Archive for category Accountability
- Third Sunday after the Epiphany – January 24, 2021
- Photo: https://g.co/arts/MrXXqjJwnQ1PxEjC8
- Video: HTTP:
“The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. ..When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it. “ [NRSA: Jonah 3:1-5,10]
Context: OT Prophetic, This part of the Jonah story begins after the adventure with the big fish.
- Living Through Being Swallowed Up
- Three Days in the Belly
- Three Days Walking through the City
- Dismiss the debates about survivability inside a whale or large beast– a distraction
- The Retreat: three days apart, followed by the message being shared.
- The story has a miracle, but that is not its real power…
- Call to Repentance / Sackcloth
- God uses our trials, struggles, and times of fear, self-doubt, and rejection to model us and inspire us to ministry
- The wearing of Sackcloth is a public witness that we are someone going through some tragic time but we ALSO know God is using this time to 1) call to repentance, 2) call to faith, 3) Call to sharing.
- The People changed their hearts and God changes God’s mind.
- Shocking to Jonah: Imagine our political leaders confessing their corruptions and ask for God to forgive.
- The evidence of Jonah’s journey of faith, inspired a nation, to turn toward God.
- What struggles, trials, suffering has tested my/your faith?
- How will God use our fears, doubts, and failures for God’s good work and witness?
- Our role as prophets: Call others to seek God’s truth. Not left or right, rather the heart of God.
- God’s call to Jonah was to get up and go, reveal the darkness and evil in people’s lives, and repent/ turn toward God. The Action Plan
- The Fruit of faithfulness.
- The power of trusting God.
- The transformation from evil through faith in action.
As we look around and listen to our neighbors, our friends and enemies, is there a need for people to turn away from broken, hurtful, sinful ways? YES!
- As we see and hear the news and messages around us, what are we, the Body of Christ, called tell the world.
- Do we jump on the world’s band wagon?
- Are we called to take political sides?
- Are called to be quiet and polite?
- Are we scared of being swallowed up by
What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. [NRSA]
In chapter 14, 1st Corinthians, Paul is having a conversation with the church Corinth regarding worship for believers and unbelievers and about gifts of the spirit. He is addressing what has become a division in the church between believers and those outside of the community of faith. So in our context of the world today this is an appropriate passage for us to study and learn as the church.
I remind you in our series here on being a koinonia fellowship that we as the church or cold to be intentionally with purpose, working to be a community that brings unity in Christ. It is not just unity for the sake of unity and unity for the sake of of peace and quiet in and that it is unity in the heart of Christ.
And the kernel the core of our lesson today is that as a Quintanilla fellowship we are called to build up the body of Christ and we do that through a variety of ways the the one verse that we draw out of chapter 14 is when it comes to the point of what to do about the division Paul instructs the church: when you come together everybody has a different part of the service everyone has different gifts everyone has different needs and expectations the common purpose is to be worshipful of God to be drawn together seeking the heart of God.
We recognized in the world today and all the division in and fighting, tensions, and passions that are exploding around reflects that not everyone is driving or working toward God’s point much less having the heart of God at the center of what they’re doing.
In our effort to be ecumenical and to be appreciative of the faith of others outside of the church is not our primary calling. We live in a world where the ideology of coexistence of diversity is valued more than the heart of God. It’s centrally clear in the first two of the 10 Commandments to have to worship God and to have no other gone. If our goal is not to find our our joy and our fulfillment and our purpose and our connection in God then we will never find connection with one another.
So our church our kononia fellowship is committed to finding the heart of God even though there are different voices, different agendas, and different ideologies confronting what we do. Our task is to build up the body of Christ to build up the community of faith by drawing people to God through Christ.
Think about a particular conversation that you found yourself in with someone who looks at a given situation from a very different even opposing perspective. It’s very easy for us just to say I’m right you’re wrong unless you see it my way you will continue to be wrong. This response it does not work when there’s no trust and a relationship.
When you read more of this 14th chapter you find Paul is trying to help mediate and help the congregation discern about which things are helpful for believers and which things are helpful for nonbelievers. While we all have gifts and parts of the conversation summer more helpful for those who agree and those who disagree we use different methods in different talents and different parts of what God has given us to build up the community.
