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Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Fluff and other random happenings

Hello! Happy Friday!

As I was packing to go to Texas, Lauren filled several of my kitchen towels with ice from the ice maker. I have no idea why....maybe she heard we were going somewhere warm and wanted to bring the cold with her!


One of our Team Allegan Motorsports riders is absolutely adorable- well they all are, but this one was so funny the other day.
He’s 5 years old and ripping it up in his class. He’s a natural rider and fast as fast can be. This is his first National race, and he got 2nd place even after he fell.
Of course we’re all very excited and he’s getting high fives, fist bumps and lots of hugs when he comes back to the trailer. Then he looks at his Dad and with incredible enthusiasm says, “Dad, I’m just warming up for the Nationals!”
He has no idea that he’s AT the Nationals!!! I mean, dealers are lining up to sign this kid, he’ll probably be in MX Magazines for this and he thinks he’s at practice.
We all laughed so hard!


Ok, here’s some-not so fluffy talk, more like a Hot Topic…

Our evenings have opened the door for some good “talking” around here lately. The conversation so often comes around to the Lord which is so cool.
But, I have to tell you, I’m really grieved about something.
I can’t tell you how often, and it happened again yesterday, that the conversations takes this turn…. "I used to go to church and really loved it but I got so tired of them talking about and asking for my money.”

I’m not kidding, I think it is at least half of my conversations with people not in church.

This is a great guy. Good honest person, loves his kids and family…and loved his church. UNTIL it seemed to become all about money.

How about you, have you experienced this also?
I have. Maybe that’s why it bothers me so.

I know churches need money to operate, we have helped plant one church and then planted a second with my husband being senior pastor. Thankfully, we were in a position to pastor without taking a paycheck and thereby relieving a lot of the financial pressure of the church. But, I think we all know that this problem is generally not related to necessary operating expenses.

Let me step up on my soapbox now and tell you, I don’t think it will be tolerated much longer. I believe a shift is coming in the body of Christ.
Forget the bells and whistles, give me what’s REAL.

People are leaving churches because of the greed…this should NOT be.

James 1:27
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

And what about this one…

James 2:2-4
2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"
4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

You know what I love about being out here? It is that, nobody pretends. It is what it is. They are real. Give me a real sinner over or fake Christian anyday.

On the other side of this…most of them leave those churches because they realize that it is not what it is supposed to be. They see the counterfeit for what it is. They know that Jesus is not like that.
So, we may not be able to change all that, but we can start with ourselves…let’s live real, and let’s pray.

2 Chron 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Our hope is in Him!


Stop by and enter the drawing for March!


concerned parent said...

P.S. I was just getting to the post, glad to see it is working for you today at the track.

Praise and Coffee said...

I just finished it this morning, so don't worry about it! Thank you!!!
Love and miss ya,

Anonymous said...

The bigger the church...the more programs created...the more money needed...the less personal it becomes...and people can come and go and not be noticed. sadly it can become just "what we do on Sunday's" rather than a vital part of our lives...

I really think that so many have lost sight of what our calling is as a body. There's really very little personal investment in others lives. Churches many times are run by the "faithful few"! Our self centered society is influencing the church, and we have become a self centered church. How sad, huh? It really should be the other way around.

Why invest our money into something we have no ownership in?

Sue, we live on a "Christian College" campus, and we are seeing the fruit of this mentality in our students. It is so sad. Each year the spiritual climate declines. We are seeing the fruit of what is coming out of families and churches of today.

I become more burdened each day by what we are seeing.

That is why your ministry to women, via internet, is sooooo important. Dont you feel like you are living in a time when you have to just "put it out there" boldly? You are doing a great job being faithful.
Keep it up!!!

Rhonda said...

Sue - I'm so glad that you were where God needed you to be. That man needed an understanding listener. It's great to hear of how God is using you in this new season that you are in.

Anonymous said...

