Who is Your Friend?

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Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

I have over 3,000 “friends” on Facebook.  I have hundreds of “followers” on Twitter.  I am wired and e-connected 24/7/365.  Yet, I still feel disconnected from deep intimate friendships and community.

Most of these friendships are superficial.  As human beings, we are created for community.  We function best in community settings. Our Christianity is best lived in community.  We need authentic, deep, meaningful friendships.  To have a friend is to have someone who understands you, without any judgments.

Friend

In one of His most challenging moments on earth, Jesus chose to bring three friends with him to prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He brought Peter, James and John.  In this sacred moment of His life, Jesus must have counted on the friends to keep Him company.  He must have relied on His friends to pray for and with Him.  He must have hoped they would stay would practice the ministry of presence – be there for Him. But, you know what they did?  They all fell asleep several times!  Their flesh failed them when their Master needed them the most. Despite their glaring weaknesses, Jesus relied on His friends.  He leaned into community.  He relied on His friends, even when it was not easy to do so (Matthew 26:36-46).

  1. Who is your best friend? Why?
  2. Can you identify three key friends to whom you could reach out to?
  3. Why are these friends important? Are you able to keep connected with these friends? If not, why not?
  4. What do you need to do to take these friendships to a deeper level?
  5. Are there some older friendships that you need to restore?
  6. On whom do you when life gets tough?
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7 Ways to become more ethical

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  • When you hear the word “Ethics” what comes to mind?
  • How do you define ethics?
  • Can you think of examples of unethical behaviors you have observed?
  • Can you think of examples of ethical behaviors you have observed?

The dictionary defines ethics as “1. a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.

2.the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.

  1. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.” (dictionary.com)

In the Bible, Proverbs 11:3 states, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

ethics

  • People who behave ethically are guided by the wise teachings and laws of the Lord.
  • People who behave ethically are cognizant of the value and impact of their testimony.
  • People who behave ethically inspire others to seek higher moral standards.
  • People who behave ethically transform people, their families, and their churches.
  • People who exhibit ethical behavior attract respect, trust, and honor.
  • People who show ethical behavior are people of integrity; they are dependable, and trustworthy.

Ethics

How to become more ethical

  1. Give your heart to Jesus. Do not just pay lip service to Jesus. Imitate Christ. Give your whole being to Him.  He will transform you from the inside out.
  2. Set some principles for yourself. Observe your personal, your company’s code of ethics.
  3. Read the Bible. Let God’s Word lead and guide you.
  4. Practice holiness. Holy people separate themselves from the lures of the world.  Holiness enables us to preach what we do, and do what we preach.
  5. Find a mentor. Have someone to walk alongside you.  Have someone who will challenge you, inspire you, and rebuke you, if necessary.
  6. Join an accountability group. Find likeminded individuals and join them.  Thorough authentic accountability groups, you will find wisdom, warnings, and encouragement for the journey.
  7. Read, learn more about ethics. Many universities and colleges are offering ethics classes.  The verdict is still out, but I think learning more about ethics can move the needle more towards ethical behavior.  The more you know, the more you should act more ethical.

Ethics (1)

Chasing My Dream

BA in leadership

“To be called Doctor does not necessarily mean you are the smartest person in the room.  To be called Doctor means you are the most hardworking, persevering person in the room.” (GCU Instructor)

From an early age, I have always had a desire to learn.  From an early age, I have always had a desire to pursue the highest of attainable educational goals.

Along the way life happened.  I shelved my idea of pursuing higher education. I got married and moved to Australia.  A year later, we moved to the USA.  I hoped to attain a BA degree but I faced one wall after another.  I could not afford to pay the foreigner college tuition fees.  The passion for education was dormant within me.  I read voraciously.  I often thought going to college was not achievable for me.

A few years ago, The Salvation Army sent me to Arrow Leadership in Canada.  It was at Arrow Leadership my passion for college was resuscitated.  I enrolled in the BA in Ministry focusing on Leadership and Ethics at Nazarene Bible College.  I simultaneously continued with my Arrow leadership classes. After graduating from NBC, I could not wait to go deeper.  I enrolled in the Master of Science in Leadership program at Grand Canyon University.

MSL

My desire for more education led me to my doctoral journey.  Here are a few life lessons I am learning along the way:

  1. It is never too late to chase your dream. Go for it.
  2. Don’t give up on your dream. Don’t give in. Don’t throw in the towel.
  3. Trust God to see you through it all. He will give you strength.
  4. Expect to work hard. Excellent things do not come easy. Easy things are not excellent.
  5. Education will test your resolve.  Looming deadlines, long papers, unimaginable projects, unending lectures.  You can do it.
  6. Avoid falling behind.  It is hard to catch up. If you do not or are stuck, ask for help.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t be arrogant.  All of us need help at some point.
  7. Submit the work on time.  It’s better to submit unfinished work on time than to be tardy.
  8. Work with your teachers. Give them your best. They will cut you some slack when the day comes when you need their leniency.
  9. Enjoy learning.  Enjoy the ride.  Not many people have the privilege of attending school.  Honor the privilege.
  10. Create a support system. Ask for support from your family, friends and classmates. This support network will encourage and spur you on.

