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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

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To grandmother’s house we came.  Happy Thanksgiving from Bourborville, Ky.

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Gaining Momentum as a Church Financially

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

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I’m in debt. I am a true American.”~Balki Bartokomous

Interest on debts grow without rain.”~Yiddish Proverb

The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” ~Unknown

Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”~Unknown

A church debt is the devil’s salary.”~Henry Ward Beecher

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Debt stinks. I think I’ve heard someone say that before. Debt often has regret tied right to it. And regret stinks as well. I’ve been writing about money for the last few weeks. This week, I want to look at debt and the church as a whole body. Before we start, here are some definitional things to look at first. Those of us involved in a local church are part of that church family or church body. You could go as far as to say that the churches who claim Christ in a given area are the body of Christ in that city, town or village (Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 12:27).

Here’s the idea…debt stinks for the church…the body your a part of. If there are 100 people in a given church, and 50% of them are tied to debt, 50% probably are in a spot where they cannot give like they want to. 50% of them are probably in a spot where, if the church was called to fill or reach a specific need, they could not participate fully because their bills are a priority over their church family’s ministries. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that these people are bad or unfaithful. Hear this…confession time…if this church were real and I was a member, I’d be in that 50%! Many of you would be right there with me. I wish I hadn’t made some past financial decisions. I know that my impatience, my greed or selfishness has my family in a spot where we cannot give to our neighbors, community, our church, or those in our world like we might have been able to otherwise.

Picture a church family that has little to no debt. Now, I’m talking about two things here. I’m talking about a church budget that doesn’t include debt payments and the individuals in that church family that are near or out of debt. Think about what they can do. Think about what they can give. Think about the spontaneous things they can provide to people in their community. Think about the open doors they might have where I see closed doors because I have “payments.”

We have talked about debt creating a ‘slave to the lender’ scenario (Proverbs 22:7). From that verse I get a sense that ‘freedom’ is at stake when we have debt. Peace is at stake when we have debt. We know in our gut what it would feel like if we had no student loans, no car payment, no credit card payment for that big family getaway weekend that happened eight months ago. We know don’t we. We’d yell “FREEDOM!” We’d have more peace. We’d be a bit closer to that “…life more abundant…” that we hear Christ talk about in John 10:10.

How about the church family? Is your family…your church family…living that abundant life? Where your resources are provided for so much, and you’re in such a free and peaceful spot that you can stop and move as God calls you to with no hesitation? The closer we get there the more momentum we will have. Momentum creates excitement. Momentum helps us feel more as we always should. Momentum can help a community see Christ in newer and more consistent ways. It keeps the ball rolling. Debt stops that ball.

What can you do to help create more momentum in your life financially…and in the life of your church family? What steps can you take this week…maybe even today that will put you on that path. Maybe its saying “no” more to the weekly expenses you feel tied to but aren’t necessary. Maybe its getting rid of some stuff that will help pay off loans. Maybe its a whole shift in your life outlook. A young Cameron McCabe was answering a question for me years ago in Kid’s Worship Time in our church family. The question was, “What can we do as young people (2nd-5th grade) do to serve God. Answers were flying around. Huge, big, crazy, Sunday School answer type answers that really weren’t applicable but sounded really Biblical and religious. Cameron, frustrated with the answers, looked at me and said, “Just do something!” Some of us need to heed Cameron’s advice. We probably know many things we need to do. Let’s start with 1 thing and start.

If we all start to do something that will enhance our ministry to others and to our church family, momentum will increase for us. It will not only be noticed within our church family. It will be noticed by those around us. They will see our lifestyle of freedom. They will see the peace that passes understanding the Bible talks about. They may even see it as something that is so attractive they want a part of it. Maybe that will be someone in your immediate family. Maybe it will be someone in your workplace. Maybe it will be your neighbor. Imagine what you’ll be able to say when they ask the big question, “Hey, there’s something different about you. What is it?” You’ll be able to say that you’re living more like God wants you to…like Jesus lived.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Be thankful for the needs that all of us have filled daily through the providence and miracles of God.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

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Peter Pan + Pumpkins = Peter Pie Pan

Corn + Turkey = Cob-ble, Cob-ble

Burglar + Turkey = Robble! Robble!

Dizzy Person + Turkey = Wobble Wobble

Orange Vegetable + Green Vegetable = Pumpkin Pea

GPS Device + Thanksgiving Dinner = Tom Tom Turkey

UFO + Thanksgiving Fruit = Cranberry Saucer

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I’m personally very ready for turkey.  I’m also ready for some down time.  Instead of writing a long article this week, I’m going to give you some quotes and phrases about Thanksgiving and  the attitude of gratefulness and a few thoughts of my own.  I know this, when we can do a good job of choosing the attitude of gratitude, we remember who’s world we live in, and how good He is to us.

