An “if/then” Scenario

Posted: November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

I try to read a Proverb a day, every day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I succeed. Over the past 6 years I’ve probably read the book of Proverbs 84-100 times. Not bragging, it’s just my practice.

Over that period of time, you notice things.

Today in particular I noticed Proverbs 3:5-9 which says “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways, submit to Him and he will make your paths straight.”

This, is an oft used passage from the bible and it is used in various avenues. Gonna take a new job? Trust in the Lord. Gonna bungee jump? Trust in the Lord. Gonna get married? Trust in the Lord. Gonna eat that habanero pepper? Trust in the Lord.

I’m not saying that those are wrong, or even out of context, but the actual context of this passage is something that many Christians LOVE to avoid.

Immediately following “trust in the lord / lean on His understanding / submit to Him” the writer says something that will likely aggravate and frustrate some of us. He says in v. 9 as our FIRST directive to “honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.”

Yeah, that’s it.

If I’m going to be wise in my own eyes, I’d think that holding onto and hoarding money would be the way to go. After all, I need money to live. It seems wise to hold onto what I earn. Doesn’t it?

Not according to this passage.

The wise thing to do is to honor God with your wealth. The wise thing to do is to “control A / control X” (apple A / apple X for mac users) all of your thoughts and wisdom about keeping your money for yourself.

My advice:

  1. Listen to God and His word.
  2. Start giving 10% of your paycheck to your church every week.
  3. Look for ways to be generous rather than looking for ways to be stingy.
  4. Obey scripture because you love Jesus, and because of the promises written there.

He actually says “your barns will be filled to over-flowing.” Not health and wealth gospel. Not taking this out of context. Simply put, give, and the Lord will give back.

It’s one of the great paradoxes of Christianity and a relationship with Jesus. The more I try to hold on to, the more I lose. The more I give, the more God gives (I heard this somewhere, but can’t remember).

“If” you do this, “then” God will fulfill His promises, and YES, I do believe it’s contingent on what you DO.

What are your thoughts?

The Best Ever

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

This semester of LifeGroups have been literally the BEST we’ve ever had at Liverpool Christian Church.  I am so very thankful for all of the group leaders and coordinators who have made commitments to the excellence of these groups.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH.

My LifeGroup is simply amazing.  We have a rule that states “What happens in LifeGroup, stays in LifeGroup (super original right?)” however, I am going to break that rule.  This past Tuesday, we had the most KILLER food I have had in a hot minute.  Chicken riggies.  Baked spaghetti.  Stuffed mushrooms.  7 layer dip.  Cupcakes.  Bacon stuffed pizza crust.

In short, it was the BOMB.com.

Food is an intimate thing isn’t it?  We all need it.  It literally runs our bodies.  At the most basic description, food is just fuel to make these machines work.

However, it’s somehow more.  Or maybe it’s just a catalyst for something more.

Intimacy.

Not sexual intimacy, but intimate conversation.  O.K. maybe intimate isn’t the “best” word, but how about “personal.”  More often than not, when I share a meal with someone it turns into a “personal” conversation.

Is that my fault?  Do I look for that?  Why is this true about meals?

I’m not sure about all those answers, but I am very sure that it’s true.  Meals create intimate and personal moments.

 

What are your thoughts?  (keep em brief, don’t punch us in the face with 9 paragraphs!!)

Relationships Can Be Stressful

Posted: October 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

It’s been about two years since my last post.  I’ve been busy.  Get off me.  So, here’s a post that stemmed from a conversation the other day.

The relationship between a pastor and his church is just that, a relationship.

We relate to each other in a multitude of ways, and interact on a very personal level both spiritually and emotionally. Often the pastor will teach or preach on very sensitive subjects such as sexual sin, alcoholism, financial responsibility, divorce, lust, adultery and many other doctrinal applications. These teachings can and do affect the very core of the pastor as well as the congregant. These teachings are deep, truthful, and often get right at the core of our sin, exposing our universal need for Jesus.

The relationship between these two parties is magnified by the fact that eternity is hanging in the balance and that decisions to follow Jesus are either made or ignored. The relationship between the pastor and his church affects nearly EVERY part of his life due to his dedication to the people of his church. In other words, if you struggle, we struggle. If you fail, we feel that pain. If you divorce, we are battling emotions right along with you. If you are angry we desire to help you through that pain. If depressed, addicted, hurt, or happy, the pastor is right there with you in your joy and pain. After all, we are in a relationship together.

