In the past eighteen months, 40 percent of the value of stocks on the New York Stock Exchange as well as a significant portion of the value of the homes and real estate in our nation has been lost. This has distressed me, both because I love our country and also because our personal situation has followed the fortunes of our country. We were also trying to raise money to purchase our new church facility in the worst economic environment of our lifetime. I felt like I was being squeezed until all the anxiety in me was drained out. I had to let go of my concerns and learn to trust the Lord on a deeper level. Though we have had financial losses, God’s kingdom has not lost a bit of value. In light of our situation, the wisdom of Jesus is more clear to me than ever. Jesus told us to put our treasure in God’s kingdom where moth and rust cannot corrode it and thieves cannot steal it (Mat.6:20). For many generations if people had wealth, they had to bury or hide it because it could be stolen if it wasn’t continually guarded. The banking system that allowed safe keeping of wealth enabled people a new level of freedom and prosperity. Jesus asked a profound question, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11) Worldly wealth is money and possessions. The way we handle money determines whether or not the Lord will give us gifts more valuable than money. Wisdom is more valuable than gold (Prov.3:13-14). A good name is better than great riches (Prov. 22:1). A good marriage, freedom from fear, love and peace in your heart all have value greater than money. Kristina and I lived in rental houses for the first six years of our marriage. One day Kristina went to the nursery and bought flowers. I was upset when I saw what she had done. “Why did you spend money on flowers for the yard of a home we don’t even own?” I asked her. “I believe in treating a home we rent just like it was our own. Maybe if we take good care of this house, someday we will own a home that somebody has taken good care of,” she replied. A few years later, a group of friends from the Open Door Church helped us buy our first home. The house had beautiful trees and plants in the yard which I knew were God’s gift to Kristina. Every time we tithe and give offerings to the Lord, we are investing in God’s kingdom. Those investments never drop in value. They connect our hearts to a treasure of peace and joy. When we pay our bills on time and keep our financial commitments we are being trustworthy with worldly wealth. When we share our possessions with friends and help those who are poor, we are demonstrating faithfulness to the Lord who provides us with everything we need. He has our destiny in His hands. The apostle Paul said, “Godliness with contentment has great value.” (I Timothy 6:6) Contentment is the capacity to enjoy each day and every experience. While spending responsibly and giving generously does not guarantee that we will have more money in the bank, it does enable us to have more satisfaction in our lives and peace in our hearts. A man recently said to me, “The Lord wants you to model faith in the face of uncertainty.” I believed him. Following Jesus is not just knowing scriptures. It is also trusting God and staying faithful in trials. Unstable times give us an opportunity to show that we believe our Father in Heaven is loving and faithful. He wants us to be free from fear about our future. Ultimately, it is not what we own that makes us secure, it is the One who owns us.

Easter Preview

April 9, 2009

I hope you are doing well. Passion week began with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, went through his crucifixion at Calvary and ended with the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday morning. That week went from triumph to agony to glory for Jesus and the disciples. In some ways this is the story of each of our lives. At one time or another, we each experience agony and each of us can share the glory of Christ.

On Friday at noon, many of us will gather in our sanctuary to contemplate the crucifixion of Christ. Then beginning on Saturday evening we will have four weekend Easter services. David Stockton will be speaking Saturday evening at 5:30. Lance Rauhoff will be speaking at our sunrise service at 7:30 am on Sunday in the courtyard. I will be speaking on Evidence of the Resurrection from John 20:1-18 in our 9:00 and 11:00 am Sunday services.

We would really appreciate our prayers for our services this week. Many people will be bringing friends or family members who we hope will experience the grace and love of Jesus Christ. We want the Lord to touch you, your family and the people you love with His power and presence. May the desires of your heart for blessing be fulfilled.