Going Back Again!!!
Wow, I have been absolutely terrible about posting. Where has the time gone? Well my August Peru trip was amazing. God has opened so many doors since then that I am just trying to keep up and stay out of His way. (more to come on that soon.)
I am returning to Peru earlier this year. Actually the trip is in 22 DAYS!!! Holy cow! I am super psyched about what is happening in the villages of Tapacocha, Cotaporacco and Allpacocha. The GOD certainly is alive and at work there. we have seen much growth physically and spiritually there. We believe our trip this year will be a little different than in the past as it will involve more equipping and discipling those believers already there. When we left in August they were so fired up for the Lord I can’t wait to see what He has done since our last visit. Please keep our team in prayer and I will try to keep you posted about new developments and the actual trip once we return. Thank you and God bless.
Not Giving But Gaining
Yesterday I was blessed with the privilege of giving my daughter away in marriage. I don’t really like that phrase though. It sounds so “end of the story.” It’s more like gaining a new son. Actually, it’s the beginning of a whole new story and Jenni and I not only got to be part of the story and help launch it but now we get front row seats to watch the rest of it unfold and we now have a new son to enjoy and share life with.
It was also awesome to see a group of young people, in Marissa, Casey and their friends, that have Christ at the center of their lives. I am confident that Marissa and Casey are well grounded in Him which made this weekend much easier for me but as always I do have a few words to pass on to them and all others that are getting married or already married.
Love God and love each other. Keep Christ at the center always. With His example of unconditional love as your focus you can reflect that on each other. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
Treat love as a verb. We often treat love as an emotion instead of an action. Christ showed us His love with actions and we need to follow that example. Not for reciprocation or for “love points” but because, as spouses, it’s what we have committed to by joining together in a covenant marriage. and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
Always have Christ centered friends you can turn to. Also, give them permission to call you out when they need to and ask them to lift you up when you need it. Marriage is tough at times and you need friends that understand what your marriage means to you, even when you don’t want may not want to hear it. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NIV)
Laugh! At yourself, at each other, at life. Don’t forget to laugh because nothing should be as serious as we make it out to be. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)
Cry. When you need to, lean into Christ and lean into each other and cry. You will find comfort in the arms of Him and your spouse. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21 NIV)
Forgive often. Look at what Jesus has forgiven us for… everything! We need to follow that example with our spouses and forgive quick and often. Don’t confuse this with trust. Trust may be broken and it may take time to rebuild, but forgiveness should happen immediately. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
Communicate!! All of things listed above require communication. I have sat with couples that thought they were at the end but once we reestablished some communication and they started verbalizing some of their issues things started working better. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NIV)
I can say from experience, I did not follow this path for the first 17 years of my marriage and I nearly destroyed it. If I had not gotten in line with the above things and what God designed marriage to be I may not have had the blessing I had yesterday. My daughter may not have been where she is now either. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m on it all the time but It’s a lot easier than the previous way (my way).
I thank God for His direction and instruction for my marriage. I thank Him for my wife and daughter for their patience with me and now I thank Him for my new son.
A hero is defined as:
1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.
I’d like you to meet one of my heroes. Her name is Marissa, she is my 20 year old daughter. Last weekend she graduated from Anderson University. She acquired a four year degree in three years. She accomplished this by taking college courses during high school and working very hard to finish early.
She’s my hero because when I was in high school I didn’t tend to focus any further ahead than the next party. I certainly had no ambition or drive to go to college let alone finish early. While I tested as gifted, just like she did, I chose to make poor decisions and just eke by. She graduated high school with a 3.87 gpa and graduated college with honors, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.875 gpa.
She is my hero because she keeps her eye on Jesus. I didn’t know Him or care to know Him at her age. I gave my life to The Lord at the age of 36. Up to that point I was pretty much only concerned about me.
She is my hero because she has a clue what she is going to do with her life career-wise. She has a degree in communications and wants to work in the public relations field. I joined the Army at 17 because I was clueless and had no way of getting into college at that point. After 6 years of that I became a carpenter for 5 years before figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up and settled into a career in massage therapy at the age of 28.
She is my hero for being true to her beliefs and saving herself for her future husband whom she will be marrying July 28th. Me? Well I didn’t wait, ’nuff said. This decision made for a lot of turmoil and trouble in my marriage. Problems I thank God she and her husband will not have to face.
She is my hero because she has already been figuring out how to be a wife to her husband. She has read about the “5 Love Languages” and sees them as an important part of her future marriage. I did not do this. I caused her amazing mother a lot of grief and heartache in the first seventeen and a half years of our marriage.
She is my hero because she is is fun to be around and knows how to have fun in a safe, clean, moral way. Rather than seeking the drunken often vulgar party lifestyle I chose to live in my earlier years, she has chosen what I consider a better path.
She is my hero because she doesn’t have a smug, superior or holier than thou attitude. Even when those she knows, loves and cares for, like my past self and others her own age, are making poor choices and running headlong in the wrong direction. She exhibits a Christ like love for others instead.
Now of course she’s not perfect. I know that and I’m not trying to paint her out to be. But I truly admire her faith, her character, her tenacity, her drive, her determination. Also her obedience, her ambition, her morals. While I may be a bit biased it is my opinion that she “has heroic qualities.” I love her dearly and she is my hero.
I think its sad sometimes that when someone makes a commitment to follow Christ that we don’t offer them a class in how to pray. It may seem too basic or simple but I think it’s an important piece of our spiritual maturity that is often overlooked or just assumed.
