Sunday, June 30, 2013

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day . . . and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
What happens between the dash? What do we want people to say about us? Young or old, we all are thinking of our future! Whether it’s four days ahead, four years ahead, of forty years ahead . . . What will we do? How will we do it? Why will we do it? Life will bring fulfilled dreams and shattered dreams. We meet the best buddy ever. A friend decides someone else is his BFF. The cutest girl in eighth grade smiles at me. We get rejected at the school dance. Later on it may be a college or a date for the dance. Ups and downs . . . bad days and good days . . . it's life! This one thing, we who follow Christ, do know . . .
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18)
We all have a beginning and we all have an end. Only what we do for Christ within the dash will really matter!
So why not start NOW?????

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mind Games

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God . . . this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is . . . his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
Proper worship or reasonable worship refers to the Greek word logikos or logical worship. It is what is expected. God expects His children to offer themselves for His use every day! Not my will, but Your will God. It is what Jesus prayed in the Garden.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Jesus set the pace. He showed us how to live for God and God alone. How can we do such a thing? Verse two lets us know. We must begin to think differently! It is not about me! The world is ruled by the father of lies! He plays mind games with us all. We must surround ourselves with Godly influences in order to have a renewed mind; people, music, TV, friends, etc. What enters our minds controls our thoughts which in turn control our actions.
Where is your mind at today?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The way we walk . . .

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then, he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon. (Genesis 32:26-32)
Life is full of struggles! We wrestle with what to wear . . . what to eat. . . where to go . . . who to be friends with . . . etc. As we get older we begin to struggle with God.
Who are You God? What do You want me to do? Why is this or that happening? How can I be a CHRISTIAN in this world? Where are You God?
As we wrestle with God, let’s always remember His will is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11)! Never trust a man without a limp! HUH??? Well, if someone has never really struggled with God and knows what is like to experience God, they really do not know! He is walking alone . . . Israel, or Jacob, was a fighter but for all the wrong reasons. God had to redirect his energy and purpose. We all have gifts God wants to use, He must direct us however. It must be for His purposes in life.
Wrestle with God, not against Him. Allow Him to change the way we walk!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Respect Authority!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone . . .” (Job 38:4-6)
We all have authority figures in our lives . . . parents, teachers, pastors, police, politicians, etc. We have many conversations with them in official and casual manners. But when they speak we must be careful to listen and follow their instruction!
Job came face-to-face with God and basically God said to Him, “Listen son, I made everything you have ever seen, so listen to me! What can you possibly say to Me?”
When the high priest Nicodemus did not understand what being born-again meant, Jesus questioned Him:
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? (John 3:10)
Just like a speeding ticket from the police, detention in school, or a punishment from parents, a conversation with God can bring us back to reality. We need authority to keep us in line and we need to respect authority! Knowing God is one thing . . . having daily conversations with Him is another! Do we know Him like we know our local policemen, our own parents, or even our favorite teachers? If we have difficulty understanding and obeying these authority figures, why would we be expected to respect a God we cannot see with our eyes? God has placed all authority over us . . . kings, law enforcement, teachers, and parents. Yet He is the ultimate authority. . .
Who are we to question Him?

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Summer "SCHOOL" lesson

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
The name commonly used for God in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word Elohim. It is also found in the singular form El and Elah. Whenever we find the English word God used in the Old Testament, it is a translation of this Hebrew word Elohim or one of its forms. The noun Elohim is plural but it is always used with a singular verb when it speaks of the true God. This indicates a unity and diversity within the nature of God. This unity and diversity is revealed in Scripture as the doctrine of the Trinity. God did something special when He made man. Just as Adam and all men are born, man has the opportunity to be born again. God breathed life into Adam and offers His breath of life to each of us through Jesus’ sacrificial death upon the cross! God is always God. His Spirit has been hovering around for all time and lives within every believer today. BUT . . .
Jesus is the difference between Christianity and all other faiths. He is THE WORD and THE LORD. He is the ONLY WAY to THE FATHER! He comes again as KING of kings and LORD of lords. . .THE LORD of the ARMIES! (Revelation 19:13-16)

Back to the basics . . .

