Friday, October 16, 2009

It's NOT the Economy, Stupid!

The number one concern of most Americans right now is the economy and jobs.  We've had several church members lose their jobs in recent weeks. Many more are concerned about further cuts that could happen in their workplace. 

Meanwhile, most of us aren't prepared for a layoff.  Americans are saving between -1% and 1% of their income!  (This compares with an average savings rate in China of around 25%!)  And we are in debt - the average credit card debt in America is over $9,000.

Our federal government reflects 'we the people,' with debt that is growing daily and is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, money that we are borrowing from other countries and will have to repay - someday, somehow.

What's our problem? 

Guess what - it's NOT the economy!

While we definitely have financial problems, our money crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem.  All of our spending and borrowing and debt points to a flaw in our collective character (and our individual minds and hearts). 

In spite of having so much - in fact, having all that we need and more...

...we are not CONTENT.

We are restless, bored, searching for something ... and in the process we shop, we buy, we borrow, we travel and vacation and entertain ourselves - we go deeper into debt, and still feel the same restless dissatisfaction.

What's missing inside each on of us that keeps pushing us to want more?

Part of what's missing is a sense of purpose and identity...
...what's missing is knowing WHO I am and WHY I'm here.

We have an internal need or desire for significance and purpose, and unless we fulfill this, we are restless. Our antidote is to spend, spend, spend and we are in serious debt, which leads to further stress - and often more spending!

This internal desire for purpose is something that God put in us when we were created as human beings.  We're not satisfied to just consume and act like animals.  We need something more to be fulfilled. We need to give and contribute.  We need to know we're making a difference.

This is a spiritual issue - that is, it goes beyond the physical or the biological - or the financial!  God created us as spiritual beings, and part of our spiritual fulfillment comes from learning his purposes for us. God is our compass and roadmap.  No wonder Jesus said he was the light, and the bread of life.  Without him we're directionless and hungry for more...even when we've gorged ourselves on food and pleasure.

This Sunday will be the second in our series called "Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity." I'm going to address this issue - helping us be clear about our purpose and calling.  When we discover and accept God's plans and purposes for our lives, we are able to experience the freedom that comes from contentment.

I'll also share some simple financial principles we all need to remember to act wisely in the area of finances; that's why this message is entitled "Wisdom and Finance."

And we're giving every person who attends Sunday a 'sticky card' (that you can stick to your bathroom mirror or a window) that has these important financial principles on it. This tool will be a daily reminder to encourage you to be content and discover God's deeper purpose for your life!

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Stay connected...

Pastor Mike


  1. Question - if we do not tithe, is it sin?
    Can we substutute our time spent serving the church for financial gifts to the church? (after all, isn't our time worth something?) If a person says that they can't give anything to the church, or gives a nominal gift occasionally because "times are tough" given a "pass" by God? Is the person who says, "I can't give this money I might need it" actually not trusting God?

    I have heard all of these through the years. Anyone care to comment?

  2. Tom- I think you have a great point! In my opinion, giving our time is the greatest gift we can ever give, because giving time means giving your life. We are called to give our lives, after all- that's what salvation is: dying to our old selves, and putting on the new self, who is Christ. Not to be cliche, but in the area of our tithing, be it money or time, I think we should ask "What Would Jesus Do?" I think he would give his time to the church, serving in any area (no where is too high or too low) and he would also give money. After all, he did praise the widow who gave her only two coins.
    I think a problem, or a gap in the idea of tithing is that the church doesn't always function like it was designed to do, or like it did in the days of the early church. For example- Acts 2:42-47 talks about all the believers living together, praying together, breaking bread and communing, AND giving to each as he had need, so that no one was lacking. If we really lived like this- truly selling our possesions, and giving to those within our fellowship who had needs, then our needs would be met. (Also- note the difference between a "need" and a "want").
    **"I can't give this money, I might need it." I know this is a trust issue, and I've seen God work in HUGE ways in people's lives who have literally given all they have to the church. God ALWAYS provides for His children. The blessings always come back around. But be careful- we don't serve the slot-machine god, "put in one coin, three pop out!" No, no! I believe God provides physically, but also His gifts come in the Spiritual form- and those are the eternal gifts that can never be taken away, rusted, or eaten by moths.
    ...thats what I think about that. ;)