Knowing how to pray is not that easy sometimes. It can be intimidating, daunting, scary… “what if I say something dumb… wrong… unbiblical…” In Luke, chapter 11, the disciples asked Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray…” He then gave them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. But before we get to that in Matthew 6:5-8 he gives a little more pre-instruction.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Basically, what He is saying here is we need to have the right mind-set or heart-set not only for what we are praying for but how and why we are praying. Don’t be boastful or prideful in our prayers proclaiming our great works or sinlessness so that others can see how holy we are. The only one that could even claim this was Jesus and even He did not pray that way. So, prepare yourself or your heart for prayer.
As we’ll see, it’s not so much the words spoken as the the motivation for speaking them. There are no magic words. You also don’t have to use big confusing words or King James English. You don’t have to use your “prayer voice.” Just pray, from the heart.
Jesus then says: “This, then, is how you should pray:” He doesn’t say word for word but “HOW” as in here is a model for you to design your prayers around.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” -Luke 11:2-4 KJV
So let’s break this down.
“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…” This set the stage for us. We first need to proclaim and acknowledge God’s rightful place. Above all else He is first and foremost. Hallowed means to honor as holy or consider sacred.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Here’s where things get a little tough for us. Before we even ask anything we have to realize God has a plan that is bigger than all of us and that plan has a direction. What this really means is no matter what I pray for, not my will but Your will be done. That’s a hard one to say and mean. Because God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them answered. Don’t misunderstand me here, He always answers prayers. His answers are either yes, no or wait. Now, of course, yes is the easy one I’m not even going to talk about that. No, that one’s certainly hard to take. We want that illness to go away, we want people healed, hurts mended, problems fixed but that just might not be God’s will. In the end, He knows what is best and how things should and will work out so in order for His will to be done sometimes the answer has to be no. And wait? well that one certainly stinks too but it all happens in His timing not ours. Gods will comes before our want.
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Ok, finally the good stuff! The “gimmes.” We usually get this one in the wrong order. We want to say “Father in heaven, gimme my daily bread…” but our wants need to take their proper place because remember “Thy will be done…” not “my will be done…” Notice too He says “day by day” or sometimes it’s “this day” Keep it simple, “Lord, here’s what’s on my heart right now…” Here’s a little hint though, He already knows what weighs heavy on our hearts I think sometimes He just wants us to say it so that we realize it too. Stating it sometimes makes it more real for us. I know I have a tendency to kind of sweep things under the rug or ignore the elephant in the room. So, “here is what I’m asking, Lord”
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Now the first part here is pretty obvious the second part is yet another thing we often forget. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. That’s a tough one to remember but probably more important than asking His forgiveness for sins He has already forgiven by dying on the cross for us in the first place.
“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God will not lead us into temptation as we commonly think of it. The word temptation can also mean trial or affliction and we will be met with trials and sometimes afflictions along the way and we need to pray for protection against them or the strength to avoid temptations/trials/afflictions. A strength that can only come from God. And through this strength we will be delivered from the evil that can drag us into embracing that temptation.
So, there we go. Keep this in mind when you pray as a model for what, when and how to say it and you may find more focus in your prayer life. I feel like I have.
I hate these things…
Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.
I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.
(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.
Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.
I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.
Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.
So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)
The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.
Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.
Guest Post: I Cancelled My Sponsorship by:Brianne McKoy
Hello, my name is Brianne and I cancelled my Compassion sponsorship.
File that tidbit right under, the thing I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know. And definitely something I didn’t want you to know.
But I am currently suspended in the air, wrapped up in a metal vessel, headed back to a country that haunts me. Peru.
Peru, the first country I visited outside of the United States. Peru, my first overseas mission trip. Peru, the first place I saw the beach.
The country I sponsored my first Compassion child.
I don’t live in the age when jazz is on its rise, a hot scene. Or when the industry is booming.
I live in the “social injustice” age.
When I was in college poverty, social injustice, and the depravity of the world was hot. It was burn-your-heart hot.
Most of my friends were involved in missions work and worked to bring awareness to our campus.
When I was in college the question wasn’t,
“What company do you want to work for when you graduate?”
“What mission field are you going to move to?”
I think technology had a huge role in this. All of a sudden Africa, Asia and South America weren’t a faraway land. It had people, and we saw their pictures. It had statistics, and we could look them up.
It wasn’t a world away, it was one Hotwire or Cheap Tickets purchase away.
When I was in college, I wanted to get out. I wanted to go help. I wanted to be the solution. Not the ignorance. Not the problem.
Amidst this I went on a mission trip to Peru. A rip-my-heart-out trip, an “I don’t think I ever cried on that trip, never, not even after I came back home because I was afraid I’d never stop crying” kind of trip.
And then I went to a conference and heard about Compassion.
I marched myself directly to a table after I heard a Compassion Leadership Development Student speak. I looked and looked and looked at the pictures and there she was. A girl from Peru. That day I became her sponsor.
I was told that I could write her letters and she would write me too. I was told she would know she now has a sponsor. Shortly after the conference I received materials from Compassion about their program and their financial integrity.
Quickly, too quickly, I forgot about what that Compassion student said. I was sure that it was not truly her writing me letters. A girl in poverty? Writing me?
And Compassion somehow keeps track of that? And gets the letter to me? And then takes the time to process and translate my letter and get it to her? Um, right. But thanks for the warm fuzzies.
A few years later I decided to cancel my sponsorship.
The problem with the burn I experienced from all the social injustice hype in college was that I only let it burn me, not brand me.
