Friday, February 27, 2009

Lenten Resource

I found this lenten resource which is a short daily devotional that will take you through Lent. It is the project of a couple of different denominations. From their website here is what it says:, a daily online devotional series, was created and is produced by Passport, Inc. Passport is a student ministry organization focused on creating meaningful experiences and resources for students. From youth and children’s camps to mission trips to online devotional sites to Faith in 3D, Passport, Inc. gives students a chance to see their world in new ways. is sponsored by three denominational partners: the Congregational Life office of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Youth Ministries of the Episcopal Church in America.

Mind Your Own Business

Here is the final message from the Mind Your Own Business series we have been doing at New Season. It is called The Buck Starts Here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Lent began yesterday with the imposition of ashes called Ash Wednesday. The ashes remind us that we are human and we will one day die but that in life, in death, and in life beyond death we are dependent on Jesus Christ.

Lent, along with Advent, is one of the two seasons of spiritual preparation in the life of the church. During Advent we prepare for Christmas, during Lent we prepare for Easter.

Lent, and Advent to a lesser degree, is a season of denial. This has led to the often popular "giving something up" for Lent. As we journey to the cross where Jesus gave his life up for us we too remove those things in our lives that prevent us from being obedient to God's will for our lives.

For many the problem comes with what many people give up. Some people give up chocolate, others coffee, still others television. You can think of many of things to give up. It has been said that giving up such things as these trivializes the great sacrifice of Christ. I guess that is true to some extent- me giving up chocolate or coffee really does not hold any weight when compared to Christ's sacrifice! Others have suggested that instead of giving up something for Lent we would "take something else on" to prepare for Easter. Perhaps reading a new devotional, serving once a week at the soup kitchen, spending a daily quiet time with God, etc. This practice has its critics as well who question if we in our fast paced and hurried world really need one more thing to crowd our days when Lent should be about de-cluttering that which is not essential to our lives. That is a good point too I guess.

I think we need to give up those things that separate us from a deeper relationship with Christ. If you can say that is chocolate for you- then that is great. I think one of the main ideas of Lent is to take some time to examine oneself and what are the roadblocks in one's life to a deeper relationship with Christ. I think it is valid as well to take on something else if it will move us closer to Christ. When we do this we may need to get rid of something else in our hurried life. Here we get at what is truly important.

I hope whether you give something up or take something on for Lent, or do both, that you will draw closer to Christ as you move toward the cross this Lenten season and as you prepare for the good news of Easter.

Here is a previous post I did about what Lent is.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Wi-fi, or Lack Thereof

My family and I recently visited a nice resort that had an indoor water park. As with most of these places, it was not cheap to stay or to play. And yet, I couldn't help but notice that in order to connect to the wi-fi available in the hotel it cost $5.95 a day. I have noticed this at some other places.

I question this practice. It is not that I feel I have any right to wi-fi, though I am sure some loose constructionist can find it in the constitution, I just think it is nickel and dimeing to charge for wi-fi when you are already paying a higher price to begin with. I certainly understand that there is a cost associated with providing wi-fi that is borne by the hotel, but come on, it is minimal. In fact, I have no problem really paying for it but add it to the cost of the room so I never see it. When I don't see it, it is less irritating. It is kind of like when taxes are taken out of your paycheck. If it is taken out before you see it, it is less irritating.

So, note to hotel operators, if I have a choice, and here I did not, I will not choose your hotel if you are going to charge me with an additional fee. Either give it to me for free or hide it in the cost of the room- which might be one in the same.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Church and Money Part 6

This is the last post for this series. I wanted to end this series of posts with sharing some practical ways to create a culture of generosity in your church. As a matter of self-disclosure, I want to say that we do not practice all these ways at New Season yet. However, we are working to getting there. The list is not exhaustive.

