myoikos

The Crew: Susanna: Fellowship, Stanford, Genetic Biology, Palo Alto, CA Luke: Student, USAFA, AFIT, Dayton, OH Frances Brantley: Student, Baylor School, Chattanooga, TN; Daughter and Sister Wendy Williams Brantley: Hook Marketing, CEO; Mom and Wife John Brantley: Clergy, UMC Elder at Rock Spring UMC, oikos:itsahouseholdword, CIO of Hook Marketing. King of Kotimme.com [Clergy, Author, Writer, Seeker and Poet]

Enough: Week 4 “Defined by Generosity” 1 Tim 6:17-19

titheapple

<outline based on Adam Hamilton’s lesson of Generosity from ‘Enough’>

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.    (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.    (Proverbs 11:24-25)

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)

A Theological Foundation for a Generous Life

Created to be generous, tempted to hoard

God created us with the willingness to give—to God and to others. This design is part of our makeup; we actually have the need to be generous. Yet there are two voices that work against our God-given impulse toward generosity and that tempt us to keep or hoard what we have. The charge is to multiply: God graciously gives us life, breath, brain, purpose, and passion: What stops us?

  • The voice of fear

Fear of what might happen to us, along with a misplaced idea about the true source of our security, keeps us from being generous and leads us to hoard what we have. The truth is that hoarding offers us no real security in this world.

  • The voice of self-gratification

Our culture tells us that our lives consist in the abundance of our possessions and pleasurable experiences. So we find ourselves thinking, If I give, there won’t be enough left for me.

Defeating the voices

When we give our lives to Christ, invite him to be Lord, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin changing us from the inside out, we find that our fears begin to dissipate and our aim in life shifts from seeking personal pleasure to pleasing God and caring for others. Although we still may wrestle with the voices from time to time, we are able to silence them more readily and effectively the more we grow in Christ. And the more we grow in Christ, realizing that our lives belong to him, the more generous we become. Generosity is a fruit of spiritual growth.

Biblical reasons to give to God and others

  • “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
  • “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
  • “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1).

Biblical guidelines for giving

From the early days of the Old Testament, God’s people observed the practice of giving some portion of the best they had to God. A gift offered to God was called the first fruits or the tithe, and it equaled one-tenth of one’s flocks or crops or income. Abraham was the first to give a tithe or tenth.

  • Genesis 14:20b and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.
  • Genesis 28:18-22 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”
  • Leviticus 27:30-33 All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the Lord’s; they are holy to the Lord. 31 If persons wish to redeem any of their tithes, they must add one-fifth to them. 32 All tithes of herd and flock, every tenth one that passes under the shepherd’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.33 Let no one inquire whether it is good or bad, or make substitution for it; if one makes substitution for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy and cannot be redeemed. 

Giving a tithe

As Christians who live under the new covenant, we are not bound by the law of Moses; we look to it as a guide. Yet most Christians agree that the tithe is a good guideline for our lives and one that is pleasing to God. Though tithing can be a struggle, it is possible at virtually every income level. If you cannot tithe right away, take a step in that direction. Perhaps you can give 2 percent or 5 percent or 7 percent. God understands where you are and will help you make the adjustments necessary to become more generous.

Giving beyond the tithe

Tithing is a floor, not a ceiling. God calls us to grow beyond the tithe. We should strive to set aside an additional percentage of our income as offerings for other things that are important to us, such as mission projects, schools, church building funds, and nonprofit organizations.

What Our Giving Means to God

How does our giving affect God?

From the earliest biblical times, the primary way people worshiped God was by building an altar and offering the fruit of one’s labors upon it to God. They would burn the sacrifice of an animal or grain as a way of expressing their gratitude, devotion, and desire to honor God. The scent of the offering was said to be pleasing to God. It wasn’t that God loved the smell of burnt meat and grain. Rather, God saw that people were giving a gift that expressed love, faith, and the desire to please and honor God, and this moved God’s heart. When given in this spirit, our offerings bless the Lord.

What is God’s response to our giving?

  • Luke 6:38   give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
  • Matthew 25:14-30  “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’26 But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return, I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

What Our Giving Means to Us

Through it, our hearts are changed.

When we are generous—to God and to our families, friends, neighbors, and others who are in need—our hearts are filled with joy. They are enlarged by the very act of giving. When we give generously, we become more generous.

In it, we find the blessings of God.

Many Christians have it wrong. They say that if you give, then God will give more back to you. But that is not how it works. We do not give to God so that we can get something in return. The amazing thing is that when we give to God and to others, the blessings just seem to come back to us. Of course, there is no guarantee that if we tithe, we will never lose our job or never have other bad things happen to us. Nevertheless, when we give generously, the unmistakable blessings of God flow into our lives.

