This past weekend was a real answer to prayer. For me, the biggest thing was that all last week, I was out of commission with some kind of respiratory sickness. It was like a cold, but I was really, really tired. I spent most of Tuesday through Thursday sleeping, and during it all, I had next to no voice. After whispering all week long, I eventually went to the doctor on Friday, got dosed up with some antibiotics, and started feeling better. Nevertheless, the mere fact that I was able to speak on Sunday and have anything worthwhile to say was a real answer to prayer!
My thanks especially go out to Jennifer and the kids for putting up with me last week.
I want to thank Andrew and the band for doing such a great job on Sunday with the music. For the first time in a number of weeks, we had the full band experience on stage. Jake on electric guitar, Reuben on bass, Vince on drums, Tara on keys, and Andrew on acoustic and vocals. I’m always encouraged by the full band sound, and this past Sunday was no exception. Jake’s lush guitar tones on Overcome and and Reuben’s artistry on the bass while Andrew was praying were two things I especially noted.
My message from Sunday was a message I have been waiting months to bring to the church. Some of you know that the pastor I listen to the most is Andy Stanley. When I mow my lawn each week, I listen to his messages from North Point Community Church. Well, about a year ago, he did a series of messages called “How to Be Rich” and the concept was so interesting to me, that I thought we should cover the same thing. Originally, I thought I’d be just stealing his main points and crafting my own sermons from them because his main points really are just straightforward teaching from 1 Timothy 6, but as I invested my own energy into the introductory message, I found myself being drawn to verses 6-10 in 1 Timothy 6, a passage Andy never addressed in his series.
The more I thought about the overall four week series, the more I realized that I needed to spend some specific time on just those five verses, and so that’s what we did on Sunday.
The bottom line from Sunday was that we generally don’t feel rich, so we try to get rich, and that’s dangerous. Paul warned Timothy that trying to get rich is a very dangerous thing. I’ll just quote the verses right here.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. — 1 Timothy 6:9-10
I shared from my own perspective that our problem stems from the way we view the relationship of different aspects of our financial lives. We tend to think in terms of obligations, lifestyle choices, and luxury items. Of course, the problem is that our income usually only is able to cover a few of our lifestyle choices and only the rarest of luxury items.
Then, there’s something in each of us that assumes to be rich means that we are able to make the luxury into our lifestyle, but of course, the problem with that line of thinking is that there’s never an end to luxury. There’s always more luxury out there, and the second problem is that our lifestyle choices very quickly become financial obligations. In other words, if we are not careful, our perspective on what it means to be rich will lead us to expand our personal obligations far faster than we grow our income.
Finally, we have two options. One option is to try to raise our income, but we already saw how pursuing more money doesn’t really help. That’s why Paul teaches Timothy about the other option:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. — 1 Timothy 6:6-8
So I asked the question on Sunday, how much money would it take for you to be godly and content? See, the bottom line is that we don’t feel rich because we have no “margin” in our financial lives. We never feel abundance, because we have let our contentment line go too high. However, if we were to lower our contentment line, we would reach a place where our income far exceeds our obligations, and that gap is where the feeling of being rich shows up!
So, how much money does it take for you to feel godly and content?
- Being rich is not about $, it’s about the gap between my obligations, lifestyle, & luxury vs. my income. / The worst way to get rich is to try to get more $ / Lifestyle choices turn into obligations / Godliness w/ contentment is great gain.
- The sermon touches on something very important to me but I often feel so far from it. The simple idea of spending so much time even thinking about finances sincerely stresses me out and I don’t want that anymore!
- Our contentment line needs to be lowered and we are aware of it. We are slowly taking steps to change it.
- The Bible tells us how to be rich. Luxury cannot be a measurement of feeling rich. Income needs to be higher than obligations, lifestyle and luxury. Temptation and a trap. No one connected to God should ever feel need for money.
- I enjoyed the message today. I feel rich, have a roof over our heads, food to eat, have a job, car to drive to work, have two beautiful girls, money in the bank. The country does take for granted what we have.
And here’s one unrelated to the message, but nonetheless is exactly why LCC is doing what we’re doing:
- Finding God again.
