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Archive for the ‘Accountability’ Category

The beginning of a New Year is a great opportunity to seize the reigns of your family’s finances and develop a vision for your financial future.

King Solomon writes in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) This quote is exceedingly true regarding our finances.  Without a vision for managing our money, we quickly find ourselves out of control and overwhelmed by debt.

Financial peace in your home can be found through setting goals, establishing a plan, and following through.

SETTING GOALS

What do you want to do with your money this year?  Do you want to be less in debt at the end of 2012 than you are now?  Would you like to be able to take a stress-free trip with your family this summer?  Would you like to begin tithing to your church?

Each year, between Christmas and the New Year, I pull out a piece of paper and begin to dream about how I will manage our money in the New Year.  I start with how much I want to give (15%), and then I look at how much I would like to save (10%).  I also consider the various ways I want to save (IRA, cash, car fund, vacation fund, emergency fund, and other investments).  After I have considered my giving and saving goals, I begin to look at the other areas of my finances.  I consider my current bills and then set goals for managing my car and home loans.

My first financial questions always deal with what I want to accomplish.

ESTABLISHING A PLAN

How are you going to achieve your financial goals this year?

Goals are useless if they do not lead us to action, and the action of financial goals is called a budget.  Through a budget, I consider the resources available to me (my paycheck) in light of the needs around me (my expenses).

I begin my plan by listing the essentials, the things I will not compromise in my finances.  I will not compromise my tithe.  I will not compromise feeding my family and providing a home for them.  From the essentials, I begin to prioritize my way through my other expenses, needs, and desires.  I ask myself questions such as: How much do we need for groceries each month?  What should be our limit on eating out?  What is the average of my electric, gas, and phone bill each month?  What are the areas where I can decrease my spending this year?

FOLLOWING THROUGH

How do I stick with the plan this year?

Even the best plan is of no value if I do not follow through with it.  Two essential keys to accomplishing your plan are training and motivation.

We must all aspire to be life-long learners, and we must recognize there is more we can learn about managing our finances.  There are countless tips, tricks, and methods that have helped families maintain their monthly budget.  If you are going to accomplish more with your finances this year than you did last year, you may need to learn more about managing money than you knew last year.

We must also work to maintain our motivation.  Months of financial discipline can be undone by one season of unwise decision making.  Husbands and wives must be working together toward common financial goals, and they must also help one another stay on track.  Motivation is also encouraged through friendships.  Sharing your financial plans with trusted friends and inviting them to pray with you and check up on your progress is a tremendous tool for sticking with a financial plan.

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“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  –2 Timothy 2:2

Here it is.  In one verse Paul describes the Christian faith.  A chain of grace, linked together by love and designed for living relationally generational.

It is a verse that demonstrates honoring your fathers and loving your children and grandchildren enough to leave a legacy of faith to those who will follow after you.

2 Timothy 2:2 identifies four people in this faith legacy — Paul, Timothy, reliable men, and others.  These are the people we must have in mind in the development of our spiritual life.  We must take the viewpoint of Timothy in this verse.  From those lenses, it is essential that we identify who fills the role of Paul as a mentor in our life and who fills the role of “reliable men” as the ones we are actively discipling.  And we must disciple those reliable men in such a way that they will be able to teach others.  In essence, we are loving those we may never know through the way we train those who will lead them.

This amazing verse in the book of 2 Timothy paints a picture of very deep and significant relationships.  Relationships which are not to be taken lightly, but must be given prayerful consideration and intentional development.

It is my sincere prayer that you may know where you fit in the chain of grace.  May you know those whom God has placed in your life to coach you along the way.  And may you know and develop those God has placed in your life to receive from the wisdom you have to offer.

May your children’s children be blessed and may they receive an inheritance from your life of faith.  Amen.

 

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The thought of a pastor having a pastor can be hard for some people to grasp, but it seems like the most natural and appropriate relationship in the world to me.  It was a joy to host Pastor Scott as our guest yesterday.  For more than 13 years, I have looked to Scott as a pastor, mentor, and friend.  I am thankful for his leadership and wisdom, and I was excited by his message from yesterday.

As you are aware, Emmanuel Fellowship is a non-denominational church.  But, that does not mean we are un-connected, anti-relational, or non-dependent upon the influence of others.  Our local congregation is autonomous in that decisions affecting our church are made by our local leadership, but we have chosen to live by the Biblical principles we teach.  In a practical sense, this means that we as a congregation tithe ten percent of our income into ministries and missions around the world, and our leadership seeks out godly relationships and accountability.  I hope it is encouraging for you to know that your pastor has a pastor, and your pastor’s pastor has a pastor as well!

The primary framework for our church’s relationships comes through an organization called Summit Ministries International.  SMI is a connection of churches and ministries who have banded together to tend to the basic needs of ministers and ministries.  SMI provides an avenue for fellowship, vision sharing, cooperative mission endeavors, continuing education, and church assessments.

