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The Next Chapter

September 29th, 2013 Comments off

Celebration-Church-TX-logoI don’t write specifically about the church that I go to on purpose as I have never want to be confused as a representative of the church in an official capacity. I am breaking from that tradition today after viewing this morning’s message concerning the future vision of Celebration Church. I will sum up how I feel in these few words:

I am so proud to be a part of Celebration Church.

I believe that Pastor Joe is a true man of God who is willing to put everything on the line for the will of God for his life, his family, and for the church. As fast and big as the church has grown in the last 13 years God is still wanting to do more through Pastor Joe and Celebration Church and they are open to God doing it. Through the vision that Pastor Joe shared this morning he demonstrates his faith and determination in God’s will for Celebration Church. I believe that God is just getting started with Celebration and am excited to see the vision manifest.

My Next Chapter

Seeing Pastor Joe this morning ignited something on the inside of me concerning God’s vision for me and ultimately my family. Just as Pastor Joe is the leader of the church and his family I am the leader of my family. It is my responsibility to seek the vision/plan of God for my life and for my family, build my faith in regard to that vision, then communicate the vision to my family in order to allow God to manifest it.

In Pastor Joe’s message he mentioned all the great things that God has done in the church over the last 13 years. It included the different buildings and areas they moved to as they grew. Each time God would call them to stretch a little further, to take another step even though they had just finished taking one.

In my life I have been through a lot of different things over the last few years. It is tempting to say “I need to rest, I have been through so much” but no, God is only getting started in my life as well. It is weird but everything up until now feels like it was just preparation for this time in my life. Just like Celebration Church – I’m just getting started.

Where Do We Go From Here?

For Celebration Church we are taking the hill. Pastor Joe spoke about how someone before us made room for us at Celebration, now it is time for us to make room for someone to come after us. This calls for a new building that can accommodate more people and have better facilities for our kids. This is being done through the Forward campaign at the church.

In my life it is about spending some more time in prayer and in the word in order to bring clarity to the vision for my life. I know that I am not supposed to return to the life I had before. That chapter is over. This part of my life is a new and is barely getting started. I believe that God has vision for each of the different parts on my life such as family, finances, and ministry. I look forward to hearing the vision and seeing it manifest.

An Exciting Time to Be Alive

I love being a part of things that are alive and active such as Celebration Church. My life is also transforming and is becoming exciting once again. I look forward to the coming months and years as God’s plans unfold at Celebration Church and in my life as well.

Here’s a video of what the Forward campaign is about - For more room, for more children, and for more connections.

 

Growing in God by Getting Involved

June 29th, 2009 Comments off

growingOver 2 years ago I wrote a post on this blog on how I was stepping out and getting involved in church again. The ministry that I had volunteered for was the media ministry. I went to a meeting and even sat up in the media booth during a service to see how to operate their system for the projector.

I thought I was ready but it just wasn’t time.

The service that I sat in was the first and only service that I did anything in regard to the media ministry. I am not exactly sure why things did not work out, but I think there were still some areas in my life that God still needed to work on. It was kind of weird not being involved but I think you need to learn how to receive as a Christian and walk the walk before you can minster. So that is what I did. During that time my wife and I attended a couple of small groups so we still had fellowship and got to know people in the church. We are still involved with the small groups today.

Over the last six months due to some personal circumstances I saw the need to spend more time with God personally and began to do so. During that time I read the book Caught Between A Dream and A Job and am currently reading The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? In both of these books they talk about how God has a plan for your life and how you were created for a purpose. I believe both of these things and set out to see what it is that God has to do for me here on earth.

There are a couple of ways that I am seeking God in order to find out my purpose.

The first is that I am trying to spend time with Him daily and work on the areas that He shows me to work on. The bible says that if I draw close to Him that He will draw close to me. I figure the closer that I am to Him the more likely I am going to get a glimpse of what He has created me for.

The second thing that I am doing is opening myself to be used by Him at church. Before it was difficult with the kids and having to sit through services by myself and/or have my wife be by herself. This time around the church is a little more flexible in that you can tell them when you are available to work. My wife and I chose the same schedule for availability for Wednesdays every other week. We may be working in different ministries but we will still be able to be in service together in the weeks that we are not working. That works much better for us.

I also requested information on another ministry that is outside of regular services times. I will have to see what the commitment for that one is before I can say whether I can be involved in it.

I think things are different this time around because I do not feel compelled to get involved out of habit. I am getting involved because I desire to. I want to do my part no matter how small to make my church a better place so that hopefully others can get closer to God. We will see how it goes.

Tithing in the New Testament

December 4th, 2008 Comments off

tithe2The subject of tithing has come up again recently in my spiritual walk so I thought I would share what I believe God has been showing me.

