Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Like many churches and ministries, giving is down a bit at our church. We're living in tough economic times. People should give what they can afford while giving the work of God a high priority. Attitude is more important than amount. We trust God to provide our needs, and therefore we give generously, systematically, proportionately,and gladly. By giving cheerfully we are most like God, Who is a cheerful Giver. John Wesley urged, "Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can." We need to offer God our time, talent, and treasure. Our gifts to God become a gift of ourselves. We also need to reflect on how tied we are to material comforts, and perhaps take an assessment on how we're spending our money. Maybe we can't afford to give in church because we've been maxing out our credit cards by over-indulgence. A simpler, more disciplined lifestyle might keep us from going overboard financially. None of this is easy...but God can supply us the grace to do the right thing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


When I was an Army Chaplain I got to go TDY (temporary duty) for training, often a month at a time, at least once or twice a year. I received an entire year of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Brooke Army Medical Center when I was a Major. Now that I'm a civilian Pastor I find it harder to renew myself and refresh my vision. I've contacted scores of retreat/conference centers and they'll let me stay a few days...which is hardly what I need. I've asked to get put part-time on staff only to be told it would be "logistically unfeasable." There ought to be a retreat center designed for clergy sabbaticals where a minister could go (with spouse) for at least 2 months. There'd be worship and educational sessions, recreation, a library, and some one-on-one spiritual guidance. If I had the wherewithal I'd try to establish such a center myself. Most clergy I know keep plugging away year-after-year with a couple of vacation weeks per year, usually scheduled around the annual denominational meeting. It's not working. We could simply sit in our living rooms for a month, but that's a terrible idea. To remain effective, ministers need to break away from the responsibilities that consume them and work on personal renewal. I know a lot of's not happening.