Category Archives: Cultural Issues

Resource with a Purpose

Money is, has always been, and always will be a hot topic.  In fact, while I don’t know the number of times money is discussed in Scripture, I do know that Jesus talked more about money than He taught about heaven and hell combined.  Money is mentioned at least 100 times through Scripture, if not more.  I feel as though many Christ followers shy away from talking about money because “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10).  Far too often, however, we read that verse to say that “money is evil”, and leave out some necessary qualifiers.

The thing is, money is not evil.  Can money cause evil, both by its influences on people and its effect in our own lives?  Absolutely.  But money can also cause good and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom, full of love and grace.  Money management is crucial, especially in this day and age, and especially in the life of a believer.  I don’t simply mean whether or not you’re giving back 10% of your resources, but money management in its entirety.

I remember hearing when I was growing up that you could tell a lot about a person based on where they spent their money.  I never gave too much thought about it, except for the extreme cases, such as those who spend all their money on drugs, the lottery, etc.  The fact of the matter is that you can tell a lot about a person based on how their spend their money.  And 10% isn’t enough to tell whether or not you’re honoring God with your resources.  The other 90% is just as important!

I’m not going to tell you how to spend or save your money today, though there are plenty of sound Christian resources out there to help with that (i.e. Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey).  I write today to simply ask you to evaluate how you use the resources God gave you.

Living in 2012 America can be very difficult to use our money wisely and in such a way that honors God.  I have always been adamant about tithing based on Scripture’s command.  I have also always had a desire to save my money and remain debt free.  But that doesn’t make it easy to honor God with my resources.  And I would even say that I have failed at doing so at times.  I have sacrificed saving for ChickfilA and ice cream, for instance.. many times!

Upon some self thought this past weekend, I came to the realization that Jason and I haven’t been as wise or God-focused with our resources as we had hoped.  While our desire has been to bless others (including our future children by saving), our focus has been more on our current quality of life and quite self-focused.  I know that we have made it on much less financially, yet we are not saving now in proportion to the resources we have.

I ask you today to step back and really analyze where you’re at.  Are your resources devoted to living well?  Are they devoted to serving others in your sphere of influence?  Are they devoted  saving and growing more resources with the future in mind?  Are you seeking the American Dream or God’s dream for your life?  Let’s not hoard our resources for ourselves, filling our lives with things that lack purpose.  Rather, let’s take control of our resources and use them to bless the church, serve others, and establish security for our families for generations to come!

-Alicia

Have any practical ways to be frugal or honor God better with your money?  Please take the time to comment below.

Feels Like Home

My View of Philly

I am one of those people that can get far more accomplished in a place that is neither my home nor my office.  For some reason going into a Starbucks gets my creative juices going.  Sometimes it seems like I could do more work in two hours at a Starbucks that I could in eight hours in an office.  It might be the soothing mix of Hugh Laurie and Bob Marley, the warming tones of browns and oranges, or the scent of coffee that infuses into the leather of my Bible.  I love coffeeshops and they are everywhere.

The problem is, my wife and I have been roaming around the city of Philadelphia looking for a good combination of atmosphere, coffee, and free wifi to no avail.  We wanted to find something with the comfort of Starbucks without it actually being Starbucks.  I don’t know why this task is seemingly impossible but after over an hour of searching we settled on, Starbucks.

The fact of the matter is that Starbucks has created an unparalleled atmosphere that invites you in.  I always know that if I need a place to sit and unwind, there will be a Starbucks close-by that will welcome me with open arms!

When Howard Schultz took over the company we all know and love, his goal was to create a place where people could come, meet, and live in community together.  I think all of us in ministry would say that in an ideal world, we want to create a place that welcomes and encourages community.

Is it just me, or is the church the last place you go to just relax?  Many of our churches are lavished with decorations that we would never surround ourselves with.  Some people may be thinking, “I’m not hiring an interior decorator for our church”, but I would ask why not?  More often than not, it seems that churches are trying to create home based groups because the church is an uncomfortable place for people to be.  People want to go to homes because homes lend themselves to transparency, comfort, and good food!  Churches want to build community, but yet we fail to provide a comfortable place to land.

Our ministry needs to be a place where people feel welcomed, loved, and free to relax and be themselves.  We want people to equate church with home.  We want people who want to be a part of what our church has to offer.  What is the atmosphere of your ministry?

-Jason

Communication in the Information Age

While most girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day, I grew up dreaming about my marriage.  I am also thankful for parents who taught me what it was like to love in a marriage relationship, unconditionally.  Did they make mistakes?  Sure.  But they also set an incredible example for me to follow in my marriage relationship with Jason.  One thing that is especially important, and probably the biggest thing I have learned after 1 1/3 years of marriage (and still have TONS to learn), is communication.

Communication is probably the hardest thing any adult will face – whether in marriage, parenting, at work, or with friends.  People often don’t know what to say or when to say it.  People say things without thinking and then kick themselves afterwards for sounding dumb.  Worse, some people don’t communicate at all.  Communication is an art.  It takes time and skill to learn.  Communication is vital, not only in marriage, but in youth ministry as well.  Let me explain.

Today’s teenagers are bombarded with a crazy amount of information on a constant basis.  Facebook and Twitter are discussed most, but what about Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, numerous blogs, etc.  The list seems endless, and continually growing.  Many teens even struggle with making eye contact in a conversation because they’re so used to looking down at their phones or “off in the distance” as they do with video games, etc.  The effects of constant information is heavily debated in today’s culture.  Some argue that it is a blessing, because this generation is more connected and able to process information faster.  However, it is in some ways a curse, because this generation is also not learning how to communicate for all its worth.

It’s up to us, as parents, leaders, and other influencers in teenagers’ lives, to not allow this to happen.  I would argue that this information age is a blessing.  It is only a curse if we let it be.  We are setting the tone, whether we realize it or not.  Do you have a problem having lunch with somebody and not checking your phone?  Chances are, your kids are picking up on the fact that you are inseparable from your phone.  We need to learn to unplug and engage with people.

Not only are we teaching them by example, but we are teaching them by the way we engage with them personally.  If the only way you communicate with your kids or teens in your ministry is through social media or from the platform, then things need to change.  Take them out for coffee, or even pull them aside now and again.  Have a real conversation with them, look them in the eye, ask intentional questions, and expect in-depth answers.  How we communicate with our kids will effect how they will communicate in the real world – in their marriage, in their work place, and with their friends.  Lets set a new trend of true and open communication.  It could change the world!

-Alicia

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