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That thing about GIVING….

God loves a Cheerful giver

God loves a Cheerful giver

It’s offering time!!!

Many have been turned off or avoid the church because of methods employed for giving and offerings. Yes?

Sometime last year I took part in a focus study group for my pastor as he was completing his doctoral project on GIVING. We were given a handbook and a diary to write our reflections, thoughts, and feelings after every session. Like everyone else, the sacrifice of time was worth it to show support and love. As a Christian, the topic of giving is not unfamiliar, so I was expecting more information as a refresher. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The first two sessions covered rudimentary information; Old Testament faithfuls like Abraham and Jacob, tithes, agrarian vs monetary systems etc. But I believe it was the third session that caused a massive struggle. We learned that Tithing was NOT required. Huh? What do you mean? I’ve always known about the 10% that I was supposed to give, and within the past few years had gotten to the point of giving that consistently, so what was this all about?

I looked at the scriptures in my handbook Leviticus 27:30-33, Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Malachi through different eyes. I felt a little flustered as I read because it is very nerve wrecking when something that one believes as foundational is challenged.

Leviticus 27 talked about being able to redeem one’s tithes if the giver so chose. In Deuteronomy the giver was to have a celebration with the tithe as thanksgiving to God. And also to take care of the Levites since they had no land (they served in the temple). In Malachi? Well, the key here is not “Will a man rob God?”…..but “How shall we return?” (v.7). God was done with the Priests and was not going to accept any offerings from their hands; they were bringing Him lame and sick animals etc. The priests were not upholding the laws of what was to be sacrificed to God. We no longer sacrifice animals….Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.

At this point I was thinking of every place in the bible that I could find something about tithing; Abraham and Jacob! Well, I looked at that and obviously they both chose to give a tithe before there was any law. Abraham in Genesis 14:20 and Jacob in Genesis 28:22. They both did it out of love for God and his faithfulness. I couldn’t find anything that substantiated mandatory tithing in the New Testament. There is nothing to redeem….Jesus already DID that!!

I went home grappling with what this meant. I did some more research and realized that this information is out there but I have NEVER heard anyone speak on this. Understandably so, because there is a fear that if people know they don’t HAVE to give, then they wouldn’t!

I sat on my little foot stool in my closet and thought to myself “Man, if I don’t HAVE to give I can save a lot of money!”. As soon as the thought left my mind God asked “Were you giving because you LOVE ME, or just because you thought you were obligated to?”

I sat there for a long time digesting this.

Obligation never equals love. Love is doing it when I have a clear choice not to.

I repented.

My heart changed in that moment. God has been so good to me! And especially faithful.

I have the opportunity to appreciate God just as Abraham and Jacob did when they decided what they would give without a legal standard.

I thanked God for the opportunity to check myself. It’s easy to SAY we love and trust God until we are faced with putting it to the test. I couldn’t imagine the courage, trust in and love for God that my Pastor had to work through to first embrace this information and then share it. He risked people stopping their giving, because they didn’t HAVE to. But, giving is a form of worship and must be as natural as singing, reading scripture and prayer. There is a basket at the door and you can drop an offering of your choosing (if you so choose), on the way in or on the way out.

Ten percent is merely a barometer. Some choose that as their minimum offering to God, but it can be more or less. Plus whatever the Holy Spirit prompts.

There is SO much to say in this post, but it is better summed up in the book Cheerfully. A book prompted by this study after more research and a compilation of the findings.

Our pastor graduated as scheduled but completed the doctoral process a changed man.

Graduation

We each completed the study, experiencing a myriad of emotions with this new knowledge. Some anger, some acceptance, some struggling with sharing this information to their own congregations.

The TRUTH is what it is: God loves a cheerful giver! Giving to God based on love is Worship. A cheerful giver is motivated from within not based on any external stimulation.

SO, that thing about GIVING…? Make sure you do it CHEERFULLY!!! :)

Have a great week!

Blessings

JC

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Love, Worship

 

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“Going under the Knife”…..

 

 

just a little humor......but our God knows exactly what HE is doing :)

just a little humor……but our God knows exactly what HE is doing :)

 It’s been a while since I have written a post, and though I could have thrown something together, I like writing from an internal compulsion when something inspires me. Well, not to say that I haven’t been inspired over the past two months, but today was different. I had an ‘aha’ moment.

