What has influenced you more, the culture or God’s Word? Don’t you just hate questions like that? You see, our lives give testimony to what is the greater influence; to whom we are actually listening to. John 8:32 is one of the verses I rehearse over and over again in my words and heart. The big question for most, however, is what constitutes “truth”.Read More
Weekday Musings with Pastor Brian
Whoa... Two posts in one week. What's going on? Actually, I want to share an excellent article I received from Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway, prior pastor, and seminary professor, on: Nine Concerns about Church Members Who Withhold Their Financial Gifts. If you're a pastor, you've experienced it.
May I say, “Oy Vey!” My last musing was right before I left for vacation in August. It has been an unusually busy time. I have stated that I feel like the proverbial one-legged man in a kicking contest, and I’m not really winning :-( (By the way, I heard that line from a movie - who’s title I cannot remember - years ago) Recently several people have been asking me, “Are you going to do another musing?”
Priorities are an interesting thing. Sometimes they get held hostage by the tyranny of the urgent. And sometimes we don’t even know what they should be. And we could also say, that sometimes life has a way of happening. I’m still trying to figure out where the tire-tracks on my time came from… But I probably don’t need to look any further than my mirror.
This Sunday I am really looking forward to sharing the message, “Will YOU Be A Committed Church Member”. Speaking of priorities, it was a few years ago, while on sabbatical, that the importance of membership in a biblical church really began to set home with me. I began to see that like so many, I had adopted a rather laid back attitude regarding it, when I don’t think God feels that way at all. There were some things we needed to get at first, like organizing discipleship and seeing where we were as a church. But teaching this, getting at the heart of what the Bible teaches about membership was very much on my heart and mind.
Sunday I will be teaching from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, and I will be wrapping up this short, but vitally important series. I will also be presenting our “almost final draft” of our new Membership Covenant. It is updated to reflect who and what we are as a church body, and what we practice. You will then have a month or so to weigh in and discuss it with me, Pastor John, or one of our Deacons or ministers.
I just wrapped up my message for October 11th. I am back in 1 John, and its a doozey. Both this week and next I will speak briefly to the topic Pastor John spoke on this past Sunday - Church Discipline. I believe what I have to share will help make further sense of a often misunderstood and often controversial topic. But the main thrust of my message will be on “Hope”… or more to the point, “Biblical Hope.”
It’s been hard for me to keep up with what’s coming up, but the insanity of September is giving way to a bit calmer October. This Saturday, weather and hurricane permitting, I hope you can join us for a hike on Peter’s Mountain. Ice cream afterwards has always been a big lure for me. Just saying :-) Should we get rained out, look for this the following Saturday… we hope.
We have baptisms this Sunday - maybe three of them! Cool! And mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 21st. We are having a fall picnic. Again, weather permitting, our plan is to cook up some burgers and dogs, share some pot-luck items, cook some S’Mores over a bon-fire, and generally have a good time hanging out and enjoying church family. Don’t hesitate to invite friends.
Blessings to you all, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Over the years I too have taken the busy vacations; traveling here and there, doing this and that. I’ve stressed over packing, connections, directions, and the costs. I’ve done some really fun things, and gone to some wonderful places; but I also remember the many times I returned from my “vacation” utterly worn out… not to mention a whole lot “broker”...Read More
Every time I take my dog, Buddy, out for a walk, I look around to see if our “neighborhood bear” is around. A few weeks ago a momma bear and her two cubs were in our back yard going after bird feeders. It was beyond amazing…Read More
I am actually old enough to remember doing some “duck and cover” drills when I was an elementary aged student outside of Washington, DC. The idea, as I recall the drills, was that in the event of a surprise nuclear attack, we were to duck under our desks and cover ourselves in order to help us survive.Read More
When Compromise Isn't Worth It
An article in PennLive today caught my attention; here is the opening paragraph: “CALAIS, Maine (AP) — A young man who was drinking and celebrating the Fourth of July tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, fatally injuring himself…” What would possess someone to do such a thing? I’m going to use a word that might seem out of place, “compromise”.Read More
Ready or Not; Everything Just Changed
Friday, June 26th, was a defining moment for our country. Ignoring 6000 years of historical tradition and understanding, the Supreme Court redefined marriage. Rather than interpreting the law, which is their constitutional mandate, they chose to create law in order to affect this. But this hasn’t been the first time, and we can be certain it won’t be the last.Read More
Are Police Out of Control?
