Archive for giving

Lenten Lessons

Posted in Christian, Community, Devotion, Faith, Global, God, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Lent, Life, Prayer, Real Talk, Resurrection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2015 by BigPhatPastor

Although I do not participate in Ash Wednesday, as many did this past week, I do acknowledge the purpose of Lent.  In the 4th century the early Church believers wanted to dedicate a time leading up to Resurrection Sunday to focusing on what Jesus Christ did for us by giving His life so that we might have life.  They decided to start that time of focus 40 days before Resurrection Sunday since Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days before jump starting His ministry.

wisdom-black-letters

I get the people that give up things for Lent as a way of fasting and focusing on God’s love, goodness, and grace.  What I don’t get are people who just go through the motions.  I have talked to people who gave up meat for Lent and when I ask them why they literally just say “Because we are supposed to…aren’t we?”  Why would you engage in a 40 day long practice without knowing what you are doing or why you are doing it?  I’m not trying to judge, ridicule, or criticize anyone but here are a few suggestions,  #IMHO, to get the most out of Lent.

  1. DON’T give up anything for Lent if you don’t know why you are doing it.  That isn’t called fasting, it’s foolishness.
  2. DON’T give up anything for Lent without spending time that would normally be used engaging in what you are fasting from drawing closer to Christ by reflecting on what He gave up for you.
  1. DON’T spend the 40 days of Lent griping and moaning about what you gave up. That just shows you don’t really understand what’s going on.
  2. DO celebrate and rejoice in the fact that whatever you gave up pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ gave up for you and that He loves you with a never ending love. Rejoice in that for eternity.
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7 Tips for Successful Gift Giving

Posted in Bible, Christian, Christmas, Devotion, Digital, Family, Fun, Global, God, Jesus Christ, Life, Real Talk, Social Media, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2012 by BigPhatPastor

Gift GivingIf you’re like me, fairly human, then you are still working through a lengthy list of people for whom you still need to get Christmas gifts.  For those of you who completed your Christmas shopping in August, God bless you; you are a special breed indeed.   What works for me, and may not work for everyone, are the 7 guidelines listed below that I use for giving any type of gift anytime of the year.  Check em out, they’re truly golden:

  1. It’s all about you – Don’t believe the hype.  When giving a gift it is actually all about you.  It’s about what you want the person to have out of the kindness of your heart.
  2. It’s all about them – Giving a gift is also all about the person receiving the gift.  It is you wanting them to have something special that is from you, but it is TO and FOR them.
  3. Cost is an issue – There is a difference between an inexpensive gift and a cheap gift.  Always, always, always lean on the side of inexpensive rather than cheap.  If you have to go cheap it’s best not to give a gift at all.
  4. Cost is not an issue – Although one should not put themselves further in debt to provide a gift, a gift has more value when it costs something to give it.
  5. Presentation doesn’t matter – I am the worst gift wrapper of all time, literally.  So, I lean heavily towards the gift bag.  In some cases, I have handed the person the box straight from Amazon and watched as the person eagerly opened the gift.
  6. Presentation does matter – The right gift given at the right time can truly overcome the lack of  a decorative covering.
  7. Shop Early – Although you may not do the physical shopping early, you can do the virtual shopping anytime of the year.  Make lists of things you notice about the person, their needs, their likes, what makes them happy.  And yes, there is an app for that…literally hundreds of apps for making gift lists.

Suffice it to say that all of the above is Biblically based.  When I think about the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to humanity, it was all about God giving a very precious and special gift to us.  God’s gift wasn’t what humanity thought it needed, and some still don’t think they need God’s gift today.  But He gave His Son to us out of the love and mercy in His own heart.  And it was a gift that He determined we should have from the very beginning of time.

How To Tell If You Are Having A Digitally Enhanced Christmas

Posted in Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Community, Digital, Family, Fun, Global, Jesus Christ, Social Media with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by BigPhatPastor

The world of social media is impacting everyone. The way we act, interact, even the way we ignore each other (“Why isn’t he answering my Skype? I know he’s home, he checked in there on Foursquare”) has changed to coincide with a digitally minded culture.

