February 2018 Good $ense Newsletter

It’s All About Jesus

Friends,

As we turn the page into February 2018, we are already approaching the start of a new Lenten season. I feel like we just celebrated the birth of Christ. Now, we are fast approaching Ash Wednesday and preparing to reflect for 40 days on the sacrifice, love and promise God gave to his people in the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus.

 

Ironically, this calendar year, Ash Wednesday falls on the “day of love”, Valentine’s Day. What a day to celebrate the greatest gift given to the world and share about the love that is greater than any card, giant teddy bear, chocolate bar or plastic heart…the love of Jesus. On Christian radio, and in many churches, we are singing a song written by Jesus Culture that beautifully depicts the power, promise and depth of God’s love for each of us.


We will fix our eyes on the One who overcame
Set our eyes on You, Jesus
We will stand in awe of the One who breaks the chains
We stand in You
We will fix our eyes on the One who overcame
Oh, we fix our eyes
We will stand in awe of the One who breaks the chains
Love has a name
Love has a name
Jesus, oh
Joy has a name
Joy has a name
Jesus, oh
My victory
Has a name, oh
Is the name of Jesus
The name of Jesus, oh

Did you catch the theme? Love, joy and victory all have a name – Jesus. This is true always, not just at Christmas or Easter. All of the stories of the Bible are pointing to Jesus. All of them. Woven intricately, precisely, told over and over from generation to generation.

 

This includes finances. Love, joy and victory can be found in relation to money. There are over 2,000 scriptures that teach specifically on money. Jesus, himself, taught on money, especially in the context of the Kingdom of God. In reality, God created all, owns all and we are invited to the great honor of stewarding his resources.

 

I believe this paradigm shift is critical in any Christian course teaching about financial management. God is the owner and we are the stewards. There is no end to the resources in the Kingdom of God. However, we must learn and teach how to effectively and fruitfully manage the resources God has given.

So how do we break this down? During our Freed-Up Financial Living course, class participants are shown this paradigm shift of God as the owner and ourselves as the steward; and challenged to begin to think then act in this way. In fact, we have a helpful reference guide walking participants through the scriptures in relation to God’s ownership, saving, earning, giving, debt and spending.

 

Join me in studying and engaging these scriptures during the 40 days of Lent. Engaging with God about his love for his Kingdom and we, the stewards of his Kingdom. Encourage your class participants to engage in studying with you. Check the reference guide Here.

 

Blessings,

Brooke Bartlow

Good $ense Movement
www.goodsensemovement.org
Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!
(844) Freed Up/ (844)-373-3387 x701

 


A Second Look at a Familiar Passage – Philippians 4:19

Many places in Scripture, God promises to meet our needs. A couple of newsletters ago, we saw Jesus’ promise that God will provide what we need as we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

 

Like all promises in Scripture, this one in Philippians 4 has a context. The context here is the Philippians’ having sent a monetary gift to Paul to provide for his needs while he was in prison. They had sent this gift with Epaphroditus, one of their community (Philippians 2:25; 4:18). This gift was actually a continuation of their support for Paul, dating back to the time immediately after the establishment of the church in Philippi and continuing through Paul’s stay in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-16).

 

We often memorize and quote Scriptural promises like this one without much reference to the context. But God yearns for a two-way relationship with us. On the one hand, he longs to provide for all our needs; and on the other hand, he wants us to trust in his provision to the point that we cheerfully give back to him. This is not a formulaic “put money in the offering plate and receive blessings in return” transaction but a true relationship of giving to each other: God to us, and us to God. As we travel down this road, we inevitably realize that we can’t outgive God!

 

As we approach the season of Lent, we’re reminded again of how much God has truly given to us. We’re reminded all over of how Jesus,

being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

— Philippians 2:6-8

 

As Paul says elsewhere, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things”? –Romans 8:32

 

Stewardship – whether it’s in earning, giving, saving, or spending; whether it’s in finances, time, relationships or opportunities – is all about knowing and trusting the God who meets all our needs, and responding to him with our lives.

 


Lenten Stewardship

Historically, Christians have often observed Lent by giving up something, maybe by abstaining from certain foods or activities. More recently, many believers have begun to observe Lent by taking on something, maybe a new spiritual discipline or a service opportunity. Here are a few ideas to share with your congregation on some stewardship-related Lenten observances. Don’t stop here – let these ideas fuel your thinking about how to honor God during Lent!

 

Form a new habit. According to a study cited by Michael Hyatt (1), it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Starting with Lent will get us over halfway there! For those who aren’t in the habit of tracking their spending, maybe daily expense tracking during Lent is a good place to start. Taking a moment each day to pray over our spending and thank God for meeting our needs will make this more than just a daily exercise and help us cultivate a spirit of gratitude in the process.

 

Free up resources for Kingdom work. While many people give up something for Lent, this can be more meaningful by combining the giving up with something positive. For example, fasting is not meant to be simply abstinence from food – it’s meant to encourage the believer to spend additional time in prayer and to heighten gratitude for God’s provision. One idea along these lines for Lent would be to give up some regular spending (maybe that daily Starbuck’s?) and giving the money saved to church or to a specific ministry.

 

Give of ourselves. Freeing up resources can be even more meaningful if it’s combined with serving God and serving others in some way. Giving in conjunction with serving can create additional vision and connection. One example would be to give to a local food pantry and volunteer a day to stock the shelves or serve the patrons of the food pantry.

 


(1) https://michaelhyatt.com/make-a-new-habit-stick/, accessed on February 11, 2018.


A Better Stewardship Year, pt. 1

Last year, we discussed Michael Hyatt’s approach to goal-setting in the context of individual stewardship goals. This year, we’ll look at applying that same approach to leading a stewardship ministry in your church.

A few of us may be used to accomplishing all the goals we set, moving from victory to victory as we check one after another major accomplishment off the list. For the rest of us, disappointments with what we’ve accomplished in the past can haunt us and limit what we can achieve going forward.

It’s important to realize that, as Hyatt says, the past does not equal the future. Certainly, we can use the past to inform the future (more on that next time), but the fact that we didn’t meet one or more goals in the past doesn’t mean that those same goals can’t be met in the future. And we shouldn’t limit ourselves by assuming that obstacles that may have stood in our way in the past will continue to defeat us in the future.

So, if you set out to start a year-round stewardship ministry last year and found that you didn’t have the support you needed; if you offered a stewardship class or two and didn’t have the impact you had hoped for; if you looked to recruit a team of stewardship coaches and didn’t get the response you were looking for – don’t let the disappointments of last year turn into discouragement for this year.

 

Start with an “abundance” mindset

Elsewhere in this newsletter, we focused on Paul’s statement to the Philippians that God would meet all their needs, in the context of their honoring God through their support of Paul’s ministry. As we look to honor God through the ministry of stewardship, we can count on him to provide everything we need. Support from church leadership; congregational openness to the principles of stewardship; people with hearts to help others in the area of stewardship – all these and more God will provide for us as we seek to aid our congregations in honoring him with our finances.

 

Bathe decisions, directions, and events in prayer

One of the things God promises to give us is wisdom as we seek his will (James 1:5). It’s possible to jump ahead of his leading, like Moses did when he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating one of the Hebrews. Though he was trying to do the right thing, he was acting in his own wisdom and strength, and his people did not see God working through him. After 40 years in the desert and an encounter with God, Moses was ready to act in God’s name (see Acts 7:23-36).

 

Similarly, our earnest desire to see God honored through the stewardship of our congregations can push us to make our own plans and act on them, rather than seeking God’s guidance and acting in his wisdom. Prayer – not the “please bless this class” kind of prayer, but earnest seeking of God’s wisdom and leading – is our way to seek and know God’s leading. He’s promised to answer that kind of prayer.

 

Replace limiting beliefs with liberating truths

Part of what holds us back in accomplishing our goals, says Hyatt, is our tendency to buy into “limiting beliefs”. In a stewardship ministry, some examples might be:

  • My church leadership doesn’t understand the importance of a stewardship ministry
  • No one in our congregation cares much about stewardship
  • Whenever we offer a class, we don’t get much response

 

As we seek God in prayer and he responds by giving us wisdom, we can trust that he’s overcoming obstacles. We can replace limiting beliefs like the ones above with liberating truths such as:

  • God is opening the hearts of my church leadership to the importance of a stewardship ministry
  • God is convicting members of our congregation regarding stewardship
  • God will bring to our classes those whom he is preparing

 

These aren’t simply mantras to be repeated; they are prayers to the God who can change people’s hearts and they are affirmations of faith that he is answering those prayers. The more we seek God’s leading and pray for him to be glorified in our stewardship ministries, the more aware he will make us of how he is already working, and the more he will continue to open doors for fruitful ministry.


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