The point that I want you to consider is that no man and no church is an island.  Though each of us carries the final accountability for our actions, we were designed to live in relationship.  Each of us, pastors included, needs the benefit and the blessing of connecting with a spiritual vision larger than our own.  It is my sincere prayer that Emmanuel Fellowship Church is more than a place for you to attend.  I pray it is a ministry you can connect with.  I pray it is a place where fellowship, vision sharing, mission endeavors, education, and personal growth can occur in your life.  I know it is occurring in mine!

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Emotional BankingIn yesterday’s message, we took an honest look at the question of what right Paul had to speak into Philemon’s life and his business dealings with his slave, Onesimus.

One of the key principles Paul leaned on to defend Onesimus, his spiritual son, was the equity that had been built between Paul and Philemon.

Equity is the relationship developed through love and over time.

Equity is like a checking account, and every relationship begins with a small deposit.  What we do with that initial deposit determines how long the relationship will last.

Time, love, and sharing experiences such as victories and heartaches build equity in a relationship.

Disappointment, frustration, and unresolved conflict make withdrawals in a relationship, and you can only be overdrawn for so long before your account gets closed and the relationship gets broken.

You have gone through life opening and closing accounts and maintaining old lines of credit without even realizing it.  You just called it friendship all along the way.

Paul was in an equity crisis with Philemon through this letter and he was drawing on every ounce of shared vision and experience the two of them had together.  He was zeroing out the account in this request for Onesimus’ life, and he was hoping he didn’t find himself overdrawn.

I handle our family finances, and I mange our money with an organizational system that works the best for me at this time in life.  But, I don’t handle our money with precision as much as close approximations. 

I am usually aware that I could be off by a little on my balance, and I compensate for what I know is a weakness in my system by intentionally placing a cushion in our checking account.  I deposited 200 dollars into the account and never wrote it in the register. 

Grace CushionIt’s my grace cushion.  It gives me the chance to be off a little bit, and not be penalized.

Would you determine today to put a grace cushion in your relationship accounts?  It is very possible a friend could be off one week or one month.  It is very possible someone could miss an important moment.  It is even possible that one day a conversation won’t go so well between you, and that friend is going to need a little extra equity in that moment.  If you would pad the account with grace today, it may save a relationship tomorrow.

People are the only eternal thing we come in contact with on a daily basis, and our relationships with those God has placed in our lives have the potential to last forever.

Podcast

Click HERE to listen to Pastor Eric’s complete message of Paul’s Letter to Philemon.  (Podcast will be available late Monday afternoon.)

Links

We have a new blogger in our congregation.  Oasis of Praise is a beautiful sight dedicated to maintaining a heart of praise even in the “Calgon” moments of life.

Parents, we have another opportunity for Kitchen Table Discipleship by checking out the latest family connection page at our children’s Wordchangers blog.

Check out this amazing video of a fiery 3 year old bedtime prayer!  Talk about discipleship!

On the Radar

ALL CHURCH NIGHT OF WORSHIP this Wednesday, 7 pm, at EFC!  For more info, check out our website at www.efcsweetwater.com!

Pastor Eric and his son, Keegan, leave in just 10 days on a mission trip to Eastern Europe.  They will be traveling to Croatia and Poland as Pastor Eric teaches in several church leadership schools and preaches in local churches with Prepare International.  Keegan will be getting his feet wet on the mission field and being an “armor bearer” for his dad.  Please pray for this trip and these two travelers as they help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Europe!

Brazil Mission Trip — Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lorin leave in December for a mission trip to Brazil!  They will each need to raise over $3,000 for trip costs.  For more info and to find out how you can support their trip, click HERE.

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Jesus Forever” by Anthony Skinner
  2. I Have Found” by Kim Walker
  3. “Breathe” by Kathryn Scott
  4. “Inside Out” by Hillsong

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, November 8, we will conclude our exploration of the book of Philemon by examining Philemon’s perspective as he received the Apostle Paul’s profound letter.

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Matthew 6 v 14 and 15 jpg“But I just don’t know if I can ever forgive what was done to me.”  I’ve looked into the tear filled eyes of many as they have spoken those words with a quivering voice.

But, what if I told you that you didn’t have to forgive WHAT was done to you?  

WHAT was done to you was wrong.  WHAT was done was unjust.  WHAT was done should never have happened, and I pray it never happens again. 

You are not expected to forgive WHAT has happened to you in your life.  The key to forgiveness is that we must find the grace to separate the offense from the offender.  When we are able to untangle the two, then we make the choice to forgive WHO it is that hurt you.

WHAT was done is the action that was committed against you.  WHO did it is the actor that was used to bring the pain.  In the process of forgiving the person, we must look beyond them to see the true source of the offense that has occurred in our life.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, and though the WHO that hurt you may have been in flesh and blood form, that person was only a tool in the hands of an enemy.  It is the enemy of your soul who has come to lie to and steal from you.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider our own forgiveness and the grace we received from the life and death of Jesus on the cross.

