Posts Tagged With: Andy Stanley

The Important Invitation

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” -1 Chronicles 29:11 (NRSV Translation)

This verse is part of King David’s ongoing acknowledgement of God’s great works in the world. It is a beautiful passage of praise and thanksgiving that comes from David’s joy in laying the financial foundation that will be used by his son Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem. David lifts up this blessing to God, telling the almighty that “all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours.” We say that a lot, don’t we? We repeat that mantra, that all good things, all blessings, everything comes from God. In fact, I just said it a minute ago before the offertory. The question for us this morning is, do we believe that? Do we believe that everything we have, all our possessions, all our stuff, all our money, really belongs to God? And if you do indeed truly believe that, the next question is, does your life reflect that belief?


Whether you realize it or not, you probably DO believe that God can make a difference in your finances. I would argue that MOST people really do believe that God can affect that financial future, the problem is that most people don’t live into that belief until their finances are in shambles. It’s only when the bottom drops out and our finances are in ruins that we find out we really DO believe this. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard and experienced this prayer in my brief time as minister:
“Dear God, my house is in foreclosure, I’m filing for bankruptcy, I spent my 401K, I am in midst of the worst financial hardship I’ve ever experienced. God, I need your help. I want to give you my life, everything I have, my whole life.”


To which God responds, “But you don’t have ANYTHING. Where were you 6 months ago when you had something to give?”


God doesn’t really respond that way, thankfully. But the question becomes, if you believe that God can have a hand in your finances at rock bottom, wouldn’t it make sense to invite him into your finances now, when things are good (or okay, or at least not ridiculously, terrible)? What is the point of waiting? Because God doesn’t force his way into your bank account or your wallet. You can make sure that God is never involved in your financial future, but I will bet that at some point in time you’re going to ask him in. How about now?
God wants to be invited.


But there is a risk when we invite God into our finances. I use that word invitation with great purpose. When we acknowledge that all things come from God and ultimately belong to God, when we INVITE him into our finances, there is some change that is required. It’s like any other invitation. What do we do as a church when a guest comes in? We do our very best to make them feel comfortable and welcome. I like to think we put the guest before the member here at Morningstar. And I imagine the same is true at your house when you welcome a guest for dinner or stay with you. We re-orient the way that we think and we put the guest first.
In our house, I’ll straighten up before a guest arrives. Then Denise will come behind me and re-straighten all the stuff I thought I had straightened. We plan meals and buy better food than we normally eat. We ask if they need anything? Can I get you something to drink? Are you comfortable? And we’re trying to teach our daughter Maggie how to treat guests. She’s still learning. When someone comes over, they get to choose the game we play or the movie we watch. The guest gets to choose!


And it’s the same when we invite God into our financial lives. It’s God’s choice what we’re going to do first. And here is what God chooses. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:31-33 (page 6 in the New Testament).
Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”


What is the first thing Christ tells us to do? STRIVE FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The Kingdom comes first. Be generous, help the poor, feed the hungry, take care of the widow, the orphan, the alien, care for the least of these, share the Good news. The whole shebang. That is what God wants when we invite him into our finances. And that might sound selfish, but Jesus adds this promise to the end: When you make the Kingdom of God your priority, He will take care of all your other needs. Clothing, food, drink . . .God will take care of those things. It’s a pretty amazing promise. Andy Stanley says it this way, “Here is God, the creator of the universe, who is willing to lower himself and enter into a symbiotic relationship with you and me. When we invest our lives bringing about the Kingdom of God, God promises to take a vested interest in our well-being.”
Now, here’s dangerous part of making this invitation. There is a reason why God has a vested interest in your well being and will continue to provide you with food, and water and a place to live, so long as the Kingdom is your first priority. When you invite God in, when you place your trust in Him and give generously, you are inviting repeat business. If a restaurant or a business gives good service, what do you do? You go back again and again. God remembers the loyal, the capable, and obedient. When you act out of a spirit of generosity, God will be back with another opportunity to give. But so long as you make the Kingdom your priority.
When you invite God into your finances, when you make His Kingdom your priority, more and more you will find that the obstacle of your fear is no obstacle at all. Because you have something you can trust in more than money, something stronger than your fear.

