exposure on a main highway

I received a call earlier today from someone who has real estate connections in the area. She informed me that her family has access to a business location on one of the busiest business and shopping highways in the entire Midlothian area. One of the businesses in the shopping center is going to be vacant in a couple months. She asked if the church might be interested in having access to the business location for a few days or weekends to connect with the community and promote New Venture Christian Church and relaxedchurch.com.

I must say, this is an interest as well as challenging opportunity. It is so not typical for a church to have the privilege of such exposure to so many people at one time. Churches usually can’t afford the luxury of high traffic locations like this.

But more than unusual is the challenge of it all. What do you do with a business location like this that will connect with unchurched people without creating the feeling that we are a narrow-minded religious group in the area that wants to lure them in and convince them that they need to be coming to our church or they will die and burn in hell? What could we do with that space. How could we use it to serve the community? How could we convince them to stop by? What could we give to the people who do stop in?

Or is there something we could do that would even benefit the businesses adjacent to this location? Could we partner with them or at least help them feel they were benefiting from what we decide to do?

I love an opportunity and challenge like this. But I need your help with this one. I need to hear from you. What do you think we could use the space for? How do you think we could get people to stop in? What do you feel would appeal to the unchurched of our area without turning them off? What do you believe we need to consider and what do we need to avoid at all costs? How would you respond to this opportunity and what would you do with it?

Please pass on every idea you might have no matter how off the wall you think it is. We will consider them all.

And by all means, please forward this to others you might know who would have some “out of the box” ideas as well.

Debtbusters

For a few weeks now I have been addressing BLING-onomic$ subjects in our Sunday gatherings. Due to time constraints I have not been able to say everything I would like on money management matters. One of the areas I wish I could have addresses more extensively is the debt issue. So here are a few of my feelings on the subject and I invite your feelings, responses and even personal stories as well.

More than ever we need to be aware of and avoid the subtlety of debt. Now don’t get me wrong. I own a credit card and use it to purchase and pay for everything I possibly can with it. But I pay the total balance off every month and I earn dividend miles for free airline tickets in the process.

I get credit card offers almost daily. At times I have received as many as ten envelopes a week in the mail from credit card companies offering me new credit cards. One offered me, because of my “good credit standing,” up to $50,000 on their card at 0% interest for the first 12 months. One card said, because of my good credit standing, they’d give me $100,000 to spend. (On a credit card!)

Would you believe that not one of these credit card company applications mentioned the word debt anywhere? In fact, some of those credit card applications said I could take balances from other credit cards and put it on theirs for an incredibly low rate and everything would be fine. I kept reading and when I got way down to the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, fine print, it said as long as I follow all their rules things would be fine. And at the end of 12 months, or if I made one late payment, the rate jumped to 18% on one, 27% on another. That’s possibly the most ridiculous loan I could ever take out in my entire life.

WHAT CREDIT CARD COMPANIES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

Don’t miss this. Remember the word “revolving.” The credit card companies call good credit people, in other words, people who use their credit cards regularly and only pay the monthly payment required, “revolvers.” (Sounds like something that, when loaded, can be dangerous, doesn’t it?)

Credit card companies want you, me, and everybody in the world to be a “revolver.” If they can get us to be “revolvers,” people who will just keep making the minimum payment each month and keep revolving that debt over and over again, they can make a lot of money off us. They love “revolvers.”

Guess what they call people like me who pay their credit cards off each month and never keep a balance that rolls over to the next month? This is the absolute truth. They call people like me “deadbeats.” If you pay your credit card off each month, the credit card industry considers you a deadbeat! I’d call you a genius.

Debt is subtle and those who try to encourage us to get into debt are subtle themselves and sometimes even sinister. That’s why we need to always read the fine print before we foolishly pursue debt of any amount and know God’s advice and principles when it comes to debt.

In Deuteronomy 28 we find some incredibly sound financial advice. I’ll tell you right up front that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God wants us to be debt free. Look at these verses. Deuteronomy 28:12ff “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty’ to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”

Now God doesn’t say borrowing is wrong. Don’t read that into the verse; nowhere does it say borrowing is wrong. But He says, “You’re going to live in such a way (God’s people) that you’ll lend to other nations and you’ll borrow from no one.” That’s His plan.

The next verse says, “The LORD will make you the head and not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today. ”

It’s very clear. God does not want His people to be in debt. He wants us to be “lenders” instead of “borrowers.” Yet the majority of Christ followers are seriously and severely in debt.