Closing Prayer

O God, we thank you that you have given us life, that you sustain us by the power of your Holy Spirit, and that you gave Jesus Christ as an offering for us and for our sins. We thank you for the abundance that we have in our lives. And we pray, O Lord, that you would help us. Help us to honor you with our tithes. Help us to care for the poor and those who are in need. Help us to recognize that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We offer ourselves to you. Guide us now as we prepare to fill out our commitment cards. Help us, O Lord, to do your will. Lead us, we pray. In your holy name. Amen.

Leave a comment

Luke 12:15 “Cultivating Contentment”

Hebrews 13:5-6, Ecclesiastes 2:20-11, Luke 12:15

Sermon Aug 26, 2018 RSUMC   “Cultivating Contentment” Adam Hamilton’s “Enough”

cultivate

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

[Jesus] said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure. . . . Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind.   (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

In recent years we have witnessed a number of devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires. Natural disasters remind us that everything in this world is temporary. Most recently in the Hawaiian islands, we see the power and the loss. This is why we can say with Jesus, “[My] life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Yet the culture is shouting that it’s not true. The result is a wrestling match in our hearts.

Despite the fact that we say we believe Jesus’ words, we still find ourselves devoting a great deal of our time, talents, and resources to the acquisition of more stuff. We say that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, but we live as if they do.

Restless Heart Syndrome: Struggling with Discontent

Perhaps you’ve heard of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition in which one has twitches and contractions in the legs. Something we might call Restless Heart Syndrome (RHS) works in a similar way, but in the heart—or soul. Its primary symptom is discontent. We find that we are never satisfied with anything. The moment we acquire something, we scarcely take time to enjoy it before we want something else. We are perennially discontent.

When discontent is a virtue

There is a certain discontent that God intended us to have. God actually wired our hearts so that we would not be content with certain things, causing us to seek the only One who can fully satisfy us. We are meant to yearn for a relationship with God, to cultivate a deeper prayer life, to pursue justice and holiness with increasing fervor, to love others more, and to grow in grace and character and wisdom with each passing day.

When discontent destroys

The problem is that those things we should be content with are the very things we find ourselves hopelessly discontented with. For example, we find ourselves discontented with our stuff, our jobs, our churches, our children, and our spouses. God must look down on us and feel the way we feel when we give someone a special gift and the person asks for the gift receipt. It’s as if we’re saying to God, “I don’t like what you have given me, God. I want to trade it in and get something better.”

Four Keys to Cultivating Contentment

The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of contentment. In his letter to the Philippians, he wrote about the “secret” of his contentment (Philippians 4:11-12). Like Paul, we can learn to be content in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves. Four keys, which include the “secret” Paul referred to in his letter, can help us to do that.

  1. 1.Four words to repeat: It could be worse.

John Ortberg, pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California, says there are four words we should say whenever we find ourselves discontented with something or someone: “It could be worse.” This is essentially the practice of looking on the bright side or finding the silver lining. It is recognizing that no matter what we may not like about a thing or person or circumstance, we can always find something good to focus on if only we will choose to do so.

  1. 2.One question to ask: How long will this make me happy?

So often we buy something, thinking it will make us happy, only to find that the happiness lasts about as long as it takes to open the box. There is a moment of satisfaction when we make the purchase, but the item does not continue to bring satisfaction over a period of time. Many of the things we buy are simply not worth the expense. This is why it is a good idea to try before you buy.

  1. 3.Develop a grateful heart.

Gratitude is essential if we are to be content. The Apostle Paul said that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A grateful heart recognizes that all of life is a gift. Contentment comes when we spend more time giving thanks for what we have than thinking about what’s missing or wrong in our lives.

  1. 4.Where does your soul find true satisfaction?

The world tells us that we find satisfaction in ease and luxury and comfort and money. The Bible, however, answers this question very differently. From Genesis to Revelation, it tells us that we find our satisfaction in God alone.

  • “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” (Saint Augustine)
  • “O God, you are my God, I seek you, / my soul thirsts for you. . . . / My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, / and my mouth praises you with joyful lips / when I think of you on my bed, / and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” (Psalm 63:1, 5-6)
  • “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure....Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)
  • Jesus said the two most important things we must do are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). If we keep our focus on these two things, we will find satisfaction for our souls and lasting contentment.

Five Steps for Simplifying Our Lives – Contentment through Simplicity:

The road to cultivating contentment in our lives, is finding the most simple path. Contentment and simplicity go hand in hand.

  1. 1.Set a goal of reducing your consumption, and live below your means.

Set a tangible goal to reduce your own personal consumption and the production of waste in your life. For example, use canvas bags when you go grocery shopping and refuse any extra packaging. Whenever you are making purchases, look at the mid-grade instead of the top-of-the-line product. When buying a new car, aim to improve fuel economy over your existing car by at least 10 percent. Reduce your utilities 10 percent by setting the thermostat back a couple of degrees when you are away during the day and asleep at night. Find other ways to reduce your consumption and live below your means. To find other ways of reducing consumption, do some research, share ideas with others, or have a brainstorming session with your family.