Baltimore, Denver, Cleveland, Ferguson, South Carolina, and our own Hummelstown. Each of these has been in the news because of police shootings. Some have sparked massive riots and criticism of police being out-of-control, and bringing into questions the use of deadly force among police. Just the other day a video went viral, where it showed a police officer throwing down a young African American teen and forcefully holding her down. So… Just what is going on? Have our police gone rogue? Are they out-of-control? Should we take their guns away from them?Read More
Our Desperate Need for Biblical Men
With all the social changes going on in our world (just look at the news over the past few months… and days), with how Hollywood portrays most men, with the rise of radical feminism, and with the lack of strong biblical teaching and leadership in so many churches, it is really hard to be man… a biblical man.Read More
Over the past few weeks I have been in prayer for the Supreme Court and our country as they consider whether or not to fly in the face of about 6000 years of history in redefining marriage for America. Given the trajectory of culture, morality, ethics, and misplaced values and priorities in our nation in just my 58 years of life...Read More
Maybe you’re old enough to remember the Newlywed game when it was on TV. Last weekend Jean and I were blessed to attend a Pastor and Wife Retreat through our State Convention. On Friday night we had a special evening with our spouses where we renewed our vows with re-written vows. Don’t tell anyone, but we actually danced…Read More
This past Saturday Jean and I were blessed to attend a banquet for Bridge of Hope, a wonderful Christian ministry that helps single moms and families get back on their feet through Christ-centered assistance, training, and mentoring. When a woman goes through their program, many times they are in need of a vehicle in order to secure and keep a job. And that is where our very own Joe Stiles comes in.Read More
What To Do With The "C and E's"
Every year we hear comments about the ubiquitous “C and E Christians”; a.k.a. “Submarine Christians”, and I’m sure a host of other names. You know… the folks that often come for Christmas and Easter, but seldom if ever come any other time of the year. Fact is, we “regulars” can get quite judgmental about them. If that happens to be our own heart and attitude, shame on us.Read More
Netanyahu and God’s Sovereignty! I happen to appreciate historical irony; I’ve been reading a lot of it in my study of the Gospel of John. For several weeks now I’ve been hearing and reading from most news and media sources that P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel didn’t really have a chance of being reelected; he was trailing in the polls; and even our own administration was working hard to get him defeated. So how did that work out?Read More
Since Sunday, I have been quite occupied with thoughts and prayers of and for unity. I pray for it often for our church. It’s a much bigger deal, and far more fragile than many, if not most of us realize. Over my years of life and ministry, I have witnessed far too many occasions where there was little or no unity… and my reflections on those memories are always sad. I know of churches, even denominations where there was little or no unity, or where unity was perverted.Read More
When you worship, do you freely give of yourself to God, or do you hold something back? Do you have to sit on your hands, or do you refrain from singing or uttering praises to God… because of what others might think? Do traditions rule your heart, or does your God?Read More
This week I’d like to share a guest musing from one of our church planters, Pastor John Weathersby of Transcend Church. Pastor John is the most socially networked pastor I have ever known. He navigates Facebook, Twitter, and more even better than I can find my way to Cracker Barrel. Many have been reached by him, and he has used social networking as tool to share the gospel.Read More
When we first moved up to PA from Florida, and into a single-family residence, I determined (after a few snowfalls) that it would be great to get a snow thrower. After last year’s crazy winter and snows, I determined that it would be good to get it back out and take care of the lesser snows. So we get one snow-fall this year, and I want to use it… but… ah… there’s no gas. And then we get another snow this week, and I have my next opportunity to crank up some mechanical implement of mayhem…Read More
Whoa… Two musings in one week. What’s going on? LOL! Maybe it is concern that I might not have time to write one while at the Counseling Conference. At any rate, I just received a very good article from Thom Rainer’s blog. Dr. Rainer is the President of Lifeway, a former pastor, and former professor at Southern Theological Seminary. I get these on a regular basis, and often find them intriguing, informative, and frequently on topics that I have either experienced, am concerned about, am currently, or have had to deal with. Today’s is one example.