After awhile I was all of a sudden graduating college. I was going to be dropped from health insurance. Oh my gosh. I needed to pay for health insurance. And then there was the real growing up.
Several of my friends did go to the mission field. But I didn’t feel that pull anymore. I needed to get a job. I needed to pay bills. I needed health insurance.
And then one day I realized I didn’t believe in what Compassion was doing. I never researched the ministry. I never read the materials they sent me. I barely even read the letters from my sponsored child.
So, I cancelled. Surely, she wouldn’t know. I mean, she didn’t even know I existed. Right?
Years later, God did call me to minister to the poor in Thailand. And then He called me to work at Compassion.
I remember when I started working here thinking, “And now I will see the underbelly of a ministry that so many people I know support.”
I’ve almost been here for five years. I now have two sponsored children. I believe in what Compassion does. I know my sponsored children know my name. And I know they read my letters.
Now, I’m branded. I’m not branded by hype or an emerging movement. I am not even branded by Compassion. I am branded by the heart of God.
He showed me the beat of His heart. He showed me that He is close to the poor. I want to be close to Him. I want to be close to whatever it is that He is close to – even if it means being in the throes of too many, “will I ever stop crying? It’s all so much to take in” sessions.
The problem is, not everyone reads the mail they receive. Or looks up information on the ministry they support.
In fact, once in a marketing meeting I was asked,
“What can we do to really bring the reality of Compassion’s ministry to the hearts of people?”
I thought and thought about it and I could only respond with two answers. It wasn’t sending more mail. It wasn’t pushing people to get online and research us. It was either to hire everyone to work at Compassion (which is how my Compassion conversion happened) or to take every sponsor to the field. That was it.
Thankfully, in a room I wasn’t in, a few brilliant people decided that we do need to take people on trips. Trips that people who can’t go on trips could follow. And thus the birth of Compassion blog trips. You might not actually get to board the plane and walk through the villages but it is so very close.
When you follow a blog trip you see through the eyes of several different bloggers and you read what they have to say about Compassion’s ministry.
They are in the field asking the hard questions, going through filing cabinets, asking about how finances are handled. They are faithfully conveying, the best they can, about what this thing called Compassion is and where God is in all of it.
Have you cancelled your sponsorship? Do you want to? Or have you thought about it? Do you have questions about letter writing, financial integrity, and what people without a filter have to say as they put Compassion under a microscope? Then follow them.
In fact, you can follow them this week. I know they’ll be tackling some of these questions in Peru.
If you are a sponsor, do you remember why you’re a sponsor? Are you branded by God and His heart for the poor?
Your heart for the poor can only carry you so far. My heart for the poor led me to cancel a sponsorship.
Church: Body or Building?
I have often heard the following statements, or something similar: “The church should provide for others, the church should help the poor and unfortunate, the church should be a safe haven for others, the church should teach about God’s word, the church needs to welcome people, the church needs to love people.” I’m sure you have a list of your own and have heard many other ideas of what the church should do. I have to say I COULDN’T AGREE MORE to most of these.
The problem lies in the definition of church. So here’s a little pop-quiz. I know I didn’t give you time to study, sorry. From the definitions of church below, taken from dictionary.com which would Jesus say is the correct answer:
a.) A building for public Christian worship.
b.) Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
c.) The clerical profession or calling: After much study and contemplation, he was prepared to enter the church.
d.) The church is a body of believers.
Now let’s keep in mind that dictionary.com or anything else on the internet are not the best way to gather knowledge however this seems to be where we learn from these days. This information is a representation of what is being taught or what has already been learned in the world today. The dictionary people don’t just make this stuff up as they see fit. They poll people and research with “experts” to determine the best definition(s) possible. So, where did they get this from? US. We (followers of Christ) have allowed these definitions to creep in and define us. We have taken on these views and definitions of church. We have twisted and perverted church into something it is not supposed to be.
Before we go any further, let me be clear. I’m not talking about the way we worship on Sundays or any other time your body chooses to worship. That is not church. Church is not a “DO”. Church is a “BE”. We should BE church.
By the way, if you didn’t catch it yet d.) should have been the correct answer. A church is a body of believers. Yes, it’s that simple. Now a body is designed for motion or activity. What happens to a sedentary body? It gets fat and it grows weak. A body that is not doing what it is designed for eventually becomes ineffective.
So where do you fit here? Do you “DO” church on the weekends or when its convenient or are you the hands and feet of Jesus? Christ commands and commissions us in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” While the Bible never specifically says we are to be “hands and feet” it does does call us (followers of Christ, the church) to go out and preach the gospel and with the words “go into” comes action… and with action we use our hands and feet. If our “body” is in motion it is doing what it was designed to do.
So with the same thinking where does your “church” fall? Does your church “go into the world”? Does it “GO” anywhere other than into a building at the designated times of worship? Well if not you should leave, right? Well, don’t start packing your bags just yet. Remember we’re using the Biblical definition of church. So if you are a part of this body of believers, aren’t you in part responsible for it’s actions? I don’t mean responsible as in to blame for its inaction but responsible to the body to be a part of and facilitate action. The body is at fault, right? You are a part of the body, right? It starts with you. Please, please, please don’t just leave the church/body of which you are a part. See if you, as part of that body can enact change, if it needs to happen. Find other parts of your body to help out. Work together to figure out how to carry this out. If you start this others will come along, trust me. Now if you meet resistance from within and just can’t move things in the direction of Christ then and only then should you consider a move. Just because things aren’t happening your way is not a good reason to leave a body either. If there is movement and momentum and it is in the direction of Jesus, then join in and be a part.
