Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Message Series Planning

I am sometimes asked how I come up with the various series we do at New Season Church. I actually do have a method I use and I plan them out a year in advance always allowing for the Holy Spirit to call an audible and to change a series or the sequence of messages. I have been in lectionary recovery for a number of years and so my hat goes off to any person who can do series preaching with the lectionary. That seems like a lot of work!

Since I am currently in the process of doing that for 2009-2010 I thought I would share how I do that. I got most of my method from Nelson Searcy and his resource about planning a preaching calendar.

Here is a word document describing the method.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Christmas is Not An Emergency- Financial Peace Friday on Tuesday

I previously have posted about the Total Money Makeover Simulcast on Saturday September 19th and the Financial Peace University class starting September 21st we are going to be holding at New Season. You can always sign up for those events at our website. Leading up to those events I had hoped (though I made no promises) to do a Financial Peace Friday on this blog. Well it is Tuesday but better late than never. I will be sharing some things I am learning about biblical principles for handling the resources God has given. I am no expert, I have a long way to go in living out some of these principles, but I am confident that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (and so can you!).

Today I wanted to talk about credit cards. If you are like me then maybe you first got a credit card for emergencies. Perhaps, like me, you justify keeping those things around because of course you need them for emergencies like a car repair, a new furnace, or en emergency trip across the country to attend a funeral.

If you are like me, then your problem comes when you do not use them for emergencies. You end up using them to get something you "need" when you have more month than money left and the balance builds. Or, have you ever found yourself using your credit card for Christmas gifts or vacation?

Maybe you are one of the few who do not get caught up in these traps. Consider yourself among the minority in the US. I am learning that Christmas and vacations are not emergencies. I actually know they are coming. I know Christmas comes at least once a year and I know I will have en expenditure for gifts. I know I am going to take a summer vacation and it will mean an outlay of cash. I am learning that the key to these things is to save for them thus avoiding using the plastic. This is nothing new under the sun. Remember the Christmas club the bank used to offer?

Also, I am learning about how to manage these other emergencies that cannot be anticipated like things breaking or having to go away quickly. The effect of these emergencies can be alleviated with the saving of an emergency fund. In any plan to get out of debt the first step after providing for the necessities (food, utilities, rent) and being current on all your current bills is to save a $1,000 emergency fund. In Financial Peace University this is described as Baby Step 1. Baby Step 2 is to then work on paying off all your debt except for your home. Baby Step 3 is then to build up your emergency fund again this time saving 3 to 6 months of expenses (notice not salary). You can see then whether you have finished baby step 1 or baby step 3 you are more prepared for the emergencies. If you have a big car repair for $500 you take it out of your emergency fund instead of putting it on your credit card. You then rebuild your emergency fund. If you are able to get to baby step 3 where you have saved 3 to 6 months worth of expenses then if you lose your job for whatever reason then you have a little cushion before you find another one and you don't have to go into credit card debt to keep food on the table.

You can learn about the rest of these baby steps and begin to come up with your own plan for financial peace by attending the Total Money Makeover Simulcast or the Financial Peace University Class.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When to Launch

When to launch a new faith community is a question that must be carefully considered by the church planter. To launch too early will mean quick and almost certain death for the church planter's and God's dream for the new faith community. To take too long to launch means losing or never gaining momentum. Thus there has to be a middle way- a via media.

I have found three main ways of thinking about when to launch. First and probably the oldest suggested launch date was Easter Sunday. How symbolic to launch this new work on the day of resurrection. After all, Easter is so well attended and unchurched people are more willing to attend church on Easter than any other Sunday. The drawback for an Easter launch is that the Sunday after Easter is one of the least attended Sundays and you quickly find yourself in the middle of the doldrums of summer.

Another school of thought says to take your time launching and spend about 15 months working the mission field, preparing your church systems, putting ministries in place and gathering as large a launch team as possible. For United Methodist people this would mean launching in September a year after one is appointed. The drawback with this approach is that the longer you get out the harder it is to sustain momentum and one must be especially strong to avoid the call to begin weekly worship and avoid the notion that once you start a bunch of people will automatically come and they are just waiting for you to start.

A third way that I have heard articulated recently which I really like is to consider launching in February. For UM people this would about 8 months after being appointed. This is a good time of the year to launch especially after Super Bowl Sunday. Persons are not as busy with spring or summer and you get a natural bounce come Easter. 8 months is enough time to put systems, ministries, and other essentials in place and to gain a launch team without losing momentum.