Here are some practical ideas in no particular order:
  • Send out quarterly giving statements letting folks know how much they gave and thanking them for their generosity. Be sure to tie their giving to how the church has been engaged in ministry to fulfill its mission and vision. Include in this mailing opportunities to give for specific items beyond general giving as some folks would like to give in this way as well. You might also consider doing a video update of how the church's giving has helped to live out the mission and vision of the church. This video can be posted on you tube and/or shown on a Sunday.
  • When you have a sign up sheet- always have a place where persons can mark that they would like to support the event financially.
  • Preach and teach about stewardship with a message series every year and in other ways throughout the year.
  • Have some type of challenge once a year for folks to increase their generosity whether that is a traditional pledge card or some other more innovative way.
  • Give persons the opportunity to impact the community by listing agencies and organizations in your community who need funds.
  • Do a bless back program where you return the offering from the previous week to your church and ask them to bless others with it and tell the stories of what they did.
  • Regularly have video testimonies as you take the offering of how persons giving has been used.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Church and Money Part 5

Talking about how we handle the resources God has blessed us with in preaching and teaching cause some in the church to become upset. They might say that they are going to leave if the church keeps talking about money? They might say it is none of your business what I/we do with our money or how we handle our possessions? They might say stewardship is more than money hoping the church will only talk about stewardship in vague and ambiguous terms (btw, stewardship does of course include more than money and possessions and encompasses our whole lives but not to the exclusion of money and possessions!).

What I have found is that the people who object most vehemently to the church talking about money and possessions are not young believers or persons who are still trying to figure out their faith, it is more often than not the people who have been there forever who don't give and quite apart from anything the church does feel guilty about it. Those who are new to faith understand that how we use what we have is an issue of faith and that ministry takes resources. It is an interesting phenomena.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Church and Money Part 4

There have been times in the history of the church when the only time the topic of money and possessions was ever preached on was in the fall for the annual stewardship campaign. Usually for one of these messages the preacher would rightly talk about the biblical call for followers of Jesus to tithe and invite persons to fill out pledge cards. However, often it was a cal to tithe not to become a more fully devoted follower of Jesus, but so the church can pay the bills. Vision and ministry was rarely tied to calls for increased giving. Giving was more often than not tied to keeping the status quo and maintaining.

This was better than some though who were afraid to talk about money and possessions at all during preaching. These were afraid the church would be tagged with always being interested in money. So they abdicated teaching biblical principles about stewardship.

In my opinion, the best way to talk about money and possessions in the church is in a holistic way. What I mean is that the Bible has a lot to say about how we handle all that God has given us. Money, especially in our day, is a huge issue for followers of Jesus and those that are not. The Bible has a lot to say about how we would manage our resources- about budgeting, debt, saving and investing. The Bible has stuff to say about not being in bondage to debt (credit cards anybody!), about putting our trust in treasures where neither moth or rust destroy (accumulating possessions), or using God's resources to bless God's people. The Bible deals with every day issues about money that people are dealing with. This is true in all places but especially true in suburbia. Should we talk about tithing as part of a larger holistic approach to how we handle our resources? Absolutely! However, tithing and all else that we talk about should be connected to ministry within the church and God's vision for our lives and our church.

I would advocate for a yearly preaching emphasis about handling God's resources as well as teaching throughout the year that can be done in a variety of ways. I will share some ways to do that in a later post.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Money and the Church Part 3

One of the life changing perspectives when it comes to how we view our money and possessions is to realize who is the owner of all that we have. The Bible is clear that God is the owner of all things. Psalm 22:1 says "The earth and all that is in it belongs to the Lord." He is the creator and owner of all things.

This has helped me and countless others recognize all that we have is from God. Our money, our homes, our clothes, our health, our children- all of it is God's. God has given us the privilege of managing these resources God has so graciously bestowed upon us. We are not owners as much as we are caretakers or stewards. Thus, when we "give" to God we are really not giving anything. We are returning what is God's in the first place. When we realize this it makes tithing a lot easier. Think about what a deal that is. God gives us all this stuff and we get to keep 90% of it. No store can match that!

When we realize that we came into the world with nothing and will leave with nothing and all that we have is God's, we can come to appreciate how we can use what we have to love God and love others.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Money and the Church Part 2

Why even bother talking about money and possessions in church? After all, it is reasoned that those are private matters outside the purview of the church and faith.

OK??? Tell that to Jesus who talked more about money and possessions and how we handled those things than he did about about a whole lot of other things the church talks about all of the time.
  • Do you know that fully 66% of the stories Jesus told had something to do with how we handled our earthly treasures?
  • Do you know 2,300 verses in the Bible talk about money?
  • Do you know there are 5 times as many verses about how we handle our money than there are about prayer and faith combined?
So, I think God thought how we handle our money and possessions was something to be talked about in church. Jesus said “Where your treasure is, there is your heart.

