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Archive for category #accountability

Hebrews 13:12-16 Three Rules: Refresher

Three Tools

Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. [NRSA]

John Wesley’s “Three Rules” are 1) Do no harm, 2) Do all the good that you can. and 3) Continue to grow Spiritually by practicing piety.

Wesley offers these three rules from the perspective of living as Sanctified people who are always moving toward Christian Perfections, which is our wholeness in God. 

Therefore the rules are the guide for growing into the people God has hoped and dreamed we would become through Christ.

The reality is that we have conflicts and problems with the three rules. 

  • We don’t always avoid doing what is harmful, sinful or evil. 
  • We don’t always do what is good for God and others, much less ourselves. 
  • And we are spastic in prating our spiritual maturity, as we generally believe we have figured enough out to get by until we have crises we can’t handle.

All this affirms that we don’t fully understand the three rules as helpful tools. As simple rules, there are ideas for us to think about in our head. I offer the tool bag instead. Wesley’s three simple tools.

The first tool is the hammer. It is weighted, purposeful and designed to be used to construct when used properly. It is to strike metal nails and not fingernails. When you hit your finger, it not only cause you to take the Lord’s name in vain or at least shout our in pain, it leaves a bruise or it might take off the fingernail or open the skin for infection on top of the pain and soreness.

No one would willfully hit their thumb, but it happens. No one would strike another person with a hammer but it happens. The heavy hammers in tired and sweaty hands might drop and injure a toe, a co-worker or cause damage to the building project.

The hammer has the ability to do good or harm. Don’t intend harm with a tool number one. 

Parenting. As a parent I know that sometimes setting a limit, pointing our an error, or protecting a child or the family from harm means saying “No.”, setting boundaries, and even providing a measure to shape attitudes and behaviors.  From the child’s point of view, they might feel they have been harmed. So doing no harm would actually be doing harm. The perspective and intent determine when our actions and attitudes are harmful. 

  • People will say “the church didn’t love me, because they didn’t approve of my sin.” We address sin so that we can, “go and sin no more.”
  • They didn’t give me money to they don’t show the love of Jesus, “They are all hypocrites.” We are not perfect, but loving is not always pleasing.
  • I didn’t get my way, so the church harmed me.

… in these, we take the tool of “Do no harm” and use it as a weapon rather than a tool for constructing that which is good for God, others and ourselves. 

Perspective and intent are what the first rule/tool is all about. 

Clarified: Do No Harm is: in all we do, don’t intend to reject, don’t plan to harm, don’t let anger, fear, disappointment guide your thoughts and actions. 

Tool number two:   The Spoon

“Do all the Good that you can.”  This is one is where the church may find its greatest threat. We assume this rule set the highest demand that we always do good. We learn from the first rule that what is good is not determined by what others ask of us, nor is it the good that we define.  Goodness is defined by God, for God’s purposes.

A spoon is a great tool. It can be used to feed ourselves or someone else. It allows us to gather bite-sized portions and deliver something that is good or evil. 

You know the saying, “He can dish it, but he can’t take it.” We want Good to come to us. This second tool is like the basic lesson of loving one’s neighbor, “Love your neighbor like you would like for your neighbor to love you, whether your neighbor loves you or not.

The spoon carries a portion of something that is unconditional. We can hardly do good for those we know and love; when it comes to loving those who are different or showing Goodness to our enemies, rivals and those narrow-minded knuckleheads would don’t think as we do.. The temptation is to avoid them, appease them or draw our line of goodness in the sand stand before them and God knowing we have done our part.

The power part of the spoon is that offers a controlled portion. My doctor said to me, “if you eat a spoon of ice cream, you are doing ok, if your portion is the whole container, you are way out of bounds.” 

Don’t become overwhelmed with doing everything well, all at once, all the time. When we have the commandment to show Goodness and we fail or fall short, we get overwhelmed. 

The constructive use of a spoon is that with one portion we can take the next step of turning around a past of doing harm, doing evil and being broken in sin. One spoonful of good does not equal all the injustice and brokenness we create, but with one act of doing Good transforms the direction of our faithfulness. The more spoons of Goodness we share the closer we move toward God and all the people of God’s work. 