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Just a very simple yet profound reminder today . . . God does not change! Just as He was in the beginning and how He was when speaking with the last living apostle John, is how He is today! He is still God and always will be God. There is no changing that. I am amazed that even from the distance of time, even the words remain so much the same! From the beginning of time, to Moses until just before the end of the first century, God was there. He is still here today and still speaking to us! he is consistent . . . He is God!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)
The challenge for us in this age is to be quiet enough to still hear from God. Do we have time to sit qietly and listen without the television, i-Pod, tablet, or i-phone? Can we simply sit still long enough listen as the writers of Scripture once did? Listen to what John said . . .
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet . . . (Revelation 1:10)
John was in the Spirit . . . spending time alone with God . . . on one accord with Him so he could hear from God and understand what He was saying. Do we even do this on the Lord's day? When are we absolutely shut out from distractions to really be one with God?
Let's get back to the basics . . . making a deliberate time to be one with the Lord and be able to hear from the one who has been there since the beginning!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Yes . . . YOU are special and wonderful!

You created the deepest parts of my being.You put me together inside my mother’s body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful.I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well. None of my bones was hidden from you when you made me inside my mother’s body. That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth. When you were putting me together there, your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them God, your thoughts about me are priceless. No one can possibly add them all up. If I could count them, they would be more than the grains of sand. If I were to fall asleep counting and then wake up you would still be there with me. (Psalm 139:13-18)
So who would you rather be? Beyonce? Labron? RGIII? Well . . . you CAN'T!!!! Yet none of them can be you either! Yes . . . YOU are special and wonderful! We may all wish we were somehow different . . . more like someone else . . . but the fact is that God has made each of very special and not even twins are really alike! Each of us has a special plan laid out by God.(Jeremiah 29:11)
This plan is to SUCCEED . . . not fail. It does not depend on the type of hair we have or how good our jump is or is not. It depends upon our heart!
God hand-made each of us from the moment we were conceived. He has even given us a number of days to live! WHY NOT trust Him with His plan on how to live this life? What we do between the dashes (born----died)is up to us.
God believes we are special. DO YOU BELIEVE IT?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Proven General . . . A Confident and Prepared Soldier!

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell (return)in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)
In other words . . . .
The Lord is indeed the Lord of the Armies . . . the Undefeated One and One to Come in Battle. I know he has me in His hands . . . protecting me and giving me rest in this battle. he strengthens me and restores me when I am weakened and near giving up. Yet even when I am at my lowest, I do not have to fear anything. Why? God is with me!!!! He will never leave me!!!He leads me and guides me through rough terrain and land mines!!! Even when I face my toughest battles, I can feel His presence. . . already preparing the Victory Feast! He gives me confidence. He assures me. In fact, i am brimming over with confidence . . . in my Savior! I am a confident and prepared soldier indeed!
One day . . . I will be with Him. That is my goal and my future! It gets me through . . . .

