Leftovers from the weekend – Strengthening your financial core

As promised, here are some of the leftovers from this past weekends message – Strengthening your financial core. You can watch the message here.

  • The opening illustration about the nine decisions you make when getting a cup of coffee came from this article.
  • This article has some simple but practical steps for attacking the mountain of debt that comes from large student loans and easy credit card availability.
  • Here is an article with a creative take on savings. It talks about treating your dollars like employees.
  • This article talks about how important it is to have a financial backup plan and how to make one.

When a friend blows it

God doesn’t humiliate repentant sinners.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)

He understands our weaknesses. Too often when I read this scripture I focus on the fact that ‘he did not sin’ rather than the truth that ‘he understands our weaknesses’.

We ought to have his heart toward those who have given into temptation. We have to treat them with dignity and not scorn. The truth is – “they” are us. The measure of grace we use in judging others failures will be measured back to us when we need it.

Shame grows in the soil of guilt.

Strength grows in fields of Grace.

Grace is amazing.

What to think about when you are frustrated with your job

young man pulling funny face on white background

Have you ever been frustrated with your job? Wondered if anything you are currently doing really matters?

Recently my daily Bible reading took me thru Isaiah. In chapter 49:1-7 he has a conversation with God about his frustration with his job.

Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord ’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” And now the Lord speaks— the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:1-7 NLT)

10 things to remember when your job’s going nowhere:

  1. God’s plan for you began long before you were born
  2. He’s the one that chose your gifts (Given a choice Isaiah might not have chosen the one he got)
  3. Your gifts are all about bringing him glory
  4. Even when you are in the center of God’s will, it will at times seem mundane and boring
  5. It’s best to leave the score keeping to God & trust him for your reward
  6. During un eventful days, it’s good to remind yourself of who God is and what he’s called you to do
  7. Never forget what an honor it is to do what you do for him
  8. God’s plan for you is bigger than what you have imagined
  9. If you remain in the posture of a servant, the same people who won’t give you the time of day now will pay close attention to you later
  10. When things do get better (they will), don’t forget who it’s all about

What do you do when you are bored by your work?
Which of the 10 helps you the most?


You’d better plan to fail

When I saw the water leaking from the ceiling in our main floor bathroom – leaving ugly yellow stains and buckled sheetrock tape in its wake – I knew I’d made a serious error in judgement ten years prior:

I hadn’t planned to fail.

Sure enough, upon further inspection, the washing machine in the laundry room directly above was spewing rusty water onto the tiled floor and down thru the walls to the bathroom below. What a mess. A soon to be expensive mess.

It could have been avoided had I planned to fail.

I probably could not have avoided the malfunction of the machine. After years of near daily use, it had reached its life expectancy date. While the timing was a surprise, the inevitability shouldn’t have been. The problem lay in a decision that I made the first day it was installed just short of ten years ago.

Instead of planning for its failure I acted as if it would live forever.

When asked if I wanted to put a water pan under it, I declined. It probably cost extra, or would have delayed the installation in some way, or maybe I’d just never seen how much water a damaged machine can produce. Whatever my reasoning, I made a decision that now will cost me plenty.

They say that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” All I know is this: I’m going to get better at planning to fail.

I’m already thinking about other appliances in the house that have expiration dates. Do I have safeguards in place for that inevitable day when they quit working like they did on the showroom floor? I’ve got a water heater in the attic. Have I planned sufficiently for its failure? That will be a fun day.

What about as a leader? Am I planning enough to fail?

Am I spending enough time thinking about succession plans and things with expiration dates? Or am I sticking my head in the sand and pretending like everything will just last forever. The best time to make a good decision is before a lack of foresight costs you more than you can afford to pay.

How about personally? Do I have a plan for failure?

What am I going to do when I’m tempted, when I’m discouraged, when I feel like throwing in the towel? You know it’s going to happen. The exact day and circumstances may be surprising, but the inevitability shouldn’t be. What will be my safety net? How will I keep the overflow from messing up those around me? If I don’t have a plan for failure, the stain and destruction may cost more than I had bargained for.

This time when I purchased a new washing machine I chipped in a few extra bucks for the floor pan. That baby looks great right now but its going to quit working someday. I’ll be ready for it this time.

Failure is inevitable, stupidity is just an option.

Where do you need to plan to fail?