Although the meaning of Christmas has not changed the way we rejoice in and celebrate Christmas has been impacted by social media and the digital age. Don’t think so? Well here are 5 sure fire ways to determine if you are having a Digitally Enhanced Christmas:

5. As Christmas gifts you are giving everyone multi-outlet extension cords to charge all their digital devices.

4. You’ve had the same Netflix DVD since Thanksgiving because you’ve been watching the Christmas episodes of all of your favorite TV shows via On-Demand.

3. You’re planning on attending the company Christmas party via Skype.

2. You’re planning on broadcasting the cooking of the Christmas meal live on Ustream.

1. You create a Facebook event for the opening of your Christmas presents.

Deal or No Deal

Posted in Christian, Devotion, Family, God, Life, worship with tags , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by BigPhatPastor

Although yesterday was a voting day for the primaries for many locations I’m actually going to hit on another topic today.  With only 34% of the registered voters showing up to vote at the location where I was at, I am guessing that no one will complain too much if I focus on something other than politics.

We just completed a teaching series called Deal or No Deal that looked at answering three basic questions for Christians and non-Christians so each could walk away with the same understanding of:

  • What is Tithing?
  • Where Does the Money Go?
  • Why Should I Do it?

Considering the current economy and difficulty in obtaining jobs a lot of people expected to hear pitches asking people to give more money to the church, to charities, and/or to local organizations.  But this was not a pitch.  The goal was to simply answer the three questions above.

To the first question the answer is simple.  Tithing is giving to God 10% of what He blesses you with.  The expectation is that we would give freely out of the joy of having something to give.  The joy comes not from the amount, but from acknowledging that God has blessed us, period.  Tithing is also private and intimate.  I believe that tithing is one of the most spiritually intimate things we can do.  When we give our bodies, which we value above all else, to another it is as an act of physical intimacy.  When we give our money, on which we place an extremely high value, especially in a bad economy, it is as an act of spiritual intimacy.  For that reason, I strongly believe that non-Christians should not tithe.  Who would give their hard earned and cherished money away to strangers?  Likewise, if one does not know or have a relationship with God, why would or should they even try to tithe?  Also no one should tithe out of fear.  Giving money to anyone out of fear is basically being robbed.  God is not in the business of robbing people.

The answer to the second question may vary from local congregation to local congregation but is generally the same regardless of denomination.  Tithes that are received are generally used for the following purposes (although these are not the only purposes):

1) To support the people who are doing the ministry; this pays the salaries of the pastors, team leaders, and other ministry workers which may vary in each and every church.  In most cases a board, or group of other personnel within the church or denomination will determine which positions constitute a salary.  At CrossRoads we follow a principle I picked up from a previous pastor:  If we ask someone to volunteer or do so much work on behalf of our local congregation that it interferes with their ability to earn a living then we have to consider paying a stipend, part time, or full time salary.  The key is that we are asking them to make this contribution.  There are many people have the time and resources to volunteer on a greater level than others.  2) To support the place of ministry; every building where a local celebration is held, school, coffee house, or whatever venue in which your congregation meets may require a mortgage, lease, rent, or even utilities be paid.  If not, praise God, if it does, that is where the money will do.  3) The third place use of the tithe is to help those being ministered to by your congregation.   Most churches have a fund set up to help the needy or they use the funds to run various ministries that reach out to those in need.  At CrossRoads we do both.  In addition, we just sent a team to Tennessee to help with flood relief and the tithes of the congregation paid for almost everything.  We were so inspired to help that we came back and are taking up an additional collection, above and beyond the tithes of the congregation to use to help those impacted and displaced by the floods in Tennessee.

