Fasting From Spending For A Year

buy buyAfter much thought, discussion, soul-searching and prayer my wife, Sharon, and I have decided to take a fast from spending for twelve months. As daunting and impossible as it might seem we are committed to shutting off the spending flow and sticking with it no matter what the urge, temptation or challenge might be.

EXPECTED REACTIONS

For some this might seem to be an insane decision. Such ones cannot even fathom the remote possibility of denying yourself the luci surprisedprivilege of spending for an entire year. Who would ever want to do something like that and why, why, why? We live in a culture of affluence. I mean, spending is what you do in America. Americans are the biggest spenders in the world. To fast from spending for an entire year is not only insane, it is just UN-American.

THE REASON: FOCUS SHIFT

So why in the world, or at least in America, the land of buying more, are we embarking on an adventure of fasting from spending? To begin with, this is going to provide an extended time of taking our focus off of stuff. It seems that most of life revolves around stuff and material possessions. From the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, much of our time is devoted to stuff. And much of that time is all about getting more of it. So our decision to go an entire year without getting any more of it gives us a whole new focus, at least for that year. Who knows where it might lead from there.

Materialism is the acquisition of stuff. It is get, get, get. It has been described as get all you can, can the rest and then sit on the can. What better way to break the grip of materialism then to take an extended time of not participating in the insanity of it all?

MORE IMPORTANT THINGS

Taking our focus off of buying and stuff will then enable us to focus on more important things. We can have a transfer of focus from buying to, most importantly, God. Fasting is for the purpose of turning our attention from one thing to another. In the case of eating it is to take our attention from food in order to place it on God. In the case of stuff, spending and buying, it is for the purpose of taking our attention off of these things and placing it on God for an extended period. It lowers the importance of stuff so we can draw close to him. It is a time to hunger and thirst for him rather than more of whatever.

no spendingTaking our focus off of stuff and spending also leaves us with more time to devote to other things that are far more important, like relationships. Instead of spending we can be serving. Instead of buying stuff we can to be devoting that time to being a better husband, better wife, better parents, better neighbors, and better friends. Buying is time-consuming. Not buying leaves us with more time to invest in others.

Then fasting from spending and buying will leave us with more resources to use in loving God and loving others. According to Jesus nothing in life is more important than loving God and loving others. And one of the most significant and practical ways we can express that love is through the resources we have acquired. A spending fast will provide resources that can be used to bless others and meet their needs. We serve others by transferring some of what we would spend on ourselves to meeting their needs.

And finally, fasting from spending will immediately leave us with more resources to give to God, his church and his mission in the world. Wow, what an eternal difference that will make for so many.

THE INVITATION

So, I would like to invite you to consider a similar fast, whenever the time might be appropriate for you. It might be for these reasons or for your own. This could be the most awesome and transforming year of your life. This could be the breakaway you have been needing.

Sharon and I went away for a few days and worked out some *guidelines that we will follow for our fast in order for both of us to be on the same page. I would love to share them with you, if interested.

The Power of Model

One more thing to consider. If you have kids still at home or even ones that have moved out of the house, imagine how much your model could communicate to them in a year about what is most important in life. Instead if it being stuff, spending and materialism they would see self-denial, self-sacrifice, generosity and service to God and others. This is one teaching opportunity they will never forget.

*As our personal guidelines will reveal, our fast is from new spending. Providing for upkeep and necessities is permitted, but only as detailed in the guidelines and agreed upon by both parties.

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“A” Is For ATTITUDE

money“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James

 

Let’s talk finances. Now, don’t click on another page. Just take three deep breaths and a couple minutes and read through this post.

 

The average person doesn’t really believe he has a problem when it comes to finances. He really doesn’t. As long as he’s making monthly payments on time, as long as he has some mad money he can play with each week, as long as he can continue to feed and satisfy those occasional indulgences from time to time, he erroneously believes things are just fine. Unfortunately he’s like the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the person addicted to pornography who says, “I don’t have a problem.” But the truth is, the average American has a major problem when it comes to money, Christians included. They are horribly in debt, miserable managers of their money; and gullible beyond belief when it comes to buying things on credit.