Women need to shut up in church

Yesterday I wrote a post concerning some hard to understand scriptures that were referred to in the weekend message at Seacoast. Today I’ll tackle the most controversial one:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (1 Timothy 2:11,12 NIV) 
This passage comes super charged with high emotions, especially if you are a female. Add this verse to it and you are sure to get fireworks:
Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 NLT)
Some fired up females are saying “You’re kidding me, right?”  While a few redneck bubba’s claim them as their favorite scriptures. How can we reconcile it?
  1. First, this is an argument that has good people on both sides. One view is called “complimentarianism” and holds that God restricts women from serving in church leadership roles and instead calls women to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. “Egalitarianism” is the viewpoint that there are no Biblical gender-based restrictions on ministry in the church.
  2. Second, there are volumes written on both sides. In other words, the truth is not as clear-cut as in the previous examples of difficult scriptures. This is what the Bible calls a “disputable” matter. It is not an “essential” doctrine.  The outcome is not connected to our eternal destiny. Your salvation doesn’t ride on which side of the line you come down on. It probably won’t be resolved in our lifetime, but it’s fun to talk about.
  3. Third, I’m not going to take the time to argue for both sides. I’m just going to give you a soundbite on what I think the solution could be. (Bias alert – my grandfather came to Christ as a result of two women who weren’t silent in church. He then led the rest of my family to become Christ followers.)

Is it possible that in both cases that the writer of the scriptures – Paul – was addressing situations specific to the context and culture of the day? 
  • The scripture in 1 Timothy was written to help combat heresies that were rampant in the church at EphesusIt seems that false teachers were working through certain women in the church. It is possible that his instructions to women were specific to that time in the same way that his instructions about wearing head coverings and the treatment of widows had a focused interpretation to that culture. There are principles that we can learn from, but the direct applications were for the audience that he wrote too.
  • The scripture in 1 Corinthians was written in the context of order in worship.  Apparently their meetings were somewhat chaotic and women asking sometimes insubordinate questions may have been a part of that. It seems that earlier in his book he gave women authority to prophesy, which is a form of speaking, in public meetings where men were present. In addition we know that there was no prohibition on females as leaders in civil governments (Deborah in the Old Testament is an example), so there was no sweeping command or law for women to be submissive to men in every circumstance.

So, in my opinion, Paul is not making a forever law that women can never preach or lead in the church. I view it in the same way I see his command to “greet one another with a holy kiss”.  They probably didn’t do much fist bumping back in the day.

If you disagree, I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m just giving you something to think about.

Dig in and study it for yourself.

Hard to understand scriptures

This weekend in our Nehemiah series, I referred to scriptures that are hard to understand. I thought I would give you just a little bit of insight and maybe some references to a few of the Scriptures that I referred to.

Eating insects

“You must not eat winged insects that walk along the ground; they are detestable to you. You may, however, eat winged insects that walk along the ground and have jointed legs so they can jump. (Leviticus 11:20, 21 NLT)

This was a dietary law referring to what insects were considered kosher or not. I mentioned this weekend that this scripture is not going to impact me because I’m not going to be eating insects! The truth is however, I live in a different time and place. At the time it was written, this would’ve made sense. It referred to locusts, which were considered kosher. Evidence exists that early Jews ate both pickled and salted locust. Here’s a link to a 17 page treatise on the subject in case you are interested in further study: Kosher Insects

Boiling goats

“As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the L ord your God. “You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 23:19 NLT)

This, again, is a dietary law specific to the Jewish population of that era. The reasoning for the law could have been one of the following:

    A response to an idolatrous practice of pagan culture…
    Or a practical solution to an aging lactose intolerant society…
    Or more likely a command against an inhumane practice, showing the nature of a loving God.

Here’s a link to a short enlightening article: Goats

Hating your family

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26 NIV)

This passage goes against all of our better instincts, especially if you value family. How can Jesus say that we have to hate our families? Without taking away from the true cost of discipleship, which SHOULD challenge our earthly allegiances, I think this passage would better be interpreted as it is in the New Living Translation:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison… (Luke 14:26 NLT)

For a true disciple every other relationship, including close family relationships, will look like hate in comparison to our relationship with God. The emphasis should be on our love for God and not on our hate for others. Understanding this scripture requires a knowledge on the rest of Jesus teaching on love.

So what?

I hope you don’t just skim hard scriptures, but instead allow them to challenge you to further study. If you do, you’ll find yourself finding some of God’s great treasures and coming to an even better understanding of the power of God’s grace.

The Seasons of Ministry and Harvest time (AUDIO)

With Church life there are seasons. There are seasons of of harvest and there are seasons of rest. During seasons of harvest the enemy would want to distract, divide and discourage in order to keep us from seeing God use us. This is an excerpt from a leadership talk I gave to the staff at Seacoast Church that I wanted to share with you.

Dealing with The Seasons of Ministry




What does it mean to live in community?

We are spending a great deal of time at Seacoast trying to figure out what it means to be a community of faith, really living out the mission of God.

What does it mean to live on mission? Every day?

What does a missional community look like? How can we live out our mission together?

How do we translate ancient concepts like sabbath, and covenant, and kingdom into our 21st century reality?

While in Israel we visited an Orthodox Jewish community, committed to living their understanding of covenant community together. Watch a short video of the leader of their group explaining what community means to him.

Kfar Kedem Community from Greg Surratt on Vimeo.

What did you learn?

What are some transferable principles?