  1. 2.Before making a purchase, ask yourself: Do I really need this? Why do I want this?

These questions will help you determine the true motivation for your desired purchase. Is it a need, a self-esteem issue, or something else? You may find yourself wrestling with your true motive and decide that your reason for purchasing the item is not a good one.

  1. 3.Use something up before buying something new.

Take good care of the things you buy and use them until they are empty, broken, or worn out. Buy things that are made to last, and when buying things that have a short lifespan, spend your money wisely.

  1. 4.Plan low-cost entertainment that enriches.

When it comes to choosing entertainment for your family or friends, plan things that are simple and cheap. You’ll be amazed at how much more pleasure you derive from low-cost, simple activities.

  1. 5.Ask yourself: Are there major changes that would allow me to simplify my life?

Consider downsizing your home, canceling a club membership you don’t use, or selling a car to buy one you can pay for in full. Ask yourself questions related to your home, possessions, job, and activities to identify some significant changes that will simplify your life. Remember, if you cannot do all the things God is calling you to do and you’re unable to find joy in your life, perhaps it’s time to simplify in some major ways.

The Power & Responsibility of Self-Control

Simplifying your life requires the practice of self-control. Solomon wrote, “Like a city whose walls are broken through / is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28 NIV). When a city’s walls are broken through, the enemy can march right in and destroy it; there is no longer any protection. Likewise, self-control is a wall around your heart and life that protects you from yourself, from temptation, and from sins that are deadly and ultimately can destroy you. Self-control often comes down to making a choice between instant gratification and delayed gratification for some greater cause. The choice can be examined using three questions:

  • What are the long-term consequences of this action?
  • Is there a higher good or a better outcome if I use this resource of time, money, or energy in another way?
  • Will this action honor God?

Conclusion: Which tent will you live in?

Will you live in “discon-tent” or “con-tent-ment”? You and you alone determine which “tent” will be yours. You choose it in large part by deciding what life is about. If you decide that “life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15), then you are choosing contentment. Choosing contentment means we look to God as our Source, giving thanks for what we have; we ask God to give us the right perspective on money and possessions and to change our hearts each day; we decide to live simpler lives, wasting less and conserving more; and we choose to give more generously.

Closing Prayer

Lord, we pray that you might cure us of Restless Heart Syndrome. We are truly sorry for the times when we received the gifts you give us and asked for the gift receipt: when we were dissatisfied with a person you entrusted to our care, with our children or parents, with our home or our car, with our healthcare or our jobs. God forgive us for the times we’ve offended you by our discontent. Forgive us for being content with the things we should not be content with. Give us a hunger to pursue righteousness and holiness and justice and love, to long for you and for your will in our lives. Help us to simplify, to get off the treadmill, and to find our peace in you. We ask these mercies in your holy name. Amen.

Leave a comment

Sermon “Wisdom and Finance”  ENOuGH

(Drawn on Adam hamMilton’s Resources for Enough)

moneydrain

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want. (Prvb 21:5)

Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise,  but the fool devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)

Where Did All Our Money Go?

FROM LAST WEEK: We must allow Christ to work in us.

Christ works in us as we first seek his kingdom and strive to do his will. As we do, we begin to sense a higher calling—a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. A key part of finding financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint. With the help of God, we can

  • simplify our lives and silence the voices constantly telling us we need more.
  • live counter-culturally by living below, not above, our means.
  • build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit.
  • build into our budgets what we need to live generously and faithfully.

Living as prodigals

From Jesus’ description in Luke 15:11-16, we see that the prodigal son had the habits of squandering and spending. The word prodigal does not mean someone who wanders away or is lost. It literally means “one who wastes money.” Many of us struggle with that habit. We’re not worried about tomorrow; we want it today. The problem with that kind of thinking is that, for most of us, the “famine” eventually comes. It comes when we have spent everything we have and even a little bit of next year’s income. So we use the credit card and charge it, and we go a little further into debt. Finally, we come to a place where we have nothing left, not even credit, and we can’t figure out how we are we going to get by.

The more we make, the more we waste.

It seems that the more financially secure we become, the less we worry about spending money here and there. We waste a dollar on this or that, and we forget where it went. Money just seems to flow through our fingers. We’re not as careful with our money as we should be. There are many ways we waste money, but there are two primary money-wasters that many of us struggle with. It is not necessary to eliminate these two things altogether, but we should think more carefully about how we spend our money.

How to avoid impulse buying

  • Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  • Shop only for what you need.
  • Don’t wander down every isle, only go where you need to go. Make a list and stick to it; buy what you need and get out of the store!
  • Consult a trusted person and wait twenty-four hours before following through on an impulse buy.

