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Top 3 Reasons We Do and Don’t Give to NewSpring Church

There’s a reason for everything we do.  Actually there are multiple reasons for each thing we do.  There is at least the reason we have in our head and then there is the reason God intends for everything we do.  God’s reason is usually bigger than our own.

Take giving for instance.  There could be many reasons we are motivated to give.  Being obedient to God’s word, that teaches giving, can be a great motivator.  The joy we feel in being generous can be a strong motivator.  The promise of God’s blessing when we’re generous can be a powerful motivator.  But notice how each of those can be considered selfish.  Expecting to feel satisfied by our obedience is a self-centered motivation.  Expecting to experience joy is a self-centered motivation.  Expecting to receive blessings is probably the most self-centered motivation.  I’m not saying any of these are bad reasons.  They’re just not sufficient without God’s reasons, which we might not know on this side of eternity.

The question I want to ask is this:  Would we still be willing to give back to God if there was no selfish hope of satisfaction, joy, or blessing?  That is impossible to answer because we don’t know what that’s like.  God allows us to experience satisfaction, joy, and blessings without fail whether we expect those experiences or not – because we can’t outgive God.

All that being said I just want to be very real about three of the top reasons we DON’T give to our home church, NewSpring Church, and then three of the top reasons we DO give to NewSpring Church.

Top 3 Reasons We DON’T Give to NewSpring Church

Don’t misunderstand – we DO give to NewSpring Church, but there are reasons we DO give and there are reasons we DON’T.  Here are the non-reasons we give:

  1. Perry Noble – the pastor.  He’s cool and all but he sucks just like the rest of us.  God uses him to speak, but he’s just a man.  I like to see him be transparent so we know he’s growing and maturing in Christ just like the rest of us.  But regardless of how he’s doing my family doesn’t give to NewSpring Church just because Perry says so.  I understand leadership and respect it, and trust that Perry and other pastors are good leaders.  But giving to any church just because a pastor says so is a terrible reason to give.  Giving to anything because of the influence of man is so short sighted.
  2. Pretty buildings – a bunch of them.  NewSpring Church has lots of pretty buildings with lots of cool stuff inside.  I know buildings are necessary and having nice ones makes everyone comfortable.  I gave to the last building campaign and I’ll give to the current one.  But my family does not give to NewSpring Church in order to see pretty buildings erected.  It doesn’t matter how awesome those buildings are they are as temporary as Perry and all the rest of us.
  3. Fancy Shows – every Sunday and Wednesday.  No one puts on a better church worship experience than NewSpring Church, and it happens several times in several places on Sundays, and again for youth on Wednesdays.  The preparation that goes into having an excellent experience at NewSpring Church is monumental – from the music and teaching to the parking and care.  But my family does not give to NewSpring Church in order to see fancy shows.  How worship is done now will probably be a laughable fad 50-100 years from now.

Am I saying that Perry, pretty buildings, and fancy shows are not important?  No – those things have a purpose.  Am I saying that giving to fund those things is not important?  No – as long as those things are not the reason for giving to those things.

Top 3 Reasons We DO Give to NewSpring Church

You’ve gotta be getting the point by now.  The right reason for giving is not to impress or please man in any way – it’s to see God move in every way.  My family believes in the work God does through NewSpring Church, and we’re honored to be a part of it.  It’s not about NewSpring – it could be any church we feel God is moving in. But at least for now and the past 11 years it’s NewSpring.

We give to obey and glorify God, and to see Him move.  I can’t think of any move of God more near and dear to our hearts than the salvation and baptism of our three children.  Like it’s said all the time at NewSpring – you can’t outgive God.  Here are our top 3 completely selfish yet God centered motivations for giving to NewSpring Church, where we see God moving in our family:

    1. Devin Asbell – accepted Christ and soon after was baptized in May of 2010.

    1. Skyler Asbell – accepted Christ and after much worry and hesitation was baptized in April of 2014.

    1. Kylee Asbell – accepted Christ and soon after was baptized in May of 2014.

All three of our kids have accepted Christ at home, with us, but while our entire family was attending and being ministered to at NewSpring Church – where God uses broken people, in worthless buildings, with passing-fad experiences to draw the lost to Him.  Then there’s the whole ‘found people find people’ thing – imagine how much impact God could have through those three little people.  I know these things can sound cliche’, but they’re just true.