At one point in my ministry I had the opportunity to serve a church that had about 1/3 of the members were interracial couples and families. And in this context I recognize that I did not have enough experience in knowing their perspective of the world and the church. They share terrible stories of oppression from both black and white congregations. They shared stories of how children and relationships had been pressured to agree or disagree with Bible verses in a variety of doctrine and dogma from different churches. I found it necessary to go back to seminary to a historically black seminary in Atlanta to audit some classes to gain a better perspective.
After the first class was complete one of the professors introduced me to the admissions director and said if I would consider working on a doctor of ministry and attending as a full-time student that they would give me credit for the classes I had audited. I live 5 miles from the campus at the time and so it is a great opportunity.
One of the classes that I had the opportunity to take in that program was simply to learn to listen to peoples faith stories and in the process a class of 40 people took the entire semester to listen and learn from each other’s faith journeys and faith stories. This was just tremendous help to my ministry not just relating to how to better serve one part of my fold. This experience allowed me to hear passionate stories of of the struggle for faith in a very divided world with common stories that dealt with race but also at the heart of them was an ongoing quest for God reaching out to speak in peoples lives and people responding to that call from God.
That’s the conclusion of the class it became well evident why this was part of the core curriculum because learning to hear gods call through peoples questions and struggles and divisions is the heart of what we do as a koinonia fellowship as the church and it’s a task we need learn.
I admit that I forget and I get caught up and don’t use the same listening skills as often as I may need to but I am reminded of how important they are. One thing you should know about me is that I am a very deep and reflective person when I have time to think and reflect. If you ask me for something instantaneously I don’t give you my best answer. Not all of life forwards the opportunity for the time and patience of of practiced and intentional responses. But as we look around and listen to the world we can see the evidence of not listening. We can see the evidence and proof of not paying attention. We can see the and hear the cries for being heard and being trusted and being accountable in the community around us.
As I had mentioned last week just as looking for the person to blame continues the the power struggle our task as the church is to hear people struggle and find the ways that God has given us gifts and talents to draw each other to respond to that call that God has for all of us.
This draws us back to the first part of this verse 26. “Well what should be done?” This is where we use our fellowship we use the talents of those who are prophetic we use those who can teach we use those who can sing we use those who can teach we use those who can instruct we use those who can build we use all the talents that we have in a way that ultimately builds up the relationships in the world around us.
What do we do?
Listen to the stories of others, is the first step in building relationships. Prior to this that means you and I have to be willing to sit down and spend time with people who think differently without getting upset without reacting negatively without drawing lines in the sand. You know that’s what God does with us we may be sinful and broken and filled with shame and blame and fill in the blank. We see Jesus sitting down with men and women and children those who are healthy and those who are ill, physically, mentally and spiritually.
1. We have to make a commitment to God and others that we want to be in relationship with all persons.
2. We have to trust and use the gifts and resources that God has given us as the body of Christ to be that strength and presents for the world.
3. Vs. 40 “ but all things should be done decently and in order.”
As good Methodist we love those verses that call for order and decency. These two words might be better seen through as process and respect.
The change that needs to occur in our society calls for us to respect even when we are not respected; we are to love where we are not loved; we listen even when we are not listened to by others. This gives us the process of God to speak through us.
Make a commitment today to be an intentional listener to someone who disagrees.. best if this is with a person but even what to hear on the media you choose.
1. Listen for how God is using this person and myself to build up the work of God.
2. Listen for the gifts, talents, experiences you have had that help you identify with what the person is saying.
3. Finally, what can you appreciate, respect, or love about this person?
4. This is the intensity of intention and purpose that koinonia people will go to reach one in the building up In Christ.
It is not easy if it were, politicians would have done it.
The sin of racism will be healed through Christ and our fellowship with him and all Gods people. So get busy!
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ). [NRSA]
The beginning of becoming disciples
From the Text: we see the prophetic promises
• fulfilled from Isaiah through a John the Baptist
• Jesus is baptized and calls us join him in that adoption
He invites followers to listen to him
Jesus calls followers to follow
Followers listen to Jesus
Even as leaders we follow Jesus
… Last week we all heard a good example of what it means to radically listen and radically follow Jesus invitation. Todd reminded us that to follow Jesus might take us away from our family, away from our comforts, away from our plans. We appreciate and admire someone’s journey when they follow so radically. But as passionate was their story.. I ask you today to where and to what is God invite you to go and to do today?