It’s such a thrilling privilege to be part of something God uses to bring people to himself. Way to go, church!
Today Inside My Head
I’m thinking about prayer today. Today, I went to the Lafayette Huddle, an interdenominational fellowship of men in Lafayette who gather weekly around lunch tables to hear a speaker share some encouraging words and then to encourage each other with what God is doing in our lives before closing in a time of prayer for each other. Today’s topic centered on being people of encouragement and prayer. I think I generally do a good job with encouragement, but I was encouraged to be more focused on prayer.
It’s interesting to think about that today because just last week, I finished creating something on our church website that I’ve been trying to do for some time. I just finished putting together a prayer wall for our church. You can’t find it unless you have this link because it isn’t really all that public yet, but if you want to see our church prayer wall, you can start here: http://lafayettecc.org/members. If you log in to that site, you’ll see some links in your sidebar to see our public prayer requests. There are some people who are on our prayer team and they can see the private prayer requests or if you submit a prayer request, you will also be able to see your own requests.
I want us to be a church that understands how to come before God on behalf of each other, so this is just a start in that direction. If you have the time, let me encourage you to check it out!
Stuff to Think and Pray About
Two things are true about me when it comes to organization. (1). I am easily distracted, and therefore, organizational processes bore me to the point that I don’t seem to maintain any organizational system for long at all… (I’m getting better at this, I think, but then again, I’m also very optimistic about life, so perhaps I’m fooling myself there!) and (2). I’m very strategic which means I’m always thinking of new ways to organize things. I’m always trying to figure out new and better ways to do the organization that seems to elude me.
As a result, I’ve been working with Bethany, with Billy, and with the Elders-in-training to develop a leadership structure in our church that streamlines things and also helps us communicate better. It’s a work in progress right now, but I have hopes that a solid church leadership system will help us more effectively reach people with the message of life in Christ.
Please pray for me and all the ministry leaders of the church that God would give us wisdom to structure our church effectively.
I have had the incredible joy of working through our coaching materials with 7 people so far in various capacities, and I’ve had some really good feedback on the materials and the process. In light of that, I’ve asked Jim Hoffman to take the lead on our coaching system to try to make sure everyone who wants to be a coach gets the training and support they need and everyone who wants to have a coach gets matched up with someone who can be of real encouragement to them.
Please pray for Jim Hoffman and for all the people who are or will become coaches as well as the people who go through the coaching materials. I believe this could be the key to a powerful 2013!
Upcoming Events and Things
Matrix Resource Center’s Steps for Life fundraiser is coming on September 29. Listen, if you haven’t been paying attention to the bulletin inserts, you really should visit their website to check it out and register to be a walker even if you can’t raise any money. Tara Olivo is ready to burst with child and she’s doing it, so what’s your excuse!? Seriously, as of right now, Tara is the only LCC representative walking in the event. Now, I know Jen and I haven’t submitted our registration yet, so I’m thinking you have also let it slip your mind and haven’t registered just from forgetfulness, but now’s the time!
I want LCC to have a good representation there, and I also want to help raise some money, so here’s what I’m proposing for you:
- visit http://www.fundeasy.com/m/1060245/ and sponsor Tara
- visit http://www.matrixprc.org and sign up to be a walker.
If you can only do one of those things, that would be cool, but I think it would be awesome if we could do both! Come on, church!
Please keep a prayerful heart and an open eye for people to fill these service slots:
- We are beginning to look for a worship director we can hire who can help guide our worship ministry to the next level of excellence.
- We are looking to deploy an army of coaches who can step into the gap and help our newest people find their place in the family of God.
- We are gaining volunteers for the upcoming 9am Kidopolis program, but we still have a way to go. Pray for teachers and helpers.
- Also, we are still on the lookout for volunteers to help with Sunday lighting, sound, and computer tech, with video production, with website work, with graphic design and other creative arts in the church.
As we move forward together, God is going to bring the right people into our fellowship, but I believe he is calling us to see them, recognize them, develop them and deploy them! That’s what leaders do, and that’s the charge he has given us!