You need to answer the call God has sent to you. What is the burden on your heart? How can you be an effective part of an effective body?
Well, first and foremost, prayer. You need to pray about what your particular piece of God’s “mission” is. Second, carry it out to the best of your ability. Third, pray more. Pray that God will work in you and through you, that He will use you beyond what you are capable of and into the realm of what He is capable of. I believe the results will be amazing.
Want to learn more about GOing with the body (The Ridge) that I belong to? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to learn more about starting a movement with your own body? Contact me. I’d love to help you figure it out and get started. Also, check out “Barefoot Church” by Brandon Hatmaker and “Missional Moves” by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. Two awesome resources for inspiration and motivation. These two books have rock my world and pour gasoline on the fire God ignited in me this year.
I am so happy that I got the information about Carlos today. He is the child we are sponsoring through Compassion International. I will be posting more about him soon but I wanted to let you know about a contest my friends over at Compassion are running on Pinterest. Check it out here.
Please meet Carlos Alberto Chuquipoma Huacha, born May 18, 2007.
How have you been? I am doing great these days. I’m sorry I don’t write or call as often as should. My schedule has been crazy lately which of course means I should be talking to you more rather than less.
I wanted to drop you a note though about Compassion International. I have been aware of and involved with them for a little over a year now and I am truly amazed at the things you have been able to accomplish through them. I don’t mean to imply that your actions surprise me but in this ever busy world to see your light shine through in others and their selfless actions is always inspiring. Thank you for that.
I am always saddened though each time I browse the Compassion International website and see the thousands in need. I can only imagine there are countless others that we are still unaware of that have not been reached.
It also breaks my heart to see that little red heart on the picture of those that have been on the list for more than 90 days. I pray that you will send them a sponsor soon.
God, part of my reason for writing today is to ask your forgiveness for my own hesitation in sponsoring a child. I could give a thousand excuses but there really is no excuse for what is ultimately laziness and selfishness on my part. You have given me so much. You have given me the means to provide for my family above and beyond our needs and I have neglected your call to share just a small portion of that with a child in desperate need. I am sorry.
So, as I’m sure you know, I have finally chosen a child to sponsor. Thank you for bringing Carlos into my life. I can’t wait to get the information packet so I can get to know him better. I also hope to meet Carlos some day when I return to Peru. I am so honored and thankful for the opportunity to help by sponsoring him. Thank you, Lord for the blessing of being able to serve another this way.
As always, thank you for everything.
How about a little prayer and petition…
I’ve had people ask me about Compassion International so I thought I’d take a moment to help you better understand what it is and what you can do to help.
- DON’T STOP READING YET!!
I’m not asking for money, only a little of your time. Below are some of the common questions and answers from the Compassion International FAQ web page. Before you read on though I’m asking one simple request of you. During the month of September (and longer if you choose) take a moment each day to go to the Compassion International website select one or more children and just pray for them. It may seem like a simple request but it is so important. I understand not everyone can afford to sponsor a child. But, everyone can afford to add a minute or two each day to their prayer time. Of course, please pray that someone would be called to sponsor the children you select but more importantly, pray for the salvation and safety of them and their families. Pray for their education especially in God’s Word. Also, pray for those that are blessed with the ability to give financially and support a child, because not all of us are gifted in that way. Pray that they would be faithful and obedient and cheerful. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). That’s all I ask, simply pray… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
Here’s the FAQ’s:
What is Compassion International?
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. Our ministry is twofold: We work through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. And we speak out for children in poverty – informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children.
How does Compassion work?
The hallmark of Compassion’s work is one-to-one child sponsorship. A sponsor is someone who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. Through sponsorship, children are able to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits that range from educational opportunities to health care.
How much does it cost to sponsor a child through Compassion?
Sponsoring a child costs $38 a month. It’s a significant commitment, but the incredible difference it makes in the life of a child is invaluable.
Thank you for your time and God bless.
On A Mission…
Okay, so two weeks ago I returned from a mission trip to Peru and it’s taken me about this long to process everything mentally and spiritually.
During this trip God basically stretched my heart over 4000 miles from here to just outside of Lima, Peru to a couple of small villages named Tapacocha and Cotaparaco. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of children and adults. It was such an amazing time in which I felt closer to Christ than anytime in my walk so far. It stretched me beyond my comfort zone and opened my eyes to so many things. One of which is a realization that I’m doing a terrible job of sharing the gospel message right here, in my own backyard and that’s got to change. I believe God has and is using this trip to really speak to me about that and while I’m scared about where that may lead me, I’m extremely excited about it too.
We spent a lot of time in the villages trying to build relationships, getting to know people and just sharing the love of Christ with them. We chose some of our favorite Bible stories and kind of tied them together with our own testimony. This is such a great way to present the gospel but in a personalized kind of away that I think people may understand a little bit better and relate too more personally.
I chose the story of Saul when he was on the road to Damascus and the Lord just grabbed hold of him and changed his life. He took him from a man who hated and murdered Christians to a great example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the man he became in Paul. Now, I don’t claim to be one of the greatest followers of Christ by any means but I was a lot like Saul and the Lord came to me and turned my life in a 180. He stopped me from persecuting and hating others by showing me the love that he had for me even though I was who I was. I also told them that like Paul I too was going out into the world to share Christ’s message and love. But this really got me thinking and I realized that I’m not doing that right here, or at least not nearly enough. I traveled 4000 miles and 14,000 plus feet above sea level up the Andes mountains to share with complete strangers and I’m not doing it right here with people that I can continue to have a long-lasting relationship with. People that I could really help, day in and day out in their walk.