Whenever a church planter decides to launch they must obviously listen for God's direction. However, they must ensure that it is God's direction and not their own or a chili dog giving them heartburn that they mistake for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Financial Peace Friday

I previously have posted about the Total Money Makeover Simulcast on Saturday September 19th and the Financial Peace University class starting September 21st we are going to be holding at New Season. You can always sign up for those events at our website. Leading up to those events I hope (I make no promises) to do a Financial Peace Friday on this blog. In it I will be sharing some things I am learning about biblical principles for handling the resources God has given. I am no expert, I have a long way to go in living out some of these principles, but I am confident that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (and so can you!).

This Friday I want to talk about debt. Anytime debt is talked about in the Bible it is never in a positive light. Proverbs 22:7 tells us "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender." The problem with debt and why debt is so heavily marketed in our society is that it becomes our master. Many of us are taught that debt is normal. We are told that debt is good in some cases (like student loan debt). We are told to invest and ignore small interest debt that we may be carrying because the numbers make better sense. While debt in and of itself is not a sin, and certainly not a salvation issue, the Bible is clear that debt is not a good things and nowhere does God call his people to go into debt for his purposes.

The problem comes in that when we are in debt we have another master besides the Master. The problem with any debt is that it carries risk. This has been a hard and painful lesson for many in the current recession. Debt seems to be OK until you or your spouse loses their job, you have a health emergency, or interest rates go up on you. Then you start to worry about debt and it becomes your master even further. Before you know it you are worshiping at the feet of the FICO score (your credit score). And yet, the Bible tells followers of Jesus there is only one God, one thing worthy of our love, attention and energy and it is not debt.

The Total Money Makeover Simulcast and Financial Peace University will help you to think about your own debt in light of biblical principles. It is interesting that when I follow God's instructions for life as found in God's word things turn out right. When I don't, that is when things go wrong. I guess God knows better than me. If you are sick and tired of being in debt to credit card companies, your student loan provider, the hospital for medical bills, or whoever else then get yourself over to our website where you will find a link for the one day Total Money Makeover Simulcast or the the more in-depth 13 week Financial Peace University. In both of these opportunities you will learn tried, true, and tested principles based in the authority of scripture for you to be free from debt.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

God at the Movies

Here are the first two messages from our "God at the Movies" series. You can find the text for these messages here. Here is the audio.

The Hangover


This week we finish up the series with "Up!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

About a month ago I finished by stint coaching my oldest son Robert's baseball team- the Sidewinders. This was Robert's first year of coach pitch baseball. Do you know how hard it is to throw strikes to seven and eight year olds? Thank goodness we had another coach who did the pitching!! One of the refrains of the season the players heard from us coaches was "keep your eye on the ball." In other words, watch the ball so you can hit it with your bat. Often times kids would swing so hard they would pull their head and be looking at the moon or they would be swinging and looking down at their feet. Nine times out of ten when they did not keep their eye on the ball they would strike out or just foul the ball off if they were lucky.

That refrain to "keep your eye on the ball" is a refrain that has been playing in my head as it pertains to following Jesus. It occurs to me that as followers of Jesus our job is to keep our eye on the ball. In this case, to keep our eyes on Jesus. It is when we take our eyes off of Jesus that we stumble. When we take our eyes off of Jesus we strike out in life or at best hit foul balls. However, when we keep our eye on Jesus we will follow in his way and be obedient to his teachings marking the way of life for us. Keeping our eye on Jesus is necessarily all the time, but especially in the difficult times, the times of stress, the times when Jesus seems most far away to us. It is those times we especially have to remember to "keep our eye on the ball" and hear the refrain "keep your eye on Jesus."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Total Money Makeover Simulcast

Last week I announced that New Season Church would be holding the Financial Peace University class beginning September 21st featuring popular radio personality, author and follower of Jesus Dave Ramsey. You can read about it here. I am happy to further announce that on Saturday September 19th we will hos the Total Money Makeover Simulcast featuring Dave Ramsey at New Season Church. Dave will be teaching live from Atlanta and we will receive the video feed in Fredericksburg. The simulcast will be from 1PM-6PM and have time for breaks and snacks.

Are you interested in changing your financial future? Do you need a makeover- a money makeover? If so, the Total Money Makeover Simulcast featuring popular radio talk show host, best-selling author and financial counselor Dave Ramsey might just be for you. New Season United Methodist Church of Spotsylvania will host the Total Money Makeover simulcast on Saturday September 19th from 1PM-6PM with doors opening at noon. The simulcast will help viewers learn biblical principles about how to handle their money as well as practical principles that help in paying off debt, saving for emergencies, funding education, saving and investing, and giving generously. The cost to attend the simulcast is $25 and includes the workbook.