The answer to the third question of why should you tithe is multifaceted as well, and although biblically supported, many may still disagree…but nonetheless:

1)      The first reason why a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ who has a relationship with God, should tithe is BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO.  I know many people claim that tithing is an old testament concept and that is true.  God revealed the concept of tithing to His followers throughout the Old Testament.  However, nowhere in the New Testament does God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit repeal it.  Being the one who instituted it God is the only one who can repeal it; not those who don’t want to do it.  It is still a commandment from God to His followers.  In fact, Jesus took the entire concept of giving to an entirely new level.  He criticized the those who tithed religiously but without the relationship and gave His blessing to those who gave all they had regardless of the amount.

2)    The second reason to tithe is because tithing creates a culture of giving.  Giving is not about money.  It is about using financial, material, and human resources to meet the needs of others.  People who start tithing have less difficulty in giving other resources to meet needs.

3)    The third reason to tithe is because tithing reflects the character of God.  God is a giver.  God created the universe and all that is in it for us according to Genesis and the Psalms; God gave the Israelites the land to possess it; and Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many.  When we tithe we open the doorway to being givers and when we give we reflect the character of God.

So regardless of your denominational, political, or financial status…if you are a follower of Jesus Christ spend some time with God asking Him to reveal what He would have you do regarding tithing.

Don’t Hate the Giver…Respect the Gift!

Posted in Christian, Community, Country, Family, God, Life, Ministry with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2010 by BigPhatPastor

I apologize for the delay in posting a follow up to the budget crunch blog.  I will actually post the follow up to that at the end of this blog.  As you can imagine, most people and churches have been overwhelmed trying to respond to, or figuring out how to respond to the overwhelming devastation that took place in Haiti.  I have been totally engrossed in trying to comprehend the responses of churches, organizations, and individuals.

The response from many was what we can we do, how can we help, or when can we leave.  But there were some responses that basically said “why should we help when we have such an overwhelming need here?”  Wow…let’s just say that I have been really struggling with those types of responses over the last week or two.  On the one hand I can totally see how someone can look at the state of our nation, our hungry, and the state of our homeless children and families and wonder why we are devoting precious financial resources elsewhere.  I can see why someone would wonder “where were those financial resources when women were being physically and sexually abused and members of our community were being removed from their home after months of joblessness?”

I would be concerned if I believed that those finances were just lying around and no one used them to help the people in our own communities.  I am more inclined to believe that the overwhelming outpouring of resources that we saw, and continue to see, comes from people reaching deep into resources they don’t have to immediately respond to an unheard of national disaster, a nation literally destroyed by an earthquake.

Do I hope to see the same level of giving and response to our own nations needs?  Definitely!  Will I condemn and/or criticize those that do not respond to our own nations needs now or in the days, weeks, or months to come?  Not at all!  Will I criticize the critics who are judging others but not doing anything themselves?  Each and every time!

I don’t think we have the right to judge or criticize those who are helping or how they are helping people in need if we are sitting and doing nothing.  If we are doing something then we can likely understand why someone would feel compelled to help.  We would also understand that we have no idea how much that person, organization, or church may have already contributed towards other needs.  People who help generally establish a culture of giving and reaching out.  People who don’t…well, they just don’t.

This whole concept has reconfirmed the steps our church is taking in ensuring our budget and how we use it is in line with our mission, vision, and values.  One of our core values is Extreme Generosity – giving at an over the top level.  We spent a lot of time (in some case years) in prayer asking God to provide human resources to help us Be the Church in our community.  And God has answered with personnel to fill critical roles.  Thus in order to ensure those roles remain filled we are only cutting one salary…mine.  We are taking steps to preserve the ministries that we are doing and cutting any that don’t line up with our belief in why we’re here.  I’m not writing this to brag or to boast, (seriously, how can I boast about a significant decrease in income).  However, if we truly believe that God answered our prayers by providing the people we needed then those people and the ministries they lead should be and will be preserved and eventually expanded as the ministries grow.

For those who think this is madness, or just grandstanding…we saw an almost 30% increase in our giving over the last several weeks since taking these steps.  Again, not boasting…just believing.

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