I do have every intention of going back to Peru, maybe on a regular basis. The Lord has certainly softened my heart for the people there. But He has used this experience to teach me so much about myself and about Him and His grace, love and provision that feel even more compelled to continue His commission here, now.
We also met some great new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ from Columbus that led our trip. One of these new friends told me as the plane landed “we can’t forget there is a huge mission field right here in our very own backyard and we need to answer that call. We need to reach out to those people just as much as any other and spread God’s word with them too.”
I think sometimes it’s easier to use an interpreter and talk to a complete stranger about Jesus because you don’t fear possible rejection or the ridicule. While they may reject what you’re telling them about Jesus, typically people in the South American, warm climate culture, are more polite than the people we run into here. They will generally listen, thank you and move on. While people from the U.S. will challenge you, be rude or even hateful. But I think it’s more our own pride or ego that get in the way then. Maybe we fear that we won’t fit in or that we won’t know enough to answer the questions or challenges they give us. I think that often keeps us from really talking about Christ with others. The fear just freezes us up which is really crazy when you think about it. Often times these are people that we would share the most intimate details of our life with and here we are finding it hard to share one of the most important things in the world to us which is the gift God has given us through his son Jesus Christ.
Well I’m tired of being afraid or just too lazy to share the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’m done hiding behind excuses of why I can’t or won’t or should share with others. God has really expressed to me that I need to be more bold in my faith. I want to keep to keep the momentum of that going in my life and so that’s why I’ve chosen to step out into some new ministry areas at our church and personally. I’ve seen a need for a long time and it just hasn’t been filled and I feel like God is really calling me to step up and lead the way for others to catch this vision He has for us all in being bold and sharing our faith. It’s my prayer that he will show me how he would have me do that and it’s also my prayer that I would be obedient and in his leading in his teaching. I’m super excited and I’m just blown away and so moved by but what he’s done and is doing in my life. He is once again taking me and reshaping me into who he wants me to be. So, over the next couple weeks I am going to prayerfully work this thing out and see where it leads, so keep an eye out for more information and more the story of how God is using me now and using me next.
Lord, I give myself up to You as a living sacrifice to be used, as You see fit.
Know the “One” in order to meet & know your “two”
This book is primarily geared toward those preparing for marriage some day but don’t let that stop you from reading it if you’re already there. In this book, author, Craig Groecschel offers many insights into relationships, past present and future. It is invaluable information you can pass on to others as well as heed for yourself.
Love, Sex and Happily Ever After will give you great advice for your future spouse (your #2) as well as guide you in your relationship with the “One” (Jesus Christ). You first need to meet and know the “One” and develop your relationship with Him to truly be able to understand and develop your relationship with your “two”.
Craig’s openness in his own failures and successes in relationships with the opposite sex are very real and even painful at times (such as the pick-up line he first used on his wife Amy).
I believe I could have made things much easier for myself but especially for my wife had I read this 25 years ago. So, whether you are just dipping your toe into the dating pool for the first time or you’ve been married for years, Love, Sex and Happily Ever After is a great book for staying the course or getting back on track.
I will certainly be giving a copy to my 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend soon.
Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.
With a passion for serving the Church and partnering to reach people for Christ, LifeChurch.tv develops and shares resources and applications with churches worldwide.
Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in the Edmond, Oklahoma area where LifeChurch.tv began in 1996. He speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including his recent release: The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist.
FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. –1Peter3:1-6
I am married to the most patient, kind, caring women I have ever known. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is what I call my Jenniverse. My wife, Jenni, often times unknowingly followed Gods command here in dealing with me, long before I became a believer. The first time I read these words I saw her reflection in the page.
I know a number of women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t go to church with them or don’t follow or believe in Jesus. My wife was one of them for the first 17 1/2 years of our marriage. But through her obedience in 1 Peter3:1-6 I saw Jesus reflected in her actions and lifestyle. Not through her arguing, nagging, begging and pleading for me to “try out church” (although she did her fair share of that too).
Ladies I know it’s tough sometimes. At times I look back on what I put her through and get sick about it. But just keep this scripture handy and truly live it out and watch what happens.
Does God only answer the prayers of the believer?
Some would say scripture supports that only the prayers of the believer can and will be heard by God, other than the prayer of salvation of the non-believer.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” And Proverbs 28:9 has, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”
These scriptures might support that but can’t a believer also fit here? Can a believer “…cherish sin in his heart”? or “…turn a deaf ear to the law”? I have, and I don’t question my salvation, I know in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins as well as the sins of all man, even the ones that choose never to believe in Him. The difference is where that salvation will take me and where that missing salvation will take them. But, that’s another discussion. Let’s get back to prayer?
Now, I’m not talking about prosperity prayers or prayers that are self centered in nature. I don’t believe those are answered for anyone if it is outside God’s plan. I’m talking about righteous prayer that is in line with God’s will.
Long, before I was a believer I prayed for the safety of my wife and unborn daughter through a difficult child-birth. My daughter is now 18 years old, healthy and a faithful servant of Christ. Wait a minute, I’ve only been saved 4 1/2 years?!? But, isn’t that an answered prayer? I also added in “I’ll straighten up and change my ways…” Some would say I’ve done that and some would say that is an answered prayer for them too but that event occurred 14 years later. All in God’s timing not man’s, maybe? If, God had not answered that prayer, if Jenni or Marissa or both had not made it through would that have driven me further from God? Was this a coincidence or was this the starting point of a belief that would eventually emerge in my life. There were other times I prayed. I prayed for a safe return from The Gulf War. I made it home, some didn’t. That was even two years before that prayer for Jenni and Marissa. If I hadn’t prayed for that safe return or if God had ignored that prayer because I didn’t believe, where would I be? Where would Jenni be? Would Marissa be?Again, as far as we can tell, these prayers appear to line up with God’s will. You could say the prayer for a safe return was a selfish one but I had a wife, who would become an amazing sister in Christ, to return to. And a, yet to be conceived, daughter that is now turning into that same kind of woman. That is now an answered prayer of mine, albeit after the fact of my salvation.