Number One Area of impulse spending is Eating out

  • The issue is frequency. The average American eats out an average of four times a week.
  • By eating out less frequently, we will have more money to save, to spend on more important things, and to give away.

If you were to simply prepare all meals at home, you’d move 4.2 meals from restaurants to your home. At an average cost of $12.75 per meal, you’d save yourself $8.75 for each of those meals. In other words, the average American would save $36.75 per person per week by moving all of their meals from restaurants to home-prepared meals. If we are eating out more than 4 times a week, we need to evaluate our lifestyle.

Clarifying Our Relationship with Money and Possessions

We do not exist simply to consume as much as we can and get as much pleasure as we can while we are here on this earth. We have a higher purpose. We need to know and understand our life purpose—our vision or mission or calling—and then spend our money in ways that are consistent with this purpose or calling.

Be clear about your purpose and calling.

Our society tells us that our life purpose is to consume—to make as much money as possible and then to spend it. The Bible tells us that we were created to care for God’s creation. We were created to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We were created to care for our families and those in need. We were created to glorify God, to seek justice, and to do mercy. Our money and possessions should be devoted to helping us fulfill this calling. We are to use our resources to help care for our families and others—to serve Christ and the world through the church, missions, and everyday opportunities. We have a life purpose that is greater than our own self-interest, and how we spend our God-given resources reflects our understanding and commitment to this life purpose or mission.

Set worthy goals.

Being able to accomplish the greater purposes God has for our lives requires some measure of planning. Taking the time to set goals related to our lives and our finances is crucial if we are to become wise stewards of our God-given resources. Each of us should think about our life purpose and goals and then identify two short-term financial goals, two mid-range financial goals, and two long-term financial goals that are aimed at helping us accomplish our broader life goals. At least one goal in each category should relate specifically to our faith. (Suggestion: Use the bulletin insert “My Life and Financial Goals Worksheet” in 3. Communication Resources.)

The Discipline of Managing Your Money

Adopt/Review your budget and spending plan.

Once we’ve set some financial goals, we need to develop a plan to meet those goals. A budget is a spending plan that enables us to accomplish our goals. Some people use an envelope system to help them manage their saving and spending and stay on budget. Others use a variety of different approaches. Many people find it helpful to seek the advice of a financial advisor. For those who find themselves in the midst of a financial crisis, a financial counselor can help arrange terms with creditors and develop a workable financial plan. Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is simply to have a plan.

Follow six financial planning principles.  (Ramsey Model or others)

The following financial planning principles can help us manage our money with wisdom and faith:

  1. Pay your tithe and offering first.
  2. Create a budget and track your expenses.
  3. Simplify your lifestyle (live below your means).
  4. Establish an emergency fund.
  5. Pay off your credit cards, use debit cards for purchases, and use credit wisely.
  6. Practice long-term savings and investing habits.

What can we do?       Simple Truths:

  • Seek God’s wisdom,
  • Listen to the wisdom of those who are trustworthy,
  • hold one another accountable* (See Goal Setting Worksheet)
  • Remember we are created out of generous love and
  • We are called to live generously

Closing Prayer

God, you know all about us, even when we don’t. We don’t know where every dime went, but somehow you know what we did with all that we had, last year and every other year. You don’t forbid us from having joy in our possessions; in fact, you delight in our having joy. But what you know is that simply acquiring more stuff isn’t where we find joy. Lord, forgive us for being wasteful, for being prodigal. Forgive us for leveraging our future in order to have pleasure in the present. And help us to be good managers of the talents that you’ve given us. Help us to be generous and willing to share, kingdom-minded and focused on accomplishing your purposes for our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*Worksheet Questions

My Life and Financial Goals

How would you define or describe your life purpose?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

What are some goals that can help you achieve this life purpose?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

What are some financial goals that can help support your life goals and purpose?

______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________

Short-term financial goals (next 12 months):

1. _______________________________________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Mid-range financial goals (2–5 years):

1. _______________________________________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Long-term financial goals (5 years to retirement):

1. ______________________________________________________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Leave a comment

1 Timothy 6:10 When Dreams Become Nightmares

nighmares

When Dreams Become Nightmares

(from Enough: Stewardship, Adam Hamilton)

Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10b NIV)

The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:26)

The American Dream

What characterizes the greatest hopes, desires, and dreams of most Americans?

For most people, the American dream has to do with the desire for achieving success and satisfying the desire for material possessions. It is the opportunity to pursue more than what we have, to gain more than what we have, and to meet success. We tend to measure our success by the stuff that we possess.

The pursuit of immediate material pleasure

The love of money and the things money can buy is s primary or secondary motive behind most of what we American’s do. We want to consume, acquire, and buy our way to happiness – and we want it now.

The American Nightmare

The American Dream has become an American Nightmare owing to two distinct yet related “illnesses” that affect us both socially and spiritually.