Over the past month or so, God has been dealing with me from the topic “Hunger for Humility”. He has been exposing things and thought processes in me that stemmed from pride and not humility. And it hasn’t been the obvious things that we would recognize and call pride……but it was in my impatience, my irritability, my having to deal gracefully with those who have offended me. Me wanting to see a little vindication (especially if I could help out ;) ). But hearing God say “can you let me handle it, how and when I choose to?”….and giving Him a weak ‘Yes God’.

Anyway this is the season that I have been in…..learning not only to embrace the lessons God sends my way, but embracing the multiple ‘ways’ in which He sends them.

With that being said, I was in bible study this afternoon and a lady in the session said something that birthed my ‘aha’ moment. She said that as Christians we need to be more willing to go under the knife rather than take pills and self-medicate.

As I was driving back to work, I couldn’t help but ruminate on what she said. Let’s look at it:

Going under the Knife – requires one to be totally at the mercy of the surgeon. If God is our Surgeon, then we are totally at His mercy as to what He wants to cut out, trim away, prune, sew on etc. We are totally at His mercy, totally surrendered with no objections and excuses.

Self-Medicating – We can chose to fill or not to fill the prescription. Choose to follow the directions as to how many pills we want to take, when we take them, forget to take them etc. This is where our own rationalization comes in. Our reasons, excuses and explanations come in. After all we know best right?

Always a lawyer at heart, I still have a few arguments and excuses, but next level always requires a DEATH of something that is offensive to God.

We have to stay on the table until HE's done....

We have to stay on the table until HE’s done….

So, my question to you to answer or ponder is: what has God revealed to you and about you that HE wants to cut away? Is it pride? Is it selfishness? Is it anger? Is it laziness? Is it procrastination? Is it hatred? Is it unforgiveness? Is it impatience? Is it lust? Is it mean spiritedness? Is it offense? I might have missed something that pertains to you, but if you’re like me, you already know what HE has been highlighting over the past few weeks, months or years.

Try Him and see if he wouldn’t replace it with more of HIM. More of His love, His compassion, His humility, more of HIM!

Embrace it ;)

Enjoy this beautiful day!!!

Blessings always

JC

 

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Daily Inspiration

 

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“This is no time to lose your Head”

lion

Have you ever found yourself offended, irritated, hurt and aggravated by what someone said to you or about you? Or perhaps, not just what they said, but, how they said it? How about when someone criticizes or corrects your work, and you feel as if the person criticized and corrected you?  Most often, we then struggle to see the merit in the correction.

It is hard to receive it humbly when one is corrected or when someone confronts us with a flaw, dropping the ball in an area, a weakness or just any area of vulnerability. It is not to say that these feeling are not legit, but when we get stuck here, it is a clear sign that our emotions are governing our head.

I grappled with some of this a few days ago and I listened to a message that so blessed me (and my perspective) that I had to share: ‘This is no time to lose your head’.

Most of us live our lives from a ‘heart‘ place and not a ‘head‘ place. Many times we are so governed by our emotions that even when there is truth in whatever was said, we cannot receive it. We are unable to own up to the truth, do better the next time, apologize, or just simply decide to work on the area. Sometimes we don’t even think it through, we immediately become offended and don’t even care to process through, or consider the fact that, what the person said may be true.

We are unable to grow and mature because we keep trying to win a battle by having a ‘heart’ experience in a ‘head’ fight. Real decisions that move us along don’t come out of our emotions, they come out of our head. It is with our mind/head that we serve God and many times we miss seizing opportunities that He opens for us because we don’t ‘feel‘ like doing this or that, we don’t ‘feel‘ like going to this, we don’t ‘feel‘ it today, we don’t ‘feel‘ like dealing with this etc. We can easily forfeit what God wants to give us because of how we feel.

In this place we tend to lose perspective, in turn, lose our balance, and start tripping through life instead of focusing, flowing and flourishing…

The more I thought about this it just made sense. Our feelings will never cooperate with our dreams because success in any area of life takes discipline. And discipline is beating our feelings into captivity. So….is it true?

-did you drop the ball?

-did you miss the deadline?

-can you be a little bit more consistent?

-can you be more tactful?

-are you too busy?