Muscles don’t just appear one day. We have to build them. How can we build our faith muscles if we don’t excercise them? And how can we reach the strength to take that first huge step and ask for God’s forgiveness if we don’t exercise a little first? I’m not saying that’s all it takes but it’s a flex in the right direction.
God saved me from what I had turned my life into. I know that is an answered prayer of my wife’s. But, God gave me the life I was ruining. Maybe that initial life was an answer to someone else’s prayer. Where they a believer? Will they be someday because of that first step 40 some years ago?
What say you? Is prayer a private club only for the members that “said the oath” or is more than that? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Last week my daughter, Marissa, graduated from high school. Being a member of the school board, I actually got to hand her the diploma. She was also in the top 10 of her class, received numerous honors, some great scholarships and gave the benediction. What a proud moment it was for me and Jenni. But, I think I tend to be more of a realist when it comes to these types of things. Our kids grow up. It’s an inevitability, we can’t stop it, so why not embrace it for the momentous occasion it is.
While I remember and cherish the memories of her first steps, I celebrate her accomplishments that have now led her to her next steps. She will be going off to Anderson University in August, just days after she turns 18. I am confident that she is ready for it. Through her choices in life, so far, and her faith and beliefs, she has instilled in me a sense of comfort that makes it easier to let her go.
I do hope that I have been able to help her learn and grow over the years. I pray that she has been able to learn from the stupid things she has seen me do, in my life. I have given her the opportunity to learn from my mistakes more often than not. Even though I am the parent, I feel as if I have learned more from her than she has from me, over the years. I think I have a better understanding of unconditional love. I have grown closer to God by better understanding the sacrifice He made for us in His own Son. Not necessarily the why, but a better understanding of the love He has for man to have given His Son’s life for our own. While I would lay down my life for her, I cannot fathom seeing her hurt for others.
While I want Marissa to experience only good things in life I know that is not realistic so I pray for strength and courage
for her. I pray that she will learn and grow from the right and wrong, the good and bad. But, more importantly I pray for a continued, strong support system of friends and family and the wisdom for her to rely on them.
I anxiously await whatever comes next in her life. I joke with her a lot about boyfriends and such but I have been praying for a special man for her for some time now. I pray that he will be a Godly man, a good husband and father. That he will not only provide for her physical and financial needs but for her spiritual needs as well.
I will always have fond memories of her childhood but I am so excited to see how God will work in her life next. I love you Boo.
Call To Duty
As I’m sure it is with many others, Memorial Day brings out a spirit of thanks in me. I thank all of those that have given their time, effort and lives in the service of our country. I too am a veteran. I served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Operation Provide Comfort in 1990-1991.
I’m not sure how other veterans feel about it while they are serving but at the time I did not fully realize what I was a part of. It wasn’t for recognition or fanfare. It wasn’t even for some over-spilling sense of honor and pride. While I had sworn to make it my duty to protect my country, to me I was simply doing my job.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to down play the honor it is to serve our country. There are few things that rival the feeling one gets from having served this great nation we live in. I have discovered one though. It is serving God.
As I look back at the similarities, I can see a path that has been formed in my life. Whether we accept it or not we were all created to serve. To serve God and to serve others. I see the characteristics of servanthood in so many people, most don’t even realize it in themselves. All jobs no matter what the skill level or education involved ultimately serve someone else. When we work the product created or service provided benefits another. After 35 years of life I came to this realization and the pieces of the puzzle finally came together for me. In June of 2006 I gave my life to Christ. I understand now that much of what I had been looking for and longing for could only be fulfilled with the in service to Him.
To that point I had done many things to serve others. I spent six years serving the people of our country in the U.S. Army. I spent six years as a carpenter building and repairing homes for others. From 1998 to the present I have been a Licensed Massage Therapist, caring for the needs of others. My life was filled with the call to serve others but until 2006 I did not understand the reason behind that call. Until that point I had not realized the biggest part missing from my call to duty was serving God.
I truly believe we all feel this call to some extent. A desire to help others, a yearning to be a part of something that is making a difference in others lives. That, my dear friends, is what a life dedicated to Jesus Christ is really all about. It’s not about rules and regulations, the accumulation of knowledge, the judgment or condemnation of others. It is about serving God and others.
I urge you today to look at the example of others before us. Then, look deep inside yourselves. It’s there, trust me. We are all creations of God and 1 Peter 4:10 says it best “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” Through that service you too can better understand God. So, go… find your call to duty.
Plan B by Pete Wilson
Plan B: What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would? Did you ever think you had it all worked out? Even for a small time. For just a short portion of your life did you think “this is where I’m supposed to be” or “this is the path to _______”. Did it seem so, totally, clear that the end result was within sight or even within your grasp? Have you had it all come to a screeching halt? Sudden, news of a death in the family, serious health issue, dire financial concerns, devastating relationship problems, all can send the best laid plans careening into the ditch. Have you experienced a Plan B in your life? I have. Ironically enough I experienced a few while reading this book. In his book Plan B, author and pastor, Pete Wilson gives us a look into the lives of others that have experienced Plan B’s. I saw myself reflected in a few of these stories and I saw people I know in the others. If you have experienced what might be considered a Plan B, this book is a great light in the darkness, please read it. If you have not experienced one, get ready because yours is coming and this book may be a great way to prepare for it, read it.