Years ago, before becoming a Pastor, Jean and I had been sacrificially contributing above our weekly giving (often called a “tithe”) to the building fund campaign at our church. We had caught our Pastor’s vision for the property. Unfortunately some people in the church decided they didn’t like that vision, and vocally worked to change it. We became disheartened over it. After much prayer, we no longer felt we could contribute to the campaign; and we were even prayerfully concerned about staying in that church. But… all that said, we never stopped our weekly giving or even our benevolent giving; in our view, that was God’s money. We had come to understand that we gave to the Lord through our church, not necessarily to the church, or our pastor, or these folks who were hijacking his vision… if that makes sense. The only way we could stop that giving was if we had left and were giving to a new church. As my story goes, it was actually in short order that God called me to pastor a church; and we then gave to it.
So… have you ever known someone who was ticked off, or upset over this or that, or someone, and determined that they were going to stop their regular giving to their church… that they were going to withhold it? What are we to make of that? I confess, I have actually learned of people over the years who have done just that. And while I realize now that some may have done so out of ignorance of Scripture; I did think less of them. What about you?
Below is Thom’s article. Let me know your thoughts. And by the way, Dr. Rainer’s Blog is an excellent and thought provoking one. You might want to check it out and sign-up for it.
Always looking to sharpen us up as we Grow in Grace.
By Thom S. Rainer
The story is too common, but I hear such stories repeatedly. My most recent conversation was with a church leader where an affluent church member offered to make a large contribution to the renovation of the worship center. He had one stipulation: the worship center had to be named in memory of his late mother. The leader politely declined. The affluent member did not make the donation. To the contrary, he began withholding all of his gifts to the church.
Almost every pastor and church leader has some story about members withholding their financial gifts as an act of protest about the direction of the church and its leadership. I have never known such a situation that had any positive affect. Such is the reason I offer nine concerns about this practice.
1 It assumes that we are the actual owners of our finances. That is unbiblical thinking. God gives to us everything we have. We are the stewards of these gifts. Such is the reason we use the word “stewardship.”
2 No church is perfect. If every member protested about an imperfection in a local congregation, no church would ever receive funds. This selfish act is not the way to resolve concerns.
3 This practice is divisive. One of the most precious resources of any congregation is unity. The withholding of financial gifts is an act of disunity and divisiveness.
4 It is controlling. The church member who withholds financial gifts seeks to get his or her way. Such is not the spirit of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
5 It is self-serving. When Paul penned 1 Corinthians 12, he emphasized how we are to function in the body of Christ. Our motive for serving is for Christ and others before ourselves.
6 It is demoralizing. Paul wrote in Romans 14:19, “So we must pursue what promotes peace and builds up one another.” This practice has the opposite effect.
7 It backs church leaders into a corner. Leaders have one of two options. They can yield to the church member and thus affirm a sinful practice. Or they can refuse to yield and continue the conflict that was started by the member. It is a lose-lose situation.
8 If the church member truly has serious disagreements with the direction of the church, he or she should pursue other paths. They can address their concerns with leaders in the church directly. If members still have serious concerns and no resolution seems possible, it may be best to go to another church. It is much healthier to give to another church than to withhold from your present church.
9 This practice never has a positive outcome. Even if the member gets his or her way, unity and trust are broken at many levels. The body of Christ is always wounded by this practice.
This topic is both sensitive and challenging. I certainly am not the fount of wisdom. Let me hear your thoughts and ideas.
The post Nine Concerns about Church Members Who Withhold Their Financial Gifts appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
What do you think… which is more important, our right to express ourselves, or our God-given mission to reach our world for Jesus Christ?
I shared this in response to some questions I received this week regarding some of the statements I made in my message on Sunday. My challenge is this, “Do we guard and filter - through our love for God and the lens of His Word - what we say, do, and share with the world around us?”Read More