Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “Multiplying through Subtraction”

Remove Stumbling Blocks

Multiply through subtracting. This goes against everything we’ve learned in school, doesn’t it? Let me be honest and say that math is not my strong point, so this certainly began to confuse me more than I normally may be. However, when I began to consider the depth of multiplying the church through subtraction, things became clearer. We are to begin subtracting things that hinder us from doing the work that Jesus has put forth to us.

Before I became the preschool director here, I was working in secular administration positions. I was good at what I did, and worked full time. I made good money, and enjoyed it. One Sunday morning as I was getting prepared to help in Critterland, Judy mentioned that she was wanting to retire and I should look into replacing her. I said no, initially, because I was concerned I wouldn’t be making the money I needed to help support my family. This question was again proposed to me a few months later and this time I felt the call to act. I do make less than I would in the secular workforce, but what’s amazing is that God has always managed to take care of the needs of our family, especially right after I made the switch.

It is normal for us to be fearful of change, of taking things away that are comfortable. People, places, money, the many building blocks of our lives that we make for ourselves. We are humans, we are instinctively going to add to our stores for fear of hard times. What I’m trying to get across is that for us to really follow what God has planned for us, we need to listen to Him and take things away that are blocking our ability to reach those in need. Creating more disciples by taking away our comforts. Multiply through subtraction. Are you up for that challenge?

~ Lesley Tipton

Minus 1…Minus 2…Minus 3

Even though I have had access to a calculator for many decades now, I still go through the discipline of subtracting amounts in my checkbook by using math skills taught to me in grade school. I always subtract (and add) amounts, THEN I check them with my calculator. Rarely is there a mistake and I guess I hope that by continuing to do this simple exercise, I will keep my mind a bit sharper as the senior years approach.
That is fairly easy for most of us, but subtracting things that distract us from the important things in our lives seems a lot more difficult. If we are honest, we have added more and more into our schedules throughout life and we seem overwhelmed. Do you remember the statement that computers would make our lives a lot simpler when we heard that “line” back in the 1970’s and 1980’s? Haha! That didn’t happen, did it? We are just able to do more and more things, but the computers really didn’t make our lives much easier. (I say that as I compose this article on my personal computer in my office.) Am I grateful for a computer? You bet! Our phones are computers now, but we just spend more and more time on them.
So what do we subtract when we feel overworked and overwhelmed? I cannot answer that for you, but I can guarantee you that there are things we feel are necessary that could be removed and we would be just fine, perhaps even better than we are right now. Perhaps we are involved in too many work activities. Or it may be too many commitments in the community. It may even be too many things at church!
Whatever that may be for me and for you, we need to be honest with ourselves and make hard decisions that will free us up for a better and deeper relationship with God, His Son, our family, and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have gifts and sometimes we find we are too busy to use the gifts given to us for God’s glory. Wow! That is really sad…too busy to enjoy using what God has given to us.
One more thing: I hear over and over again about people who have vacation that they do not use. They feel guilty about using it because there is so much to be done at work. I was taught many years ago that stepping away to relax and refresh actually makes me a better and healthier worker. I believe that Scripture teaches us that we need time to refresh. Just do it!

~ Don Seevers

Remove the Rock of Grumbling – Philippians 2:14

Humanity has a long history of sin, especially grumbling. We don’t see it as very serious and probably none of us is innocent of this sin. But God knew the trouble it could lead to from the beginning. To paraphrase a familiar drug analogy, grumbling can be called the gateway sin that leads to more dangerous sins (that is, from a human perspective) like rebellion, retribution, and even murder. After all, Adam was grumbling about Eve, Eve about the snake, and Cain about Abel.

That’s probably why God gives us so many warnings. For instance, in Phil 2:14 (NASB), God says “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” and in 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NASB), He says “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In case you think you’re not a grumbler, note that the Hebrew and Greek words translated as grumbling can also mean back biting, whining, complaining, or murmuring.

But come on, we may think to ourselves, it’s so easy to grumble, complain, and whine. Most times we don’t even recognize when we’re doing it. And such minor sins don’t count much, right? Is it really even a sin? Surely He can easily overlook that, can’t He? Maybe you think, my life’s hard and it’s impossible not to grumble and complain about something…isn’t it?

