The Prosperity Gospel

Who doesn’t want to be rich? I certainly wouldn’t mind it. But how much of a place should this desire occupy in our hearts?

The North American church is conflicted. Consider the following research/stats:

61% of Christians believe that God wants people to be financially prosperous.
48% of Christians believe Jesus was not rich and we should follow His example.
49% believe Christians don’t give enough to the poor.
57% do not believe 10% is the minimum God expects Christians to give.
(source: David Van Biema and Jeff Chu, “Does God want You to be Rich?” Time Magazine 6/18/06)

New research released by The Barna Group reveals that in 2007 just 9% of adult Americans who are Christians gave away 10 percent of their income to places of worship or nonprofits (tithing).

Now consider what scripture teaches:
Ecclesiastes 5:10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! (NLT)

Hebrews 13:5 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (MSG)

It’s time for us to get this thing straight. We have to get off the defensive side when it comes to our money. There has to be a more open atmosphere available for us to deal with this topic. But for those of you who wish I would mind my own business in this regard, I will borrow part of a posting from my friend Chris Goins “I love the way Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands describes his desire for his congregation as it relates to giving: “Don’t listen to me! Listen to God!””

Happy Earth Day!


I am risking coming across like a tree hugger but it is obvious to me that we have to focus more attention on issues like the environment. It seems that many Christ-followers are a little behind when it comes to dialogue and action regarding ways in which we can take better care of the creation. This is a big deal in our country. While preservation of the earth and its resources should receive more attention from those who follow Christ, I see an even bigger issue at hand.

Since our culture is keenly attuned to matters of ecology, we can easily appear disconnected and aloof if we are not proactive in addressing these concerns. How can we say that that we care for people, for their well being and for the future of their families if we ignore topics like environmental responsibility? I think there is credibility to be gained if we will speak and act in well balanced ways regarding the environment.

What will it hurt if we recycle some plastic, save a little water or drive a hybrid car? Just maybe along with making the world a cleaner place for the next generation, we may also earn the right to address our culture on more important topics, like eternity.

Happy Earth Day!

intentional hanging out


Over the last couple of weeks, Letha and I have had several opportunities to spend time with a variety of friends. These were mostly casual settings – enjoying a meal with another couple, gathering at the church for some fellowship or just spending a couple of hours talking with some guys. The thing is, these events were strategically planned. The calendar over this span has been typically busy, we just decided to make it a priority to be around more people in more settings.

Sounds kind of sad, doesn’t it? We have to be purposeful and intentional about spending time with friends. But that’s the point. Until we made the decision to do so, our time with other people had taken a back seat to the demands of life. And we were paying for it.

I tell people all the time that we were not created to do life alone, that isolation leads to disaster. If you are a leader, you are probably going to have to schedule in some friend time. Look ahead now and plan something. Meet someone for coffee. Plan a meal together with a neighbor. Invite a new family at church over for dinner.

It feels really good to be making more friends, getting to know some old friends better. Give it a shot – intentionally.

Stepping it up technologically

In the last few weeks I have started this blog and also made the switch to an iPhone. Admittedly, I am a slow adapter when it comes to tech but surprisingly, I am having fun. When I do finally take the leap, it is usually because of pressure put on me by friends and family. I get tired of people making fun of me just because my phone is the size of a shoebox.

My daughter, Jessica told me that I am now edging toward being cool. That’s what I want to be . . . cool. But she also is one who is always bugging me, wanting me to text message back and forth. What does she know? Everyone knows that texting will never catch on!

I gotta go. If you need me, I’ll be at my typewriter and on my land line phone.

Critics: Ya gotta love ‘em!

Donald Rumsfeld said, “If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.” We shouldn’t be concerned if the critics line up at our door, waiting for a chance to shoot us down. We should worry if what we are doing and who we are is resulting in the sounds of chirping crickets. It goes without saying, sometimes the critics are correct. They can be our best friend in that they sometimes point out areas that, when addressed and improved upon, can result in growth and progress. But I’d be lying if I said that critical people don’t really bother me. So I collected a few classic quotes, (OK some of them aren’t yet classics) to help inspire you. If you are leading and you are being criticized, (one in the same) be inspired by a few of your colleagues:

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Aristotle

Fans don’t boo nobodies.” Reggie Jackson

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” Abe Lincoln

Don’t pay any attention to the critics-don’t even ignore them.” Samuel Goldwyn

Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue was never erected in honor of a critic.” Jean Sibelius

Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.” Emmet Fox

A critic is someone who never actually goes to battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded.” Tyne Daily

Come now mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” Bob Dylan

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” Ben Franklin

So, be encouraged. If you are being criticized, you must be doing something right! Don’t get too caught up with those who tear you down. These are not the people who are changing the world for the better. In fact, many of them have no greater calling in life than to hold others back.

You, however, have the call to change the world!

passion

I am getting stoked about our next missions project. If all of our plans work out, this summer (June 29-July 5) some friends and I will be traveling back to Central America to serve two orphanages. We plan to visit New Life Nicaragua in Managua and Casa Shalom in Guatemala City: casashalom.net. I wish the trip was tomorrow.

These trips help keep me focused on the important things. These babies born in adverse conditions are our chance to express love. It is amazing, although these kids have been abused and neglected, they are very receptive to our care and a little effort on our part makes a HUGE difference for them. It is simply a great way to serve and hopefully change the future for at least one child.

This won’t be a vacation. It won’t be a sightseeing tour. It won’t be a chance to be a hero. It will be a chance to be a servant.

If you have interest in making a trip to Nicaragua and Guatemala, contact me.