God said, “I want you to be free so you can lend to many and borrow from none.” That makes you the head, the one in control of the circumstance, instead of the tail, tossed around by whatever the one in control desires. Are you with me?

Debt enslaves. Debt takes away our freedoms. I want to invite you to deal with this bondage of debt issue. I would like for you to get to the point where the word “debt” make you sick in your stomach. I wish we could all get to where whenever we hear someone talk about debt or we see the word we just say to ourselves, “I hate debt.” I wish it were something we ran from like the plague.

So, now that you know how I feel about debt, how do you feel about it? What are your insights and stories?

If you would like more information about getting out of debt email me at steve@relaxedchurch.com and I will send it to you.

Down with debt and up with financial freedom.

New baby in the family

sawyer-in-hospital-013-smaller.jpgOur second grandchild has arrived a little early. He wasn’t due until February 27 but decided to arrive on the 8th instead. His namesawyer-in-hospital-015-smaller.jpg is Sawyer Todd Thornton, born to our oldest son Brady and his wife Elizabeth in Lexington Ky. Sawyer is Sharon’s maiden name. Todd is Brady’s middle name.

Due to Sawyer deciding to rotate to the breach position a C section delivery was performed on Friday morning. He weighed in at 7 pounds and 19 inches long. After a somewhat rough first, post-surgery day mother is recovering very well. We brought them home from the hospital this morning, Monday, and life will never be the same again for Brady and Elizabeth. The humorous part is, they don’t have any idea how different life will be from this day forward. I’m just wondering if I should tell them or sawyer-in-hospital-017.jpglet them discover it on their own.

It will at least be a little while before the full load hits them. Sharon and I are staying with them a few days to help carry some of the weight. We are taking care of all the food and house work. Their only responsibility is to practice being new parents. Of course, we are all too willing to give them some direction if they seem to be missing it. Just pray that we won’t say too much.

I thought you would like to see a few pictures. Even if you wouldn’t, here they are.

Got to run. Have to go do some grocery shopping and change the laundry around.

This is a link to a photo gallery our son Brady put together. It even includes a picture of Sharon and me with Audrey, our other grandchild.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?Uc=8x5q4du.qbn7pde&Uy=-q2xib8&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0&mode=fromshare&conn_speed=1

Pictures of a choice not to abort

I am completely aware that we live in a country that legally views abortion as a personal choice. It is a choice that is left up to the discretion of the mother carrying the child. My previous blog entry, “Abortion and Government Intrusion”, expresses my feeling on the rightness and wrongness of such laws and policies. I cannot change by myself what already exists. But I can support candidates and legislators that share my views and position, and I certainly will do that.montana-001-small.jpg

Having said that I want to show you a couple pictures of a choice not to abort. Her name is Audrey. In May of 07 my son and daughter-in-law were informed by their doctor that there was a problem with the child she was carrying. She had a condition called encepholosis. That is where part of the brain develops outside the cranial area. My wife and I traveled to Cincinnati where they lived, to be with them during several days of extensive testing at Children’s Hospital. It was the most heart wrenching experience we had ever experienced.

The doctors were very emphatic about their diagnosis. There was little chance that Audrey would even see birth and if she did she would likely die within minutes or hours at best. The exposed brain area would make it impossible for her to sustain life.

Of course, the first suggestion to them was to terminate the pregnancy. Based on their conviction, they refused the offer. They would trust that God would do what was best and prove that their choice was right.

On schedule, five months later, Audrey was born. The brain was partially exposed, just as diagnosed. But she was otherwise sustaining life on her own to the complete surprise of the medical staff. Surgery was scheduled to remove the exposed portion of the brain with the caution that her eyesight might be affected, since the part removed regulates sight.

audrey-197-small.jpgAudrey is now four and a half months old. She is currently weighing in at about fifteen pounds. Yes, there are some problems with her sight. She had a check-up yesterday (1/31/07). Her doctor confirmed the sight difficulties but said it is too early to determine the extent of challenges she will actually face. She does have brain activity to both eyes, which is very good. And she was fitted with her first set of glasses, which her mother says she doesn’t mind at all.

I am so glad our son and daughter-in -law chose life. The entire family, and countless others, will be blessed for endlesspict0166-small.jpg years because of this life choice. It is impossible to calculate how many she has already touched and will continue to. She is a miracle.

Do you have any similar stories you could share? I would like to hear about choices for life vs. of choices to terminate. Lets take a few minutes and celebrate these life choices together.