It can be considered completely selfish motivation for me to give to NewSpring Church because of these experiences with my kids.  Got me – I’m guilty of experiencing overwhelming satisfaction, joy, and blessing from seeing my kids as well as thousands of other people take steps to follow Christ.  Would I have been willing to give without the hope of experiencing that selfish satisfaction, joy, and blessing?  It’s impossible to imagine that, but you have to try it to believe it.  God’s reason for our giving might be bigger than we can even fathom.

Happy Father’s Day 2014

So I was reading this incredible post by Shawna’s uncle, Mike, and thought to myself, “I should do a little Father’s Day post of my own.”  The difference is, while Uncle Mile’s post is so beautiful and inspiring, I’m at a totally different stage in life with parenting (and anything else for that matter).

My kids are still young, completely dependent on Shawna and I, and constantly demanding on every single resource God makes available to us.  Sometimes we don’t know if we’re coming or going, and we certainly can’t predict with precise accuracy what the next day will hold, but we’re doing everything we can to enjoy every minute of it.

Uncle Mike’s kids are grown.  It would be naive of me to even hint at the idea of things being easier as kids are older and eventually all grown up.  In fact I  know it would be a stupid assumption even in my halfway-done-raising-kids experience.  When our kids were babies their demands of us were very different than their demands now.  I didn’t say easier – I said different.

Looking back at the past 11+ years of parenting there are so many things I don’t miss at all, and so many other things I would go back and do all over again.  There are some things I wouldn’t change for anything and others I would do completely different.  There are things I can’t believe we survived and others I can’t believe we were so blessed with.  I can only imagine what the next 11+ years will hold, and I can’t help hoping at some point it seems easier.  But I know it won’t be.  It’ll just be different.

In the meantime I want to do the best I can now, enjoying every moment, loving and teaching our kids every chance I get, pointing them to God and encouraging, equipping, and empowering them to become who He created them to be and pursue what He created them to do.  None of us are perfect.  We all make mistakes and unfortunately hurt one another in the process.  But regardless of where the journey takes us or how different it gets, as long as we’re alive we still have purpose as parents.

Much love to all the dads out there especially mine & Shawna’s.  Father God help me as I’m still warping my kids in my own ways:

selfiesarestupid

God at Work

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr is one of my favorite books of all time.  One of the most common questions Christians have is some variation of, “How do I know God’s will for my life?”  That one question leads us to wondering how God is or isn’t using us.  It leads us to thinking we have to be in a full time job (whether paid or volunteer) at a church in order to be ‘doing ministry’.  It causes us to diminish the importance and impact we can have in ‘secular’ or ‘private sector’ jobs.  That one question is all it takes to make us forget the fact that our everyday life is a constant opportunity to minister and have an impact for God.

In God at Work , Gene Veith teaches all about the doctrine of vocation.  It is the idea that God is at work in all things and he chooses to work through human beings serving each other in ordinary life.  There is a wealth of information in this book about the history and purpose of the doctrine of vocation, how it started and how it has changed.  There is tremendous insight about how the doctrine of vocation is alive and applicable in so many different areas of our lives – at work, in the family, in citizenship, and at church.  We all have more opportunity than we can imagine to serve our neighbor and experience the transforming presence of God through our everyday lives.

I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it for everyone to read.

 

How To Deposit Checks Made Out to Children

Recently my son Devin had a check made out to him (as a gift), and I couldn’t remember exactly what the proper way to deposit it is for a young child who doesn’t have a bank account.  So I looked up the following instructions that I thought might be useful to other parents:

  1. Print the words “For Deposit Only” on the top of the back of the check. This endorsement restricts the check to only being deposited, not cashed.
  2. Have your child print or sign their name on the check directly under the words “For Deposit Only”, but if your child is too young to sign their own name then write the word “By:” and sign your name with the word “Parent” right after.  
  3. If your child was able to sign their name then sign your name directly underneath your child’s printed or signed name. This will endorse the check over to you so that you can deposit it into your bank account.

Of course it’s always a good idea to check with your financial institution for specific guidelines.