Given that the pastor and the church member are in a relationship with one another, it has caused me to examine what it is that “stresses and strains” most relationships. One of the most common stresses and strains in relationships has to do with finance.

If you are married, then you know first hand how finances can cause a fracture in a relationship. Finances, while finite, often feel as though the weight is crushing. The crushing weight of financial problems (whether perceived or actual) will without a doubt cause stress and strain in a relationship.

The relationship between the pastor and his church is very similar. When there’s money, the strain is lessened, but when things are tight, the relationship can easily become stressed and strained. It’s very difficult for the pastor to cast vision and lead the ministry if the church isn’t supporting that vision and ministry financially.

For example, a pastor recently wanted to purchase double walled plastic tumblers to give away as gifts to our volunteers, the very people who make things happen here at our church. However, he found himself having to figure out whether or not he could spend $300 to honor our most valued assets.

This is extremely frustrating for the pastor because he now has to jump through hoops to figure out how to do a simple thing with the church’s money. Things like this can and do provide opportunity for stress and strain financially.

Further, the pastor never feels as though he can ask for a raise because the church rarely gives according to the budget. Our church hasn’t given according to the budget that they voted on in seemingly forever (at least 4 years). Therefore, we cannot even operate according to the budget that the church members voted on and approved 100% unanimously. In this vein, the pastor is effectively losing money each year that he does not get a (at minimum) “cost of living” raise. In the past 5 years, a pastor will have taken at least a 6% pay cut due to the cost of living increases and the lack of giving at our church.

These facts are stressful and strain the relationship between the pastor and his church. When this sort of stress and strain are present the pastor can find it very easy to think about other careers as well as wonder if anyone at this church cares or is as invested in this relationship as myself and my family are invested.

So, it stands to reason that if a church is having financial issues, there will be relationship issues between the pastor and the church members. When this stress and strain happens the church pastor will be rendered ineffective in his leadership.

How do we deal with that?

Well, first and foremost each member of the church should be tithing. Tithing is 10% of your income. Plain and simple. If you make $1000 per week, $100 is the tithe for that week. If you make $1000 per week and you give $50 to the church that is NOT a tithe. It’s a generous amount, but it is NOT a tithe.

Christian people have been shown on average to give less than 2% of their income to the church or any other charity. In my opinion, this is pathetic. It’s quite sad that a Christian person would find this acceptable.

Imagine if everyone who attended your church was not only fiscally responsible with their giving at church, but also at home. There’d be no financial strain either at church or at home, and these relationships could function without the pressure of foolishly managed finances. The church would be provided for, and the home budget would be secure because of sound financial planning.

Imagine if everyone gave 10% of their income to the local church that they attend. If we as a nation are averaging 2% giving, what kinds of things would change if we began giving a minimum of a tithe? Crazy things would begin to happen for the kingdom of God and no pastor would ever have to “worry” about $300 to thank his volunteers.

My challenge to each of you is to GIVE. Start immediately and give 10% of your income to your local church. Don’t back down, and when things get tight trust the promises of the Lord given through scripture. Fight the paper tigers and tithe.

Start today, try it, and let’s change the narrative between the pastor and his church. No more relationship problems stemming from money issues. Let’s start. Let’s do this today.

Fiddling with Scripture

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Not sure if this is “always” a good idea, but sometimes I like to replace things I read from Proverbs and make them personal. So, here are some parts from Proverbs 29 that I have fiddled with to apply to the life and leadership of a pastor.