I agree... there does seem to be a growing increase in money "issues" within the church, and I hate that feeling of guilt that I cannot do more, you know? It makes me want to just throw my hands up and give up. Thankfully I know that God appreciates what I can do and loves me regardless of my monetary situation!

Anonymous said...

We went to a weekend religious convention, and didn't attend it all because all they seem to talk about was $$. I have come to the point that I give what I want and feel led to give and then don't worry about it. I really feel like God dealt with me on this subject, I had to realize that HE was the source of all I have. Not me. I don't think my comment makes much sense and I don't want to write a novel on your comments section :)
Have a great weekend!

Naomi Dalton said...

We are to give out of a grateful and cheerful heart, if people are getting frustrated with giving to the church, because all they do is ask for money, then they need to keep their money. I have been to 3 different churches in my christian walk, obviously one being Mark and yours but every church I have been to they talk up offerings, they take the tithes. We are called as Christians to give all we have to God and that includes our money. Our church now, we do tithes, we do offerings, and we also give when missionaries come, we give on missionary Sunday which is the second Sunday of every Month. Do I Have to give, NOPE, do I willingly give out of a grateful and cheerful heart because God has given me so much,so that I have all the promises that are stated in the Bible and that includes eternal life. My Pastor talks about reaping a harvest in due season, and putting our faith out and believing God will meet all of our needs accordign to His riches and Glory. There are too many people that want to go to church and get offended when Pastors, preachers, Teachers start talking about money. We live in a materialistic, selfish, self seeking world and instead of giving to the church, they spend all their money on possesions that they cant even take with them anyways. I would rather give all my money to the church, than buy something else I will just be bored with in a month anyways and go and then have to go out and but something else to meet my selfish need because I am not satisfied.I am not saying God doesnt want us to have nice things, because I think it is a good witness to this lost and dying world that We do live like were Heirs to the Throne and that God does fulfill His Word but I do think that there are Christians out there that take it way to far. Example, 24 Carat Gold toilet seat. Thats foolish spending! We are to be wise and good stewards with our money.

I truly believe that you can tell alot about the condition of a persons heart towards money when you look at their checkbook, heart that from some wise Pastors, so their must be some truth in that.

I do get sick of people using that excuse, they dont go to church, because all the church does is ask for money. What is the alternative, live in this world and go to Hell. The bible says Dont forsake the gathering of the saints. Do you have to attend a church I believe so, The church, holds people accountable, the fellowship, the purpose for the church is to win the lost and see souls come to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for discipleship, for training, helping the Pastor fulfill the vision that they have for the Church, help feed the poor, etc etc

I dont mean to offend anybody but I truly believe that God is starting to shake this nation and with the economy being the way it is, we as Christians have nothing to fear because if we are faithful with the little things, including our tithes and offerings, if we will be faithful with the little we have than we will be faithful with much that God will gives us.

The shaking is not just in the area of our finances, but also in our dedication to the teaching of Gods word. Are we going out and witnessing? Are we living Gods word for the World to see? Are we only a Sunday morning Christian or on Monday are we diving deep into Gods word.

You can see by all the events that are going on with this crazy weather, to the school shootings, to scandals, that God is doing some shaking up and we as Christians need to continue to be in prayer and Gods word.

As I said I am sorry in advance If I offend anybody that is my two cents!

Anonymous said...

God calls us to be faithful with our money, giving of the tithe is an act of faith and I think every church needs to preach it from the pulpit, they are doing a disservice to their people if they don't!

I believe it is a cop out for people to state that they leave the church because it is all about money, if it is not money than it is the music or the people, etc, etc - it is simply an excuse to not go to church. And the devil likes to work our minds into a tissy so that we are convinced that the church asking for money is offensive and wrong. We as God's people need to do what God calls us to do, if that is to give on top of the tithe than give, if not than don't give, BUT give the tithe, we can't afford not to.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Oh how I agree!!!! This is a HOT button for me my friend.