Sacrificial Leadership

“‘What if you don't say anything at this time? Then help for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your family will die. Who knows? It's possible that you became queen for a time just like this.’ Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. She said, ‘Go. Gather together all of the Jews who are in Susa. And fast for my benefit. Don't eat or drink anything for three days. Don't do it night or day. I and my attendants will fast just as you do. Then I'll go to the king. I'll do it even though it's against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die’.” (Esther 4:14-16 NIrV)
The Jewish queen was willing to put her life on the line to save many of her people. She could have just quietly sat back and hoped someone else would take the risk. She could have protected herself and her family. She could have kept her heritage secret and hoped to be spared. But Mordecai boldly warned her, her family would be discovered and die also. Someone would stand up and help the Jewish people. Why not Queen Esther?
Why not this time…this moment…A TIME JUST LIKE THIS?
In reality, we put our life on the line every day in this world. We never know what we will face in day-to-day living. • The question is this: Who are we living for? So many need so much help today, yet we need so much for our own family! • Are we willing to lay everything on the line for God’s will? • Are we willing to risk it all to please Him over everyone else?
How can WE make a difference?
God places us where we are for A TIME JUST LIKE THIS! There is a need right in front of our eyes, in our neighborhood, in our job, in summer camp. Even though it may take sacrifice; even though it may be against what we want to do, we MUST do what God calls us to do! What is it God is pressing upon your heart? A TIME JUST LIKE THIS requires faith, sacrifice, and character. Are we willing to step up as the Queen did and say: “I'll do it . . .”
Is God not worth it? These are the times to make bold steps in life!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Simple Question . . .

There is a question of who is God’s child and who is His creation…it shows in how we live and why we live!
“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:10-14 NET BIBLE)
What or Who drives us? . . . The Spirit of God!
So it is a real simple question. . .…who is your DADDY?

Jesus Prayed for YOU and ME

“‘I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in Me through their testimony, that they all would be one, just as You, Father, are in me and I am in You … so that the world will know that You sent Me …’” (John 17:20-23)
Isn’t it a good feeling to know that people are praying for you? Doesn’t it feel comforting when a person comes up to you and says, “I’ve been praying for you?” Even more so, it’s great to be able to respond, “I know you have . . . I have felt it!” The prayers of God’s people do accomplish much, especially in a day when we face so many challenges to our faith, our family, and our future. Prayer still changes things and can move God’s heart to compassion, mercy, and intercession, just as it did with Moses, Abraham, and others.
But remember this: JESUS PRAYED FOR YOU AND ME too!
That blows me away. Think back; here was Jesus in the garden, about to be arrested, beaten, and crucified for and because of you and me, yet He stopped and prayed for not just His disciples then, but for those of us who would come to know Him because of them … YOU and ME! Wow! Be careful to note WHAT Jesus prayed for on our behalf. He desired for us to BE ON ONE ACCORD, just as He and the Father related to one another, so the world would SEE God in us and believe on Him as well. He didn’t pray for our happiness, for our health, or for our stuff, He prayed for our unity with one another and with God. As we begin a new week, let’s examine how we have honored the Lord concerning His prayer request. Have we been on one accord within the home, within our church community, and as a body of believers? I can honestly say we’ve blown it!
How can the world see God in us when we are so much like the world?
We have so much work to do to become a set-apart people … sanctified unto His work and glory. As JESUS PRAYED FOR YOU AND ME, may our prayer in return be that we DO OUR PART to become one and allow the Spirit within us to light the dark world with His glory so that they may know that God did indeed send Him!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Steps to Choosing God . . .

Anyone who is not with me is against me . . . (Matthew 12:30)
We are familiar with this verse from Joshua as he challenged the people of Israel before his death. But what about you and me?
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Even after we choose Christ, how in the world can we possible make the right choices to stay close to the Savior . . . to get closer day by day as we work out our faith? Here are some practical steps:
Blessed is the one who does not WALKin step with the wicked or STANDin the way that sinners take or SITin the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)
*We cannot choose to even casually hang out with the wrong crowd! (walking along with them) *This will lead to a more permanent relationship with them. (standing with them) *As more time goes by, we then become so comfortable hanging with the wrong crowd that we are known as one of the boys . . . one of the gang . . . (sitting with them in practices and beliefs). We have choices to make as children, teens and adults. What video do we play? What shows do we watch? Which folks do we choose to be our close friends and associates? What activities do we choose to participate in at work, in the neighborhood, and within social networks? Paul warns us some things may be lawful and even good, but not always beneficial! We all have choices to make but the consequences are real . . . Godly decisions bring blessings and choosing to be like the world brings destruction.
. . .whatever they (the righteous)do prospers. . . (Psalm 1:3)
. . .the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:5-6)
There is a downward spiral to sin . . . Satan will leave us to rot! However, each step we take with the Savior will bring us closer to what He has for us . . .and He promises to never leave us and to be with us along the way! Choose the steps to choosing God see what great things God has in store . . .

