Money Talks. God Talks.

Hey readers, check out this interview:

First, let me tell ya, Cool J and I are not homies so I don’t know how else he elaborates on his point. But I like what I hear so far, and here’s my own spin: Even if we tried to take care of every need we have in life, we get to a point where we reach our limit.  We just can’t anymore. Tithing is one way we say to God–“Okay–take it–you be in charge. I’ll do it your way”–and let Him sort out the details we don’t know how to sort out

In the book of Malachi, God spoke to the Israelites about tithing, saying, “Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.”

There was a time in my life where I tithed faithfully, another time in my life when I didn’t. Getting back on track with tithing was another leap of faith that God was going to come through for us come hell or high water. And He did. He does. I have friends who talk about God’s crazy math–how they give faithfully and then are somehow, miraculously, able to pay all their bills at the end of the month when the money just hadn’t been there. That’s his crazy faithfulness right there. Him proving himself. God talking.

Tithing: effective strategy for life? Think on it!

The Scary Part of Being Authentic

There are a lot of days I feel pretty lousy about myself. I struggle with my frustrations, insecurities, and failures, and even sometimes I wonder if people will find out I’m a fake. I don’t mean fake in that I am imitating something I am not, but fake as in I’m not what others may think I am. I’ve come to realize that it is easy to look at someone and assume they have everything together, but the sad truth is that hardly any of us have it together at all. I grow really tired when I feel that I need to keep it all together.

When I feel like a screw up or a failure what I like to do is to be around life giving people. To spend time with people that will encourage me. People that believe in me, and actually know me well. It’s easy to get encouragement from people that aren’t that close to you. Especially in our social media world where we only put our best face to the public. It’s more difficult to hear from people that know you well. One of my bucket list items is to be a hero in my own house. I want the people that are closest to me to respect me the most. A few months ago I sat with a new friend and we were talking about his father-in-law who is a fairly well known and respected man. As my friend talked about his father-in-law he said, “He is one of the best people I know.” I love that. I love that this man is known as an incredible guy from his son-in-law. How hard is that?

The other thing I like to do when I feel lousy is to actually open the Bible. Strange, right? I like to look at who God says I am. The Bible reveals so many things about who we are when we become new in Christ. He says that we are more than conquerors and that He is for us (Romans 8:31-39). This also implies how valuable we must be to Him. No one goes out of their way to pay a huge price for something that they don’t value very much. When I realize that even though I screw up and often fail, He still looks at me as his child and counts me as valuable. This changes everything. It changes my perspective on my day. And it changes how I look at myself. I no longer feel lousy, but confident–with a confidence that comes from someone that knows me better than anyone else.

And by the way, I need this reminder daily, because that’s how often I screw up. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. Join me in engaging the Bible to see what God has to say about us.

Bittersweet End of a Series

CHRISTIAN fb 2I must confess that my wife and I are frequent Netflix users. In fact we have watched multiple shows from season one episode one to finishing what is provided on Netflix from that particular show. It is a weird sadness that happens when we get near the end. It’s almost like I want it to finish, but I don’t want it to be done either. Sometimes I’ll even avoid watching the last episode just so it’s not over yet. I recently did that for almost 6 months I left the final episode of Sherlock sitting there just waiting to be watched before I finally finished it. I kind of felt this same way with Rich’s “Christian” sermon series at Lc. I enjoyed it so much, but I just didn’t want it to be over. I feel like it is causing serious growth in me as I attempt to live as a disciple of Jesus.

This series really challenged us to live out our faith more as we walk through our weekly routines, and share the love of Jesus with those around us. This series was pretty basic, but also very powerful. It has been one of my favorites that Rich has done, and if you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend you downloading the podcast. I know our new series is going to be great too, but just like finishing a show on Netflix I’m a little sad for this one to be done.

-AK

Grace vs. Truth

CHRISTIAN fb 2The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This idea that Rich spoke on (Christian: Part 5) two weeks ago of living a life full of grace and yet full of truth is so hard for me. As I sat in my small group discussing this idea, I realized how much I have changed over the past five years. Five years ago I would have described myself as more of a truth person. For me this meant many things were very black and white and clear cut. On the negative end of this I was left a little jaded and legalistic. I was zealous and wanted to live righteously, but at the expense of sharing grace with those around me.

Now I would describe myself as more of a grace person. I love to share the love of Christ with those around me, and I’m not too thrown off by much of anything that people do anymore. I am constantly challenged with living in the tension of these two. Since I tend to lean more toward grace,  it’s good to recognize where I am and try to live in the tension more.

Where do you live? What do you struggle with on either side of this? The tension is where we should live. The tension is good.

-AK

The Whole Truth

CHRISTIAN fb 2

I’m outing myself today: I was the kind of “Christian” in high school that wasn’t all that fun to be around. Don’t get me wrong: I was a zealous teenager for Jesus. And I was nice. But boy was I eager when it came to my opinions about my fellow high-schoolers and their wayward ways.  I was worried about their promiscuity, smoking, drug use, and R-rated movie watching because those things were just bad.  And they were bad people for doing them. Of course, there were other bad things in the world (this was the early 90s) that Bill Clinton and Janet Reno were doing, and the world was just going to hell in a handbasket, according to all of the conservative pundits I listened to (with my high school’s a/v staffperson, in his office, over lunchtime. Whaaa??).

I was a good girl. I loved Jesus. But I was so worked up about all the wrong in the world that a guy friend of mine (with whom I was doing the evangelical teenager’s equivalent of dating) and I decided to start an underground newsletter at my high school. The Whole Truth, we called it. Time blurs the details for me, but I’m pretty sure we mentioned our displeasure about Janet and Bill, Roe v. Wade, the ERA and a whole host of hot topics related to high school life (side note: not all high school opinions carry over to the present day!). I thought we were really brave for publishing this little front-and-back sided slip of paper that told everyone else my opinions about how they should live. I thought I was courageous and sacrificial, spending my Saturday afternoons sweating over a fidgety church photocopier, making copies to distribute covertly throughout the school on Monday mornings. My elders thought so, too. They applauded me, patted me on the back.  We all thought I might just change the world with the truth I was peddling.

But here’s the whole truth: I’m pretty sure most of the students in my high school thought (at best) that my little newsletter and its various judgments about them and the world we lived in were just plain irrelevant. At worst, I’m sure I came across as unloving and dishonoring. And all my pundit regurgitations did nothing to point anyone to Jesus (the coolest guy ever) who, I’ve since come to believe, is not all that interested in my fretting about anyone else’s behavior. In Paul’s famous epistle to the Corinthians, he made mention of those outside the fellowship of faith, asking: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders?” Meaning, people who aren’t followers of Jesus are following a different code.   Meaning, they didn’t necessarily sign up for this life of faith and its inherent sacrifices and costliness and moral dilemmas.  What business did I have spending so many of my waking hours condemning the way they chose to use their freedom? How was that gonna change the world?

My high-school self left a bad taste in the mouths of unbelievers. Christian? Ick. I wasn’t all that good at love. Mix-your-life-up-with-someone-else’s-life love.  And not just someones that looked and thought like me, but someones of different color, nationality, language, gender, orientation, class, and faith.

Christian: It’s Not What You Think is the name of our current Sunday series.  It took me a long time to figure out what Christian wasn’t, and I’m ever in awe of the endless ways that LOVE, our greatest currency as believers, can utterly transform the darkest of places and situations, and lighten the minds and hearts of those carrying a heavy weight.

-HW