“Affluenza”

“Affluenza is the constant need for more and bigger and better stuff – as well as the effect that this ‘need’ has on us. It is the desire to acquire, and most of us have been infected by this virus to some degree.

  • The average American home went from 1,660 sq ft in 1973 to 2,700 in 2016.
  • Today there are estimated to be 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in America.

“Credit-itis

“Credititis” is an illness that is brought on by the opportunity to buy now and pay later, and it feeds on our desire for instant gratification. Our economy today is built on the concept of credit-itis. Unfortunately, it has exploited out lack of self= discipline and has allowed us to feed our affluenza, wreaking havoc with our personal and national finances.

  • Average credit card debt in American in 1990 was around $3000. Today its nearly $17,000.
  • The average sale is around 125 percent higher if we use a credit care than if we pay cash because it doesn’t feel real when we use plastic instead of cash.

Credit-itis is not limited to purchases made with credit cards; it extends to car loans, mortgages, and other loans. The life of the average car loan and home mortgage continues to increase while the average American’ savings rate continues to decline.

The Deeper Problem Within

There is a spiritual issue behind both affluenza and credit-itis.

Our souls were created in the image of God, but they have been distorted. We were meant to desire God, but have turned that desire toward possessions. We were meant to find out security in God, but find it in amassing wealth. We were meant to love people, but instead, we compete with them. We were meant to enjoy the simple pleasure of life, but we busy ourselves still pursuing money and things. We were meant to be generous and to share with those in need, but we selfishly hoard our resources for ourselves. All of us have an inclination toward this sin.

The devil plays upon this inclination toward sin

Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). In order to destroy us, the devil doesn’t need to tempt us to do drugs or to steal or to have an extramarital affair. All he needs to do is convince us to keep pursuing the American Dream – to keep up with the Jones’s, borrow against our futures, enjoy more than we can afford, and indulge ourselves. By doing that, the devil will rob us of joy, makes us slaves, and keep us from doing God’s will.

  • MT 4:8-10
  • LK 8:14
  • MK 8:36
  • 1Tm 6:10

The Bible’s Solution

We need a heart change.

Although we received a changed heart when we accept Christ, in a sense we need a heart change every morning Each morning we should get down on our knees and say, “ Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be today. Take away the desires that shouldn’t be there, and help me to be single-minded in my focus and pursuit of you.” As we say this prayer and act on it, God comes and cleanses us from the inside out, purifying and changing our hearts.

We must all Christ to work in us.

Christ works in us as we first seek his kingdom and strive to do his will. As we do, we begin to sense a higher calling – a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. A key part of finding financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising r4estraint. With the help of God, we can:

simplify our lives and silence the voice constantly telling us we need more.

  • Live counterculture-ly, by living below, not above, our means
  • build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit.
  • Build into our budgets what we need to live generously and faithfully.

Activity: Place your hands in your lap, extend palms upright. Pray quietly with me: Change my heart, O God. Clean me out inside. Make me new. Heal my desires. Help me hold my possessions loosely. Help me to love you. Teach me simplicity, Teach me generosity. Give me joy. I offer my life in Jesus. A

Leave a comment

Colossians 3:1-11 “Never too Soon for Spring Cleaning”

sexualsin
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things–anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! [NRSV]

The Greatest Park of a Yard Sale

The greatest part of a yard sale is the opportunity to let go of the old clutter, stuff and garbage. It is amazing how we allow stuff to accumulate. Grace and repentance are how we keep from living as a self-centered person vs a God-centered person.
The way the world compartmentalizes people is not God’s way of seeing us. God calls us to live counter to the world’s culture. Our earthly heritage is based on genealogy, customs, geography, social and economic divisions. God call’s us to be different based on being spiritually clothed.

Live Like you are a child of God

  • Set your mind on the things of God
  • Clothe your spiritual self with Christ’s glory

Live as a Citizen of Heaven

Live, behave and operate based on your spiritual citizenship and not your worldly citizenship.

Don’t live like God is busy up in heaven:

  • fornication,  impurity, passion,  (Fulfilling the desires of the body are not eternal.)
  • evil desire – Invested and claiming what we declare as good but God does not.
  • greed (idolatry). (what we control and how the world values & measures.) 
  • get rid of all such things–anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive talk.

Leave a comment

Mark 4:35-41 “Why Are You Afraid”

Fear_eyes

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSV]

 

Top Ten Diagnosed Phobias [fearof.net]

1. Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders
2. Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes.
3. Acrophobia – The fear of heights.
4. Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces.
5. Cynophobia – The fear of dogs.
6. Astraphobia – The fear of thunder/lightning
7. Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
8. Mysophobia – The fear of germs.
9. Aerophobia – The fear of flying.
10. Trypophobia – The fear of holes
11. Carcinophobia – The fear of cancer.

