THRIVE! Live on Less

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“No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and ‘Consumerism’.”  Matthew 6:24
Consumerism is the “god” of our age!  We live in a materialistic world where productivity, accumulation, and consumption have taken over every dimension of our lives.  We are bombarded with advertisements tempting us to find fulfillment in products that promise what they cannot deliver — security, status, happiness, relationship, and more.  The spirit of consumerism demands we pay homage to him bringing offerings of busyness and buying.

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Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve consumerism while at the same time serving God.  We have to make a conscious choice.  Choosing righteousness and the Kingdom of God means that we must turn away from the altar of consumerism and worship only God.

One way to slay the spirit of consumerism is to purposefully choose to “live simply.”  What is “simple living” and how does is break the spirit of consumerism?

Simple living is nothing more and nothing less than living in a way that chooses to be outwardly simple in order to live rich inwardly.  It’s making the choice to focus on contentment, spirituality, and relationships rather than consumption, materialism, and self-centeredness.

Living simply is a spiritual discipline that emphasizes the values of our Lord Jesus Christ — time for God and one another, serving one another, sharing with each other.  It is living intentionally … or on purpose … giving priority to the life of following Jesus and expressing the Kingdom of God.  Simple living is a prophetic witness that challenges the god of this world through “conspicuous non-consumption.”

What changes can you make to live more simply?  How does your schedule need to change to make more room (i.e. create margin) for time alone with God, opportunity for fellowship in a small group, etc.?  How can you streamline your expenses so that you can tithe to your church, save for irregular expenses, pay cash for your vacation, provide for your family, and give generously to others?

Are you willing to take the necessary steps to break the spirit of consumerism and to serve God only?  Will you choose to live with margin — in your time and treasures — in order to live on mission?

THRIVE! Live with Margin | Live on Mission

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God wants us to experience the abundant life he’s promised to those who will follow him as disciple-makers.  Two specific pressures keep us from the reward of that kind of life:  time and money.

Our agendas are too full of fluff and our bank accounts are stretched too thin.  The result is anxiety, stress, worry, and busy-ness.  We have no room … no margin … in our agendas or accounts to experience the fullness God intends.  What’s worse, we get preoccupied with ourselves and can’t live God’s purpose in the world!

What are we to do?  God want’s us to “THRIVE” by living with margin … room in our agendas and accounts … to be free from worry so that we can live for him in our families, church, work, and world.  Our current sermon series is presenting some practical ways that you can begin to live with margin so that you can live on mission.

Live With Margin:  Goals

  • Simplify your spending through practical budgeting
  • Give first and save second and live off the rest
  • Automate the important:  giving and saving

Live With Margin:  Steps

  • Pray and Fast on Mondays
  • Pick up a simple “budget worksheet”
  • Commit to a “tithe” in Nov
  • Attend the 2 hour finance workshop 23. Nov
  • Ask for one-on-one financial counseling

Live On Mission:  Goals

  • Every family and small group go mission
  • Practice generosity as individuals/families and a church
  • Make 2014 a  Year of “2nds”—Service, Pastor, Church

Live On Mission:  Steps

  • Organize local and global “on mission” projects
  • Establish Thrive Project 2014 for generous giving
  • Introduce “Go On Mission” Class Fall 2014

 

Called to Be Loved: Peace vs. Understanding

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (ANIV) 

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We know it in our heads, but do we experience it in our hearts?  We say it, but do we mean it?

  • God is love!
  • God loves me unconditionally!
  • God loves me so much that I experience the peace of his presence in the face of circumstances I can’t understand!

But how do we get these phrases — these statements of truth — into our everyday experience?  How can we experience God’s peace even through life’s challenges?

I have to admit, sometimes life just not make sense.  We face problems, challenges, events, loss, hurt, pain, rejection…and there’s no way of explaining it away.  Many of life’s experiences defy understanding.  There’s no rational explanation…they are beyond reason.

I experienced this personally with the death of my father in 2006.  Our family was gathered for our traditional Thanksgiving holiday when my dad went to the doctor to find out the cause of a cough he couldn’t shake.  To our shock, he was notified within a few days that he was suffering from terminal cancer and the doctor told him he had less than a month to live.

Why?  Why my dad — a wonderful husband, father, pastor-missionary?  Why now?  There were no reasonable answers.  It didn’t make sense!  Why God?  Why?!

However, even in the last few weeks of my father’s life — he died about 3 weeks after his diagnosis — I experienced an inexplicable peace…a peace that doesn’t make sense.  It was a peace that began with my dad’s incredible faith and trust in God’s sovereign, loving care.  My dad reassured us of the hope he had in God’s faithful promises, and modeled the powerful peace that comes with God’s presence.  My dad faced his death full of faith, hope, love, and peace all of which came from the strength of God’s presence.

To this day, I can’t explain my dad’s death.  I have no answers to the “why” question, but this I know with certainty:  God’s peace — the peace of his sustaining presence — is a peace that defies all explanation, and it guards and protects our minds and our hearts as we go through life’s challenges.

What challenges, problems, or life experiences are you facing today?  Do they defy explanation?  You, too, can experience God’s peace by turning to him in faith, trusting that he loves you with a limitless love, holding on to the promise of his presence no matter what you’re going through.

That’s experiencing the truth:  God is love; his love is limitless.  He loves you enough to be with you, to strengthen you, and to give you his peace.