Clarification: When we do what is Good, we are taking small bites of doing things God’s way. 

The third tool is a treadmill. Practice your piety, growing in Christian fellowship and maturing your Spiritual self with God, others and ourselves.  

NO!! Not the treadmill! Everyone knows what the treadmill is for. Walking, running, exercise. How many people have purchased a treadmill or other exercise equipment as a yard sale, only to later sell the same machine at another yard sale?

The good use of the treadmill is not as a place to hang clothes or store boxes of junk. The ownership of a treadmill offers no health benefit unless we use it. 

Even a basic treadmill has some measurements. Time, distance, difficulty and measure of work accomplished. 

The appropriate use of such a device is to use it, daily. The third rule is best used in the third tool. 

Think of all the wonderful things we can do to strengthen our relationship with God, our neighbor, and our enemies that don’t require elevating your heart rate!!

  • Singing, 
  • Worshiping, 
  • Praying, 
  • Studying, 
  • Journaling, 
  • Fasting, 
  • Serving, 
  • Witnessing, and 
  • Sharing in fellowship with other Christians. 

Think of how practicing these spiritual exercises will build spiritual muscle for when we are dealing with rule ONE and TWO.

Three Tools: A Hammer, a Spoon, and a Treadmill

Three Rules:

Be intentional about building God’s kingdom and not simply avoiding harm.

Be repetitive in a diet of doing Good, one bite at a time

Be renewed and growing practicing on Spirit on God’s treadmills

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Sermon “Wisdom and Finance”  ENOuGH

(Drawn on Adam hamMilton’s Resources for Enough)

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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. ______________________________________________________________________________________

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Romans 14:1-13 Share Faith: Encouragement and Accountability

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Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. [NRSV]

The “E” Word

We are generally good at encouraging one another. Sometimes we are encouraged by fear. Examples:

  • The Hurricane is coming our way, it’s time to evacuate! or
  • There is a brush fire out of control next door, call 911 now!
  • I heard a gunshot outside, take cover and call the police!

Coaches motivate players by saying things like:

  • If you don’t come to practice you will not play Friday night
  • if you don’t play Friday night you are off the team
  • If you are off the team you will not be picked up by any college scouts
  • Now get out there and run stadiums until you remember why not to miss practice.

While this is motivational, it is never encouraging. (Even if you say you’re being helpful)

Encouragement is more than motivational

Paul offers us instruction and challenge to encourage one another.

The Bishop has motivated the clergy saying, if you want an appointment next year, you will baptize 3-5 new Christians each year.  [This motivates me to put an advertisement out in the paper and social media for unbaptized folks offering @ $100 to meet the requirement, but it does not encourage me to share my faith in transformative ways.]

To encourage someone with your faith sharing gift calls on you/me to

  1. Be Ready. be prepared to share: (Prayed up, studied up, practiced up, and looking for opportunities.
  2. Think about
    1. The difference of what inspires you and what motivates you.
    2. What is the difference between what scares you into action and what compels you to action?
    3. From that perspective of encouragement: write out these constructive ways to be supported.

Examples for John/Me

Deadlines, Requirements, Contacts, Leverage, Time, Money, Pier pressure, Approval are all motivators in my life.

When inspires me to share my faith is:

  1. When I do and see how God uses our conversations to open hearts and minds that were closed.
  2. When I ready and prepare to share my faith, God does not let that preparation go to sit still for very long.
  3. When I ask people to tell me what gives them hope, what they are passionate about that gives their life meaning and purpose, and they begin to talk about God it affirms my faith.
  4. If they realize gaps and holes in their foundations, then God uses those as places to share my faith.
  5. Songs, stories, and movies that capture a moment of for God encourage in the moment and become faith conversations in the future.
  6. Hearing someone say, I’d like to be baptized. I’d like to become part of the church. I’d want to learn more. I want to experience what my head know in my heart. These are open doors of affirmation and faith sharing.

If I’m not preparing and I’m not guiding conversations and relationship toward faith.. then I’m at best standing still, loosing time and opportunities.

  1. That becomes a movtivation.. to return to encouragement

Paul starts with don’t lead with judgment.

