a lot of work to do in restoring health to many of our churches.  But don't take the 'Bait of Satan' (see John Bevere's book) and give up on God's plan for your life.  These are not the days to be going it solo.  

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

/rant