What are you doing with your resources?

(Please note, this post is not meant to single out any one church or organization my area. If you are a local pastor or leader, it is not a direct attack on you, but on the American church as a collective group)

What I want to talk about today is a question we as Christians will be faced with then we stand before God. It is a question what we should all be keeping in mind as we go about our lives.

“What have you done with the tools I have given you to advance My Kingdom?”

For a lot of people this is a scary question. Because when we look at how we use our time and resources, I think we can all agree that we are not using them to the best of God’s Kingdom. Most of us prefer to sit back and complain about what it happening around us instead of stepping up and trying to make a change.

I live in an area of the country that is just ravaged by drugs, heroin in particular (last stat I saw had my area as the #3 per capita in heroin us in the entire country). This drug brings with it prostitution (sex slavery) as well as rampant alcoholism.  Yet most churches in my area simply sit back and watch this epidemic spread more and more without want to take any action. Yes, it is on every prayer list (and do not mistake me, prayer SHOULD be the first step in any decision we make) but normally that is as far as it goes.

It comes down to this simple fact: most churches today have an inside out model instead of an outside in model. They want to cater to everyone inside their church walls, and not worry about those outside the walls.  Yes this stings to hear if you are a church leader, but seriously examine how much sincere and true outreach do you do?  What is the ratio of resources your devote to discipleship in the church versus outreach beyond your walls.

And I am not talking about missionaries outside of your area. I am speaking about right in your community.  Once again, do not misunderstand me, I am in no way saying local churches should not support overseas missions. But we should not be doing so at the expense of outreach right outside our front door.  “What did you do with the resources I gave you?” This should be the question on your mind as you go about making decisions on where to put your time and money. It is not about YOU or your church getting praise and glory. It is about bringing people to Christ through any means you have at your disposal.

The battle of traditional versus contemporary, praise and worship versus hymns, chairs versus pews  and all the other mundane arguments that occur in the modern church today take away from the most important function of the church: to bring people into God’s family.  And this goes to any organization who profess to have a mission of bringing people closer to God. As soon as you start putting limitations on how you are going to deliver God’s Word, you instantly lose your stated goal.

Jesus did not say “go out and preach only the King James bible using only hymns and piano”.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)

Notice there is no mention at all of the teaching method. It simply says go and teach. People learn and people come to Christ in different ways, and we need to stop focusing on the “how” they are coming to know The Lord and instead begin focusing on the “if” they are coming to know God. Just because you might not like a certain type of music, or a certain style of preaching, does not mean the person who is sitting next to you who is not saved will not be able to connect with it.

We live in a society so worried about offending people that we have let this attitude invade our churches. No longer are different styles of worship allowed. We have put a dividing line in place, saying this is how we worship in this building and if you don’t like it, there is the door.  We have shut our minds off to any possibility that someone may be drawn to Christ in a different way than we are teaching, so we keep on doing the same things over and over and over, and then complain that it is not working.

I have heard people say “well, people will be drawn through the doors of a church when God calls them”. Well if that is the case, why even do any form of outreach at all? Why bother witnessing to anyone?  This statement always makes me laugh. Our job as Christians is to lead a life that helps people see Christ through us, and then make every effort to lead those around us to Christ. This does not mean only those we are comfortable with. This does not mean only those who walk through our church doors.

We are to get outside of our church walls, into our communities, and let me people know about the love of Christ. We are NOT to simply sit on our churches and wait for them to come to us.

The biggest and most valuable resource we all have the equal supply of is our time.  It costs no money to lead a Jesus led life. It cost no money to tell someone about God’s plan for salvation. It costs no money for any of us to go out into the world and tell others about Jesus.

What is does cost us is time. Time away from Netflix, Facebook and Instagram. It makes us focus on what is important, and causes us to make to difficult decisions in how we best allocate the resource of time. If you were to stand before God right now, and have to answer “Did you do your best with the resources I provided you”, how would you answer?

How Do You Define Success?

As I was going back through my notes on my daily bible reading today, I stumbled across this question which was highlighted. Most likely, I was going to go back and do some research on something I had read the day the notation was made, and just never got around to doing it. But it struck me today that this question is extremely relevant in the culture we live in. 

By society’s standards, I was a very successful man four years ago. I had a nice apartment, ran a company that was in demand and highly respected within its industry and had the money to buy anything I wanted anytime I wanted. I wore the best clothes and had all the latest gadgets. Anyone who would have seen me at this time would have looked and said “there is a successful person.” But it was all a show. An act I put on for society to make them think I was successful. 

In actuality, I was having to scrape up money each month to pay for the “cool” apartment. Even though I had all the best things money could buy at the time, I had nothing  in the bank to protect me is suddenly it all stopped. I had lived that way all my life and saw no reason to stop it. Then things started to go wrong. Fights with those closest to me who were trying to get me to see how out of control I was. Bad business decisions made in the heat of the moment instead of stepping back and examining the situation. In a 6 month period, I went from success to failure in society’s eyes. All those “friends” I thought I had disappeared when the going got tough (only 2 of them really stuck around after my fall from grace was completed.) 

I was broken and broke. I went from success to unsuccessful (or so I thought). The reason I believed I had become a failure is because I was only judging success or failure through cultural, worldly standards. And when we do this, we will always see ourselves as unsuccessful. There will always be someone with a bigger bank account, bigger house or better wardrobe. When the possessions of the world is your measuring stick, you will always come up short. 

It took me losing everything to see there is only one true way to measure and define success, and that is how does Jesus see you?  When my outlook and motivation changed from “what can I do to make more money and have more things” to “what can I do to serve Jesus today”, my life changed. Instead of living in a fog of depression and doubt every time I stepped out of the house, I now live in a radiant world of hope and forgiveness.  Everyday I am around those whom society has deemed unsuccessful and failures. But I see a chance to tell them about God and how you can have ultimate satisfaction through knowing Him and following Him. 

“Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭19:21-22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

You see here, Jesus does not want our earthly possessions. He wants us. All of us, complete mind, body and soul so that He can guide us and show us His ways. It took me 40 years to figure this out . It took me 40 years of anger, resentment, and feeling so lost I couldn’t take it anymore.  It wasn’t until I was completely broken, both financially and spiritually, that I was finally able to define success.  And that definition is this: I am able to wake up every day and tell those around me about the love of Christ. The love He has for me and the love He has for anyone who is willing to give their all to Him. 

So I ask you this: Are you ready to be successful?