* Some parts of this devotional were greatly influenced by the preaching and books of Andy Stanley, so much so, that there may be some un-credited portions! Apologies to Pastor Stanley if I butchered or unintentionally took credit for any ideas that were his.

This article was written by Rev. John Mullaney.   John is the Morningstar United  Methodist Church’s pastor, and was appointed to the church in the summer of  2008. John’s passions include preaching, pastoral care, and  creating meaningful times of worship. John and his wife, Denise, who is also a United Methodist minister, have  two daughters, Maggie & Lucie. They live in Chelsea

Categories: Church, Church At Chelsea Park, Faith Journey, Leadership, Stewardship, Stewardship | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership Rule 4

The Person You Will Be in 5 Years is Greatly Determined by the People You Hang With, The Books You Read, and What You Watch on TV.

There are 3 main aspects to Wesleyan Theology:  1.  Prevenient Grace 2. Justifying Grace and 3 Sanctifying Grace. In very simple terms, Prevenient Grace is the grace that comes before.  God loves us even before we know/acknowledge there is a God.  This is the basis behind why Methodist baptize infants. We believe that God’s grace extends even to infants who have no idea about God.  Justifying Grace is when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior through His death and resurrection.  And Sanctifying Grace is the grace that God gives so that we can become more like Christ.  Through God’s Sanctifying Grace, we are able to move closer to Christian perfection.

All of that to say that in our life, we are always changing and in 5 years, we will be different than we are today.  No one stays the same.  Through the trials of life, the celebrations, the tragedy’s, we change.  Our goal as Christians is to become more like Christ and one of the tools that God has given us is other Christians.  In fact, the people who we hang out with are going to have an impact on our lives (either positive or negative).

My mom always told me about “Trouble Street” and people who are going to get in trouble hang out with each other on “Trouble Street.”  If I hung out on “Trouble Street”, then I too would get in trouble.  Even if I tried not to because the people I hang out with have an influence on me.  So, who you hang out with has an incredible impact on who you will be in 5 years.  I am part of and encourage others to be a part of an accountability group.  Being a part of a group like this will help you grow in the direction you choose to grow into.  If you choose to grow as a Christian, part of that growth is going to involve other Christians.  It’s really simple, if you want to become a better business man, you hang out with other successful businessmen; want to be the best crab fisherman, sign up to work on the Cornelia Marie (I’m watching Deadliest Catch right now); but if you want to grow as a Christian, you need to find a Christian mentor and learn from that person.

Almost as important as who you hang with is what you put into your mind.  I used to just use books you read, but a youth at Latham UMC (Melissa N.) suggested that I add what we watch on TV.  She was right, what we watch on TV has a huge impact and some of the garbage on TV is sad.  (I apologize if I mention you’re favorite show) Desperate Housewives, Rock of Love, The Real World, Dr. Drew, Jerry Springer, Intervention and countless others.  This stuff can’t be good to put in our minds.  Watch enough of it and it blurs our morality.  Things that are not OK become OK, things that are not ethical become something that we can turn our heads to.  It’s dangerous and scary.

I’ve always love to read and I believe with all my heart that it is so important to read.  Wesley was an avid reader.  Some of my favorite are books that improve yourself.  I love to read John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Wayne Corderio, Zig Zigler, Bishop Willimon and others.  I have just been re-introduced to reading some fiction and I love to read Ernest Hemingway.

This rule is based on one thing:  We are growing (we can’t get away from it except through death) and we have a choice in the direction we grow.  That direction is dictated by those who we are friends with and the stuff we put into our mind.

Just think about it.