You can register for the Total Money Makeover by going to the church's website where we will soon have have a link to take you to a sign up page. Or, you can call the church at 540/ 834-4413.

What is the difference between the Total Money Makeover and the Financial Peace University class? Dave's teaching is essentially the same in both. However, Financial Peace University is 13 weeks as opposed to one day and thus goes into far greater detail and has the small group dynamic where you can gain ideas, support and realize you are not alone. The Total Money Makeover Simulcast is a great tool for you if you cannot commit to the thirteen weeks or want to check it out before committing to thirteen weeks. I encourage everybody to attend the simulcast and then consider going further with the Financial Peace University Class. If you are ready to sign up for the Financial Peace University Class already then go here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Isn't Using Movies in Worship of the Devil?

We have started a new series of messages at New Season Church called "God at the Movies."

Using movies as part of worship and as a jumping off point to talk about biblical principles, spiritual issues, and the sacred may seem a bit strange to some "and of the devil to others."

I believe we we can use parts of our culture to point us to greater truths about who God is, what God has done, and how we are to be obedient to God. Instead of hiding from the culture I believe we are to engage it and exploit it for God’s glory. This is called plundering the Egyptians, remember how the Israelites under God's command took the gold and other items of the Egyptians during the Passover but left that which was not useful. Make no mistake, many movies have little redeeming value. However, whether it is a movie, or a popular song, or a television show or most anything else in culture there is a sacredness to it if you will.

Here is what I mean. The Bible says in Psalm 24:1 “The earth and all that is in it belongs to God.” God pervades all things. As Creator, God is part of everything. This doesn’t mean as some mistakenly have said that God is for instance “a tree, a rock, or a turtle.” But that tree, rock, and turtle reveal the glory of God, were created by God, and point us to God. The same is true for many other things in life. There is a sacredness to them that if we might just scratch hard enough reveals God’s glory, point us to God, and help us to follow Jesus.

Movies, songs, or television shows are all part of a grander narrative. Almost all of these things whether they are love stories, stories of friendships, stories of struggle, stories of looking for the meaning in life, they all point us to the greatest story ever told and that is the story of God’s love for humanity perfectly made known to us in Jesus Christ. These movies, songs, and television shows are mere shadows of the one story that defines all of human history. They are attempts to tell the greater story. All of our art and entertainment, apart from the truly grotesque and abominable, are just attempts to tell part of the greater story.

It is interesting that when Jesus taught his disciples he used story. He used parables. He used every day things people knew about, like farming, to convey spiritual truths. The same is done by using movies, songs, television, etc. The truth is not found in first century farming principles and any more than it is in yesterday's summer blockbuster. Truth is instead found in the One whom those things point us toward. Those are just the tools.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt Wrap-Up

Here are the last two messages from the series of messages we just finished "I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt." For those who want to listen you can listen here.
7/19/09 Imitate

7/26/09 Follow

For a text version go here.
New Season Message Center

To subscribe via I Tunes and automatically receive the messages you can go here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Financial Peace University Coming to New Season Church

I am excited to announce that New Season will be hosting Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University Class beginning in late September. The Financial Peace University Class begins on Monday September 21st at 7PM at our new location at the Four Mile Fork Shopping Center next to Hard Times Cafe. The class will be thirteen weeks long.

Financial Peace University is a biblically based, video driven small group that teaches families to beat debt, build wealth and give like never before.

This program's for you if:
---Your credit cards ARE your emergency fund.
---Your dog responds to the name "Ebay".
---You have to sell your house to put your kids through college.
---You're intrigued by the word "plastectomy."
---You want to know what God says about money.
---You typically have more month than money left.
---You are tired of living in debt- car payments, student loans, credit card etc.
---You want to learn specific steps to take to help you retire well, fund your child's education and to give generously.
---Stocks, bonds, and Mutual Funds are friend's you haven't meant.

What will you learn? Each of the 13 Lessons deals with a different topic that will change the way you think about personal finance. Dave teaches about how to save money, live on a budget, communicate about money, eliminate debt, find bargains, and experience the joy of giving.

Dave Explains:
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Retirement
  • Real Estate
  • College Planning
  • Careers
  • Debt Collectors
  • Credit Reports
  • and More!
Over 650,000 families have completed FPU with amazing success. On average, they pay off $5,300 in debt and save $2,700 in just 13 weeks. That's an $8,000 change in position in just 91 days!

For more information about this life-changing program you can visit the The Financial Peace University website. The class materials cost $100 if ordered through the church. To sign up for Financial Peace University at New Season Church you can go here.

*Financial Peace University sells no products or services and you will not be asked to purchase anything beyond your class materials.