We don’t all have a calling to the Bush of Africa
A. But one thing that Todd shared is that he and his wife we listening to God
B. And they heard go, and then go back, and then stay and keep listening.
The question for us today is
1. Are we listening? Are we asking for God’s leading and direction or are we relying on what God told us two years or two decades ago and have not genuinely stopped to listen, in light of where we current are.
2. Do we not listen because we don’t want to hear something that might lead away from our comforts of what is familiar or easy…
3. John heats and tell Andrew, Andrew listens and follows, Andrew reaches out to his brother with what he had heard.
4. He bring Simon, Simon listens and is transformed. Simon now becomes Peter, the Rock Man, we people of the Rock, Rock Spring….
There are two profound part to give our attention tot his morning:
A. Jesus continue to call us now, through others
B. Jesus continues to call other, through you.
What are we hearing Jesus needs us to be, do or go?
What are others hearing and seeing from Jesus through us?
Both demand our attention if we are follow Jesus
I said two weeks ago and will say again,
Now more than any time in our lifetime, Jesus Long’s for us to
• follow, and
The shift from living in anticipation of faith
theological we shift from anticipation of Jesus to a season of living with Christ, listening, following and sharing with others.
All of us don’t need to go to the Bush, but all of us need to be following Christ’s call.
Where ARE you in this journey?
I think everyone here has heard of Jesus
We come together to sing, study and hear the words of Jesus’s teaching
Where do we see Jesus day? Or do we?
What is Jesus saying to you this week or today?
Are willing to take the day for Jesus or simple a few minutes now and then
How am I responding to Jesus’s call to follow
How am I bringing others
How am I being transformed
How is Jesus using me, you, RS in this day?
This is where we benefit from fellowship… small group, prayer partners, faith friends
Someone or group that is small enough to listen to one another
Strong enough to to provide accountability
Loving enough to challenge us to allow Christ to continue transforming us together?
• If I know what Jesus asks me to do and I’m doing it, you have good news we all need to hear
• If you know but are not doing anything about it then get to it now
• If you don’t know it’s time to pray study ask, seek Jesus from those who have heard
• If you have tried and failed, learn why and try again
• If you are scare to start because you know things will be different in your life hear the stories and witness of those who have heard
• If you don’t know where to begin, here John’S question of Jesus: where are you,that I can come listen and get to know you and learn your call for my life.
Today is the day for doing, acting, responding and not just thinking
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers–all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. [NRSA]
We are thankful for many things. Our litany of appreciations includes the usual, family, health, home and nation and for those who helped us preserve our great opportunities. But one thing is missing from this list that differs between Thanksgiving and Paul’s words to the church at Colosse: Giving God Thanks, Joyfully.
Paul reminds us of why we encourage one another to not only be thankful but to GIVE thanks. Because of God’s work and love of us through CHRIST.
And we say to ourselves,
- that’s semantics,
- Just say what you were going to say and remember to give God some ‘love’n’
- Give God some credit
- make sure you name God and Jesus in your lists of thanksgiving appreciations.
- Check that off the list and get to the turkey and fixing, ball games and naps.
Paul’s words to the Church have little to do with our tradition of natives and settlers sharing a meal of fellowship.
Paul is reminding us to order life in God’s Purpose.
(he is reminding us that the Home Run life is living in the fruit of God’s grace and purpose:
Say to your neighbor: I am Thankful God. I am thankful for God.
- It is because of God, that we HAVE a share in Christ’s inheritance.
- It is because Christ has rescued us from sin and death,
- It is through Christ that we are children of light and
- It is through Christ that we are co-heirs of God’s kingdom.
- It is Jesus that we give thanks.
Remind Your Neighbor of Paul’s words to the church: I am thankful for Jesus
- Jesus who makes God visible and approachable to God,
- It is because of God’s Power who has
- authority and power above all other things.
- It is because God has created all things for God’s purpose,
- The cause to give thanks is that even though God who is the author of all things, has created us for God’s purposes, for God’s order. God’s order is through the church.
Tell another neighbor: I am thankful God purpose include us in the church
- God is the head of the body
- God is the beginning of the purpose
- God is the author of life.
- God who is all this, places God’s own self into Jesus who then sacrifices himself for us.
As Christians, we are to take every day to GIVE GOD THANKS, but on this holiday of THANKSGIVING, we witness to the world about what God has done and is doing in the world.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang recall our national heritage of breaking bread and giving thanks because of the fruitful work of cooperation and teamwork. And we can “KEEP” the tradition going for another generation and NEVER mention the PRIMARY reasons we have to be THANKFUL AND GIVE THANKS.