12. Thanatophobia – The fear of death.
13. Glossophobia – The fear of public speaking.
14. Monophobia – The fear of being alone

15. Atychiphobia – The fear of failure.
16. Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
17. Alektorophobia – The fear of chickens.
18. Enochlophobia – The fear of crowds
19. Aphenphosmphobia – The fear of intimacy.
20. Trypanophobia – The fear of needles.

[inc.com Eric Mack, OCT 27, 2017]

74.5 % Corrupt Government
55.3 % Healthcare
53.1 % Pollution of Water
50.2 % Not enough money for the future
48.4 % High Medical Bills
48.4 % Involvement in another War
48.0 % Weather and Climate Change
47.5 % North Korea using weapons
44.5 % Air Pollution
44.4 % Economic Collapse/ Stock Crash
43.5 % Extinction of species
43.3 % Terror Attack
41.9 % Identity Theft
41.8 % Biological Attack
40.3 % Credit Fraud
39.7 % Death of Loved Ones/Friend
39.1 % Serious Illness of Loved Ones/Friend
39.1 % Cyber-Terrorism
39.0 % Nuclear Attack
38.8 % General Terrorism
38.6 % Restrictions on Firearms
37.4 % Government Tracking personal data
36.7 % Corporate Tracking of personal data
36.2 % Toxic Spills
35.7 % Electrical Grid Attack/Collapse
35.5 % Hit by a drunk driver
32.8 % Pandemic
30.7 % Being unemployed
30.2 % Nuclear accident
29.0 % Losing saved data/photos
28.2 % Heights
28.1 % Involved in a mass shooting
27.2 % Government’s use of drones within US
26.6 % Drought
26.6 % Break-ins
25.7 % Becoming seriously ill
25.4 % Victim of Theft
25.4 % Shark attack
25.3 % AI/Computers replacing people
24.3 % Tornados
23.6 % Reptiles
22.6 % Earthquakes
21.4 % Hurricane
20.9 % Hate Crimes
20.3 % Dying

2001 US Fears [Gallup.com]

1. Snakes
2. Public Speaking
3. Heights
4. closed in small spaces
5. Spiders
6. needles
7. mice
8. flying
9. dogs
10. thunder/lightening
11. crowds
12. going to the doctor
13. the dark

Jesus looks to us, knows our fear and asks us: Why are you afraid?

Fear can be a helpful and motivating force. But when we allow fear to debilitate our growth and progression we must acknowledge we need to turn to Jesus for strength.

  • I’m I afraid of dying? Yes and No! No, I know Jesus has good for me in staying and  Good for me in leaving to be with him.
  • I’m I afraid of Wendy or the kids dying? Yes and No! Yes, Jesus has great for them, but I’m not ready to miss out on time sharing our lives.
  • I’m I afraid of people’s missed-place trust in government? I have been, but I’m committed to turning that over to Jesus. Q/A: that looks like this, when I hear people afraid about politics, I’m called to ask them to pray with me about what Jesus’s boat is going to do?
  • I’ve been afraid of what the church is going to do/not do come February, but I”m not afraid any more. Jesus is going to open a way to teach us to be the church.
  • With a daughter in California I’ve been afraid of earthquakes.
  • With a son in the military I’ve been afraid of threats of war.
  • With neighbors in Hawaii I’ve been afraid they will get to close to the volcano. With a daughter in high school, I’ve been afraid that pier pressure will challenge her values and work ethic.
  • I’ve been afraid Wendy will not find her way after investing so much time caring for her parents.
  • I’ve been afraid my brother won’t be part of my family in the future.
  • I’ve been afraid, but fear is not going to arrest my faith!!

The perspective of the disciples is that Jesus does not care, because they are faced with fear.

  1. The perspective from fear is death, loss, storm and
  2. The perspective from faith is that fear is real, but Jesus is with me.
  3. What is your perspective?

How do we shift from fear to faith

  1. prayer – keep the conversation open and flowing with Jesus
  2. practice – practice turning over, talking over, trusting Jesus
  3. progress – encourage one another to help see the progress

Praying

  • a) in all things
  • b) with out ceasing
  • c) have a little talk with Jesus
  • d) listen

Practice

  • a) remember we have our responsibilities on the boat but we are not in charge of the storm.
  • B) faith grown buy trusting Jesus, trusting People of God, living God’s word.

Progress –

  • a)the encouragement that we find by looking back after the storms have pasted to prepare us for the storm of the present and the future.

 

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Mark 4:26-34 “Kingdom Seeds”

cornears

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. [NRSV]

{Happy Father’s Day: You are here because some planted a seed of faith. Thank you for the gift of life.}

The Kingdom of God: 

Jesus uses parables to paint the picture of what the church is to look like to the world. Some parables are about the Kingdom of Heaven, Some are the kingdom of earth. But this sample directs our attention to the Kingdom of God.