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Let's play "You make the choice!"

Let's play "You make the choice!" Nationals or Orioles? Ravens or Redskins? Redskins or Cowboys? Heat or Spurs? God or the Devil?
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua has taken on the enormous task of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. He succeeded Moses and was now and old man. As Joshua is about to die, he gives a charge to the people of Israel. He sums up all God had done through him in this chapter (Joshua chapter 24). God is willing to do great things in your life and mine. He is waiting for us to commit however. Just like we have to make choices in so many things in life, we have to choose God and commit to His ways. There is no half-way! We can get really crazy when it comes to sports. I grew up an athlete and lived for sports! I am still a FAN-atic! Just ask my son and my wife . . or look in my basement!
We cannot be half for the Redskins and half for the Cowboys. A fan does not cheer for both teams when they compete. We must decide whom we will follow and support!
One does not vote for both candidates in an election!
A soldier cannot fight for both sides of the war . . . that would be ridiculous!
So they had to make a choice. Once they chose God, Joshua reminded them there was one more thing they had to do . . . throw away the other "stuff"!
“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”(Joshua 24:23)
Are you willing to not only choose God, but also do away with all the other distractions? We cannot have it both ways!
CHOOSE TODAY!!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

His plan for us brings us real joy!

If the Lord doesn’t build a house, the work of its builders is useless. If the Lord doesn’t watch over a city, it’s useless for those on guard duty to stand watch over it. It’s useless for you to work from early morning until late at night just to get food to eat. God provides for those he loves even while they sleep.(Psalm 127: 1-2)
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT? HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD? Yesterday we discussed INTEGRITY. Today we will discuss POTENTIAL . . .How doing the right thing all the time can lead us into living a life that really matters . . . fulfilling God's purpose for our lives!
What does it matter if we are a basketball star like Lebron James if we do not know God or what He desires from us? Psalm 127 tells us that we are living in vain . . . with no purpose . . . not living up to what God has in mind for us!
God tells us that He has a special plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11). It may be to become a basketball star or a football star. It may be to be a doctor, a lawyer, or even a pastor or missionary. Doing God's will and living out His plan for us brings us real joy . . .more joy than a Super Bowl win or winning the NBA championship?
But we first must KNOW God?
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . . (John 1:12)
What are your plans? Have you checked with God about those plans? First of all . . . DO YOU KNOW HIM?

Monday, June 10, 2013

All About Integrity . . .becoming more like Jesus.

We know that we have come to know God if we obey his commands. Suppose someone says, “I know him.” But suppose that person does not do what God commands. Then that person is a liar and is not telling the truth. But if anyone obeys God’s word, then God’s love is truly made complete in that person. Here is how we know we belong to him. Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did.(1 John 2:3-6)
Integrity . . . what we do when no one is watching . . . when no one is around to see us . . . when there is no applause or accolades. Living according to the will of God involves obedience and repentance, not perfection. Sinless? Proboably not!
" . . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
However, as a follower of Jesus Christ, we are to desire to sin less and less. Many will not come to Christ because they have convinced themselves through the lies of Satan that they will never be good enough. Then there are professed believers who constantly live in sin by excusing their actions with the statement, "I'm not perfect!" Both situations are saddening. A follower of Jesus Christ confesses sin in order to receive the atoning graces of Jesus through His death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit convicts us to live for Christ and equips us to do so. It is nothing we do by ourselves, nor can do if we tried! We are saved by grace alone.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We strive to live in obedience to the Word of God. When we fall, we quickly seek repentance. It is a process of working out our salvation! It is a constant relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and His Spirit within us. There should be conviction within our hearts and a progression of our faith to become more like Jesus with each passing month and year. The good news is God is there to help us all the time!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Investment Advice

