Blog / Podcast
Making sense of money: the gospel and finances pt 1
In this message, Pastor Joe talks about gaining, growing, and giving money. (Message from 1/15/18.)
Marching with the Faith
With a new year upon us, Pastor Joe encourages us to march with the faith. (Message from 1/7/18.)
- Journal. Writing is a discipline that I have always encouraged, because it helps to clear the mind and gives journalers focus. Don’t be legalistic. Write thoughts, prayers, lists of daily goals…whatever. There are no hard-and-fast rules for journaling. Use your own style and preference. You’ll enjoy the benefits.
- Start a reading regimen. Reading has become more and more unpopular, as Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services seemingly have taken the place of slow, deliberate thought. People used to read and discuss things. Now, they watch them in condensed documentaries and TED Talks. Granted, they definitely serve their purpose. But reading is a discipline that helps us grow in our thinking, maturity, and empathy. If you’re not a reader, start small (maybe with an interest or a hobby)…but start!
- Exercise daily. Taking care of your body isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Adding exercise to your day will not only help your body, it’ll also help your mind and soul. It’s a fact. If you seldom or never exercise, this year, add a brisk 20-30 minute walk to your day. You’ll note the difference in how you feel in just a week or two.
- Make daily prayer a priority. Prayer is far too important to be neglected. Make it a priority in your day-to-day routine. You won’t regret the time spent in meditation and conversation with God. Prayer helps us keep Him as a priority (Matthew 6:9-10), it helps us chase off anxiety (Philippians 4:4-6), and it helps us experience godly joy (John 16:24). Like all things on the Christian walk, prayer is for God’s glory and our good, but it must be done to be enjoyed.
- Spend and save money wisely. Proverbs 22:7 teaches us that the borrower is a slave to the lender. Whether cash spent, credit used, or items borrowed: what belongs to us is the debt we accumulate. God wants us to be free, not only spiritually but also financially (see Matthew 6:24). So, use a strict budget this year. Keep track of what’s coming in and going out. By doing this, you’ll not only be taking charge of your financial life, you’ll also be freeing up your ability to love on those in need (see Ephesians 5:28).
- Share the Gospel. I know that for many Christians, this is a daunting task, but I believe that it’s viewed that way because many programs have made evangelism rigid and unnatural. Let me put it this way: share your relationship and discipleship with Jesus with others. It should be natural, easy, conversational. If it’s not, then it’s probably time to check your relationship with Jesus and discipleship!
- Invite family/friends to worship. This is what I call the “come and see” side of evangelism. Not all of us have been gifted to be evangelists, Paul said, but we’re all called to do it. One way to do it is by inviting people to worship, which tends to be neglected after we’ve invited everyone we THINK will come to worship. Let God handle the outcomes. Invite people to worship this year. Your invitation may lead to conversions!
- Face a wound (but include the Lord!). Psalm 147:3 says that God binds up wounds. He cares for us. The healing that He performs is done so that we can live healthy lives, happy lives, strong lives. You may need help to face a wound that you’ve been neglecting to address, but get the help and face it. Without facing our wounds, we can’t move past them.
- Forgive someone or reconcile a broken relationship. This is obviously tied to number 8. Many wounds are due to a broken relationship (and relationships break for many reasons!). Forgiveness and/or reconciliation are the roads God has provided for us to healing.
- Read the New Testament through twice. At 260 chapters, the New Testament doesn’t even require 1 chapter a day to be read through once in a year. Read a few chapters a day, and you’ve easily read the entire New Testament through twice in a year. This kind of reading comes with an incredible blessing.
Whatever you do this year, I pray that it’ll be productive, helpful, and bring you closer to the Lord.
Taken from newcitythought.wordpress.com
10 Things to Start this Year
advent - christ
Advent is a season in which we celebrate and consider the blessings that became available to us with Christ's incarnation. This week: Christ. (Message from 12/24/17.)
advent - joy and peace
Advent is a season in which we celebrate and consider the blessings that became available to us with Christ's incarnation. This week: Joy and Peace. (Message from 12/17/17.)
advent - love
Advent is a season in which we celebrate and consider the blessings that became available to us with Christ's incarnation. This week: Love. (Message from 12/10/17.)
Advent - hope
Advent is a season in which we celebrate and consider the blessings that became available to us with Christ's incarnation. This week: Hope. (Message from 12/3/17.)
How do we, as Christians, exist in the twofold status that we are afforded as both the adopted children of God through faith in Christ and simultaneously citizens of the United States of America? To put it simply, it’s not always easy. On the one hand, there are times when our faith and earthly citizenship seemingly get along. On the other hand, there are times when our faith and earthly citizenship couldn’t be made to be more aliens to each other. Nevertheless, the Bible has a word for us, and, in view of the recent election(s), it seems high time to address it, specifically from Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2. They teach us 2 simple principles that we are to abide by as Kingdom citizens.
We Are to Respect Authority
First, according to Romans 13:1-7, we are to respect authority, regardless of whether or not we completely and entirely agree with their policies and positions. Case in point, President Barak Obama. I may or may not be in agreement with him and the direction in which he’s been leading our country, but that isn’t the question that God is asking me in Romans 13. God commands me to respect authority (of course, as long as it isn’t in direct contravention with His Word), and therefore that’s what I’m supposed to do. From time to time, we can find it hard to respect our parents’ authority, our teachers’ authority, our employer’s authority, or even Obama as a president, but we can still respect the positions they hold and respect them as people made in God’s image. In the president’s case, we can respect him as one who holds the highest office in our country. (This would apply to President-elect Trump, too.)