I know for a fact that God had me not tithe for some time. I think the reason for it was that I had a wrong motivation and/or thought process about it. I believe I wrote a entry in my personal journal a week or two ago about wanting to tithe but then I dropped off in listening to The Word and that fizzled out. So here I am listening to it again and the biggest thing I feel coming at me is to start giving.

This is very different from what it has been.

Old Testament verses New Testament

To sum it up quickly tithing was an Old Testament law and is not clearly defined in the New Testament. The church as a whole preaches that you need to tithe or your are cursed. I do not believe this to be true. The Bible clearly states that Jesus fulfilled the law and that we are redeemed from it (Gal 3:13) – we are no longer under the law’s curse and we are not to live by the law.

If you think about it that same scripture does away with the 10 commandments as well. So does that mean that we can now go around robbing, killing, and stealing? No not really. Jesus gave us the new command which wraps all of these into one – Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). So instead of walking with God legalistically we are to walk with Him relationally. When we do that we do not rob, kill, or steal because we love our neighbor as we do ourselves. In other words we do not want someone to do that to us so we do not do it to them.

New Testament Application of the Law

In the same way that we would not do bad things to people because we would not want them done to us, we should do good things to people because we would want them to do that to us as well.

If I was a full time minister and I spent my days studying and spending time with God so that I could try to help people be closer to him I would hope that they would appreciate what I did for them. The New Testament is very clear in the scripture – A worker is worthy of their wages (Luke 10:7). Being a minister is not easy and I believe that they should be compensated accordingly. On the same note, church buildings do not build themselves and ministries do not get free utilities. They have to pay them just like you and I and that money has to come from somewhere.

For me, I have been at my church for some time and it has enriched my life. I know that I have NOT given back anywhere near to the proportion to what I have received from them. Despite that they still let me in the door.

I think that the natural process of growing in Christ will bring every Christian to the point where they will have to address tithing. Tithing is not a deal breaker with God. He loves us all and will continue to give and take care of us. But when we make a decision in our heart to give for the right reasons I believe that is pleasing to Him.

I see it the same way as the child that wants to follow in the same career path as their parent. It is not that the parent loves that child more then their one child that wants to do something different. It is that parent has a common interest with that child and that naturally draws them closer together.

People are at the center of God’s heart and getting the gospel to them is His chief objective. I believe the biggest reason the whole world isn’t saved and we aren’t all sitting in heaven right now is because there isn’t enough money to get the job done. I don’t want to hold that back.

Starting to Tithe in a Practical Manner

So now that I have the right motive in my heart and the green light from The Big Guy how do I start? The reality of the situation is that on paper I cannot afford to tithe. My mind says “Wait until you get money/raise/etc then start”. My spirit says “That will never happen, as soon as you get more money you will have more commitment that will eat that money up”. I know the latter to be true.

So this is what I am looking to do. I am going to tip toe into this thing. I have several different income streams and I am going to look to have them tithe one at a time. I am trying to be wise about this. When you start excising you don’t go and run 5 miles the first day. You have to work your way up to it. I am going to do the same thing with tithing.

The other thing that I am going to do is continue to build my faith – especially since I do not have the money on paper to do it. To continue to build my in faith I am going to need to continue in the Word of God.

The word says – Give and it shall be given to you, press down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom (Luke 6:38). I am not giving to get – that is not my motivation. I am giving because I want to give back for what I have already received. But, the spiritual law of sowing and reaping is still in effect even if that is not my motivation.

Using the same exercise analogy – the right motivation to exercising is to be healthy. A by-product of that is that you are probably going to look a whole lot better if you loose weight in the process. If your motivation is to look good you will never be happy because that’s a wrong motive. You will continue to punish yourself and never “look good” in your eyes. With tithing if your are trying to “get rich” by tithing you will never be happy because no matter how much money you have it will never be enough.

Motivation is the key here – why do you want to tithe?

Practical Steps to Start Tithing

Here are the steps that got me to where I am and where I am planning to go concerning tithing.

  1. Get into the Word of God

    I did this by downloading free podcasts from various preachers and listening to them at work. I did not do this so I could start tithing it was just a by-product of listening to the Word. Be careful who you listen to on the subject of tithing. I was listening to one Pastor who really started to get into the curse of not tithing and it messed me up for a while. The Bible says to test all spirits so if something doesn’t seem right do not be afraid to question its validity.

  2. Understand what the Word says about Tithing

    You will be cursed if you do not tithe IF you believe that you will be cursed, but the Bible does not say that. The New Testament says we are redeemed from the curse of the law. It also says that if you choose to live under the law then you are subject to ALL of the law. With that I believe that people can be tithing and giving but can be cursed at the same time because there are other aspects of the law that they are not keeping. What the New Testament does say is to be a cheerful giver, give because you want to, not because you feel you have to. 