Recall when we pray the Lord’s prayer that we have learn from repetition: I draw your attention to the phrase “..Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus describes what it looks like when we receive glimpses of heaven on earth. 

  • The image is the of someone scattering seeds that would grow night and day. 
  • How they grow is a mystery. 
  • How they continue to grow, night and day, is a mystery.

Growth is seen in stages:

There is a plan. There is a process. There are points to measure and signs for us to watch and anticipate.

  • The Shoot
  • The Stalk
  • The Head
  • The Full Head
  • Sickle Time
  • The Harvest is the fruit of the seed.

Parable TWO: The Kingdom of Heaven is like..

The tiny mustard seed with might potential

  • The fruit is not only in the seeds for its expected yield
  • Also it provides home and shelter for others

Holding these two parables of God’s Kingdom on revealed to us is:

  • a mystery
  • a process
  • a harvest
  • some expected
  • some unexpected.

How our world longs to see what God has to reveal

I want to invite you to see the kingdom here in Rock Spring.

Over the next two years, you and I will be planing seeds.

No, I’m not helping you plant your garden, we will be scattering seeds of the kingdom. 

How difficult is to scatter seeds?

  • What equipment do you need?
  • Seeds,
  • Hands or a spreader,
  • Some movement, locomotion, transportation, usually we picture simple walking

I know how many places we can expect seeds to sprout.

3,600

What 3,600? That is part of the mystery.

Where they take root first will be a mystery, but once our seeds start being scattered, we will begin seeing sign of the Kingdom of God, both night and day.

I know that over seeding will be needed.

Today I want to show  you the first part: The Mustard Seed.

  1. Hello, My name if John Brantley
  2. I am here today on behalf of Rock Spring UMC
  3. I would like ask you two questions today.
  4. May I?
  5. Is there some need our concern that I can pray for in your life?
  6. Is there anything our church can do for you? I can’t promise that we can do every thing you ask for, but I can promise you that we will try.
  7. Here is my phone number/ email I hope you will contact me if you think of a prayer or something we can help with you and your household.

The Seed:

May we pray for you?

Can we help you in any way?

Both are filled with potential to see the Kingdom of God. 

If they say no or no thank you, or ignore you. Promise them we will check later.

Practice for now:

First I hope that you will try this wherever you go. Work, School, shopping, sporting events, vacation, start to practice. 

We will begin planting rows of a garden in Rock Spring and you need to practice scatting seeds.

When we open our hearts in prayer to listen and serve others we will begin to see the Kingdom of God growing around us.

Will you practice? I need a volunteer.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Mark 2:23-3:6 Sabbath Rest

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath, so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. [NRSV]

When someone speaks truth and it does not agree with our understanding of the truth:

  • Do we learn from them or attack them
  • Do we change our minds or put out minds to work how to get rid of them
  • Do we admit our sin, repent and follow them or become consumed with defending our own truth.

The question is put to them

  • Which is more loving?
  • Which is more harmful?

To break the rule and help a person

Or to keep the rule and harm the person?

There is a third option:

maybe there ARE exceptions to the rule AND maybe telling to truth hurts when we don’t want to hear something that sounds unacceptable or inconvenient to us?

God made the Sabbath for us

The concept of sabbath rest is time to rest from labor and enjoy walking in the garden of eden with God

We are no longer in the garden of eden and thus our resting with God, retreating with God.

yet, Sabbath is a basic and integral part of our relationship with God.

Creation is ordered, formed, filled and blessed as God’s good work for our benefit. Part of the order of creation is the reservation of space and time for walking with God in the Garden, Sabbath.

Q: What can you do today that would most reconnect you with the God of creation having a desired to be in a good relationship with you?

Is it for our benefit or God’s

In have a question: if there are two thousand years between Adam and Eve and Moses, where is are the instructions about the sabbath.

The opportunity is built into creation but not teach for thousands of year’s.

The direction to keep the sabbath holy begins in creation, is assumed in the wilderneness gathering manna during six says, but formally observe it as a practice and tradition comes for the Ten Commandments with Moses.

our benefit to in Gods presence

Jesus gives the life-long faithful a test. What honors God the most: keeping the law, rules and traditions or healing and making someone whole.

The dilemma in this case is not about is it good to heal, rather which is better: to sin or heal someone from sin.

sabbath is

Not just an absence of work

It is day to trust God

So we come to the table

The Lord has prepared for us

For our benefit

Come and eat, be nourished

And be present in God and gods Spirit in you through Jesus Christ

Leave a comment

John 3:11-17 He Gave His Life

Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]

He Gave His Life

Through this very familiar passage we find the treasure of assurance of God’s Love and Sacrifice and our Purpose and Salvation

Memorial Day

Honoring those who have given their life for country, church, faith and…

More that Remembering

Just as we honor and remember those who have died this Memorial Day, it is essential not only to recognize the loss of some family’s know more closely than others, but we also look at the greater good that comes when someone sacrifices for the rest of us.

