Sunday, November 26, 2017

Will You Support Your Church in 2018?

Whenever I think of those who find themselves outside of God’s kingdom and God’s church – looking in – I am reminded how much being raised in a Christian home meant to me as a child. I also remember the confusing times when I found myself separated from God. As a young man in his twenties and thirties I questioned the existence of God and the need to pretend to worship God in his church.

Like many people at that like age, I thought that the answers the world was searching for could be found in our culture – not in God. I could not imagine how any god could alter the direction of humankind; that answers and direction could only be found in science and human activity.

But I also saw that God was not pleased with the path in which we humans were headed.  Our problems were too large to be handled on our own. We needed direction. I needed direction.
I found that direction in God’s holy church – not as a leader, but as a disciple. And now I know that discipleship is the path toward happiness, love, mercy, and God’s grace. Whatever difficulties you face, whatever problems challenge you, God has what we need and freely offers it to us. We just need to accept God’s gift.

We can best be disciples in God’s church – the Body of Christ. And like all human structures, the church needs to be loved and supported to ultimately succeed. This is our chance to give our support to the church and God’s work in the world; to spread the Good News of Christ, to promote justice and peace in our neighborhood and world, and to equip the Saints for the work ahead.
Will you join me in supporting your church with a pledge this year?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

STEWARDSHIP SIX –  Final Chapter: Where do we go from here?

For the past six weeks I have been speaking of our spiritual life and how it affects our stewardship life, and now I ask, “Where do we go from here?” Our faith life is dependent upon our economic well-being, our personal faith, our spiritual satisfaction, and our commitment to God. We may talk about not feeling connected to our church, but the more basic concern is separation from God – the source of all that we are and all that we have. Are you grateful for all that God has done for you –for God’s love and mercy and care? Are you confidant of your place in God’s kingdom and the good news of Jesus’ Gospel?

Our spiritual journey follows a complicated and circuitous pathway. It leads us away from and toward our destination with startling and upsetting detours. Sometimes we feel secure in our voyage and confident in our destination. At other times we are alarmed by the lack of empathy and love we feel for those things which we once held near and dear to our hearts. We are prone to wander as we long for God – hungering for God’s love – searching for something to fill what can only be described as a “God-shaped-hole” in our hearts. Whether we are believers on not, God has sovereignty over our lives and made to be God’s children and adopted heirs of God’s kingdom.  And when we allow our secular world and the culture in which we live to trick us into doubting or denying God, our spiritual health is endangered.   

What can we do if this describes our own situation? How can we bridge the gap between our spiritual life and God – between where we are (spiritually) and where our heart longs to be? Well – the first thing to do is realize that we cannot bridge the gap by increasing our payment of ‘dues’ to the church club. We cannot become spiritually well by opening our checkbook to God to prove our faithfulness and love toward God.

We need to reach across the gulf that has developed between ourselves and God by reaching out – by reaffirming our love for God and for the many blessings we have received from God! We need to recognize that when a gap between us and God develops it is because we have moved away from each other. And when there is a distance between us, who do you think has moved to make that distance – you or God?

God cannot bridge the gap that has developed between us. We must make the first move and become the disciples of Jesus we were meant to be. By praying, worshiping, studying, loving our neighbors in community, and serving – and then we can be good stewards.