Currently, our church is going through a build fundraiser program and every week...we hear about how we need to be sacrificing in our giving..and then throw into the mix that on a couple of Sundays, everyone had to bring their pledge card to the front of the church....(during the service) and my heart hurt...for those who might not be able to make a pledge.

I also agree that the church as we know it is making some major shifts. And they aren't good shifts.

Currently, I'm working on part II of what Ashley shared when she spoke in church...and I'm going to be addressing issues, just as you've shared.

Bless your sweet heart...for being so bold.


elizabeth embracing life said...

Blessings, I am a new reader. I think when a church lacks accountability you will see more scrutinizing of "money is just being taken". My husband and experienced that in a church. Thousands spent on projects. Who approved this? Private board and elders? No voting, no mentors and accountability. Pretty soon you just get up and go and realize it's more about strategies, and impressions. Which is so not Jesue. Thanks for your insights.
p.s. we are in an amazing church and hand over our $$$ genrously as we see the call and mission of the church and the missions is outstanding too.

happygeek said...

My hubby and I were talking about this VERY thing last night.
I think it goes without saying that believers NEED to give. It is part of our worship. All of our money belongs to God. It is also what pays the pastor, turns on the lights, etc.
HOWEVER, I can see how much the emphasis on money would turn off an unbeliever, ESPECIALLY when they see the great need of the world around them and yet the church in which they are sitting has marble tiles, mahogany wood, and the very very latest in technology.
We are not to be like the world, but we are to be a light for the lost. Sometimes this means we may need to shift our priorities so they can see Jesus and not just our outstretched hand.

Praise and Coffee said...

Let me clarify...I am not against Biblical teaching on money in the church!!!! :)

I am greived by the emphasis ON giving your money TO the church.
The 20 minute mini-sermon each week that tells you why you need to give your money to the church.

Money, though it is a huge concern is not the only concern. Marriages are struggling like crazy but I have never heard of a church that gives you 20 minutes a week on what the Word of God says to husbands, wives and parents. Isn't that just as important???

My point here is that in many- NOT ALL churches, there is a huge emphasis on money because it is be blatantly misused. It is driven by greed.

Again, this is not all churches, but I have personally talked with many who have run into this at church. That is not their fault, and it's not an excuse...these people want to serve the Lord but are feeling manipulated.

My feeling is that if you teach people to live like Jesus and seek Him...they will be like Him and give! They will give at home, in their neighborhood, at their workplace, at their churches....they will be givers, just like Jesus and of course His Father! It's a natural response. won't just be money they will be time and things.

This should not be a point of contention. We all should want the bride to be holy and accountable.

I personally don't believe that we should live by the tithe. As New Testament believers, we are called to cheerfully give what we purpose in our heart to give. Personally that ends up being a lot more than 10%. We are not under that law anymore. Grace is so much better!!!
But that will not be "argued" on this forum, go ahead and do that on your own blog! :)

I welcome ALL your comments, whether you agree or disagree, you will not offend me. But please don't do them anonymously, it seems so argumentative that way.

Susan said...

Even on your Friday Fluff you come forth with good stuff. I am so glad I can say our church is NOT like that but I hear you and know of many that are. The time of phoniness is going to quickly come to a halt. They are deceiving themselves as much as they are deceiving others!!!!

Sheila said...

I agree, it is a big problem.

As a former church secretary and check write, I worked for a pastor who was all about the money. Everything became about the money. I eventually left the church as there were other curruptions going on. Yes churches need money, but there are ways they can cut back.

A pastors job is 24/7, but many have an "outside" job where they get their income (as does my best friend's husband).

Paula said...

YES!! this is happening in our church too. Last year they did a series of sermons relating to tithing right before giving a bunch of the staff raises.

sharon brobst said...

I am so thankful we attend a church where money is rarely spoken of...even in the midst of needing to build a larger church. And yet we always have more than we need, we have property that's paid for, no debt and pay our staff a fair wage.

