We Value What We Work For

moneyContinued from here.

Now, I do have the spiritual gift of administration, so organization comes easily to me. The Bible assures us that each Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift, so definitely enjoy the area or areas in which you get to do something effortlessly thanks to the Holy Spirit. But note how easy it can be to take that gift for granted. You don’t have to put any effort into that area, so it can be easy to become baffled why it’s a challenge for other people.

In contrast, any area for which you must work, which is going to be most areas, becomes an area that drives you repeatedly into God’s arms—or to connect back to the Vine —because you will otherwise fail. This grows your relationship with God and takes much effort—much repeated focus at you step out in obedience over and over again. As you progress in that area of your life, you have much to celebrate, and that progress has much value because you know all you sacrificed to achieve it.

As an example, I used to be a very stingy person and truly did not believe anyone ever tithed. Today, not only do I tithe, but I give generously above the tithe, and I actually feel really good about it. This did not happen overnight – it was a slow process that cost me a lot of pride. I began tithing solely out of obedience, and I begrudged every penny. I was certainly not a cheerful giver in any respect. Today, God will place on my heart to give a large sum to help someone in need, and I feel joyful about the opportunity to serve God in that way as well as to bless the other person. There’s no internal wrestling over this. All I have belongs to God, and it’s available for Him to distribute in any way He pleases. I know how much effort it took to get me from my starting point to where I am today, and I deeply value the freedom God has given me as I have removed money as an idol in my life. I value that my security comes from God, not from the amount of money I have in the bank.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace throwing money in the air. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Seven Fundamental Practices: Local Church Involvement

churchContinued from here.

Local church involvement – both regular attendance and service to the local church body – are critical fundamental practices. If you are like me and have been hurt by a local church body, that might be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s biblical. Like many of you, have I seen hypocrites in the church. I have seen local church bodies take advantage of people, try to control them, and do all sorts of other ungodly things in the name of God. I’m not advising you to connect with a local church that does not follow God’s ways.

In the United States, we are blessed with religious freedom that many people in other parts of the world only dream about. Don’t waste this freedom! There’s no shortage of local churches to choose from. Pray for wisdom and discernment about which local church body to connect with, and then start visiting churches.

When my husband and I moved in 1999, it took us over a year to find our local church body. We visited many churches, most of which were not a good fit for a variety of reasons. We narrowed it down to three possibilities, but each of the three had something that kept us from feeling like they were “home.” Don’t get me wrong – all three were wonderful church bodies – they just weren’t quite the right fit for us.

I then decided to scout out a church that was a little outside the distance radius that we had set. As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I had “come home.” I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and it just “felt right.” My husband felt the same way when he joined me the next week. This local church body has been our Church Family for over 15 years now, and we cannot imagine our lives without it! See this blog entry for an example of why.

Note that your only consideration should not be what you can get from a church but also what you can give. God has blessed you with at least one spiritual gift that He intends for you to use to bless your Church family. You cannot do this without plugging into a local church body.

If you are not connected with a local church body, you are missing out! So many blessings await you. Find a local church and plug in. Attend the services, and pray for discernment about the ways God wants you to serve that local church body. Your relationship with God is not just about you. You are an integral part of the Body of Christ.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace praying in front of a stained glass window. Courtesy Bitmoji.]