Keep It Real

Keep It Real

A couple of years ago I bought a t-shirt with the above print on it.  I think this shirt is hilarious with the ghost, magic wand, zombie, unicorn, space ship, imaginary friend, and dinosaur.  It’s hyperbole (I know a few big words too smart people).  The reason I love this shirt so much is because some of my biggest lessons in life could have been learned sooner if I had just lived by the motto – Keep It Real.

Now this is like one of my core values – Keep It Real.  I think one of the biggest failures among Christians as a whole is the unwillingness to keep it real.  We act like we’ve got it all together because if we don’t then we’re looked down on by those who are likely just better actors.  The problem is pride.  The Bible warns about it – pride comes before the fall.

Proverbs teaches us the importance of wisdom and that we should seek it no matter the cost.  To truly do that we have to swallow our pride, be willing to admit we don’t know everything and we don’t have it all together, and actually ask someone who might have the wisdom we need.  I’ve learned this the hard way in major areas of life, and I’ve observed that most other people are learning things the hard way too.

Years ago I was much more transparent on this blog but along the way I became more reserved for various reasons.  It’s about to get a lot more real on here again because I believe when we keep it real we keep pride down and relational value up.  Who’s with me?

God Centered Finances – Ebook

Since experiencing a rock bottom turn to Jesus moment financially, I have sought to better understand what the Bible teaches about money.  I learned the Bible doesn’t address just giving – it also teaches saving and spending wisely.  When I found my family struggling to strike a proper balance between giving, saving, and spending it became apparent to me that the only way to truly get it right is to keep God at the center of every financial decision.  That is the basis for my first ebook:

God Centered Finances: A Balanced Perspective for Biblical Giving, Saving, and Spending.

God Centered Finances

I hope you’ll download a copy, and I hope it encourages your heart and mind to living the blessed life God has for you.

By the way – the Amazon Kindle App is available on all devices and computers for downloading this book.

5 Big Things Couples Fight About

It would be impossible to list ALL the things couples fight about, so here is a quick rundown of 5 big ones that can cause tremendous strain on a marriage:

  1. Money – It is an every day part of life that affects everything whether we want it to or not.  Each spouse approaches money differently – different attitudes, experiences, personalities, habits, knowledge, ability, this list could go on and on.  Those differences in how money is managed can create daily conflict.
  2. Sex – It should be a frequent part of married life that affects pretty much everything because of the intimacy it is supposed to create between us.  So the conflict arises over frequency and satisfaction. (that needs a whole lot of explanation I’m not going in to with this post)
  3. Kids – If you’re doing the above I can tell you from experience that kids are highly likely to happen.  Then each spouse approaches raising them differently, how to love, discipline, provide, and teach them.
  4. Family – Each spouse has differences on their “side” of the family, and that affects the marriage.  How involved the extended family is, where holidays and special occasions are spent, and how to prioritize the needs of the immediate family and extended family so that neither ends up totally neglected.
  5. Career – The type of work we do, the amount of time we work, where we have to live or move to do that work, the people we work with, the opportunity it creates or passes by, the financial return for the work.  Each spouse sees these things differently and the career decisions we make affect each other no matter how “independently awesome” we think we are.

Does this list look pretty accurate as 5 biggies that affect marriage greatly?  Just because I listed them in that order doesn’t mean that is the order you’re experiencing them in.  But I strongly believe it makes sense for most couples to deal with them in that order.  The key is turning these points of friction in to productive opportunities to communicate and cooperate with one another in a way that strengthens our relationship rather than weaken it.

Lead In Building Relationship

Husbands should lead, and that includes building relationship with our wives.  Dude, when is the last time you had a date night?  If we’re not spending time developing the relationship we have with our wife then it is pretty much impossible for us to be the trusted leader of our family.

What is getting in the way?  Are you giving her the cold shoulder because she was mean or disrespectful about something to you?  I understand – I’ve been there.  But you gotta get over it and lead her to a place where you can work through that and work on the relationship anyway.  If she continues to treat you wrong that is on her and she will have to answer to God.  You’ve gotta do what you’re called to do.  Lead whether she likes it or not.  How do you even know she’s not already wishing you would?

