Tag Archives: Discipleship

Can you imagine?

Book of imagination by t1na
What if you had all the time in the world?

What if money were no object?

What if you were fearless?

What if you had talent?

What if you never felt inadequate?

What if you had the ability to become friends with anyone?

What if you had the dreams of a child
combined with the wisdom of the ages?

What if nothing stood in your way?

Use your imagination…

What can you imagine accomplishing for God if you had all the resources of the universe at your disposal?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
-Ephesians 3:20-21

Lloyd

Image by Martina Stipan at Deviant Art

Take the Next Step

Jesus loved to tell stories. He said and did things that were controversial. Things He said caused debate among the people and the religious leaders of the time and, in fact, are still being discussed today. And not just in church.

If you read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), the books that tell the story of His life, you’ll find that Jesus very rarely gave a straight-up answer to a question. His teachings were never bullet point lectures.

“6 Steps to a Better You.”

“5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Life.”

“7 Amazing Life Hacks – Your jaw will drop at number 5!”

No, “click-bait” wasn’t His style. Not exactly.

The religious leaders of the time would often try to stump Jesus with a trick question designed to tie Him up in knots. Whenever they would do that He would pause, look them in the eye, and say something like, “Have I ever told you the one about the son who squandered his inheritance?” And everyone would sort of roll their eyes and try to track with Him.

He would tell this open-ended story with His own question at the end, like a riddle.

I wonder why he did that.

His disciples wondered, too, and one day they asked Him…

Matthew 13:10-13
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables…

Even their question about His teaching style was answered with a sort of riddle!

When I read these verses I get the feeling that Jesus is saying that there are certain answers discovered only by taking the next step. Sometimes you don’t really understand until you go on the journey. You may want to have all your questions resolved ahead of time but that’s just not going to happen.

Here’s an example: Parenting.

You can read every book and go to every class about being a good parent but until you actually get in the game you don’t know a thing. True? You have your first child and before too long you realize that you’re just making it up as you go along. But you learn. As new parents you can double-team the child. There are 2 of you and one of them so you figure out how to parent in that situation. And about the time you sort of get into a pattern and feel like you’re getting a handle on this parenting thing, the 2nd child comes along and you have to shift to a man-to-man defense. It’s 1 on 1 and it requires some different types of strategies. But you learn it as you go. I’m not sure what happens when that 3rd and 4th child comes along. I suppose you have to shift to some sort of zone defense, but we never got to that point. What I’m saying is that the book learning, advance planning, and parenting classes are all good things, but the truth is that you don’t really learn parenting until you become parents.

DSC_0898There are just some answers in life that aren’t discovered until we take the next step.

I believe this is profoundly true of the Christian life.

You and I may be in completely different places on our journey with Jesus, but I can pretty much guarantee that, anyplace along the path, the only way we get closer to Him, the only way we grow in our discipleship, is by taking the next step. By obediently putting into practice the things we’ve already learned. These things may not make absolute sense ahead of time, and we may still have questions, but it’s when we take that next step of faith that we get answers…

…answers that we would otherwise never learn.

Lloyd

PS – I recently went on little hike in the woods with my grandson Asher. That’s when the photo was taken.

 

Why do preachers talk so much about money?

money-02Why do preachers talk so much about money?

At WOCC we are in the final year of our ENGAGE vision campaign. The goal of this campaign was to get everyone excited about what God is doing here and where He’s taking us, and to fund this vision for the next three years debt-free. At the beginning, this campaign caused me to think quite a bit about money and it challenged Kathie and me to a whole new level of giving. (Now, the fact of my recent retirement has caused me to revisit that subject from a whole new perspective! But I digress.)

Inevitably, during a campaign such as this, and during the typical fall “stewardship emphasis” the question comes up: “Why do preachers talk so much about money?”

Seems to me there are two answers to that question, depending on what you mean.

If by “so much” you really mean “too much” the answer is simply this:

They don’t.

I can tell you sincerely that it’s just not true. Every single preacher I’ve ever known (and I know a LOT of preachers) hated talking about money. They just never got real stoked about preaching that yearly “stewardship series”. They did it because they knew they had to. And the reason they felt they had to is probably not the reason you’re thinking.

However, if by “so much” you really mean “at all,” here’s why…

Preachers don’t teach about money just to get the offerings up. They do it because they know that the way we handle money is as much a mark of discipleship as our sexual morals, our prayer life and our Bible learning…and anything else you can think of. From time to time you’ll hear (or maybe, say) something along the lines of: “We shouldn’t talk about money. Let’s just reach out to people with the gospel and the money will follow.” The thing is, we don’t approach any other area of discipleship like that. “We shouldn’t talk about living a moral life. Let’s just reach out with the gospel and the morality will follow.” While it’s true that the gospel changes lives from within it doesn’t mean we stop teaching about what it means to live life as a Christ-follower. Jesus’ teaching (Now THERE was a preacher who talked a LOT about money!) was that the use of our money is the BEST indicator of a person’s discipleship. In Matthew chapter 6 he tells us that where we put our money is where our hearts will be. So to determine what is really important to us and what it is that we value and trust the most, we have simply to ask ourselves the question, “Where do we put our money?”

So preachers talk about money.

And, just in case you think that your church doesn’t need to grow in this area of discipleship, I challenge you to do a little research and a little math.

Take a couple minutes and Google the average household income for your area (county, city…whatever). I did it for Colerain Township. Then check how many households would be considered members of your church. Multiply the average income with the number of church households and you’ll have something close to the total income of your church family.

Now I realize that the tithe was an Old Covenant requirement and we’re now under grace. I get that. But the point of the whole tithe thing was for us to learn that God really owns everything anyway. So, for convenience sake, let’s just start with a tenth. If everyone in your church gave a tithe, one tenth of the household income, what could your church budget be? I don’t care if you calculate it on gross or net, I’d be willing to bet your church budget is nowhere close to what it could be under those conditions. Imagine the good that could be done in your community if that were to happen.

So, do preachers talk too much about money?

It would seem not.

Lloyd