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Category Archives: Finances

Marriage & Money

When our enemy wants to defeat a church, he generally attacks in the area of doctrine or practice. Within the area of practice, he often zeros in on marriage and/or money. The author of the book of Hebrews prescribes a preventative defense in Hebrews 13. He addresses a number of specific issues of practice and lifestyle that are often the target of the enemy. In verses 4-6, he encourages us to have a high view of marriage and a right perspective of money. He encourages us to hold marriage in honor and to hold money loosely.

Hold marriage in honor (4). In the first century, marriage was dishonored through one of two ways. One approach was from those who believed it was more spiritual to stay single. The other position was held by those who saw marriage as irrelevant and pursued unbridled sexual fulfillment. In our culture, we have dishonored marriage by redefining it, making it easy to get out of, and rejecting it altogether.

We need to get back to having a high view of marriage. Marriage was established by God (Genesis 2:24-25). It is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman that should not be broken. Scripture indicates that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permissible after all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted. First, an innocent person may divorce his/her partner if the latter has been guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32). Second, if an unbeliever refuses to remain in the marriage with a believer and chooses to desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Only in these cases or after the death of a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39) is remarriage allowed.

All Christians are called to maintain a radical moral purity. Any form and/or practice of sex outside the marriage covenant is sin and deserving of God’s judgment. God will bring judgment on those who violate this command. It might be in this life—physical, mental, relational, societal—or it might be in the final judgment. God’s judgment should not be taken lightly.

Commit yourself to a high view of marriage. If you are engaged or married, commit yourself to building and maintaining a strong marriage. Whether married or single, commit yourself to sexual purity. Commit yourself to living a holy life.

Hold Money Loosely (5-6). Since some of these believers had lost possessions due to persecution (10:32-34), they may have sought greater material security.

We need to have a right perspective about money. Money itself is not the problem. It is the love of money that is the problem. The lure of money has led many people astray.

We must cultivate a spirit of contentment. Contentment has nothing to do with amount. It has everything to do with attitude. Contentment is the ability to be satisfied with what God provides. Contentment comes from knowing that we have God and that he will never leave or abandon us. Knowing God’s promises, we can face the future with confidence, regardless of how much or how little we have.

Commit yourself to trusting in God’s presence and his provision. Commit yourself to being content with what God provides.

Hold marriage with honor. Hold money with an open palm.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 12, 2020. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Money, Money, Money

In an essay entitled, “How Am I Going to Make it Financially?” in the book, Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime, edited by Collin Hansen & Jeff Robinson Sr, pastor Brandon Shields makes some insightful comments about money.

Financial anxiety is an ancient problem. In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus identifies our compulsively anxious relationship to money as one of the barriers that hinders our ability to experience the good life of the kingdom: “You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life” (Matt. 6:24-25). Jesus invites us to see that money is not some commodity we make to secure goods and services—it’s a primal power that can also make us insecure.

Money functions like a narrator or storyteller—it excavates the hidden motivations, values, myths, and longings that unconsciously drive our patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. In other words, how we relate to money reveals more that our financial principles; it uncovers our true ambitions. Money shines a bright light into our inner world, illuminating a complex ecosystem of spiritual and emotional narratives: fear, guilt, shame, joy, godly desire, selfish ambition, security, comfort, scarcity, abundance, and a legion of others.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Books, Finances, Quotes

 

Accounting humor

The comic, Non-Sequitur, certainly provides a familiar refrain. Every church I’ve served in had at least one staff or budget meeting that ended with the instruction, “Go your way and spend no more.” 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in Finances, Non-Sequitur

 

Prayerfully planning a church budget

At a recent elders’ meeting, our church administrator and the chair of our finance board joined the council to discuss how to prepare our 2019 budget. The finance chair said he was praying about four questions. He encouraged the elders and the congregation to join him in seeking God’s face regarding these issues.

Here are the questions if you would like to pray with us, or adapt them for your church’s use.

  • What do we believe will be our level of giving in 2019? How much do we think God will provide?
  • How should our budget be distributed? How much of the budget should go to staff, missions, ministries, maintenance, etc?
  • How aggressive should we be in next year’s budget? How do we find the appropriate balance between self-reliance and faith-stretching?
  • How can we best use the remaining funds in the parsonage proceeds account?
 

Building Renovation – June update

Below is a letter sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church providing an update on the progress of our building renovation project. We’re getting closer.

 

The high cost of Christmas lights

As we were talking one night in Elista, Naomi asked me about the medical costs for my hip surgery. Since I had time on my hands in the hotel in Moscow, I decided to total them up. As you can see, it turned out to be the most expensive Christmas lights we ever purchased. Thank God for good insurance.

Category Total costs Out of pocket expenses
Ambulances $2,529.13 $100.00
Hospital & personnel $26,999.56 $1,000.00
Ultrasound $2,543.73 $25.00
Surgery & follow up $8,671.00 $25.00
Rehab Center $4,307.14 $752.18
In-home physical therapy $1,539.75 $0
Rx $3,154.46 $187.19
Primary Care Physician $1,160 $200.00
Physical Therapy $4,715 $525.00
Totals $55,619.77 $2,814.37

Considering I have another follow up visit with the surgeon on Monday and possibly more PT to come, as well as more follow up on the blood clots, it’s not quite done yet.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Finances, Health

 

Transforming lives through strategic stewardship

Book Review: A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving, by Mac Pier

A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving by Mac Pier is the follow up to his previous book, A Disruptive Gospel. In the first book, the author lays out the philosophy and strategy to using generosity to reach cities with the gospel. In this book, he tells stories of how it is taking place.

In this volume, the author weaves together three big ideas.

The first is God’s vision for the world as referenced in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah gives us the big picture of a God who comes to transform cities, who causes nations and nature to rejoice in him. Isaiah announces the coming of a Savior who will be the ultimate expression of the generosity of God in the gospel.

The second is that of movement. A spiritual movement is taking place when the Christian population is growing faster than the general population. A movement is taking place when the church is making an impact on the great social realities of a city or nation. A movement is taking place when Christian leaders are finding themselves in places of cultural influence.

The third big idea is that of a relational network, a movement of friendship.

The book contains 31 chapters in which the author interviews 40 leaders in 10 countries around the world who are using generosity for the sake of the gospel. While you can easily read the book in one sitting, you could also read one chapter a day over the course of a month and let the stories sink in. The interviews and stories are designed to encourage the reader to think of creative ways to use their own resources to help fuel the advance of the gospel.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Books, Finances, Generosity, Quotes