I must warn you though this book may not exactly answer some of your questions. It may not explain why your Plan B happened. However, you may begin to understand that Plan B’s are all part of the “big picture”. It will show you how God can use our Plan B’s to stretch us beyond our current selves. Also, how He can use our Plan B’s to show others what faith in Him can bring. Sometimes we can learn from the Plan B’s of others too. I truly enjoyed Pete’s no-nonsense, almost conversational way of writing. Thank you Pete and God bless. Learn more or purchase the book at http://www.planbbook.com/ Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary advanced copy of this book to review.
What would your Christianity look like if it was stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible? You would have more, not less. You would have the beginning of a new reformation—in your generation, your church, your own soul. You would have primal Christianity.
This book is an invitation to become part of a reformation movement. It is an invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago. It is an invitation to be astonished again.
I just finished Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson. I was thrilled and challenged by Marks previous books In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase But I believe he has outdone himself this time or more appropriately God has used Mark in bigger and broader ways through this book.
Primal begins with a descent into some of the history of Christianity where we find the “prime directive” from God through Jesus. The Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” That alone is the most primal piece of knowledge one can obtain from God’s word. With that one commandment in place in your life everything else is, to some degree, inconsequential. Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not saying, nor is Mark saying, the rest is unimportant but this is the prime piece of scripture, without loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength the rest won’t get you to far.
So many of us, as believers, today are so caught up in a quest for knowledge and answers that we forget to live out our lives with and for God. We forget that our actions and acts toward others are to be the actions and acts of Jesus Himself. We need to be totally sold out for Him. It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings and busyness of “life” and forget that without Christ we cannot truly have life. We are only waiting around to die.
It is my hope and prayer that you would open your heart and mind to Primal and allow God to speak to you through this book as He has to me.
This book is available from Random House Publishers here.
The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. www.markbatterson.com
Today I had the honor to witness the most amazing Baptism I have ever seen. I saw and heard from a man that spent most of his 40+ years attending church but never really understanding who Jesus was and what He really was to us all. Well, recent events in this mans life brought him to his knees and to the foot of the cross. Today, we spent some time in worship to God and then listened to his story. Then we saw this man baptized. It was such an awesome thing to experience. He describes his experience as having being given a new pair of glasses. He says he sees things so much more clearly now and is begining to understand the love of Christ, and it’s obvious. It’s so beautiful to see Christ working in this mans life and to already see God’s plans for him start to unfold.
Thank you my brother for allowing me to be a part of this special occasion. Hang in there, God bless and don’t forget your glasses.
Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs By Emerson Eggerichs.
This book is based upon the message God has given us through Paul in Ephesians 5:33. Through this and extensive biblical and psychological research, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs reveals the power of unconditional love and unconditional respect and how husbands and wives can reap the benefits of marriage that God intended.
I must say I was unsure of what to epect when this book first arrived. Before long I was deeply engrossed and totally enthralled by this often over-looked and misunderstood area of relationships. This book can and has saved marriages. It also has the potential to make good marriages great. More imortantly though is the spiritual growth you can experience in your obedience to God in the practices set forth in Ephesians 5:33. This book stretched me beyond a capacity I was aware I had and has convicted me to work harder at being a better husband to my wife and a better example of a husband for my daughter. I have already passed this book onto my wife in the hope of growing closer not only to her but to God along side her. I have had the opportunity to used much of the material in counseling others. I also lead a small group and can’t wait to introduce this material in an upcoming study. I would highly recommend this book to any and all.
You tell ’em Pete!!
The following is a post from Pete Wilson. I’ve been reading his blog for a while now and I tend to agree with his point of view. This time is certianly no exception. Thank you Pete for your honesty and attitude concerning a very difficult but real problem in this world today.
Porn Is To Him What A Pedicure Is To Her?
I’ve read a lot of stupid things in my life but this has to be one of the stupidest, most ignorant, completely unfounded statements I’ve ever read (just ask me and I’ll tell you what I really think). While Ian Kerner, Ph.D. is probably a great guy (and I mean no personal offense towards him) I’ve got to TOTALLY disagree with him on the following statement he made during an interview for an article on the Today Show blog. He said…
For many guys porn is basically a 30-second spa day, complete with happy ending: It feels good, relieves stress and functions as a quick little treat — kind of like scarfing down a bag of Gummi Bears in the middle of the day. It doesn’t mean we’re not interested in having “a real meal” with the woman we love, but sometimes we’re in the mood for a snack.
He went on to describe pornography as a harmless distraction that really doesn’t impact an individual or their relationships with others.
Are you freaking kidding me?
When I read this I knew I had to speak to this because nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve met with countless individuals and couples over the years whose lives and relationships have been severely impacted by pornography.
- 42 percent of surveyed adults indicated that their partner’s use of pornography made them feel insecure. Marriage Related Research, Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D. Christian Counseling Today, 2004 Vol. 12 No. 1.
- 41 percent of surveyed adults admitted they felt less attractive due to their partner’s pornography use. Marriage Related Research, Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D. Christian Counseling Today, 2004 Vol. 12 No. 1.
- 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home. Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003.
I’m not here to try to pile on the guilt. Lord knows if you’re addicted to pornography you don’t need anymore guilt.