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John’s Leadership Rules

I keep a list in my office to remind me of leadership traits which I want to remember and practice. I have gotten these from some of my favorite leadership people including John Maxwell and Andy Stanley.   There are as follows:

  1. Leaders become insulated and Isolated…AND THEY LIKE IT
  2. Resist the urge to lead every meeting you attend.
  3. A good leader wants the best thinkers and most strategic people around the table with them.
  4. What and who you listen to will determine what you do.
  5. Leaders never outgrow the need to change.
  6. Don’t buy into the notion that mistakes can be avoided, THEY CAN’T.
  7. It doesn’t matter how long or how hard you’ve worked if it doesn’t accomplish what needs to be done.
  8. Coming together is a beginning and staying together is progress but only when teams sweat together do they find SUCCESS.
  9. Teamwork is at the heart of GREAT achievement.
  10. BECOME PRE-OCCUPIED WITH WHO YOU HAVEN’T REACHED AS OPPOSED TO THOSE YOU WANT TO KEEP.
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Renewing Your Mind

I’m currently reading “Louder Than Words” by Andy Stanley and it is a study regarding having a character that is pleasing to God.  I highly recommend the book. Here is a great quote from my reading today.

“You will never renew your mind reading a couple of pages out of a devotional book and praying a prayer.  Renewing you mind involves more than simply reading through the Bible in a year or answering your Bible study questions or filling out a workbook.  Bible studies and other programs are great spiritual tools…If knowledge were the answer to spiritual maturity, we should all enroll in seminar.  Knowledge does not necessarily result in a renewed mind.  Knowledge has a tendency to puff us up and give us a false sense of spirituality.  Satan knows a great deal about God.  A lot of good that did him!  God wants to renew your mind with truth, not just fill it with facts.” (114)

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Quote: Andy Stanley

“Masking irresponsibility with prayer makes one an irresponsible person who prays.”

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Character

Working on Facebook sermon regarding Character and found this quote:

“Your character is who you truly are and it will impact how much you
accomplish in life; whether or not you are worth knowing; and it will make
or break every one of your relationships.” Andy Stanley

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Accountability, Belonging and Caring

Accountability, Belonging and Caring

I read this quote in “Creating Community” by Andy Stanley and I believe it says a great deal about reaching people for Christ.

“Sustained spiritual growth is not well nurtured by an environment where people simply sit in rows, listening to messages in complete anonymity. Sustained growth takes place where people are personally challenged and encouraged in their relationship with God and others. This is especially true when the challenges of life occur, and eventually those challenges come to everyone.”

We often miss the boat by thinking that people are going to get all they need out of worship and then we are surprised when people stop coming after a few weeks. The purpose of worship is to bring glory to God. To lay ourselves at God’s altar and to bring praise and glory to the Almighty. Worship is vitally important to our spiritual growth, but it is not nor should it be the only way we grow or find spiritual fulfillment during the week.

It is very biblical and very Methodist to gather a group of people together outside the worship arena to provide a place to belong. There was once a guy that a lot of people believe had all the answers. He is written about in a Book which a whole bunch of folks read and he belonged to a relatively small group of 12. Maybe that is a pretty good model to follow…

There are so many people who are lonely and looking for a place to fit in. People want a place to belong. A “place where everyone knows your name.” I believe this is one of the reasons the top show of the past decades was about a “small group of FRIENDS” who met together, supported one another and held each other accountable. People who find a place to belong are connected, accepted and comfortable. What a great atmosphere for spiritual growth

As Christians, we need each other. In order for us to grow as close to God and to become as much like Christ as we can, we need to be involved with others who are growing in the same direction. That involvement includes holding each other accountable. Asking each other…”have you been praying, studing the Scripture etc?” Not because we are noisy or better than each other but because we care about one another’s spiritual growth.

It also includes caring for one another. When people are connected well, they begin to truly care for one another. It can be really easy for someone to “fall through the cracks” at a church of over 100 attenders. Someone doesn’t show up for a few weeks and no one notices, but in smaller groups, it’s noticed very quickly.

The A,B,C’s of a biblical idea of small groups. Remember, some people want to belong before they believe.

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