 

Can I share a simple principle with you? If you’re paying interest on anything, regardless of the great interest rate you may have gotten or the low monthly payment; if you are paying interest on anything, are you ready for this? YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

 

In fact, when you see the word “interest,” if you visualize two words in huge, gigantic letters as if they were written in the sky; “SOMEBODY ELSE,” that will help you better comprehend the principle. Why? Because that’s exactly what happens every time you’re paying interest. SOMEBODY ELSE is getting rich off YOUR money. Yet so many people say, “Well, you know, we got a great interest rate.” Or, “Luckily I got the same low monthly payment on this car that I had on my last one.”

 

Christian financial expert, the late Larry Burkett, said, “Christians are now paying nearly 10% of our income every year in interest alone. And yet we give only 2% back to God.”  So here’s the picture. The average Christian in America is miserably over his head in debt and walking in rebellion towards God. We definitely have a problem. But watch out if anyone attempts to discuss it. Why? Because we’re very touchy when it comes to our stuff. When it comes to my money and my finances, that’s a private matter and it’s none of your business. Isn’t that pretty much the way you feel?

 

So if someone suggests we have a problem with our finances, we immediately get defensive and go into money 3denial because none of us wants to admit we have a problem.

 

Does anyone remember Harry Truman? Not the President. The man who lived on the side of Mount St. Helens in Washington? I’ll never forget the guy; He had 23 cats. (Does that help?) Well, back in 1980 he was on Mount St. Helens. TV reporters were interviewing him while the mountain was shaking behind him. Harry’s sitting there with his 23 cats and seismologists were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow; ” Volcanic experts were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow.” Harry Truman said, “I don’t believe a single one of your ,experts. I’ve lived here all my life. I know this old mountain better than anybody else. I’m not going anywhere. “ And they’d banter back and forth.

I remember his sister on national television (you may remember watching). She pleaded with her brother, “Please, get off this mountain. It’s gonna blow;” “No, it’s not,” Harry insisted. “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t have a problem.”

 

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:31 a.m., the mountain blew. It blew with a force 500 times greater than the power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Twenty-five hundred feet blew off the top of the mountain. It blackened the sky from Seattle to New York and as far south as Oklahoma. No one has ever seen a trace of Harry or his 23 cats since.

 

Now I’m praying that you are not a Harry Truman. I’m going to assume you want God’s wisdom, God’s guidance, and God’s provision in your life. I’m going to assume you want to be financially healthy and to be free from the albatross of financial burdens, bills, and bondage.

 

lt’s possible for anyone of us. In fact, regardless of how much debt you have today, I agree with Larry Burkett, who says in seven years anybody can be out of debt. Anybody; That includes you.

money 6

 

All of us can be out of debt and financially healthy, or well on our way to it, if we really want to be. But we have to want to. But if we don’t begin with step number one, nothing else we talk about will help. We need to begin withOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY.

For more on the subject of changing our attitude click on this link:

 http://relaxedchurch.sermon.tv/pa/9792495

(adapted from “The ABC’s of Financial Freedom” by Barry Cameron)

The True Spirit of Christmas

 

spirit of christmasDuring the Christmas season, the words you’ll hear more than any other word is the word “gift.”  Starting on Black Friday we begin a month long dash to finding the right gift to give to other people around us.  In fact, the month of December is the only month of the year where everybody forgets the past and everybody forgets the future and everybody just focuses on the present. 

 

A lot of people think that the gift giving idea at Christmas time was started by the wise men, because as we know they brought the first gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger.  As the little boy said, “The wise men brought gold, Frankenstein and myrtle.”

 

But actually the first gift at Christmas was the gift that God gave.  God so loved the world that he gave.  And the very first Christmas gift was God himself – Jesus giving himself to you to be incarnate, one of us, and to die on the cross for your sins so you could have your past forgiven, a purpose for living and a home in heaven.  Jesus is the original Christmas gift.  We only give because God gave to us first.

 

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”  

Christmas is about generosity.  The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of generosity. 

 

If it weren’t for God’s generosity you and I would have nothing.  The air you breathe is a gift of God’s generosity.  The blood coursing through your veins is a gift of God’s generosity.  The fact that your heart is beating is a gift of God’s generosity.  Every good thing in your life that you have, including your life is a gift of God’s generosity.  If God was not a generous God we wouldn’t even exist.  The universe would not exist.  It exists because of his generosity.

