Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Want To See You Blessed!

I believe everyone who is reading this wants to be BLESSED!  I refuse to believe that ANYONE should remain in the dark when it comes to STEWARDSHIP.  Part of my job as a pastor is to PERFECT the saints and EQUIP them for the work of the ministry.  Part of that equipping process is to put TOOLS (resources) in place to help families.

One of my assignments as a Pastor is to create an atmosphere of GENEROSITY that models Corporate and Individual stewardship.  In truth, our level of STEWARDSHIP is a reflection of our SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

I can TRAIN our people on immersing themselves in Scripture, but I have no idea whether or not they really are.  I can EXHORT prayer until I'm blue in the face but I really have no way to measure the health of someone's prayer life.  I probably will never know how often, or how effectively our members are SHARING their faith with their friends.

However… STEWARDSHIP is a unique opportunity to gauge the pulse of someone's SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT.  When someone is growing in their giving it also implies a step of SPIRITUAL GROWTH.  If someone who has given sporadically at best begins tithing faithfully, we know God is working in their life.  This gauge also works the other way.  If someone who used to give faithfully has stopped giving, we can be sure something is wrong.

The interesting thing about DISCIPLESHIP is that people can be very mature in one area and still immature in another.  We've all run into people who are extremely mature in biblical knowledge, but have not given a dime in twenty years.  Or we may find people who are mature in the area of finances but they are immature when it comes to RELATIONSHIP practices in Scripture.

The Scriptures teach us, "Where your heart is, there your treasure will be." (Luke 12:34; Matthew 6:21)  In essence,  If your HEART is toward God so will your FINANCES.   

Are You an EXTRAVAGANT Giver?

As we become good stewards we are able to experience HEALTH in our finances and in our church.  We are called to be Godly managers of our households, but many times our focus is spent on being good spouses and good parents.  Somehow, the truths such as "the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7) is ignored.

One of the things the Lord spoke to Beverly and I was that we needed to ELIMINATE as much DEBT from our life that we possibly could.  Honestly, we can't lead our church with effective zeal if we are enslaved to creditors.  We remained faithful in our tithes and offerings and organized a plan to eliminate debt.  With a focused effort, we were able to streamline our debt and use simple strategies to get things paid off early.

Friends, until we have our own finances under control, we won't be able to lead others into biblical stewardship with any conviction or integrity.

A few weeks ago, Beverly and I sowed a financial seed above our tithes into the ministry.  We felt an urgent prompting of the Lord to be obedient in a particular area.  Within a week, Beverly received a letter from a company she used to work for.  They stated that they had been trying to find her for years and her address recently popped up on their grid.  They sent her a check that was double than the seed we sowed!  

When you make a decision to be GENEROUS with your resources you release yourself into the best opportunity to grow!  Your children will be a direct recipient of the seeds you are sowing right now.  If you are GENEROUS…your children will be GENEROUS.

God spares nothing for our sakes, as is evidenced by Jesus' death on the cross (John 3:16; Philippians 2:8).  And he also PROMISES that he will provide for us ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10).  

We give away Bibles to new believers because we are looking for an opportunity to till the soil of people's hearts by ministering freely to them.  If we are known as the church that "charges" for everything then we miss our chance to SHINE generously.

Remember what Jesus taught in Luke 6:38? "Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

Many churches are viewed in their community as the church that TAKES rather than GIVES.  We have the opportunity to CHANGE THAT MENTALITY when we give with unexpected generosity…which is really a reflection of God's love.

As a church, we have kept an open hand intentionally.  My hope has always been that BFWC would focus on exemplifying God's provision through generosity.  This decision has not always been easy…and we've been stretched.  BUT THE REWARDS of GENEROSITY are well worth the EFFORT and EXPENSE.

We've grown, our people have grown, our church has grown and the CULTURE OF GENEROSITY has been seeded, watered and harvested over and over again.
  • We give each first-time guest a gift.
  • We deliver a fresh loaf of bread to each first-time guests' home.
  • We give away free CD's to our volunteers.
  • We put free resources and materials online.
  • We provide free classes for all of our spiritual growth classes.
  • We put ads in the newspaper.
  • We do mailings to the community.
  • We reach out to hundreds of thousands of people annually through servant evangelism, which involves blanketing the community with free bottles of water, detergent, light bulbs, etc.
I've had people ask me, "How do you pay for all that?"  The answer is short and simple:  THE FRUIT IS IN THE HARVEST.  WE CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO DO IT!  

If BFWC refused to foster an atmosphere of generosity, we would be cutting off God's blessing and closing down people's hearts.  We would also be lessening the likelihood that people would visit our church for the first time and then go on to become fully engaged followers of Christ.

I take my responsibility serious…and that is to GIVE PEOPLE THE BEST POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET JESUS!  Part of that process requires being GENEROUS with the RESOURCES God gives us to do His work.  GOD IS NOT A GOD OF SCARCITY.  If you and I are called to represent Jesus on the earth, we certainly can't be a Christian of SCARCITY.  

Time and time again, God honors the generous seeds we scatter, and BFWC – not to mention the overall kingdom – reaps tremendous fruit.

May your heart continue to be open to the Holy Spirit and may you be EXPANDED in your generosity as you reap the BENEFITS of God's blessings in your family and your church.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

So...I Joined a Church (Part 3)

When Beverly and I exchanged VOWS to one another on our wedding day, we did so in front of God and a room full of witnesses.  They were present that day to REMIND us of the COVENANT relationship we were entering into, lest we would forget when difficult times inevitably would come. 

VOWS are actually a COVENANT. It is a promise, a contract, a profession of commitment between the husband and wife.  What is really going on at a wedding is the making of a Marriage COVENANT and not an issue of "vows" at all.

Vows are exchanged to announce the terms of the COVENANT.  When we enter into relationship with Jesus and His Church...we also make vows.

I believe that the Lord is calling His people within our nation to REMEMBER from where we have fallen, REPENT, and RENEW our vows, or should I say, renew our COVENANT with Him. His judgment over this land draws near. We have turned our back on the One who gave us birth. The protective covering of his “King-dome” over you is gained through REPENTANCE.

Since its conception, America has been under a COVENANTAL relationship with the Lord.  Even since the time of the Mayflower our purpose was clearly stated "For the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel."

God is once again revealing His plan for America, in spite of Satan's plan to erase God's purpose from our history.  It is OUR responsibility to STIR UP our children by way of remembrance.  In this dark hour we live in, we must help our children see and understand the Christian history of our nation.

There is a great conflict before us.  The troops of darkness are aligning themselves opposite us with lies and deception.  We must put on the armor of light that comes through application of the TRUTH, cheerfully bearing the message of Jesus as we march forward to VICTORY!

Who among us today will deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus?  

The power of God will be released through His sanctified vessels of honor, establishing His kingdom on the face of this earth forever. We must answer the call. As Paul told the church in Rome; “be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Amen.

The church of Jesus must truly examine the conditions of the Lord's COVENANT.  When we study the word of God and open our heart to the revelation of the Holy Spirit - the revealed will of God springs forth within us.

A vow should never be taken lightly.  Otherwise, it's just another useless ritual of man.  Any COVENANT we enter into...even a church MEMBERSHIP COVENANT...should be entered into with REVERENCE for the Lord, understanding the price He paid on the cross for our sin.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus...He is soon to return.