There is a time for decerning judgment and correction and accountability, but it comes after we are mature int he faith.

The gift for criticism.

Paul is challenging us to lead from the love of Christ.

  • Rather than I know you are a sinner! What are you at the well all alone in the heat of the day?
  • Rather than I know you have been taking advantage of people and working the system and calling it your job, I’m inviting myself over to your house.
  • Rather than sort out who is to blame, how can God be glorified in this broken situation?
  • Rather than stone the guilty, let’s talk about who is not guilty

 

PRACTICAL STUFF:  There is a part of me that might want to tell a young man with his pants hanging nearly to his knees, “Are you applying for the Universtiy of Sloppy or Thugs college this fall?” But that is neither a helpful motivator nor encouragement.

Encouragement: You can do it; keep trying; learn from your mistakes, let it go, keep up the good work, I appreciate you. I love you. I need you. We are honored to have you with us.

There are starting points. Resist the first response of pointing out the infractions, sins, failures, and shortcomings.

Motivational: If you want to get ahead in life, you need to stop playing video games and get a job.

Encouragement:  I’m sorry to interrupt, I know you have good eye-hand coordination from your video games, come help me rake leaves for a few minutes?

Motivational: If you don’t keep your things clean you are out of this house.

Encouragement:  I would like to know what it means to be a responsible part of this household.

Encouragement: After we establish who is to blame what, it would be most helpful to know what you understand each person’s responsibilities are in this household.

Faith Encouragement:

My faith perspective might seem wrong/hurtful/different/old-school to you, I would be an encouragement to me to know:

  1. what brings you hope when you are depressed,
  2. how do you find joy when you sad,
  3. where do you find the strength to do what seems impossible?
  4. who do you turn to when your friends turn on you

 

 

 

 

  • The “A” Word

Accountability is a word we too often excuse ourselves from invoking so that others will take it easy on us.

We are free to say whatever we want to say, but saying something will have consequences.

We are free to do what we want to do as long as we do not deny someone civil rights, but with those actions come consequences.

So much of the division of political parties, interest groups and fear-mongering individuals is the idea that we are not accountable for our words, thoughts and actions.

Paul is clear that our religious practices, our signs of spiritual growth differ among people and groups. Some express faith through rules about eating, some about which day they worship or which days are holidays. Don’t neglect encouraging all those in Christ despite our differences, encourage Christ’s in everyone.

Accountability to keeping the Rules or the commandment to love our enemies?

Pass on Encouragement to one another

Pass over Judging one another, leave judging to God.

Paul is writing from the experience perspective at the end of ministry which differs from his beginning in ministry.

Proclaim Jesus, Encourage One another

A plan to encourage:

  1. Don’t judge
    1. Takes personal prayer, study and maturity of faith
  2. Act, think, speak in Christ-like ways
    1. List/Identify how Jesus treated people who struggle, sin, search and surround him.
      1. To the sinner, he invites into the fellowship, table, well,
      2. To the sick, he invites into wholeness
      3. To the separated, he enters their home
      4. To the closed minded, he opens convertations
      5. To the
  3. Practice supportive examples and stay involved.
    1. Invite to Sunday School
    2. follow up. if SS is not for you how do you study/grow
    3. suggest studies, groups, others,
    4. ask to share with them in their disciplines
    5. set time/date to check in
    6. wait
    7. follow-up and try another suggestion,
    8. repeat.

Ways to encourage without judging:

  1. Send a card, note, email, text, phone call or face-to-face expression care for the person.
  2. Pray for this person and the need, struggle, concern truing God to open doors, hearts, minds and spirits.
  3. Discern how many people/relationships you can actively support. and
    1. try adding more than you can handle alone and
    2. replace new people/relationship when closure comes.
  4. Open our mouths, minds, and hearts to real conversations and relationship led by Christ.

As we prepare to be those who give the gift of faith: (Wesley Rules overlap)

  1. Do no harm: “Don’t lead with judgment” let God sort that our for now.
  2. Do all the good: “Encourage rather than just motivate.
  3. Practice Spiritual Exercises to keep us in shape for not judging and being ready to find the way to heart that doesn’t beat up the head and spirit.

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