 

John 1:16 says this “We all live off of God’s generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.”  Every good thing in your life is evidence of God’s generosity. 

 

Here’s the key: God wants you to learn to be generous too.   God is generous and he wants his children to be generous.  If you’re a parent do you want your kids to learn to share?  Of course you do.  Do you want your kids to learn to be generous, to learn to be unselfish?  Yes!  Absolutely. So God says I want generosity to be a lifestyle not a seasonal event.  I want it to be a habit of your life.

 

But here’s the problem.  It’s not easy being generous today because we live in a very consumeristic, materialistic, self-centered world. 

 

So let’s look at why God want us to learn this quality?  Why is generosity so important?  Out of all the spirit of christmas2things in Scripture, God emphasizes this quality more than almost any other quality in life.  There are more verses on this in the Bible than you could possibly imagine. 

 

I hope you will remember these so that by the end of 2014 people will notice how much of a generous person you have grown to be. People should be able to look at you and say, that guy is a generous man!  That woman is a generous woman!  He’s got a generous heart.  She’s not stingy.  She’s generous.

 

There are only two kinds of people in life.  There are givers and there are takers.  You have to decide in life what you’re going to be.  Am I going to be a giver or am I going to be a taker? 

 

You can be a taker and live a self-centered life.  It’s not by accident that the word “miser” and “miserable” come from the same root word.  The more you are a taker the more miserable you’re going to be in life.  Jesus said it like this: “It is only those who learn to give their lives away who will ever really know what it means to fully live.”

 

What are the reasons God wants me to develop the spirit of Christmas year round – what is the spirit of Christmas?  The spirit of giving.  The spirit of generosity.  It’s not just for December. We need to do it all the time.  It needs to be a habit. Why?

 

  • It makes me more like God
  • It is a cure for selfishness.
  • It deepens relationships. 
  • It stretches my faith.
  • It blesses me back.
  • It’s an investment in eternity

 

spitit of christmas 3What’s going to happen in 2014? We don’t know what the economy is going to do in 2014, but I do know what is going to happen.  2 Corinthians 9 “God will give you many opportunities to do good, [in 2014, to be generous, to practice generosity] and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.  [In other words you plant the seed, he’ll do the harvest.]  Then you will be enriched [You’ll get more back] so that you can give even more generously.”

 

See the cycle?  God gives to you, you give to help other people, then God gives you more, then that gives you more to help other people.  It’s a cycle.  It just keeps going on and on.

 

(Adapted from Rick Warren’s “Christmas is Generosity)

The Finest Wine

king wine How can we begin to describe the distance we have traveled in the last five months as a church? It is nothing less than incredible. God has moved and blessed in amazing ways. For example, we have at the current time, gathered $74,811 toward the down payment of $100,000 for our property purchase and remodel job at our new location on Lucks Lane. We are scheduled to close on the property August 31. That leaves us three weeks to collect a little over $25,000. I want to say thanks to those who have been and continue to be so generous. At the same time I want to remind us all that we need everyone in the picture.

 

Have you heard the story, from many years ago, of a new king who was crowned in Spain? After the coronation, he decided to visit a secluded village on the outskirts of his land. When the townspeople heard that the king was coming, they were elated, so they went to work trying to make his visit an experience he would never forget. They decided that every person in the village would bring one cup of their choicest wine and put it into a big container. When the king came, he could dip his cup into the finest wine he had ever tasted because everyone was giving their best.

 

When the time came, everyone celebrated the king’s arrival. They told him what they had done with the wine, and the king was excited to taste it. But when he took a long drink, he spit it out in disgust. The king had been told that it was fine wine, but really it was barely nothing more than water. You see, the townspeople were told to bring their best, but individually they thought they could skimp out and rely on the wine of others while they secretly brought water instead. And the king was greatly displeased.

 

In order to accomplish this first challenge level, it’s going to take everyone giving their best to the King. We’re all in this together.

 

If you made a commitment to the capital campaign (down payment and 24 month phase) we are fully trusting that you willdownpayment fulfill it to the fullest. If you are new to New Venture since our capital campaign began a few months ago, or if you did not make an initial commitment as a part of our capital campaign, I would like to invite you to give a sacrificial gift between now and the end of August toward the down payment of our new church home on Lucks Lane. This is a tremendous chance for everyone to participate and bring their best whether or not you were part of the original campaign.

