The Best Ways to Make an Impact!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I know most of us want to make an impact. I also know most of us have limited resources to do so. But that doesn’t mean we all can’t make a positive impact. Unfortunately, because our impact may be ‘small,’ I think we sometimes just sit back and let others take care of it. Maybe we convince ourselves that there really isn’t a need, or that my few dollars can’t really do much. To that, I say – “We have to open our eyes.” There are needs all around us. Some big, some small, some global, some local. If we all strategically come together to make a difference, we could actually make an impact everywhere.

Meeting needs at home or away - make an impact

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How To Launch a Basic Live Stream

Our journey through live streaming our Sunday service.

Reading Time: 9 minutesI have the pleasure of pastoring a small local church in Bay Roberts, NL (Bethel). Being in a rural setting, people in neighboring towns often have to travel to attend a service. In an effort to make sure traveling and transient people were included in our church family and community, we looked into live streaming our services. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it’s advancing faster than we can keep up with it. In order to stay current, we have to learn from one another and continuously improve along the way! Hopefully our journey through this process is helpful for all of us!

Launch A Live Stream

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The Problem with Tithing

3 Problems with tithing and how to overcome them

Reading Time: 6 minutesNo one wants to talk about their money. For some reason, we’ve bought into the lie that our money is personal and God only speaks to us personally about our wealth. It’s funny how the Bible doesn’t share that view.  There are over 2000 verses in the Bible that talk about our money, and Jesus either talked about money or used our wealth as an example in about 40% of His parables. Why? Because our wealth is a big part of our lives, and how we view our money will have a big impact on how we view the Kingdom.

The Problem With Tithing

We recently worked through a series with Bethel called “Money Matters.”  In the chaotic world we live in, we have to figure out how we can spend less, to give more, and to save more!  The Kingdom is too valuable to allow the power of money to overcome us.  Giving more and saving enough for the future will help us to be effective as possible for the Kingdom.

I understand the tension we face — I naturally enjoy having control over my finances.  This obviously causes problems when it comes to giving.  One thing I can honestly say though, is that God has graciously led me through the journey of letting go.

When I first starting to give to the local church, I had a separate “tithing account.”  Yes, that’s where I would put aside my giving each week and then, when I knew I didn’t “need” it at the end of the month, I gave it to the church.  The problem was — I always “needed” it.  Let me come back to that story later.

Tithing today…

There’s been much debate over whether or not tithing is something Christians have to do today. It was certainly practiced under Old Testament law (Malachi 3), and sacrificial giving was certainly promoted under New Testament grace.  It’s also certain that giving has nothing to do with attaining salvation, but yet an inseparable activity of someone who has experienced salvation.  Tithing becomes one of our responses to God’s grace — its one of the ways we show how much we love Jesus.

Perhaps, we can say: tithing is a voluntary act of discipline that’s driven by our value of grace and salvation. We don’t give 10% of our income to gain salvation, favor, or status; rather, tithing is a call to believers who value the expansion and funding of the Kingdom.#Tithing is a voluntary act of #discipline that’s driven by our value of grace and #salvation. Click To Tweet

But here’s the issue — even if we do practice tithing, it can be problematic if we don’t allow ourselves to be truly transformed first.  There are some pitfalls of tithing that can really hinder us.  Let me share three of them with you, and how we can overcome them.

1. Tithing avoids “sacrificial giving.”

Tithing can imply that 10% is enough and less than 10% isn’t good enough. The point of giving isn’t found in a percent, but in the sacrifice.  The early Church sold their possessions to give the poor (Acts 2:45).  They willingly and cheerfully gave something up to help the Kingdom.  That means, for some, 10% is only a start, and, for others, 8% could mean significant sacrifice.

2.Tithing makes us think “legalistically.”

Sometimes we have the tendency to think, “I pay my 10%, so I deserve… or I want…” You can fill in the blank. The problem, however, is that our giving doesn’t increase our “rights”. It’s our responsibility to selflessly give to the Kingdom and we can’t allow a number to increase or decrease our voice or impact.  The early Church collected and handed their money to the Church Leaders for disbursement.  Paul clearly stated that money collected was not a way to receive reward or power, rather an investment into the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

3. Tithing doesn’t help us “surrender” our money.

#Giving is..realizing that God owns everything..& He expects us to be good stewards.. Click To TweetThe story of giving is all about realizing that God owns everything we have and He expects us to be good stewards of those resources.  If we’re not careful, we can view “tithing,” as another expense in the budget and not a complete surrender of our money.  Just because we give 10%, doesn’t mean the other 90% is ours for the taking.  That mentality will easily give way to our world of consumerism — a world Jesus is not calling us to pursue (Luke 18:18f).

So how do we overcome these problems?  We need to view our generosity as an act of daily discipleship, and start thinking of tithing this way:

Think: How much more can I give?

Even though we’re living in grace and tithing is now a voluntary act, our underlying question can’t be: “How can I get away with giving less?”  If we ask that, we’ve missed the point all together.  We have to ask: “How much more can I give?”  The final answer to that question may not monetarily change much, but the mentality behind the question changes everything.  Our desire should be to give as much as we can!

Think: How can I support God’s activity?