Tell your neighbor there is a difference between BEING Thankful and GIVING Thanks.
“There is a difference between BEING Thankful and GIVING Thanks.
When acknowledging all the things, people and opportunities we have we are tempted to highlight only what we have done or to
highlight what others have done, but
BUT, as PEOPLE of JESUS CHRIST
Paul is reminding us to ALWAY be GIVING Thanks to God.
What does that mean in every day life and
how Does this make our Holiday different from a national tradition.
IT IS A THIRD BASES activity. To use our Home Run Life model.
We are taking the context of a National Holiday and to REMIND one another and to
WITNESS to the WORLD, that God is the FIRST recipient of our THANKS and PRAISE
- GIVE our Praise to God
- GIVE credit to God
- GIVE Christ the appreciation
Actively connect the skills, relationships, opportunities we have as gifts from GOD.
- And then has God is at work in the others in our lives
And then as God is work in our blessings and labors
Therefore for us, as the church and the people of Jesus Christ
May we use this occasion to teach the nation, the world and one another
- that would not be the people we are without God
- we would not have to peace and love without Christ
- we would not have purpose, power, and plan without God’s Holy Spirit.
This is the difference in REMEMBERING history, tradition, and values, and LIVING, modeling and thriving in the authority of God, the love of Christ and power of the Spirit.
Tonight we gather to give thanks as a church family
This week we gather with others to give thanks
my invitation to you, through Paul’s words,
- it to make it about all about God, make all about Jesus, make it all about the church
- and we will not only show our love and praise to God
- We will teach the world the Good News and WHY we are Thankful.
Give it all to God
Tell you neighbor : “I am all in for God.” I AM ALL IN,
Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus; Thank you Jesus, my Savior, My God
You have Bought me, You have brought me, YOU have brought me a mighty long way
and I Thank You…
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!!
- 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
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
(Drawn on Adam hamMilton’s Resources for Enough)
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:
- Pay your tithe and offering first.
- Create a budget and track your expenses.
- Simplify your lifestyle (live below your means).
- Establish an emergency fund.
- Pay off your credit cards, use debit cards for purchases, and use credit wisely.
- 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
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.
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):
Mid-range financial goals (2–5 years):
Long-term financial goals (5 years to retirement):
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
- Be Ready. be prepared to share: (Prayed up, studied up, practiced up, and looking for opportunities.
- Think about
- The difference of what inspires you and what motivates you.
- What is the difference between what scares you into action and what compels you to action?
- 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:
- When I do and see how God uses our conversations to open hearts and minds that were closed.
- When I ready and prepare to share my faith, God does not let that preparation go to sit still for very long.
- 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.
- If they realize gaps and holes in their foundations, then God uses those as places to share my faith.
- Songs, stories, and movies that capture a moment of for God encourage in the moment and become faith conversations in the future.
- 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.
- 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.
My faith perspective might seem wrong/hurtful/different/old-school to you, I would be an encouragement to me to know:
- what brings you hope when you are depressed,
- how do you find joy when you sad,
- where do you find the strength to do what seems impossible?
- 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:
- Don’t judge
- Takes personal prayer, study and maturity of faith
- Act, think, speak in Christ-like ways
- List/Identify how Jesus treated people who struggle, sin, search and surround him.
- To the sinner, he invites into the fellowship, table, well,
- To the sick, he invites into wholeness
- To the separated, he enters their home
- To the closed minded, he opens convertations
- To the
- List/Identify how Jesus treated people who struggle, sin, search and surround him.
- Practice supportive examples and stay involved.
- Invite to Sunday School
- follow up. if SS is not for you how do you study/grow
- suggest studies, groups, others,
- ask to share with them in their disciplines
- set time/date to check in
- follow-up and try another suggestion,
Ways to encourage without judging:
- Send a card, note, email, text, phone call or face-to-face expression care for the person.
- Pray for this person and the need, struggle, concern truing God to open doors, hearts, minds and spirits.
- Discern how many people/relationships you can actively support. and
- try adding more than you can handle alone and
- replace new people/relationship when closure comes.
- 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)
- Do no harm: “Don’t lead with judgment” let God sort that our for now.
- Do all the good: “Encourage rather than just motivate.
- 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.