I just want to remind you of the truth which is porn is not a “30 second spa day” but a powerful cycle of addiction that can and will destroy your ability to enjoy intimacy with your partner in the way God intended.
I want to remind you that you don’t have to continue to allow your mind and soul to be poisoned by this stuff. You can find freedom from the cycle of guilt and shame you’re caught in!
One of the wisest things I’ve ever done is installed Covenant Eyes on my computer and established a system for accountability in this area of my life and I want to encourage you to do the same. If you have computers in your home and or work which don’t have some kind of filter on them I think you’re just asking for trouble.
Okay (deep breath), I’m stepping down off my soapbox. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and while I don’t usually condone anonymous comments feel free to leave them on this particular topic.
Because I Said So…
So, the other day we’re getting ready for church and my daughter yells down from upstairs “can I wear sweatpants to church?” to which my wife immediately responds “NO!” Now, we do attend one of those come-as-you-are jeans and t-shirt kind of churches but apparently my wife draws the line at sweatpants. My 16 year old daughter did not rebel or scoff in the least but responded with a simple ok. “Because I said so” was a perfectly acceptable answer to her.
Now, wearing sweatpants to church may not seem like a big deal to some and it may seem sacreligious to others. That’s not the point here. This whole exchange got me thinking about Gods Word and His commands for us. I’ve heard a lot of people question Gods motives or answers. Why can’t I have sex outside of marriage? Why can’t I take things that aren’t mine? Why can’t I kill that guy that cut me off in traffic this morning?
While the answers to these questions may vary some, ultimately the only answer we really need to know is “because I (God) said so!” God loves us and had our best interest and safety in mind when He gave out the commandments and other life instructions as told by Jesus. But for some reason we feel that we need to question His answers. What kind of world would it be if we could still be like children and accept the old “because I said so” answer? I think this may be what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:3 when He said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We must leave behind our defiant, diobedient behaivour and become like trusting, obedient, innocent little children, because our Father knows and wants what’s best for us. If we don’t, do we truly have that so important relationship with Jesus???
(for those who may have read a different version of this yes, I did a rewrite. It’s not about the sweatpants. I’ll write on that one later.)
Even the Little Things Matter to God…
Last month Jenni and I took a vacation to Tampa, FL. We stayed in a great condo on Treasure Island. We did a lot of nothing and just had a wonderful time doing it. We rested and reconnected with each other and with the Lord.
We walked the beaches a lot while we were there. We saw lots of small shells. I did some snorkeling and found a lot of larger shells and sand dollars. There was one thing I looked for though and never found. I’m not sure why but I just thought it would be neat to find a sharks tooth. I looked and looked and looked but never did find one. I even saw a guy catch a small shark along the shore but no sharks tooth for me. I wasn’t overly upset by this and pretty much forgot about as we packed up to return home.
We got home on a Tuesday evening and I went back to work on Wednesday. I was attempting to get the sand out of my brain since my mind was still on the beach. I was preparing for my day and walking around my office. As some of you may know I tend to dress rather casual at work. I had on a pair of slip-ons that I had worn while in Florida though not that much. I was still thanking God for the blessing of such a wonderful time. Suddenly I felt a stab in the bottom of my foot. I removed my shoe and there stuck in the bottom of my foot was a sharks tooth! It was no bigger than a rose thorn. I would have never been able to find something that size on the vast beaches we walked. But there it was.
It was such a little thing but it meant so much to me. It was a small gift from God but a huge reminder of this vacation and to remember that I need to occasionally slow down and take time for myself, my wife and my God (not necessarily in that order). Thank You Father.
Show Me the Money…
“All the church ever wants is my money”. How many times have you heard that? I’ve never heard anyone say “all SuperMart wants is my money” or “all the IRS wants is my money”. But that is all they want. All the church wants, hopefully, is for us to be be obedient in our worship to God.
I think since there is generally an immediate exchange of goods or services we don’t think about giving up our money at a store. But this exchange of money from us to the church doesn’t provide an instant or visible return. But there is a huge profit for the store and the church is just trying to keep in operation. The church needs to be able to reach out and provide for those in need. To do this they need money. Pastors and staff are expected to perform certain duties. They need to be compensated for this. We wouldn’t show up to our jobs and perform very well or at all if we weren’t getting paid for it. Why should we expect that from them? They have families and needs to provide for too.
God doesn’t need or even want our money. What He does want is for His people to be obedient, worship Him and care for His house. Do I think some churches are a little too extravagant? Sure. Do they not always spend their money wisely? Sure. But on the other hand we don’t bat an eye at putting too much money into our cars or homes or at the marble columns or ornate glass and steel that decorate our malls. Why shouldn’t we honor our God with a nice place to worship Him?
All we have is given to us by God. The earth, the air, water, food and even our jobs. He has blessed us with everything we have. In thanks for that we are asked to give back. A tithe (10%) is mentioned in the Old Testament numerous times. I think this is a good starting point if you’re comfortable with it. It should probably be your minimum goal as you mature spiritually.
As commissions go 90% is pretty good. Remember it was all His in the first place. He just let us have it. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” That’s right, a cheerful giver. That means we should happy and thankful in giving back a portion to God what He gave us. This is simply an act of worship and obedience.
This is actually something I struggled with for a long time and still do occasionally. I didn’t start out giving 10 % but as I experimented with giving more and more God blessed me for my obedience and I learned to trust in Him. Even though I shouldn’t be I’m still amazed when I place Him first in my finances and He always provides more so I can get by.