 

The ‘WHY’ Behind Your Church’s Need for Mobile and Online Giving in 2017 (reBlog)

Online giving, mobile giving, and text giving are MAJOR topics in the Church!

But why?

Churches shouldn’t make huge financial decisions just because everyone is hopping on the latest and greatest trends, right?

But, if you dig a little and pay attention to the world of payments and consumer habits, you’ll find information that will serve you well as you think about making the move to digital giving.

We understand that this a major decision, so let’s look at some useful information on the topic of “church giving” in our minds. Sound good? Oh, and be sure to comment below with any questions or feedback.

1. Cash and check are on the decline.

Nearly 80% of Americans carry under $50 cash in their wallet and 9% don’t carry cash at all! The fed shows the number of checks used continues to fall, falling in between 4-6% a year since 2000 (see chart below). In fact, 74% of Americans say they write no more than one check per month and millennials don’t even know what a checkbook is!

Oh, and it is predicted that by 2025, 75% of all transactions will be made without cash. That’s ONLY 9 years away people!

The church issue: 86% of church giving still happens via check yet traditional tithing envelopes don’t work for an entire generation. Churches are one of not-to-many “industries” that still relies on cash and check while many others have moved to digital forms of transacting.

2. Mobile is here to stay.

Ericsson says that by 2020, 90% of the world’s population over 6 years old will have a mobile phone with internet access. Mobile phones are so pervasive that, according to Pew Research, like me, 44% of American adults slept with their phone last night.

Beyond more and more people owning a mobile phone with internet access, mobile payments continue to grow at an incredibly fast pace. It’s was predicted that over 4.8 billion people would be using a mobile phone by the end of 2016 and that 39% of all U.S. mobile users made a mobile payment in 2015. TrendOne reports that mobile based payments are growing over 60% a year and will reach nearly $275 Billion by 2021.

The church issue: Only 7% of churches in the US offer a way to give via a mobile device and only 8.2% of all faith-based fundraising came through online methods in 2016. Churches are falling further and further behind while society goes mobile.

3. People are being trained to pay on their phone.

If these above stats haven’t made you start to seriously considering online and mobile giving for your church, then I don’t know what will.

Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut, Acorn, Digit, and many others have begun training churchgoers to use their mobile phones to do everything from buying coffee and TVs to taking a cab, ordering pizza, and managing their personal finances.

If Apple makes it as simple as 1-click to purchase a new movie from iTunes, then it better be as simple for your members to give to their local church.

Your audience is being shown how simple it can be in their everyday lives, and will soon expect the same type of mobile giving experience from the churches they attend.

4. People miss church.

There are lots of reasons people miss church. Kids sick, family vacation, mom is traveling for work, relatives in town, snowed and rained in, ahem … lack of motivation, or any number of other issues cause people to miss church. And when members miss a service, church revenue declines. Am I right?

Here’s the thing though, no matter where your church members are, you can almost bet on the fact that they’ll have their mobile phone in their hand (or pocket). See the “Mobile is here to stay” point above if you don’t believe me.

Take advantage of that and train the to give on the go, anywhere, and at any time.

5. Younger generations are different.

Millennials give more than they get credit for, but they do it differently.

84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014 and over half of them give monthly to a cause they support, according to the Millennial Impact Report.

Barna says that 39% of Christian Millennials donate to a church or faith organization online at least once a month and 20% of practicing Christian Millennials donate monthly via text message. The report goes on to say that …

“Millennials are giving, yet technology is changing how they give. In fact, Millennial generosity, for the most part, has gone paperless.”

Beyond the desire to be personally connected to a cause, see the tangible impact they make, and participate in doing this work amongst their peers, millennials just don’t own or carry a checkbook.

Your turn.

Nearly every person walking through your church doors is holding a smartphone in hand. They’ve already purchased their coffee, checking Insta, bought that new “thing” on Amazon, and texted 17 friends prior to showing up at church.

While there with you they’re checking their kids into kids care, reading the bible, fact checking and commenting on sermons, and taking notes. Oh, and texting 22 of their friends, 12 of which are sitting in the same room.

Will you make it simple for members to support the great work you’re doing by empowering them with a simple to use mobile church giving solution. Or will they have to reach into their pocketbooks only to remember that they’ve left their checkbook at home for the third week in a row?

It’s your choice.


This post was written by Dean Sweetman, CEO of Tithely, an online and app based solution for payment processing. Software that allows non-profits and charities to raise money easily, any where, any time.