A PASTOR who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
2 When the righteous PASTOR thrives, the people rejoice;
when the wicked PASTOR rules, the people groan.
3 A PASTOR who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a PASTOR gives a CHURCH stability,
but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.
5 Whoever flatters his CHURCH
is spreading a net for his feet.
6 An evil PASTOR is snared by his own sin,
but a righteous PASTOR can sing and be glad.
7 The righteous PASTOR cares about justice for the poor,
but the wicked PASTOR has no such concern.
8 Mockers stir up a city,
but wise men turn away anger.
9 If a wise PASTOR goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
10 Bloodthirsty men hate a PASTOR of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.
11 A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise PASTOR keeps himself under control.
12 If a PASTOR listens to lies,
all his ELDERS become wicked.
13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
14 If a PASTOR judges the poor with fairness,
his CHURCH will always be secure.
15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a PASTOR left to himself disgraces his mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace;
he will bring delight to your soul.
18 Where there is no revelation, the PASTOR casts off restraint;
but blessed is the PASTOR who keeps the law.
19 A servant cannot be corrected by mere words;
though he understands, he will not respond.
20 Do you see a PASTOR who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 If a man pampers his servant from youth,
he will bring grief[a] in the end.
22 An angry PASTOR stirs up dissension,
and a hot-tempered PASTOR commits many sins.
23 A PASTOR’s pride brings him low,
but a PASTOR of lowly spirit gains honor.
24 The accomplice of a thief is his own enemy;
he is put under oath and dare not testify.
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
26 Many seek an audience with a PASTOR,
but it is from the Lord that man gets justice.
27 The righteous PASTOR detests the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright PASTOR.

So, that’s how I see it.  BTW, don’t be lame, I ain’t trying to change scripture.  This is just a cool way to read it in IMHO.

Thoughts?  Do you ever do this?  What’s the example?

waYne

What Will Your Story Be?

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

This past Sunday Oct 16, 2011 is one of the best Sunday’s that I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. From the “This Is How We Do It” contest, to the booger talk, to the topic of tithing, to the testimonies about tithing, to the celebration of a wedding, to the celebration of people coming back to God, to the weeping of a father as he read scripture before his daughter’s baptism, to his daughter saying “daddy stop embarrassing me”, to watching my wife take a girls confession of faith, ultimately baptizing her into the name of Jesus.

Sunday was pretty amazing.

One thing has stuck out to me very clear and it is the idea of STORY.

Through both services, I was blessed to be able to not only my own story about tithing, but the stories of others. You know, the “normals.” In other words, I am the PASTOR, I am supposed to say those things, but when a “normal” speaks their story, something just comes to life.

God is working in people’s lives.

God is working in the lives of people who allow themselves to be woven into the plot.

I am so glad we got to hear the stories of tithing, and faith, and trust, and hope.

All of that got me to thinking, “What will your story be?”

What will your story be?

As we spoke about tithing, we heard people say things like “i USED to give what was leftover, but now I will give to Him first,” or “when I had my checkbook, the kids knew I was going to church,” or “i will now put EVERYTHING into God’s hands,” or “we feel God’s blessing more when we are giving.”

These are just a couple samples about God’s faithfulness. We also heard a story about someone tithing off of their “unemployment” check, never missing a payment, going hungry, or being put on the street.

These are just lines from people’s individual stories.

What will your story be?

Will we be stingy, or generous?

When you think about tithing, what will your story be?

What is your CURRENT story? How will it end?

——-feel free to leave your story here to be shared for God’s glory——–

It’s Gonna Happen

Posted: July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, a few weeks ago, I said that I would do a blog again, if I got 50 hits in a week. I got like 87, so here it goes. WARNING – i will not withhold my true opinions and emotions. Ever. That being said:

I really feel like I am all alone. I really feel like God has abandoned me to a place in the desert. I really feel like nothing is ever going to happen for LCC, and as her leader, I feel all sorts of inadequacies and overwhelmedness (not a real word). I feel like crap. Drained. Not burned out, drained.

I want so badly for this church to achieve her highest potential, and for God to be glorified, and lifted up.

To make it a little more plain. I feel like I just wrecked my bike, and I am laying on the ground trying to decide whether to get up, or just lay there in pain. I feel like a boxer who is knocked down, and considering whether or not to get up or let the count run out.

I feel tired and alone.

I know that I am not alone.

I know that God is with me, but I just can’t feel it right now.

This is life in the desert. This is where I am right now.

Will I stay here? Doubtful. I know that this is emotional. I know that this will pass, but this is where I am right now. This is the desert. This is ministry. This is life. This is the life of a Christian.

God, please pull me out. Give me the wisdom to know that you are gonna do it. Give me the strength to hold on until you do. I trust you. I need you.

50 hits in a WEEK

Posted: July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, I am thinking about getting the blog back up and going. I currently write my devo thoughts out in a journal. I like going in that direction. I like writing my thoughts out.

It makes me think.

So, if I am going to switch back to doing it electronically, I need 50 hits in a week.

Warning, my devo thoughts are sometimes raw. Sometimes there is bad language. But always it is real, and it is from my heart.

So, anybody wanna ride?

w