 

  • Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…  Deuteronomy 8:11-14
  • I’m thankful that my well being is not dependent upon what happens to me, but rather how faithful my God is. ~Author Unknown
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus
  • Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting. ~Author Unknown
  • To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it. ~Benjamin Franklin
  • Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ~Jackie Windspear
  • O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness! ~William Shakespeare
  • The earth is the Lord ’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…Psalm 24:1

When we think of all we have, and realize that everything we have is from God, we should be compelled to be thankful.  Thankfulness is truly a chosen attitude.  When we forget, and claim success based on only our own efforts and work, we throw our hand to God and basically say, “I don’t need you.”  I’ve been there and done that.  What regret.  When ‘Ed’ acts like that, I hold onto a mindset that is limited only to my own little world.  And because of that I limit myself.  I carry the attitude that there is only so much of anything I need, and I need to work hard and fast for it.  When I get “it”…whatever “it” is…I then give myself the congrats because it was “me” who achieved.  That mindset also says that I can lose “it.”  I’m limited within my own strengths and weaknesses to gain or to keep or to lose.

 

However, if I keep the mindset that I am God’s child, and that my heavenly Father owns everything, then I have an attitude of abundance.  Everything around me is God’s and He shares it with me.  God is not limited.  If I need something…I said need and not want…God will provide as He sees fit.  And guess what, if appropriate, He blesses me with things and people and wants that I could have never expected nor obtained myself.  Now that doesn’t mean I get rich in cash…it just means that I’m rich in my mindset…I’m a child of the King.  So, rich or poor in the world’s eyes, I’m still blessed beyond measure.  The attitude of thanksgiving keeps me centered.  I have to choose it daily.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

ed

 

 

Are you ready? The holidays are here!

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Ok, here we go.  We’re right on the edge of the holiday season.  I’m hungry already!  Visions of sugar plums and cookies and turkey and ham and stuffing and apple pie and…well, you get the picture…are dancing in my head.  The holiday catalogues have been filling the mail box.  My daughter is daily looking through and circling and marking and highlighting items that will be on her wish list.  I recently was reminded by a DJ on the radio that I just missed a great weekend to put up Christmas lights outside.  Oops.  Oh well, I’ll be one of the ones deciding whether I want a larger electric bill this year.  I just looked at our December budget…thanks Dave Ramsey…and am trying to see what we have and don’t have to help our family celebrate Christmas.

Funny thing is, I’m looking at all this stuff and wonder how any of this helps me tell God “Thank You” for sending His son.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think God created wonderful food and allowed us to put ingredients together like oil paints on a canvas.  Giving gifts is a great thing too…in moderation and when practical and for practicalities sake.  Lights…eh, I go back and forth on that.  Their pretty I guess.  Tree?  It’s got to be real in our house.  J

So what is the point?  What are we teaching our families and neighbors about what’s important by the way we celebrate?  Excess is a tool of the enemy.  I believe the enemy has a plan for your holiday season as he does mine.  Do you have your eyes open to see it?

About 2000 years ago the enemy had a plan for an awaited event as well.  There was a priest who doubted the word of God’s message to him (Luke 1:18).  There was a fiancé that wanted to quietly break off wedding plans (Matthew 1:19).  There was a long journey by foot required by the government (Luke 2:1 – prophesied).  There was no room for this young couple to rest after making this journey…while pregnant (Luke 2:6).  There was a King who didn’t know what to think of this new Kingdom prophesied…so much so that he declared that all males 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matthew 2:3, 16).  There was a nation and religious leadership that anxiously awaited prophesies of old to come true, yet knew the truth about what humungous changes would need to take place (Matthew 2:3).  The enemy did not want the one who would ‘crush his head’ to come into this world (Genesis 3:15).  Funny thing is God knows the enemy soooo well, He gave word that these things would come to pass before they even happened.

Today the enemy has a plan for your holiday season as well.  The question is, how will you recognize the enemy?  Do you know his voice vs. God’s voice?  God’s desire is that we sit at the table and remember His son, born to die for us.  The enemy desires Christ’s Gospel to simply become part of the mix on our busy calendars.  “Choose this day whom you will serve?” is the question Joshua spoke to his followers (Joshua 24:15).

So how do we navigate this?  I think we pray and ask God if what we’re doing will bring a smile to His face.  Am I saying that presents and trees are evil?  Not at all.  I love cutting the tree and watching the kids decorate it.  I love eating.  Oh, sorry…already mentioned that one.  There’s a sense of peace I get around the Christmas season.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally ‘getting it.’  We all know that communion time is sacred and special.  It’s about remembering our Hope.  This Christmas, let’s all set the time apart as sacred and special.  A time of remembering our Hope ‘born to us’ that night so many years ago.

A truly Merry Christmas to all of you…because that’s what it is.  A very merry celebration of our eternal peace, brought to us in the form of a child in a manger.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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