Friday, February 19, 2010

I encourage you to read Aftershock!

I was given the book Aftershock to read. Today I did just that. It is a book written by David Wiedemer PhD, Robert A Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer. It is the second book in a series that deals with the Economic downturn in America and the world. The popularity of this second book has grown with the realization that the first book with the predictions of "bubbles" popping was actually spot on.

This second book deals with what is still to come and the already indicators being seen today show that the predictions and conclusions will be close, if not as accurate as the the first. It is not a book of wild predictions and scary tales. It is one that simply takes the data and deals with it responsibly. It is not a "Christian" book but this is the part that really got me thinking. Though absent is the "end time" plans and predictions of the demise of the world and the return of our Lord, the book does show that we are quickly, and maybe more quickly than we realize, moving towards a One World system of Government and Finance. As such, the implications for us as Christians are obvious; or they should be.

Though all resistance from a political/patriotic stance will surely come as should a Biblical resistance as well, we all know that the Bible is clear in this new era arriving and being part of the plan. Though the authors make NO mention of such, I found the path clearly revealed and being realized today drawing me to the Bible and to exactly what it says about the time if Anti Christ. I think it is prudent that we understand where we are in the world and where we are progressing towards at ballistic speed. It is here that the passion for ministry to a world that is and will be more shocked and depressed at the changing economic fortunes will be key.

As we look to the future of ministry I think it is important to realize that the day of debt and excesses are about to be brought to a halt by the one force we never realized - the economy of excess itself. People will be dropped into a reality that none truly thought would occur. Governments will fail. The dollar will fade into history. What has always been will not return. Depression as we are already seeing will continue to rise as our bodies and minds get hit with the truth that "stuff" will not be possible to maintain. Where we have played at the idea of "trusting in Christ" we will soon people forced to deal with their dependence on things no longer obtainable. The truth of our false gods will be clear even in church circles.

As leaders of churches and ministries I pray that we are looking at the data and that our vision casting is based on needs coming rather than goals of the past. The future will be full of opportunities to minister to people. It is easy to see that churches will either meet this need and become centers for ministry and aid instead of playgrounds and clubs or the party will be over for many.

I encourage you to go out and get Aftershock. It is a great read and one that will challenge your vision for tomorrow in a fruitful way.

Are we ready for the mission? Eklund Stewardship Ministries is here to assist. We believe in the New Testament Church and we are called to help your church get ready for the ministry that God has for you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stewardship and Church Giving

In discussions related to tithing and giving in general to God's churches the questions raised usually sooner than later highlight one of the great needs of our day. We will address a few of these questions in this continuation of our series. The practical side of "tithing" and giving will show the depth of need in American churches that once was not an issue but now is at critical mass.

The first reason given these days is that the church is NOT required in the New Testament to receive such. The rationale behind such a statement comes from those within the New Covenant Theology spectrum that love to highlight the breakdown of the tithes instructed by God that Israel was to bring to the Temple. Since the Temple is not part of the New Testament, then, in their reasoning, the church should not be recipients of tithing.

Lost in the discussion of this type of teaching is the fact that the Bible clearly shows that the New Testament endorses churches as God's ordained entities for the work of the ministry. Key in this discussion is the threat of the idea that there is a Universal church instead of a Universal Body. If such existed as taught then one could argue that instead of setting aside monies for a person's home church, one could make the decision that something else is more deserving and thus give to that need instead of to one's church. It sounds wonderful to many; especially those who see abuses of wasted money by a few churches that lack accountability and missiological purpose. But there is a danger here that cannot be ignored.

When we move from an understanding that God established and ordained churches for His work we move from His plan. We weaken churches. We weaken Missions around the world. We move to a system of thought that says I can hear from God and do as He tells me and my church may not be in the equation. A great question to ask at this point which few address is actually a simple one:

Would God ordain churches and NOT provide for their funding in scripture?

Any attempt to leave out the first priority of one's church is extremely poor Biblical Theology. Leaving out the local church is like saying to your heart, I don't like the maintenance required so I am going to take you out. The body could not live long at all right? God gave us the New Testament church. We have corrupted her greatly in America but God still has not given us an alternative. In fact He did not give us a choice. Ephesians is clear that God provides every gift for the church for the purpose of her caring out the mission - the Great Commission! It is the church that is to hold us accountable as individuals. It is the church that is to provide for the teaching and discipleship of the people that are reached with the Gospel. The gifts given were given to local churches to honor God in doing the work of God. Each one of us according to Ephesians are part of the body that God uses to equip and "staff" the church. Would God go to all this trouble and yet not provide funding?


More to come...

Monday, February 8, 2010

When a standard is lost

Common definitions of the word STANDARD are such as:
a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; "the schools comply with federal standards"; "they set the measure for all subsequent work"
criterion: the ideal in terms of which something can be judged; "they live by the standards of their community".

When we look at the issue of tithing it is important to remember this word. In the discussions that have made their way into the blog world of late we are learning that people who set out to prove a position to justify their behavior will often forget about this word STANDARD.

How is this important?

When a person looks in the Word of God a clear standard is seen concerning the tithe. Though some are trying to ignore this standard, it is there. Those who claim to hold to the New Covenant Theological position completely ignore that the Old Testament and the Law have been given to us for this very reason.

We are free from the Law. Christ did what we could not. Yet NC people forget that the Law was God's STANDARD! Christ's payment for our sins does not change this standard. We do not live in a life that is forced to do anything. But in my love for God and my desire to grow in love to Him more each day, I then must see what pleases Him.

Think of it this way. In April of this year I will have been married to Heidi for 19 years. I always try to do something special for her on our Anniversaries. There are things that I think will be pleasing to her but they are my ideas. There are places that I would love to go but those are my desires. If I am to show her my love for her, then I must learn what she likes. I seek to please her for I love her. When I give her a gift, I work hard at giving her something that she likes NOT giving her something that I think she would like.

The same is true with God. If we take the approach that a few are taking and say "I am free to give to whatever and God is fine with that..." we are missing the key point in LOVING HIM. One blogger wrote something like this; "I do not know what I give but I am sure it is less than 2%."

When I read the love letter that God has provided for us, I find that a standard is there. It is NOT an end point. The standard is the beginning. Out of love for God I desire to love Him in a manner that He deserves. How could giving less than the clear standard meet that which He deserves? How could I NOT know what I give to Him?

My love moves me to ask a different question - why in the world would I want to hold on to something when He has simply made me a Steward. It is all His. Grace indeed raised the standard. When we lose the standard, we lose much. We cheapen GRACE. We excuse our selfishness. We find justification for doing things like drinking alcohol, that violates God's standard. A loss of the standard actually brings into focus that maybe our love is NOT what He deserves. When I give more than the standard, I am NOT trying to buy my way to God nor am I living under the law. God forbid. I am though living the reality of my love for the one who saved me. I have clearly seen His standard and I then know where to start. But as I grow, my giving will and should grow.

When we lose a standard we lose MUCH!