-could you have gotten there a little earlier/on time?

-can you be more disciplined?

-could you have prepared better?

-could you have said it a different way?

Is it TRUE?

It is comforting to do the things we want to do and hear the things we want to hear…..but we don’t grow in times and situations of comfort. However, we have to develop the ability to be effective in discomfort; this is the true mark of growth :)

There is a shift going on in each of our lives, but it starts with and in our heads, not our feelings.

~~May 2015 be a year of enlightenment~~

Blessings

JC

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Daily Inspiration

 

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The Gift.

found this beautiful picture on the internet...

found this beautiful picture on the internet…

Do you sometimes feel that people use you? You seem to give and give to a particular person, friend or family member, but when you need something that person is never there for you? They never check in on you. How about when you are in a conversation and it is dominated by their issues and ‘you’ never come up; even though you have issues too? You are often a good ‘go-to’ person, but it is never reciprocated. You are there to help, to lend, to listen, to cheer up, or just there, but it feels one sided.

Many of us become frustrated, irritated and resentful in these scenarios. Friendships fall off and relationships often become strained. People feel used, abused, misused and plain old taken for granted. This topic has been in my spirit for a little over two months now and I have been dragging to write on it. As I was mulling it over weeks ago, I came across an analogy that the late Dr. Myles Munroe used.

He was giving a seminar and he said that he had to learn and understand that the reason people came was to partake of the gift he had to offer. He likened it to an apple tree. The gift of the apple tree is the apple itself. People go to the tree to pick and eat apples. They don’t care whether the tree will bear more apples or not. They don’t care about the leaves, the limbs, the roots or anything else about the tree. The tree on the other hand is not discriminating who gets apples nor is it worried about keeping apples for itself (eating its own fruit); it serves its gift: apples.

There are those who take from us what we serve. Things like advice, counsel, companionship, loyalty, unconditional love, knowledge and a plethora of things. It is a mistake for us to believe that we will also receive, from them, what we gave them. Many times that comes from an entirely different source. Just like God sends the rain and the sun to nourish the apple tree. And perhaps a gardener prunes the branches and takes care of the other areas of the tree, so He does for us. God replenishes us and there are those whom we ‘get’ from. We must quickly identify who these people are in our lives. And more times than not, we don’t ‘give’ to them. It is such a beautiful interdependent circle, and in my opinion it keeps us humble to be able to serve others with our gifts; because someone in turn serves us. People pick apples off of my tree and I pick mangoes off of someone else’s :) (I love mangoes!)

Anyway don’t let me ramble.

A few years ago a friend ditched me when I needed her. I was so hurt, because if I am nothing else, I strive to be a loyal friend. God told me that I put her in the wrong bucket and she couldn’t give me what I needed in a friend. That hurt because I truly loved her and wanted her to be my friend; the kind that I was to her. Many of us find ourselves in this situation or similar ones. Our frustrations might be justified, but that person might not be capable of giving us what we need. Can we accept that?

These are my thoughts on this cold Wednesday :)

I encourage you not to be weary in doing well to others… (Galatians 6:9).

Serve others what you have been blessed to serve, we each are relying on the other’s gift.

Blessings

JC

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Daily Inspiration

 

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It’s time to shed your leaves… (Reblog)

tree 2

Early morning on November 4th as I was downstairs having some quiet time with God, He said “this is a season of Self Control”. That did not have anything to do with what I thought we were talking about, but I took note of it.

Throughout the day I thought of all the areas in which I needed that self control/discipline: Sticking to my budget, eating the foods that were best for my temple, managing my time effectively, keeping my morning appointments with God…etc. As the day turned into days and then weeks, it seemed as if the more I focused on Self Control, the more elusive it became. It really didn’t make sense. And of course, the over achiever that I am, caused me to beat up on myself.

A month later I was sitting downstairs again, early morning, and God said “You have been focusing on the wrong word in the sentence.” Okay. He said “the word you need to focus on is ‘season’. Seasons change and each season is to be used for preparation for the next”.

Then He said “look outside”. “Look at the trees, they are shedding their leaves in preparation for the next season; winter. If they don’t shed their leaves in the fall, they will not survive the winter”.