#Giving is a selfless act out of our grateful response for what God has already done for us! #disciple Click To TweetWe give to enable God’s activity in God’s Kingdom.  Giving is a selfless act out of our grateful response for what God has already done for us (2 Corinthians 9:12f).  As a result, we have to think selflessly and not selfishly as we give.  Even though church politics and hidden agendas often exist, there’s no room for them in the Kingdom!  We must support God’s activity, not our own.

Think: How does God want me to structure my budget?

Just because our culture wants us to think we own our money because we earn our money, it’s not a biblical way of understanding our financial blessings.  God owns everything and is responsible for enabling us to work in the first place.  We are simply his faithful stewards, who ask: “God, how should we use these resources effectively?”

Final thought…

Back to my story…Along my gracious journey with God, I slowly learned that my giving was my grateful response to what God has given me (the gift of grace), and not what I give to God. My journey went from struggling with tithing (why I had to give 10%) to wanting to give as much as I could!

Our giving shouldn’t be out of any compulsion, rather freely given out of a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).  But that doesn’t mean we avoid the discipline of tithing.  We have no reason to believe that Jesus didn’t practice tithing himself.  It does, however, mean we avoid the potential pitfalls.

Your turn…

How have you viewed tithing/giving?  Has it helped or hindered your view of generosity?

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“Give Us a Strategy” – An Open Letter to Premier Ball

Reading Time: 5 minutesIn light of the negativity towards the past and present provincial governments and our economic state, I, a proud Newfoundlander, wrote an open letter to our Premier: “Give Us a Strategy”.  It’s a follow-up to my previous post: “Taxes: Step Up and Help Those In Need

strategy A Letter To The Premier
SUBJECT: NL Budget 2016, Strategy

Dear Premier Ball,

Thank you for your willingness to lead Newfoundland and Labrador. The mantle of leadership is heavy and the role you play is very important. I was born and raised in this province and take much pride in saying, “I’m a Newfoundlander.”  Give us a strategy that will allow us to stand for this province, stay in this province and actually strive towards “a stronger tomorrow.”

As a Christian, I want you to know that I pray for you and your Cabinet.1 While our views may not always coincide, I humbly pray for and respect your leadership.

As a Newfoundlander, I also want to apologize. The economic mess you are trying to fix is not solely the mess of a past political party, a past leader, or a particular situation. The mess was created by me, a Newfoundlander.

I guess, to be fair, I should say it was created by all of us. No one protested when services were increased and taxes were decreased on account of oil revenues. I don’t remember anyone asking, “Are we saving for the future?”  Personally, I know I didn’t complain, when our family received extras like the “baby bonus.” But now, no one wants to take the blame of over spending, when in fact, part of the blame is on all of us.  It’s time we all take some ownership of this great place we call home!

With that said, repayment is upon us. Thank you for realizing we can’t keep borrowing our problems away, and that it’s irresponsible to allow debt servicing to become a major expenditure.  That means we have to work together to make this province a great one again!

The strategy you, and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett, have developed looks profitable in theory and certainly includes everyone. The HST increase and income tax increases are not only helpful, but are also in line with the other Atlantic Provinces.  However, we can’t afford for the weight of this process to fall on lower-income households.2 We need to ensure that those working hard to break-even, with the basic necessities of life, are not further displaced with painful taxes. This won’t help our province. It will hurt it. We need to protect this vulnerable group and represent what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are best known for – being a loving and caring community.

Give us a strategy that protects the services for those in need and allows for a true income-based repayment schedule.  We need to protect services like dental coverage for low-income households.  We also have to remember that the debt reduction levy must be proportionately added to tax payers.  Likewise, an extra $9.90 (an additional 16.5 cents/L on a 60L tank) at the gas pumps will affect every household differently.  That’s nearly an hour’s wage for someone making $25,000.  The impact on the lower-income household can be overwhelming.

Not to mention, if you want Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to buy into paying more taxes, we need to ensure the increase is actually used to reduce our debt, not increase spending elsewhere.

Give us a strategy that increases education. We can’t afford to tax books.  Books aren’t old technology, they are timeless.  Reading has the potential to spark creative minds and a bright future.  We would be better served to increase taxes on electronics than discouraging one another to read.

Give us a strategy that decreases the costs of health care. We can’t afford to decrease services, so we are better to increase taxes on the well-known causes of health problems.  Continue to increase the tax on things like tobacco and alcohol, or enact a “sugar” tax.  Perhaps further tax on these items can positively impact both our revenues and future health-related expenditures.

Give us a strategy we can buy into.  Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are a team.  We rise and fall together!  Give us a strategy that protects, and yet includes, the lower-income households, while expecting those of us who make more, to pull our weight.  Give us a vision, be transparent, and we will follow. Why?  Because we’re proud of our province!

Premier, you haven’t “dropped the ball,” but the ball is certainly in your court. You have the reins and we are following your lead.

Give us a strategy worth standing for; staying for; and, striving for!  Prove to us “a stronger tomorrow” is possible.

A fellow Newfoundlander,

Andrew Holm
Husband, father, pastor, and resident of Bay Roberts, NL.

cc. Cathy Bennett, Finance Minister
cc. Pam Parsons, MHA Harbour Grace – Port de Grave
cc. Fellow Newfoundlanders

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