He knows all this. But we’re forgetting who we’re talking to. He became a human just like one of us, and He lived through circumstances we cannot even imagine. If anyone had a legitimate excuse to complain and grumble, it was surely Him. But Hebrews 4:15 tells us He didn’t: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He didn’t give in. Not to grumbling, not to any sin.

And praise God that He didn’t, because if He had given into the tiniest temptation, we would be doomed to eternity in hell. But because He refused to indulge this selfish desire (and many others we’re told), He defeated Satan, destroyed death, and enabled the Father to send us the Holy Spirit which is the means by which He communicates with us and helps us to resist sin—even grumbling—until we’re finally home with Him. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 He says so: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

So the next time you’re tempted to grumble or complain, or even when you realize you’re doing it, stop, breathe, and ask for help (and forgiveness, if you’re guilty) and receive help from a loving God who wants to see you succeed: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:16 (NASB)

Monica Kennedy

Are You Producing Fruit?

About 4 years ago my neighbor and I began a simple gardening adventure. We had a spare space between our houses that was rarely used, was the last place to be mowed, and had consistent sunlight throughout the day. We talked at length about bringing back our country boy days and turning the space into a garden. For nearly a year we researched what we would need, what we would plant, and when we would need to get to work. We actually considered this to be a huge investment into the future of our families. Through our garden we would eat more healthy year round. To be honest, for me, it was more about getting my hands dirty and being proud of what we made. The first year we focused greatly on the garden. We made sure to till up the ground at just the right time, pull all the weeds, and plant what we thought would grow the best. We worked as a team and even had the kids excited about gardening. On my side of the space was a large garden area perfect for green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. We had enough space that we planted grapes and built stands for the grapes to grow around. On his side, we planted our herbs and some basic root vegetables. At the end of the summer we harvested a few peppers, lots of green beans, and so many tomatoes we broke the metal cages they were growing on. We considered our first year a success and began planning for year 2. The second year we were busy and comfortable. We tossed in some seeds, tilled when it was convenient, and just let nature do what it does when you don’t tend to it. The result: our garden was a mess. Our plants were nearly choked out by every weed imaginable, and our return was less than satisfying. Now, our third year is off to a decent start, but those pesky weeds need my focus before my entire investment is lost again.
In Galatians 5:16-23, Paul writes to the church in Galatia about walking in step with the Spirit. He shares with the church about the difference between being in touch with the world and ourselves and staying close to God through the Spirit. He challenges the listener to not focus on gratifying the desires of the flesh. Quickly he goes on to define what those desires are and explains how they are in direct conflict with God. He even provides a stern warning that if we give in to those desires we have no reward in Heaven.
A couple years ago, I was listening to a sermon by Kyle Idleman about this passage in Galatians. In the message he talked about these desires of the flesh as weeds in a garden. For many of us, we know that the desires are there and when they take up enough space or begin to choke out our walk that is visible to others, we decide to deal with the weed. However, we only deal with what we can see. We only tear enough of the weed out of our lives so that it doesn’t continue to damage the growth that others can see. The real problem is that we never dig into the root of the problem. Instead of ridding our lives completely of the desire and giving ourselves entirely to the Spirit, we decide to hold on to just a little bit. Then, over time the weed begins to get in the way again. It starts to cause problems in our lives, our families, our marriages, and our jobs.
So what should we do if we know we have something in our lives that shouldn’t be there and we know that it isn’t leading us to a more God focused life in the Spirit?
Colossians 3:5-10 says put it to death. That means we must rip it out, tear it out, cut it out, or burn it out. Do whatever you have to in order to be rid of it.
As we go through the next sermon series, I encourage you to take a look at your lives. In the American culture we have many things that might not be producing fruit in our lives. From the food and drinks we consume, to our friends we keep. From movies and music we listen to, to the words we say that we know we should not.
Are you ready and willing to multiply by subtraction so that God can do something special in you and through you. Your best days are ahead, so stay in step with the Spirit!!

Matt Lee

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