This is not to be taking as lightly as we do.

In remembering what God has done for us through Jesus’s death and resurrection we acknowledge the love and sacrifice, but we also claim the greater good that comes through this service for us.

More than Memorial

Just as those who gave their life of our country and communities, they did not serve to get credit or fame or just to be remembered. They did it for duty, love, respect, trust and to save those who them they love and nation that is our home.

Jesus didn’t died to be remembered only. His death was a sacrificial death. God trades the value and meaning and purpose of his Child’s life for ours.

Response

Not only do we honor with words and songs and memories on an annual day of remembering, we honor their service by living on in their stead.

Likewise, God service and sacrifice being the greatest gift for us, is not simply to impress or to give a reason for honoring and worshiping God, it is so that we will live on in the place of Christ

The Body of Christ

This is the trade. We live because of the life of others. Graduates give thanks to the parents, grands, teachers, friends and mentors that guided them toward graduation. The students steps that follow graduation is to do something with the next part of their life that is fruit of the labor and seed of new life.

We, the church, are being tested. The exam is this:

  • Are we living as Christ or simply remembering the past traditions?
  • Are we honoring the memory of Christ, or are we sharing the living Christ with a suffering and broken world?
  • Are we honoring the idea of a loving God, but looking for every way to tear down our enemies?
  • Is God’s sacrifice and love being lived out in our words and witness?

,

Leave a comment

Romans 8:22-27 We’ve Got Spirit!

howboutyou

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. [NRSV]

The Whole Creation is Groaning

Labor Pains, Growing Pains, vs Aches and Pains

 

School shoots, political thrashing, volcano eruptions, threats nations and neighbors. It is obvious in 360* view that someone, somewhere is groaning, complaining, fearful, and under attack. It is overwhelming!

Where do we turn? Where is our solid ground? Where is our safety net? Who can save us?

Where is our Hope? 

God is our hope and we most often experience God the the Spirit form. We talk more about God and Jesus, but the Spirit moving, speaking, singing, directing and guiding us is our most common experience of God in our lives.

Remind your neighbor. God’s Holy Spirit is in me. “I’ve Got Spirit, Yes I do, I’ve Got Spirit, how about you?”

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is a special day in the life in of Church we celebrate being people of the Holy Spirit.

Pente-cost: We celebrate this Sunday, fifty days since Easter, as a looking back in the grief, lostness and chaos of life without Jesus by our physical side, to see that the world continues to spare chaos and God is about creating order, purpose and relationship.

In our Weakness

Paul instructs us and the church in Rome:

  • While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And while we are afraid, God is Strong.
  • When we are doubting God is holding fast. When we are confused, God is the foundation.
  • When we are beaten down, weary and give out, God knows our hearts and intercedes..

When we are in the painful place of uncertainty: and we are even as a global church, The  Holy Spirit is calling us to the heart of God, to the Word of God and to the be the people of God for a world in chaos.

God intercedes for Us

The Good News is the God is expecting us to do the trusting and God do the leading. Our trusting we call HOPE>

  • Hope is trusting what we cannot explain nor understand
  • Hope is trusting God, when there are alternatives to place our trust.
  • Hope is leaning in, depending on God to be God and for us to follow, 
  • Hope is not protecting what we have dominion and control over, it is give God what we think of as our own and trusting God to use all that we are.

Trust God (Hope) to Show up through the Holy Spirit.

When you hear the voice of crazy-making: Call for God to speak words of peace

When you have no words, let God speak through your ‘sighs’ and ‘groans’ let me hear you  sigh and groan. You’re good at it. Sometime we need to not speak and turn to God’s word to speak for us.

Before we join in another chorus of complaining and blaming, sing two verses of trusting God to speak through you. Don’t add to the world’s blaming and complaining..

Share God’s words and wisdom of hope, faith, trust, power, and grace.

Have you ever had an attorney speak for you… they will help keep you out of trouble when you want to speak for yourself. Attorney’s get a bad wrap, but in times of chaos they help guide us through the law, speaking in our best interest, this is how Paul reminds us to trust the Holy Spirit.

Stop fussing, don’t fear, stop pointing fingers and assigning blame, turn to the Holy Spirit and God’s word to guide us.

Fight the urge to be correct, to be justified in the moment, to win the argument, to take offense at a post on social media, to label and objectify a person or group…. Lean into the trust/hope that God is longing to speak through us.

Hear the Bad News:

The world is in chaos, because we have placed our hope in other voice.

Hear the Good News:

God continues to love us and call us to hope/trust through the labor, through the chaos, God is with us. Listen to God, Follow God, Hope for God, live for God.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: