Seeking The Good Life

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Happiness, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on November 17, 2016

Everyone I know wants to live the good life. But, for many, the good life is something we think will happen later. In other words, we haven’t gotten there yet. This translates into what I call, “when and then thinking.” The thought process is that “when” this happens, “then” I’ll be happy. The “when” can be making more money, hitting the lottery, marrying the right person, moving to a desired place. What folks are missing is that the good life is not something that happens to you, but something God does in and through you. It’s not based on the world around (that’s beyond our control), but rather has a foundation in a rich relationship with God.

Jesus warns us that money can actually try to be our master (Matt. 6:24). This is so crazy, because many of us think that if we had more money we would be freer. Yet, we know from talking to people with more money than us, that they still don’t feel they have enough. Somehow having more is not a sign of living the good life Jesus came to bring.

The remedy is found when we put our treasure in God’s kingdom. Jesus says that our heart always follows our money (Matt 6:21), therefore, to have a heart of peace, we need to invest in the things of God.

Here’s the guarantee, Jesus said if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then “all these things will be added unto you.” In other words, when we put God’s kingdom first, our hearts are aligned, and He provides our needs. Both of which lead to a very good life.

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A Better Way To Live

I heard the other day that no matter how big the plate is that we Americans will tend to eat about everything on it.  So, a strategy for weight loss is simply to use a smaller plate.  What is that saying about us as people?  Do we really have that little self-control?

Unfortunately, this behavior doesn’t just show up in our eating habits, but also in our spending habits as well.  Most Americans would need to borrow money or use a credit card if they had an expense come up for more than $400.  Do we really think our refrigerator will never go out?  Why don’t we save for occasions like that?  For many of us, we’ve never been taught how.  So, we use this pattern: consume first, save second (what we feel we can) and give last (what’s leftover).  What this makes of us is a consumer.  We consume all we can as a first option.

Generous people flip this list, so it looks like this: give first (a set amount), save second (a desired amount) and spend what’s leftover.  When we do this, we become planners.  Also, giving first is a biblical principle found throughout Scripture, often with promises attached (Prov. 3:9-10).

What should we give toward?  Here are my criteria:  What am I grateful for?  For me, that is easy, it’s the local church.  The local church kept me through my life from making poor decisions and living with fewer regrets.  Then, what breaks my heart?  Again, I believe the church is the best agency to address the needs of humanity.  When the church is firing on all cylinders, the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the lost are found and people are brought into the full life of Christ.

Take a look at your life.  Are you just a consumer?  God intended for you and I to be much more than that. If we really got ahold of this, needs would be met, and the world would be changed.

For a negative example, look at the story Jesus told about a guy in Luke 12:16-20.

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You Weren’t Born This Way

We can be born black, white, rich, poor, southern and northern, but one thing we all have to learn is how to be generous.  One of the first words from a child’s mouth is “mine.”  Parents are often heard encouraging their kids, “Now, share that with your sister.”  Just getting older doesn’t mean we have this trait perfected.  Generosity is something that must be learned and practiced for it to be engrained in our lives.

Our culture plans for random acts of kindness and giving, but true generosity is more than random.  Truly generous people order their lives around generosity.  It’s interesting that Jesus said, “Happy” or “Happier” will be the result of generous living (Acts 20:35).

It’s truly not a matter of income either, because you’ve met wealthy people who aren’t generous and poorer folks who are.  The key is: it’s more about being than doing.  Doing implies an action, as in a one-time event, while being carries the idea of consistent behavior.  It’s who you are.  Being is about the heart.

So, if you want to be happier, live more free from worry over money, and then set your money free with generosity.  If you do, you’ll find you don’t care when pastor’s talk about money, when someone is asking for money outside the grocery, or a sympathetic ad comes on about a charity.  A generous person already has a plan for generosity and so they can say “no” to certain things, because they’ve already said “yes” to things that grip their heart.  We’ll talk more about that this weekend.

If you get a generosity plan, you will be happier, give more, save more and consume less.  I hope you’ll join me on this generosity journey and make the world a better place.


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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

It’s not entirely clear where this idiom originated, though some it started in Irish pubs where gambling was common.  A person might boast that they could do something and another person would challenge them to bet on it.  The theory being that if they were unwilling to gamble money on what they were talking about, they were just talk and basically full of it.

Today, it basically means that you need to back up what you’re saying with your actions.  So, what might that look like?  For example, you could say something along the lines of “Have you noticed the trash that seems to collect on that corner? I think someone should do something about it.”  The person you’re telling it to suggest that YOU could go out and pick it up, or organize your neighborhood to have a clean up day in order to ‘put you money where your mouth is’.

One definition I found was

to support something that you believe in, especially by giving money If people are really interested in helping the homeless they should put their money where their mouth is.

We also use the expression “Talk is cheap.”  The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read “Tithe if you love Jesus, anyone can honk.”  Meaning it’s very easy to complain about the state of things, and a lot harder or more expensive to actually do anything to change the situation.  It’s easy to say we want to support the advancement of God’s kingdom on the earth, but another to write the check or go online and give.

So, let’s evaluate our lives, and decide if we’re a honker or a tither, a mouther or a mover, a complainer or a changer.

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The Season of Giving

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Generosity, Giving, Seasons, Stewardship by PCraig on December 18, 2014

This is the season of giving.  I heard that 30% of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December.  That’s staggering!

It’s also concerning.  Is it really generosity if we only are motivated to give one time out of the year?  What about the rest of the year?

As a follower of Jesus, I am compelled to be generous throughout the year because my Savior is shows generosity every day.

I’m all about being generous at Christmas, because that is a big part of what it is about.  But, as a follower of Jesus, I must model a generous lifestyle throughout the year.  So, let’s be generous this Christmas, and then keep it going on through 2015.  Imagine with me what good could be done if that extra 30% of generosity maintained.

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Funny Over Money

Why do people get funny when it comes to discussing their money?

Talk about marriage and people are anxious to hear.

Talk about faith and people are willing to grow.

Talk about overcoming and people are running to listen.

BUT, talk about money – and some people start looking for reasons to not make it to church.  Some even quit attending a church when they are talking about money.  They don’t always tell you that it’s the reason.  Then, when the next church starts talking about money (the nerve), they leave it and keep repeating the cycle.  Why is that?  What is the problem?

Here’s a few thoughts:

  • These people would not like to listen to Jesus teach, because He taught about money and finances a lot!  He talked about it more than heaven, hell, healing, deliverance, or just about anything else.  It’s like He knew it was a sore spot!
  • All of us are selfish by nature and want to keep what we think is ours – ours.  We want to do with our money what we wish and don’t want to feel guilty about that.
  • We don’t know that God owns it all and we are just managers.  (See Jesus teachings on the shrewd manager)
  • We don’t understand how rich we are.  (visit to see how rich you really are)
  • Some of us run from the very thing that could help us (like the rich young ruler Matt. 19).

The day you and I find out how rich and blessed we are is a great day, because we can learn how to be a greater blessing to others.  Don’t allow yourself to run from a message that can help you be good at being rich, instead run to it and become all God wants you to be.

Here’s just one promise for putting this into practice:  “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”  (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Let’s bring about more thanksgiving to God!

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The Line Forms There

Posted in Generosity, Impact, Missions, Serving, Thankfulness, witnessing by PCraig on March 13, 2014

It is better to serve than be served.  That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true.  Last Sunday, I began my message by asking the question:  “How long will the line be in heaven to get to you (by people) to say thanks for serving and giving to the Lord”?  The goal was to think about the power of our influence on earth that will be fully realized in heaven.

When you give to a missionary here, you have no idea who all might be reached through their ministry.  However, when we get to heaven and are enlightened, people will want to show their gratitude for sending the missionary.  That means a line may form to get to you and me filled with Africans, Asians, South Americans, Europeans, Islanders and all manner of people to say thank you.

The longer I live the more aware I am of the hollowness of outward stuff.  And, the more convinced I am of caring, and not being cared for, having the greatest value.  As we get into heaven, I think we will wish we had changed more diapers, served more meals, carried more bags, held more doors, lightened more burdens, and given more away.

The line to get to you on earth is not nearly as significant as the line that will form in heaven.

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The Divine Portion

Posted in Generosity, Giving, honor, Stewardship, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 3, 2013

When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, God clearly commanded them to enjoy all of the incredible creation He had provided – except for one tree!  The fruit of that tree represented the divine portion.

Later, the Israelites were headed into the land that God had promised them and once again God commanded them to let one city be His, out of ten they were going to conquer.  Once again we see the divine portion.

In Malachi 3, the prophet brings a word from the Lord to the people that they are to stop offering their leftovers to God and bring the whole tithe to God’s house first.  God said otherwise they are robbing Him of the divine portion.

Jesus said to “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and all these things will be added to us.  What things?  The context is food, clothing and housing.  Implying that if we will put God first in His divine portion, God will care for all these needs.

God doesn’t want or need anything from us, but He uses the divine portion to test what is in our hearts, not so He can see what’s there, but so we can.  He already knows what is in our hearts, but sometimes we are deceived about our true devotion.  The divine portion is a way to test what’s truly in our hearts.

Because God is so generous, He always offers incredible positives that will come to our lives if we’ll honor the divine portion: housing, food, clothing, security from our enemies, stability, and victory just to name a few.

Don’t be like Adam and Eve and eat the divine portion.  Don’t rob God and wonder why you’re not blessed.  Instead bring the divine portion to God and I believe you’ll experience the blessed life in ways you can’t imagine.  I know it’s worked for me over many years and many others as well.

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The Hottest Topic

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Giving, Stewardship by PCraig on November 10, 2011

They used to say not to talk about politics or religion unless you wanted to stir people up, but I’ve found the hottest topic is probably money.  Over the years of preaching, nothing gets people more uncomfortable than talking about God’s ownership over their money.  And probably the greatest source of controversy is in regard to the tithe.  Why is the tithe so controversial?

Let’s look at some facts about tithing.

  • First of all the word “tithe” is used 41 times in Scripture and means “ten” percent.
  • The meaning behind it was to put God first by giving back to Him out of what you’ve been given (this started with Cain and Abel at the very dawn of creation)
  • It symbolizes God is first when we give Him “off the top” and not our leftovers.  God’s not interested in being served leftovers.
  • “First” things throughout the Bible belong to God: first portion of income, day of the week, animal that was born, crops that were harvested…  My best should be offered to Him as an offering.
  • It is a universal principle like Sabbath rest.  Tithing is not just a “law” principle.  It preceded the law and was validated in the New Testament.  Abel gave of his firstborn and Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek 400 years before the law.  A universal principle is not negated by Christ’s coming and the new covenant.
  • It was practiced throughout church history showing it was a part of New Testament church practice.  Tithes were mentioned in church councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787.
  • It is a thermometer of your spiritual vitality.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters…you can’t serve God and MONEY…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be…”  Jesus could have named a lot of other things as the opposite of God, but he chose the word money.
  • It is a starting place for New Testament giving.  We have examples throughout the book of Acts of those who sold homes and other possessions and gave all the proceeds to the church.  Since we have the Holy Spirit within, the completed Word of God and the finished work of Christ, should we do less than in the Old Testament?  Jesus often raised the expectations from what the law required (example of lust/adultery in Matthew 5:27-28)

Paul taught that we ought to give until it feels good (“cheerful“), not until it hurts.  When a person realizes all that God has done for them, it no longer is about what the law demands, but what love desires to express.

My true desire is that you and I would become more and more joyous, outlandishly generous givers each day.

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What it Takes to do Ministry

Posted in Faith, Generosity, Giving by PCraig on February 16, 2011

Leave a comment about what you think about the vBlog.

-Pastor Craig

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