How we handle what God has given us is an intensely spiritual issue- especially for people living in suburbia but for people everywhere. I'll be posting later on the fact that how we handle the resources God gives us is an issue of discipleship that is just as important as how much we pray, read the Bible or whether or not we beat our spouse and children. I will also be posting about how the church can talk about money in a holistic way that helps people manage what God has blessed them with and moves away from the manage your money well so you can give more to the church mindset. Stewardship as an issue of faith must start with helping people follow Jesus before moving to taking about tithing.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Money and the Church Part 1

We are doing a series of messages currently at New Season that talks about how we are stewards over all that God has given us including our money and possessions.

I have found that there is great confusion in the church world when it comes to talking about money and possessions in the church. For some the only time they have heard money talked about in the church was when it was October and time for the annual stewardship campaign. And, when money was talked about the it was always in the context of "give us more money so we can keep the lights on, pay the mortgage and pay someone to cut the grass at the cemetery and do other maintenance things because God says so." Rarely was stewardship tied to vision and ministry. Because of things like this some have gone to extremes now and refuse to talk about money at all. Early on in the seeker sensitive movement and because of one survey Rick Warren did in one particular mission field people got the mistaken notion that those not at the church hated when the church talked about money.

This week I hope to do some posts about money that will be expanding on what I talk about on Sunday mornings. I will be writing about how what we do with our money and possessions is a profoundly spiritual issue and one Jesus talked about all the time. I will be writing about how to tie a holistic view of stewardship to vision and mission and sharing some practical ways to do it. I will talk about how unchurched people don't care if you talk about money, want to hear about the spiritual side of managing possessions, and who it is who is really opposed to the church talking about money and possessions. I will be writing about how debt can be a bondage that we can be freed from so when God calls we can say "yes!" All that and more, quite possibly this week.

As I have said Sunday after Sunday. I am no expert on this stuff and am growing and working on it like everybody else and do indeed at time needs to practice what I preach as the saying goes. However, I want to share what I am learning and then hopefully we can all learn together and be transformed to use the resources God has given us to love him and others.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Minding the Business

Here is the first message in the new series "Mind Your Business." It has about a minute of "blank" time to start as we recorded part of a silent movie :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Incarnational Evangelism Part 5

One of the ways incarnational evangelism is carried out is through mission projects. When followers of Jesus go to rebuild homes, rake leaves for the elderly or serve a meal at the homeless shelter they are engaging in incarnational evangelism. They are getting outside the four walls of the church to share Christ's love.

These acts of incarnational evangelism should always be coupled with explaining to those the church is in ministry with about who Jesus is, what he has done and how much he loves those who are being ministered with.

If the church is not going to share Christ in word as well as action then what it does in terms of action is nothing more than social service. Social service is not bad per se, but the church is more than a social service agency. The church is the body of Christ. While social service agencies do things to be nice and for the human good the church's motives for service go beyond merely being do-gooders. The church serves because it has first been served in Christ and is now responding to that love of Christ by serving others. The church, when it serves, is not only offering niceness but also the power of the greatest gift and story ever known to humankind- that of Jesus. When the church serves it does so in the name of and for the sake of Christ. When the church serves it seeks to reveal the Kingdom of God in a real way. Otherwise, the church is just one more social action agency.

So, in the end, acts of service like those mentioned above our ways to be involved in incarnational evangelism. But the church must understand how it is so.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Incarnational Evangelism Part 4

As attractional methods for evangelism become less and less effective in inviting people to begin to follow Jesus the importance of relationships becomes more and more important when it comes to sharing God's love. It is all about relationships.

Using relationships to help people discover Christ's love is not as glitzy or glamorous as a slick postcard or a funny radio ad. When we are in relationships with persons it can often be messy as we help them deal with hurt, pain and uncertainty and as we deal with our own "stuff" as well. Relationships take time. It takes time to be in relationship with people. It takes time often for the person to give their trust to you an ultimately to Christ. Being in relationship can also be frustrating as relationships wax and wane.

As difficult as all these things can be relationships can also be way that people do indeed come to discover a "better way." They are a way that persons who have been hurt by the church can find healing and begin to trust again. They are a way that a person who may never darken the door of the church but has spiritual questions can find someone who will listen and share without judgment or seeking to get them to "pray the prayer" at the end of every meeting in the relationship.

Where do these relationships come from and how do they happen? They come from any variety of venues. They happen at work over coffee or lunch. They happen with parents from your child's soccer team as you wait for the next game to start. They happen with the person who waits on you at the restaurant. They can happen in a variety of settings with a variety of people if we are open and make ourselves available to be used by God.