Monday, November 30, 2009

Simply Human

I love the fact that all throughout Scripture there is story after story of God using imperfect, flawed people just like me. This is especially true in the Christmas story. Each person who played a role in the Christmas story, other than Jesus, of course, was simply human.
Specifically we looked at Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist. Although Luke 1 says he was blameless before God he still lacked faith when an angel said he would have a son. So if a priest who was blameless can be flawed and still used by God then we have a chance to be used as well. We may put them on a pedestal as highly important people since God chose to use them in His story, and they are important people, but we are important people also.
We all fall into that same category of imperfect, flawed people that God will use for miraculous things. Now miraculous things will not all look alike. Not all of us could be the mother or father of John the Baptist who prepared the way for the Messiah. However, our work is just as important in doing the will of God.
So whether you can offer resources, time, talents or all of the above for God's work in this world, your part is significant. God cannot do His work in this world without you. Be open this Christmas simply as a person who can be used by God and see what miraculous things God will call you to do to change someone's life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give or Receive?

Is it better to give than receive? I think this is a tough question if you really think about it.
Who does not enjoy receiving a gift? I look forward to my birthday when I get to be surprised by what my family will give me. My kids often bring "gifts" home for me and no matter what it is I at least offer some enthusiasm as I receive the gift. I am happy they thought about me and wanted to bring me a gift, no matter what it is.
Sometimes our ego can get in the way of receiving a gift. We are too proud to accept a gift even when it is needed. This might be a time we would rather give than receive. Yet, I believe this is a time we need to simply be grateful for the offer and receive the gift.
It is this way when it comes to eternal life. Nothing we can do will ever achieve eternal life, other than accepting the free gift of God's grace, which we do not deserve, but God offers it anyway.
Giving on the other hand, is also a blessing. I find it a joy to give a gift to someone. Especially when a lot of thought and work has gone into the gift. I do not have the talent to make a gift for someone, so it is most often something I have bought, but I usually spend a good amount of time thinking about the perfect gift for that person that will really meet a need in their life. So I feel joy knowing they feel joy because of something I have done. Being generous can fill our lives with joy as we are free to offer blessings to others.
God invites us to be generous in our lives because He has been generous with all He has as well. This includes God's willingness to give His son Jesus to forgive us of our sins. God has been generous with much and invites us to do the same.
So, is it better to give than receive or better to receive than give? What do you think?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Joy in Simplicity

Yesterday we talked about how God can bring joy in our finances by simplifying our often complicated life. Two areas I mentioned was looking for ways to simplify regular expenses and how to simplify our activities and entertainment.
Regular expenses are the places we spend money routinely. This could be monthly expenses or a hobby. In our house we have simplified by getting rid of our satellite dish and by not having the internet at home. Cutting out these two payments save us close to $100 a month. That is $1,200 a year extra for us to save, spend on something more important or give away.
I also encouraged people to focus on doing instead of spending when it comes to activities and entertainment. We could spend a lot of money going to the movies or going to an amusement park. We could have just as much fun and can build more memories by doing things for free. Have a family game night where you rotate having someone choose the board game to play. Go outside or to the park and play some outdoor games. Head to the library and let each person find a book to read. We need to show our children that we can have fun without spending money.
If you can, take some time, think about what is complicating your life. How can you simplify your life? Feel free to respond with ways you have simplified your life or heard of others simplify their lives so that we can learn from each other. Through simplicity God will bring more joy into our lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Yesterday we began a series of messages called "Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity." Yesterday I mainly wanted to get across the idea that God wants you to have joy when you consider your financial situation. God does not desire for you to have worry, anxiety or fear when it comes to finances. God has enough and God has a plan for you to have enough as well.
I shared about chasing God's dream and not the American Dream because the American Dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.
One person sent me an email wrestling with the idea of the American Dream. He was saying the dream used to be to give a better life to the next generation. However, I have felt the dream has turned into everyone wanting bigger and better. Sure we might say it is for the next generation, but we also get plenty of bigger and better stuff for ourselves. (I may wrestle more with this idea and share some thoughts in my next message.)
So I challenged the congregation to dream about God's dream for their lives. One of my dreams is to help people know God's love and to know God's plan for their finances specifically. I have the dream to help others with finances because I have seen too many families struggle with finances. I have not just seen poor families struggle, but middle class and upper class people as well. We all can struggle if our finances do not bring joy into our lives.
In my life I have found joy in finances as Helen and I cover our bills and have enough to give where we want. It is a joy to be free to give generously when we see a need. I want to spread this joy to anyone and everyone.
So what are your dreams? Where do you see God calling you to make a difference in this world? What purpose do you feel compelled to fulfill? Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions about the dreams we chase.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day

All Saints Day is the first of November. It is a day to remember those who have gone on to heaven from the past year. It is also a time to reflect back on the heavenly saints who have impacted our lives.
I am blessed to be able to be present with families with the loss of a loved one. This past year I have only officiated three funerals and have one coming up this month. Robert Uhlmann and Ruth Papritz are the saints connected to our church directly who will be missed. I also was with the Vaile family in the death of Kristi's mother last December and I officiated Marty Schlesselman's dad's services as well. I know these families continue to mourn these losses and I pray specifically for them in this time.
The heavenly saint that I continue to remember was a friend of mine that was killed in a car accident in college. Her name was Jenny and she was in school to become a teacher for deaf children. She felt God had called to that work. When I got the phone call telling of her death I was confused that God would allow this to happen to someone who only wanted to serve Him. However, I do continue to celebrate the life she did have and the many people she touched.
Who are the heavenly saints you remember today? Feel free to write a comment to remind us all of what others who have gone on before us have taught us.