Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why I quit going to church.

God’s presence has been incredible lately at LifeWay. I’m not talking about better than usual, but like at a whole new level. Worship is amazing, lives are being changed and people are getting saved every week. I love it! I’m not saying that to brag on us but rather to brag on Him and to ask a question…

What changed?

I think we changed. Scripture clearly states that God didn’t.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” - Hebrews 13:8 NIV

We started this year by calling our church to a 21 day fast and many people responded in faith. I believe that with our physical hunger came a deeper spiritual hunger for God. We came to church expectant and I believe placed a greater demand on the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” - Mark 6:4-6 NIV

It absolutely amazes me that the Bible states that the very Son of God could not (COULD NOT!) do many miracles because of their lack of faith. I think a lot of people show up at church on Sunday because that’s what they do every Sunday (which is not a bad thing). The rub is that our focus is on what we do rather than who we are. Heart always trumps habit. We can either wake up and go through our routine OR we can stop, recognize that we are getting ready to gather together with the Body of Christ (the hope of glory) in the very presence of the Creator of heaven and earth. Anything and everything is possible! How we approach Him makes all the difference in how He approaches us.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dollars & Sense

Most people have more month than they do money. Every year they fall just a little further behind, working harder and longer and still not making any headway. Without a plan for life’s emergencies they make it from paycheck to paycheck with a little help from their plastic ‘friend’. They delude themselves into thinking that things are going to change (without making a change) and their plans for the future involve little more than wishful thinking. If it’s not working for most people then maybe we should consider a different approach.

Sound fiscal management isn’t rocket science but it does require a purposeful approach. In a nutshell here is God’s plan to win with money -

1. Measure - You have to know what’s coming in, what’s going out and where from/to. Every dollar needs to be accounted for.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” - Proverbs 27:23 NIV

2. Manage - You need to give every dollar an assignment. Instead of asking ‘where your money went?’ it’s time to tell it ‘where to go’. This is where the tide turns. This is where you take control of your financial future and make a change that makes a change. If you don’t want to be like everyone else then you can’t do like everyone else. You must choose to go against the grain, live beneath your means and free yourself from the bondage of debt.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” - Proverbs 22:7 NIV

3. Multiply - You’ve worked hard for your money. Now it’s time for it to work just as hard for you. There are a number of different ways to invest (business, stocks, real estate, etc.) but the first investment you should make is in educating yourself. This is not about making a quick buck but about systematic sowing and reaping.

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” - 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NIV

The reason most people struggle with money is not an issue of education or even economics, the real issue is Lordship. See money has a way of getting its hooks in our hearts like few other things.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 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.” - Matthew 6:19-24 NIV

The best advice I can give you in keeping a right relationship with money is to actively cultivate your own generosity.

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” - Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV

Making your money count for more than just yourself is a great investment and pays dividends in both this life and the next. After all, ‘what comes around goes around’.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Anatomy of an Apology

Last time I checked there has only ever been exactly one single solitary individual to walk the face of this earth without sinning. I promise it isn't me and I'm fairly certain it's not you either. We drop the ball, we miss the mark, we make mistakes. Face it, we sin. It's part of living in a fallen world. But that isn't an excuse and doesn't absolve us of the responsibility of our actions and/or inactions. We should own up, fess up when we mess up, and apologize. It's interesting how most people mentally agree that everyone fails but the same people who claim to 'not be perfect' act as though they are. They make excuses, rationalize why the behavior of others or the situation justifies them and flat refuse to admit their guilt. It's' crazy.

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:17-21

I think as Christians we ought to be the first to step up, humble ourselves, accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness. When we have come up short so to speak, unintentionally or otherwise, this is how we should respond -
  1. Recognize that you have wronged, offended and/or hurt someone else. That's all that matters at this point. This is where being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit is vital. Guilt is good because it leads us back to God, shame is bad because it causes us to withdraw and hide.
  2. Repent before God. The sooner the better! Many view repentance only in terms of our initial salvation experience. I believe it should be a hallmark of our lives as believers. God says IF we will confess our sins He WILL forgive them.
  3. Pray for peace. In impossible situations God can do amazing things. He can soften the hardest heart and open the door for difficult discussions.
  4. Ask for forgiveness. It may be semantics but I rarely if ever say 'I'm sorry'. If you look at the true meaning of the word you are literally saying 'I am a worthless' and regardless of how bad I've screwed up I'm not worthless. My recommendation is that you say, "I apologize for ???, will you forgive me?" One is a statement and the other a question. It requires a response and empowers the other person in the situation. If you don't think it matters just see which one is harder to say.
  5. Make amends if possible. If our heart is truly grieved for hurting someone else it is appropriate and right for us to fix what we can. As for what we can't... thank God for grace! For instance - 'I accidentally ran over your mailbox repeatedly. Will you forgive me? Can I replace it for you?'

I think it's safe to say that forgiveness is a BIG DEAL with God so it should be a big deal to us as well. If God cares about something we should too.

 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." - Matthew 5:23-24

God's Promises.

Earlier this week I was working on a log cabin I have for sale. As I was driving over to crawl back under the house for the 3rd day this is ...