The tree in my front yard had bright red falling leaves and the one in the back yard had no leaves. So I did a quick search and found that deciduous trees shed their leaves in autumn or ‘fall’ so that they will have enough nutrients to survive in the winter. Both the tree and the leaves would not survive in the next season.

One of the things I love most about God, is that He KNOWS His children. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t get right, He merely showed me WHY it was important for me to get it right; to exercise Self Control. If I didn’t flip my bad habits and hone in my good ones, I would not survive or be successful in the next season He has for me.

This made sense to me. It seemed like my own personal parable :)

So this I share….what things, habits, people, relationships are you trying to drag to the next season? What skills and habits do you need to hone in this season so that you will be ready for the next? Whatever that is….

Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Shed those leaves. Life will seem overwhelming if you don’t. Because you will only have enough energy for your own survival and none to help or tolerate anyone else.

A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Prov 25:28)

Blessings

JC

 
36 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Daily Inspiration

 

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Soul Detox 1

a moment of solitude...

a moment of solitude…

It was my second climb up Crowders Mountain for the year. But it was a solo trip this time. The day had no sun making a showing and lots of grey clouds, but they in no way reflected my mood. Just some me time, God time…..actually ‘time’ wasn’t even a factor :) I have come to realize that waiting for someone to do the things that I like to do might keep me waiting forever, or worse yet, give me an excuse not to do it at all….so I packed my backpack, camera and tripod in tow, and headed out.

Craig Groeschel’s ‘Soul Detox’ is at the top of my reading queue and this was one of the reasons I made this trip. A soul detox captivated my mind ;) Detox by definition is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Many of us detox our bodies, or if we don’t, we need to. It’s almost like a good ‘spring cleaning’. Giving our bodies a chance to reset and reboot.

my perch for the day...

my perch for the day…

A soul detox is a chance to get rid of soul pollutants. Negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative language, negative people and negative perspectives. Thoughts and feelings that go unchecked which cause anger, bitterness and resentment. Television shows that add nothing to your personal growth. People that drain you…who always have something negative going on. Busyness; never a moment to be still and reflect; to check in with your self and evaluate. To see if you’ve lost yourself in this thing called life.

 A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone who was about to retire after 30 years. I asked her what was she going to do and she said “Find myself. I have lost myself over the years”. I didn’t want that. I wanted to learn to have all of me present in the moment.

view from 1700ft....

view from 1700ft….

Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your zeal, or as my partner at work puts it, being in a ‘rut’? Our soul is the essence of who we are. It is what makes us sing, dance, laugh, smile, love, glow, give, care, share, press on, keep hope alive, dream, our eyes sparkle…..

It doesn’t require a lot. Just taking a day or two to see how being around certain people make you feel, how listening to certain music makes you feel, how engaging in certain conversations make you feel. Do you feel positive and inspired, do you feel motivated, do you feel energized, do you feel closer to God? If not, Unplug.

Rest, walk, run, pray, swim, read, journal, cry, wonder, turn the TV off, turn off electronics, enjoy nature, take a vacation or a ‘stay’cation, make a gratitude list, date yourself, no more secrets, find accountability, surround yourself with positivity, embrace change and just be…..

 Blessings always.

JC

just be....

just be….

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Love

 

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Early Morning Musings….

This morning I was up early because I wanted to enjoy God in nature before I made it to our worship service. I went to the greenway near my house an hour or so later than I usually do. You see, a week ago, a female runner reported that she was attacked at knifepoint by some guy hiding in the woods and he tried to drag her in the woods. She kicked him in the ‘you know what’ and took off running. Anyway, I came out an hour later and decided to ditch the iPod and take my phone.

There is just something so serene about early morning that is very relaxing to me. I really think it’s the freshness of a new day. A fresh chance to do it again…a fresh dose of new mercy :)

I passed a familiar walker, his usually walking partner replaced with a beautiful stick. “No dog today?” I asked. “Unfortunately, we had to put him down” was the reply, “thanks for asking.”

There was a squirrel running off with an acorn as big as her head….scurrying away before I could snap the moment. Preparing for winter I guess. And deer…yes, they were enjoying the early morning too.

image

Untrustingly checking me out, but too lured in by the lush dewey grass to be thwarted by us two-legged intruders. I saw a total of three mamas with their spotted babies nearby.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in Daily Inspiration

 

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