  3. Pray about Tithing

    This may seem weird but I really felt that God had said no about tithing to me up until this point. I do know that my heart and my motivations are different now then they were before. In everything we do we need to get confirmation from God to make sure that our timing is lined up with His even if what we are looking to do is scriptural. 

  4. Start Tithing

    Once you get the green light from the big guy start tithing. You may be in a position where you can just write a check every time you get paid and your won’t feel it – awesome, go for it. For others (like me) writing a check for the whole amount is a stretch financially. My personal opinion is to start to give what you can and work up to the full tithe and possibly beyond. The key is to give when you first get paid as opposed to after you pay everything else because you most-likely will not have anything left to give. Even if you are giving just a little you are still giving and God sees your heart.

  5. Be Blessed

    Be blessed in the fact that you know that you are giving money that is going to be used to advance the Kingdom of God. If that was the only reward of tithing then that should be enough for you. If you have that perspective then when God does begin to give back to you it is even a bigger blessing because that is not why you gave. Remember it all comes down to perspective and/or motivation for tithing.

I believe that the first 3 steps are probably the most important aspects of tithing. The Word is essentially to anything that we do when it comes to God and Ministry. We need to understand what the Word Says and then actually connect with God to understand how that Word applies to our individual life and/or situation. God never designed His kingdom to try to work without His word, the two go hand-in-hand.

Final Thoughts

Giving to God’s work is an honor and its proceeds are essential to furthering the kingdom of God. With that said not everyone can give. There is nothing wrong with that. God does not love you any less and your salvation is not dependent on whether you give or not. God loves you and wants to bless you here on earth and in heaven. He will bless you and provide for you regardless of whether you tithe or not – I can attest to that personally.

We as parents don’t get down on our children because they can’t walk when they are infants or cannot add 2 + 2 together when they are toddlers. God does not get down on us if we have not come to the understanding about the tithe or have the faith to do it.

Even if our child gets older and may be behind the rest of their age group in walking or adding 2 + 2 together , as parents we do not condemn them. We love them and try to help them come to the understanding of the things that would beneficial for them to do. God is the same way.

He loves us, He is our father and He wants to bless us and see us happy. He does everything in His power to help us and bring us to understanding so He can bless us. We just need to turn our heart towards Him and be open to His instruction.

I hope this post is help to folks who are looking for answers on tithing. I do get a lot of traffic on this site for people looking for answers about New Testament tithing so hopefully this will help. I am open for discussions on this subject so feel free to comment below.

It Can Be Tough Being A Transparent Christian

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

difficult While looking over a couple of posts here at The Abundant Life I noticed some spelling and grammar errors and started to correct them. In the process of cleaning up my inconsistencies I had to actually read some of the posts that I put up here and started to get a little embarrassed. The reason for my embarrassment was the fact that it has been tough being a Christian, going to church, and having a relationship with God over the last few years. Not only was it was it tough but I was sharing my struggles with the world. Looking back I wonder if that was a good idea as people (especially Christians – sorry) can be really judgmental.

To combat this concern I have to separate what I think people would say about me from what I know God says about me.

While the last few years have been tough living the type of Christian life that I was taught I know that I have grown in God at the same time. Church and the Word of God are important and necessary in your Christian walk but so is having a one-on-one relationship with God. I know that in early in my Christianity I focused on Church and the Word while over the last few years the focus has been on relationship. At this point in my life I feel that I am learning to balance between the two.

The one thing that I have learned through this process is the love that a father has for his son. As I have seen my my kids grow up I can see that God see me in the same way. There is nothing that I would not do for my kids and I know that God is the same way. They may need a pow-pow from time-to-time to remind them not to do certain things but I only do that because I love them and want them to grow up respectable and safe. I know that God sees me in the same way. There are times that I want to go and do things that are not the best and he will guide me back to the right path.

It is tough enough to be a Christian but putting your victories and failures out their for the world to see makes it a little tougher. I do it though not because I want to try and show off but because I hope that if people see my struggles that turn into victories that it will encourage them to continue on in God.

Blast From the Past – Jason Lozano at Freedom Christian Center

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

I was setting up my iTunes podcasts with various ministries that I have been apart of and searched to see if Freedom International Christian Training Center with Pastor Jason Lozano had one. While I did not find Podcasts for his ministry I did find this cool video of his testimony that Kenneth Copeland Ministries did on him.

The thing that got me about this video is that I knew him when he first got started and actually helped him knock down a couple of the walls that he mentioned. The other part of the video that got me is that there is actually a picture of him and I together at around the 2:29 minute mark. It is really something to remember where he and I can from and to see where we are now. 

My congratulations go out to Jason, his wife and family, and his ministry for the blessing that God has on their lives.

P.S. Jason, if you read this setup some Podcasts of your messages so I can listen to them!