 

In fact, we have designated Sunday, August 18, as special offering day for the $100,000 down payment. Our prayer is that generous gifts will be given from many different people to push us over the top. If you would like to help us push to the $100,000 mark and live out of the area, gifts can be sent to New Venture Christian Church, PO Box 73311, Richmond, VA 23235.

 

Thank you so, so much for your generosity,

 

Steve 

Capital campaign totals to be announced Sunday, May 26

big day

Excitement is mounting as we move closer and closer to Sunday, May 26 when we announce the total gifts and commitments to our “What if…” capital campaign. Commitments and gifts are still coming in so we will be totaling them for a few more days. Here is a concise reminder of what we are doing:

This campaign is to raise $150,000 for a down payment on the purchase of 5.9 acres of land with a house on it and remodel the house. We also plan to do excavation work in clearing and preparing the property for a new building. Then our plan is to begin construction later next year on the new unit. We also need an additional $150,000 in commitments to be completed over the next 24 months. So, we need a total of $300,000 to get into our own property and facility and begin the development of our own campus and our own identity in this community. This will enable us to expand our ministry to the community as well as exponentially reach lost people in the community and the world.

Two quick items:

  1. We had a great start to the commitments needed toward the $300,000 last Sunday and since then.
  2. WE CANNOT, HOWEVER, MAKE IT WITHOUT EVERYONE IN THE GAME. And I am totally serious when I say EVERYONE.

 

If you are a part of New Venture Christian Church and have not turned in a commitment card yet, we need to hear from you ASAP. We need to know what we can count on when it comes to planning the future of our church.

 

If you are not a part of New Venture Christian Church, and would like to help us reach this enormous goal, you are invited to share a gift or make a commitment to our capital campaign.

 

Responses can be emailed to Steve@relaxedchurch.com.

 

This Sunday, May 26 is going to be historic for New Venture Christian Church. We hope you can join us for the big day. We hope you will have a part in making the day as big as God wants to be.

What If…Campaign Begins at NVCC This Sunday, May 1

Dear New Venture Family and Friends,whatif

For over eight years now New Venture has been devoted to helping people discover a growing adventure with God. At the same time we have reached out in numerous directions with a commitment to being the authentic presence of Christ in our community. Many lives have been changed and many who were living far from God have come back to him through Jesus. All of this has been accomplished through the use of rented facilities in the community.

Now God has opened the door to New Venture to be able to acquire her own property and ministry campus. God, in his timing, knew exactly what we needed.

So, with all our energy, we pursue God’s opportunity. We pursue it for three reasons:

·        to establish permanents in the community

·         to expand ministry to the community and world

·        to exponentially share Christ with the community and the world.

 The What If…Campaignis an unprecedented opportunity for New Venture to declare to the world that God is doing a mighty work in our lives. Over the next 24 months, please join us in prayer and participation in theWhat If… Campaign.  We believe this is where God is leading us as a church, and we believe God wants you to be a vital part of reaching more people through New Venture Christian Church.  Please consider:  What if God wants to use you in an awesome way?

Steve Thornton

Lead Pastor

Feed the Kids

This flyer includes the details of our current ministry outreach at New Venture Christian Church. We would love for you to partner with us in collecting food for families with kids in our south side Richmond community. Just this morning we were connected with three new families with seventeen children we will be supplying food for on the weekends. They are elated about the assistance.

We are asking people to consider three different options.

1. In your neighborhood, distribute 50 paper sacks with flyers attached and then pick them back up the following Saturday. We will supply the sacks with flyers. We just need the volunteers to pass them out and pick them up

2. Set up a collection point at your place of work and invite those in that setting to participate with “Feed the Kids.”  Posters are available.

3. Man (woman) a table for a couple hours on a Saturday in March outside a local grocery store. We will give patrons a list of items we are collecting as they enter and invite them to drop the items by as they leave. We will make all the arrangements with the stores.

We are here to provide an ongoing ministry that meets the nutritional needs of kids in our community. Please get in touch with me at 874-3269 if you would like to participate or if you have any questions.