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Our investments reflect our heart. Where we store up is what we believe in most. Is it the stock market . . . retirement account . . . children's college funds, CD's . . (all very good things)? However, do we invest more in the things of God, since we do trust Him to meet our needs as we serve Him? Our investments can reach far more areas then our immediate family. We must take the time to assess our portfolios. Are we diverse or is all our investment in one area? Which area gives the most profit and is most secure?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Mathew 6:31-34)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

From Struggles to Success!

Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.(1 Corinthians 9:14-18)
Despite the pay, it is my duty to serve God. Accepting His call to missions was NOT an option in 1997 and it is NOT an option to give up in 2013! God rewards me for what I do in obedience to Him, not in doing what is comfortable for me. He promises to meet my needs. However, I must realize that my needs are not my wants and not everyone will understand but God at times! So my focus has to be on God's will, not mine. I am always learning how to adjust my wants to God's will. I must admit, sometimes it is a daily adjustment. However, the more I choose God, the better the consequences! He does have a plan for me to succeed after all! (Jeremiah 29:11)
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.(1 Corinthians 9:26-27)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The DESIRE to give . . . not DEMAND!

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you . . . see that you also excel in this grace of giving.(2 Corinthians 8:1-7)
God loves a cheerful giver . . . we all know that is true. So then we are to give because we enjoy giving, not because we are demanded to give. It is basic Christianity: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, not for us to keep for ourselves but rather to share with others. If God demonstrated His love for us by giving His best, should we not be such givers? Many believers feel there is a limit to giving. "I give my ten percent", we hear from so many. The tithe was a tax ,remember, not an offering. It was given out of obligation, not love or gratitude. It is much like the way we pay tax on everyday items without complaining or on April 15 as we turn in our tax reports to the IRS. No one likes to do it, but we must! As a body of believers, we are to give beyond the tithe to meet the needs of the Body. This does not mean simply the Church, but the needs of Christians locally and abroad (missions). We need to first be aware of the needs and then do our part to met them . . . in love and out of a grateful heart. God has supplied our needs and we are to trust Him to enable us to in turn meet others needs. One day, as we are in need, others (perhaps the very ones we have helped) will met our needs. it is how God planned for His people. We are blessed by God to bless others, so they in turn will see His love within us and want to glorify Him as well.
At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.(2 Corinthians 8:14)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's my responsibility to support missions . . .

Questions and answers as we enter into our summer months of fundraising for our ministry: Q: Should missionaries be supported “full-time” or have a secular job? A: Both ways are biblical, but it would seem to be preferable to have full support, unless the mission itself is part-time. Jesus, it seems, was no longer a carpenter after His full-time ministry began, and Paul abandoned tent making when he received enough gift(s) to live on. Q: Should missionaries be supported by individuals or churches? A: In the New Testament, churches were simply groups of individuals. The idea of being supported by an institution instead of by people who personally know the missionary is foreign to the New Testament.
This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?(1 Corinthians 9:3-12)
Comments: Missionaries should be supported by sources other than just those they minister to (Acts 18:3, 5). (See also 1 Thessalonians 2:9 and Philippians 4:16.) Missionaries should not be a financial burden to those they disciple. If they depend on the people they minister to for support, they will likely be, or be seen as, a burden. Hence many missionaries are continually at odds with their local boards or committees over fund raising. Additional funding might come from a job or other supporters. Paul utilized both, although Jesus does not seem to have had a secular job after His ministry began. In any case, the missionaries were not dependent on the support of their disciples. Missionaries should remind people to support missionaries (1 Corinthians 9:11-14). Paul reminded the Corinthians, If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? (1 Corinthians 9:11). This is not to say the missionaries should demand support or somehow pressure people to give to them (v. 12). On the contrary, the missionary should go without the support of anyone who doesn’t desire to give to his ministry. Reminding people of the ministry of giving is part of the missionaries’ job of discipleship. (5) Missionaries should be supported by people wishing to participate in their ministry (Philippians 1:5, 7; 4:15-18; 3 John 7-8). In Philippians Paul thanked them for their abundant gifts which they sent him more than once, while he was in Thessalonica (the town he went to after Philippi--Philippians 4:16). But they also sent him a gift while he was in Corinth, which he says fully supplied my need (2 Corinthians 11:9). Paul had some substantial contributors in Macedonia, especially in Philippi, whose gifts allowed him to be able to stop making tents and begin devoting himself completely to the Word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:3-5). We might guess Lydia was a large contributor, since she appears to be wealthy and the church met in her home (Acts 16:13-15, 40). But whoever was involved, their motive was to participate in Paul’s ministry--which Paul said he desired because of the profit which increases for your account (Philippians 4:17). So giving has a profit motive--heavenly profit for earthly financial participation in the Gospel (Matthew 6:19). (6) Missionaries should besupported