Daddy’s, we should lead in building relationship with our kids.  It isn’t easy.  It’s even awkward at times.  But they need to know us.  They need our love and influence in their life.  They aren’t going to lead us in building that relationship.  Our wives shouldn’t have to force us to build that relationship.  We should seek and build that relationship as the leader of our family.

It’s so easy for us to become complacent with those who love us most, which makes it easy for those relationships to suffer.  I have to pray all the time that God will show me ways to be intentional in leading the relationships in my life that are most important to me.  All men should do that – even men who are not married or have kids yet because one day you hopefully will.

Bottom line – the man is supposed to be the leader so the man should take the lead in building relationships, knowing that it will help the marriage and family accomplish more in so many ways spiritually, relationally, and financially.

Husbands Should Lead

That statement offends feminists but I don’t care.  God’s design is for husbands to lead the marriage.  It’s how he wired male and female and commanded husbands to lead the family spiritually.  Part of that is prayer, reading the word, and making decisions about life that honor God.  That decision part is where we get our panties in a wad.  Ladies don’t want to be in a position of dependence or submission to a man – they want to be independent and make their own decisions.  I understand that and I’m not suggesting ladies don’t have a say.  Good leaders (husbands) listen to others before making a decision, especially their wife (hopefully they’re a Godly wife).

I’m also not suggesting ladies can’t be leaders.  They can lead lots of things.  Just not their husband spiritually.  God’s design is for husbands to lead.

Here are some of the general reasons I believe husbands who aren’t leading aren’t doing so:

* their wife won’t let them
* their wife doesn’t respect them
* they’re lazy
* they don’t have accountability
* they don’t even have a relationship with Jesus or the Biblical guidance to start with

When I’m coaching couples I know he’s not leading if:

* He has no clue about the financials because she handles it all
* They indicate that they never go on date night
* Either of them has a hobby that dominates their time and/or money
* The kids dominate their time and/or money
* They can’t remember the last time they prayed together or read anything Biblical together

Some are thinking “we’re different” or “we’re the exception” or something along those lines.  No you’re not.  There’s a lady reading this who thinks their husband is just not the leader type or it’s just not his personality.  This isn’t a personality thing and I’m not talking about the perception all the leadership guru crap of our culture has created.  That husband is called to lead.  They may have been beat down for years with unreasonable expectations, lack of patience, and general disrespect by you or other family, friends, or bosses.  But there is a man inside there somewhere that is called to lead his family.

Telling Money and Kids What To Do

I’ve always loved the general idea of telling money where it will go rather than wondering where it went.  The last time I heard that said it made me think of parenting for whatever reason.

Just think about it.  We tell our kids what to do or where to go and then expect them to obey.  Their level of understanding and obedience determine the outcome of that instruction and we might have to correct their behavior.  But money has no mind of it’s own.  The outcome of our instruction to our money is dependent on our own level of understanding and obedience.  So here’s a couple of general ideas that are both applicable to money and kids:

  • Be Specific: When telling the kids what to do or where to go it can’t be general.  It has to be specific.  You don’t say, “clean up the house” or “go down the street”.  You say, “clean up the floor in your room” or “go to Johnny’s house” (unless you’re just telling your kids to take a hike as in get lost before I break your little neck).  The same is true with money.  You can’t just say, “this money is for food expense and this money is for auto expense”.  You have to say, “x amount is for groceries and x amount is for dining out” and “x amount is for gasoline and x amount is for insurance”.
  • Make it EZ:  When telling kids what to do it has to be easy for them to understand.  You can’t use a phrase I’ve used before, “I at least want to be able to walk through your room for a change”.  Otherwise they will push it all around until there is literally a small path.  A better instruction is, “Everything on the floor needs to be picked up and put where it belongs so that the floor is clear of all toys & clothes”.  With money there is a simple formula that is easy to follow.  “Income – Outgo = Exactly Zero”.  My friend Joe came up with the silly idea that the E from Exactly and the Z from Zero make budgeting “EZ”, but the general idea is true.  When we use that formula to plan every dollar in to giving, saving, and spending categories it makes it so much easier to control where the money actually goes so we don’t have to wonder where it went.

Next time you find yourself wondering where the money went think of yourself like you think of your kids when they don’t follow the plan, and ask yourself the question, “Did I make a specific and EZ plan for the dollars I’m missing, and did I obey those instructions?”