One issue that I have with his point, Respect Authority, is the link that the Apostle Paul associates with those in authority and God Himself; thus, eventually all authority leads us back to God’s authority. With that said, the point is simple: if we can’t respect authority that we do see, how can we claim to respect the authority that we can’t see?
We Are to Pray for Authority
The second and perhaps more important point at this time in our country is, We Are to Pray for Authority. It’s clearly taught in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, but it’s easier to talk about than it is to actually do, Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, you err in 1 of 2 ways. You either:
- don’t pray for those in authority because you already agree with them (so why pray?); or
- don’t pray for those in authority because you don’t agree with them (so why pray?).
But what we learn from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 is something grander than our own personal policy preferences. We learn that God has a desire for “all” to be saved, not just those with whom we may agree. Therefore, we should pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” We are Christians before we are anything else, and intercession for others is paramount to our daily practice and faith.
Ultimately, we can’t control what those in authority will or will not do, but what we can control is our own behavior and our representation of our Kingdom citizenship (Philippians 3:20). We’re afforded the right as citizens of the US to speak our minds, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. We’re afforded the right as citizens of the US to vote, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. We’re afforded the right to congregate, meet, and protest, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. After all, we should beware that we do not emphasize our rights as citizens of the US while neglecting our foremost obligations as citizens of the Kingdom. Christ’s command was clear:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
I'm thankful for Kingdom and Country
As Providence would have it, last Sunday I preached a message titled "Fighting for Joy in a World of Worry," only to have Sunday afternoon and Monday morning unfold in such a way that I had to put what I preached into practice. I think at one time or another we've all been there. So, I wanted to share it. Here are the main points.
Decide for Joy
Each and every day, sometimes even moment by moment, we all have a decision to make: we all have to decide if we will allow worry to affect our joy. This week, my truck broke down while I was taking my daughter to school. But I decided to be joyful about the fact that it didn't break down while my wife was driving back from Orlando last week or while I was still on the highway with my daughter or in the drop-off point where it would've caused a huge roadblock (undoubtedly being a giant embarrassment). In other words, I decided to focus on things that brought me joy rather than the inconvenience that didn't.
Although deciding for joy may seem like a ridiculously small step, it's the first and most important step to living a live that is joyful, because, if you don't decide to live a life of joy, then you most certainly won't.
Plot for Joy
Joy has never just happened to anyone. If we want to experience joy on a day-to-day basis, then, after we decide for it, we have to plot for it. That means creating boundaries in our calendar that keep the good inside but the bad outside. For my wife and I, as it relates to this particular situation, we have a AAA membership (PS: it's worth every dollar). That means that even trying events that can steal joy, like my car breaking down on a Monday morning, can be avoided with a little "plotting."
Here are some basics:
- keep a healthy prayer life: maintaining a healthy relationship to God is paramount to a life of joy. It helps us remain strong during trails and also gives us perspective, which is the next point.
- keep a wide perspective: we believe that the world revolves around us, but a little learning, a little broadening of our perspective will quickly remedy that mentality!
- keep a regimen: a schedule guards your heart and mind from concerns that could invade your calendar and potentially steal your joy. Major on majors. Minor on minors.
Don't wait for joy to simply happen to you...
Celebrate for Joy
Finally, we have to celebrate for joy. Each and every moment that we're alive, we should find a simple reason to celebrate, reasons that we often overlook and casually dismiss.
- celebrate Jesus, who never changes and is faithful (Hebrews 13:8)
- celebrate our Heavenly Father, who awaits our presence (Philippians 1:21-22)
- celebrate family and friends, whom God has given us to travel through life with (Matthew 19:23-30)
Don't wait for joy to simply happen to you before you decide to be joyful. Decide. Plot. Celebrate. Joy is a virtue of people who have decided not to allow the world's worry to negatively affect them, control them, or dictate to them what kind of person or what kind of life they're going to lead. How about you? Will you decide for joy?
Fighting for joy in a world of worry
The question that I got this weekend was: What Bible translation should I be reading? It’s a great question for a couple of reasons. First, it means that New City Church is reaching people who aren’t familiar with God’s Word–in other words, we’re helping people find and follow Jesus, and that’s our mission. Second, it means that people are interested in generally learning more from and about God’s Word. In any case, we all should be reading God’s Word with regularity, so here’s a little help when you’re looking for a (new) Bible.
First, there are essentially 3 types of translations.
- Literal — a word-for-word translation that aims at being as close to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts as is possible. (Ex: English Standard Version; New American Standard Bible)
- Dynamic — a thought-for-thought translation that aims at giving the balance of translation and readability. (Ex. New International Version; New Living Translation)
- Paraphrase — a translation that is aimed at readability. (Ex: The Message; Phillips Translation)
As you can probably see, it’s both simpler and more complex than most think. But here’s the gist:
- What translation is used in your church? It’s always helpful to be on the same page as your pastor when he’s preaching.
- Do you enjoy reading? If you do, then you shouldn’t have a problem going with the literal, “stiffer” translation.
- Are you going to use the Bible for in-depth studying? If the answer is yes, you’ll benefit from a literal translation. If the answer is no, then you can lean toward the a dynamic or even a paraphrase.
For most readers, the important question isn’t, What translation should I be reading? but, Am I reading the Bible enough?
The truth is, with Bibles and apps available by the hundreds, there’s no reason why anyone who calls themselves a Christian shouldn’t be reading God’s Word voraciously. Although I personally enjoy and read the ESV, I own a large variety of translations. I read and appreciate them all for different reasons. For most readers, the important question isn’t, What translation should I be reading? but, Am I reading the Bible enough?
So here’s the real question: Are you reading the Bible regularly? I can assure you that reading a paraphrase of the Bible is far more beneficial than owning a literal translation that’s never read!