Monday, June 3, 2013

Missionary Support . . . a view from God's Word: Agree or Disagree?

This is not my normal post, but as I embark on a summer of bi-vocational work, fundraising for our missionary support and our teen retreat in July, I thought it might be nice to look at the biblical view of supporting missionaries . . . . 1) Missionaries should have a team of people who want to support them (Luke 8:1-4). Jesus was (among other things, of course) a missionary. He did not need anyone's financial support. Anyone who can turn water into wine and feed thousands of people from a few loaves and fishes does not need support. Yet Jesus had a group of people who traveled with Him, consisting of (1) the 12 apostles (and sometimes the apostles’ wives - 1 Corinthians 9:5), (2) some women He healed, and (3) some wealthy women. Jesus andthe apostles received gifts from people contributing to their support out of their private means (Luke 8:3) (2) Missionaries should be supported by the people they minister to (Luke 10:1-7). (See also 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:9-12; and Galatians 6:6.) The New Testament is very clear on this, repeating the phrase of the Mosaic Law, you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing (Deuteronomy 25:4). Jesus said, the laborer is worthy of his wages (Luke 10:7). Paul emphasized this to Timothy (1 Timothy 5:18). There is a sense in which this is more a principle of paying than giving, but it is definitely a basic part of missionary support. It's not the only source, of course, since many recipients of missionary ministry are not capable of much support. Nevertheless, they should share some of what they have with the missionaries. (3) Missionaries should be supported by sources other than just those they minister to (Acts 18:3, 5). (See also 1 Thessalonians 2:9 and Philippians 4:16.) Missionaries should not be a financial burden to those they disciple. If they depend on the people they minister to for support, they will likely be, or be seen as, a burden. Hence many missionaries are continually at odds with their local boards or committees over fund raising. Additional funding might come from a job or other supporters. Paul utilized both, although Jesus does not seem to have had a secular job after His ministry began. In any case, the missionaries were not dependent on the support of their disciples. (4) Missionaries should remind people to support missionaries (1 Corinthians 9:11-14). Paul reminded the Corinthians, If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? (1 Corinthians 9:11). This is not to say the missionaries should demand support or somehow pressure people to give to them (v. 12). On the contrary, the missionary should go without the support of anyone who doesn’t desire to give to his ministry. Reminding people of the ministry of giving is part of the missionaries’ job of discipleship. (5) Missionaries should be supported by people wishing to participate in their ministry (Philippians 1:5, 7; 4:15-18; 3 John 7-8). In Philippians Paul thanked them for their abundant gifts which they sent him more than once, while he was in Thessalonica (the town he went to after Philippi--Philippians 4:16). (* copied from www.relationalconcepts.org)

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...