Sue I have heard some of the same things you posted and my heart aches. I can only trust that God will discipline those that need it-for clearly greed is a sin and I can't imagine God allowing any sin to continually destroy His name, especially when it comes from His own.

Praise and Coffee said...

That is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

Fran said...

I'll get on that soapbox any day with you Sue! Be real and authentic. Its the only way to be free and bring others to Jesus!!

Thanks for another GREAT post!

Denise C said...

SO glad you are having such a fabulous time in Texas....and that you are able to talk with others about Jesus! Way to go girl! Also that Sweet LAuren is so precious packing up all the ice in your very cute!!
How is the daddy that was involved inthe wreck doing now? We've been faithfully lifting him in prayer here!!!
HAve a most wonderful weekend....and HAppy MX racing to you my friend! (I still think you should come to Muddy Creek!!!hee-hee)
Love ya,

Mocha with Linda said...

I hear you, and sadly, many have hurt the cause of Christ because of their mishandling of the issue of money, both televangelists and local churches. Just as so-called Christians who kill doctors hurt the sincere efforts of those who long to end abortion.

But I do think people get more easily offended at this than at other areas. I really like how our church handles the offering. They make a point many Sundays of saying that the basket is just for members and regular attenders, asking visitors to only put in their prayer requests or visitor's card.

But in Membership Classes our pastor does make an interesting point. Folks don't think twice about signing up for sports, the gym, etc. and forking over money for uniforms, concessions, and all manner of items. But they want to come to church for free.

And yes, the tithe was an OT concept. In Acts the believers shared everything they had.

What's the answer? If I knew I'd be a rich woman giving seminars to churches! LOL It's kind of a chicken & egg conundrum: preachers ask for money because people don't give, and people don't give because they get tired of preachers asking for money.

The bottome line is that giving is an action. And we can't address any actions until we address the heart. If folks' hearts are truly right with God, they will be giving. It will flow out naturally.

Sorry for the long comment! This was definitely not fluff!

And loved the ice cubes in the towels story! What did she ever do with them? Did you have a soaking mess to clean up?

Anonymous said...

Great post. And great comments. I especially agree with the last one that mentioned that we need to first look at our hearts! Why do we give, or not give?

I recall when our home church began a building drive and my husband and I spent a fair amount of time discussing what we thought we could and should give. Apparently our children were listening. Because they asked if they could also make a pledge -- after all, they said, it's our church, too! So, rather than go for a periodic happy meal, they asked us to give them THAT money to honor their pledge. Even a child will find a way once their hearts are attuned to the Lord! The size of the gift wasn't the important fact...their willingness to give to THEIR church was heartwarming for us to observe. (They also mentioned this idea to their little friends...)

(OFF TOPIC: please check my March 16 post for a little task for you, if you're willing...)

Susan Skitt said...

Ah your little Lauren dear, how cute!

About giving to the Lord's work, I think much of our money issues stem right to the heart. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be.

I pray that this man and others like him will find a good, Bible believing church where the Word is taught and the church supports wide reaching missions...

Michelle said...

I truly believe that we are to give our first fruits to the Lord. Not what we may have left over. It is all God's and by faith, we give what He has asked us to give in his word. When I started doing this, I was amazed at how the Lord provided and blessed us.

Kimberly said...

Wow! This is such a big topic, and such an important one! My husband and I believe in tithing. We love to give to missions or to whatever the Lord lays on our hearts. But I, too, grow very uncomfortable with the twenty minute mini-sermons about money! I know how much that does turn off unbelievers and believers.
Should the church never ask for money? Of course not! Should pastors totally avoid sermons on finances? NO. But, let's not beat people over the head every week. Let the need be known and give it to God to work in the hearts of the people. You know, let the Holy Spirit do His job. :)
Thanks for opening this up. Blessings, Sue!

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