In Colossians 3:13, Paul tells us:

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

When we reflect upon our own salvation, we realize that God Himself separated the WHAT from the WHO in our lives.

WHAT we did was paid for through the death of Jesus on the cross so that WHO we are could be forgiven by the grace of God.  What an amazing gift!

Now it is our turn to give what we have so freely received as we release WHAT was done to us to the justice of God and allow even it to be paid for on the cross.  We then make the decision to forgive WHO it is that our enemy used to commit the act against us.

You can make the choice to forgive today by praying a prayer such as the one below.

Father in Heaven, Thank you for the forgiveness I have received from you.  I repent of holding unforgiveness in my heart.  Just as You forgave me, I make the choice to forgive_______________.  I release what was done to me to Your justice.  I ask that Your grace would cover _______________ and free them from the lies of our enemy, releasing them to a life of joy and healing in Your goodness and blessing.  Amen.  

Podcast

If you would like to learn more about the choice of forgiveness, you can click HERE to listen to the entire message of “Give Forgiveness” by Pastor Eric.

Links

I opened yesterday’s message with the miraculous story of Chris Carrier and the power of his choice to forgive.  Read Chris’ full story by clicking HERE.

You can also read more about the power of forgiveness as it brings healing to the nation of Rwanda.  Follow these links to read a news story from CNN and discover a power testimony from World Vision.

At the conclusion of yesterday’s service, I referenced a great series of videos on youtube entitled “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.”  Here’s a clip of Mark Gungor and his humorous revelation about the male and female brain.

On the Radar

Brazil Mission Trip — Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lorin leave in December for a mission trip to Brazil!  They will each need to raise over $3,000 for trip costs.  For more info and to find out how you can support their trip, click HERE.

The Freedom Weekend is quickly approaching.  Have you signed up?  Make plans to join us November 6 – 7 for an amazing weekend of discovering the healing and joy found in Christ Jesus.   Space will be limited, so sign up early!  For more information, a schedule, and registration information, click HERE.

Happy Birthday to the Sweetwater Prayer Center!  This week marks the one year anniversary of the Prayer Center (and the 11 year anniversary of our church).  I encourage you to make visits to the Prayer Center a part of your weekly routine.  Schedule in opportunities to soak in the presence of the Lord.  You can register and get the 24 hour access code the Prayer Center by clicking HERE

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Happy Day” by Tim Hughes
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Jesus Culture version-This song totally rocks! 
  3. “I Repent” by Barry and Michelle Patterson
  4. “How Marvelous” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, October 11, is our final week of “Live Like You Were Dying.”  I invite you to join us as we culminate this series by discovering how each of us can “Embrace Eternity.”

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How many homes have been destroyed by rivers that overran their banks?  How much destruction has been wrought by flames that went unchecked?  How many lives have been broken by men and women who refused to walk in accountability?

In the book of 1 Kings in the Bible, you will find a heartbreaking sentence.  In Chapter 1, starting in verse 5 we read, “Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.  (His father had never interfered with him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)”

Here we discover an amazing young leader whose life is falling apart because he has never been held accountable for his actions.  What will be the story of your life?  Will you harness the great strength that is within you and bring it into submission to your will and under the accountability of those you trust?  Or will your life be the story of “what could have been?”

I strongly encourage each of you to listen to last Sunday’s message (05/24/09) about the faithful friendship of Nathan as he confronted King David.  If you were present Sunday, listen again and allow the message to penetrate your heart.  If you missed last Sunday, listen twice and determine to catch what the Hoy Spirit is saying to you.  Click on the podcast link below and begin to allow the purpose of your life to be influenced by the voices of those who love you.

Podcast

Follow the link to access  Pastor Eric’s message from last Sunday at http://efcsweetwater.com/index.php?nid=11648&s=gl

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes
  2. “We Believe” by Brian Johnson
  3. “Your Favorite One” by Misty Edwards
  4. “Nothing is Impossible” (not available online)

On The Radar

Our Children’s Ministry will be providing brisket sandwich bagged lunches after church for $5 this Sunday, which will include a sandwich, chips, drink, and dessert.  Proceeds from the lunch will help our children get to Kid’s Camp this summer.  Come hungry!

We have a Ladies’ Fellowship scheduled this Friday from 7 pm – 9pm at the church.  Fellowship, laughter, and ministry are on the agenda.  Bring a snack and a friend!  Childcare will be provided.

Little Brandon is officially becoming a Ferguson this Wednesday at the Taylor County Courthouse.  Welcome to the family little buddy!

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday Pastor Mindy will be sharing about “The Voice of Wisdom” as she introduces our newest hero.  You can prepare for the message by reading the story of Abigail found in 1 Samuel 25.

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