February 16, 2012

Of Netflix, Hulu+ and a little monthly Jesus…

Is that magical time of year again where we all have the privilege of digging through last year’s paperwork to find all the right information to take to the accountant.  We had our appointment last Saturday, and now we wait to see if we will be receiving a refund or if we owe something.  The last few years we’ve had a split outcome – owing to one while receiving a refund from the other (federal vs. state), but at least we come away with not feeling too bad since it’s pretty much a wash.

While looking over the previous year's receipts, we see our “expenditures” as they really are, and it looks even more magnified because they are lumped together, line item by line item.  You know, like when we think we’re spending just $1.29 for a Redbox movie rental.  "What a great deal!"  So much better than the days gone by when a movie rental cost $4.99.  Yet, when we add up all of our Redbox expenses for 2011 it totals $172.49.  SERIOUSLY?  How could we have spent THAT much on just movies to watch at home?!  At the time of renting a movie or two, we excuse it because we only have the basic over-the-air channels, and we use the excuse that we don’t often go to the regular theatres that cost an arm and a leg.  Instead, we go to the $1 theatre. 

Uh-oh.  Redbox isn’t the only splurge here.  We also have a few other “cheap” entertainment monthly subscriptions:

·         Netflix - $7.99
·         Hulu+ - $7.99
·         Rhapsody - $14.99

Well, as we look at our year’s expenses, it’s easy to realize that even though we’ve cut out cable and don’t go to the “expensive” theatres, we do spend an amazing amount of money on “entertainment”.

How about you?  Isn’t it so easy to begin a subscription to something that only costs a few dollars a month?  It seems like if it’s less than $20 a month, it’s a “steal”; a “no-brainer”.  Movie subscriptions, magazines, cable, cell phone upgrades, ebooks.  The list goes on and on.

We’ve been convicted recently as we read again in Matthew 6:21, “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (The Message)  This is SO true!  When we rent a few Redbox movies, we become almost obsessed to watch them all within the 24 hours so we aren’t charged another $1.29.  Yet, the more time we spending watching TV, movies, and reading, the less time we spend on our relationship with God.

So often, I've said…

                “We have no more room in our budget to give.”
                “We are all tapped out.”
                “We have too many expenses right now, we can’t add any more.”
                “We already give too much to other causes.”

Honestly, I believe our lack of giving “in faith, above and beyond” for so many years has been directly tied to our perceived lack of finances to cover our own needs.   

We were just reminded a few weeks ago from a friend and co-worker about the real message behind the verses in Philippians 4.  Verse 17 reads, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.”  Then, the verse (19) that we all quote so well reads, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

So often we take verse 19 as a promise that God will supply all of our needs… just because we are His children.  But, the verse should be understood in context with the rest of the chapter.  The Philippians Church supported Paul financially while he was travelling and sharing the gospel in other lands.  He wanted to remind them that their giving to missionaries was like opening an account in heaven, and every cent they gave was an offering directly to the Lord and that God would meet every need of theirs according to HIS riches in Christ Jesus!

Here's the part where you might start thinking, yeah, they're just trying to raise more support.  But really, it’s not about giving to us… it’s not about giving to the ministry in France… it’s not about giving some extravagant amount of money… it’s not even about having “extra” money in your budget to give. 

It’s all about God… and our obedience to His call on our lives.  It’s all about participating in missions… and, if He moves you, giving an offering to the Lord and trusting that He will supply for all of your needs in response to your obedience.

Think monthly subscription… or nightly movie rental.  No gift is too small.  Remember the story about the widow in Mark and Luke?  She gave two small copper coins… all she had.  Do we give out of our wealth or out of our poverty?

We have committed in 2012 and beyond to give to ministries around the world out of faith that God will meet all of our needs.  If we were to look at our commitments based on our budget, we would not give.  Humanly, we can’t see how it all adds up.  But, God has challenged us to put more of our treasures in things that will last and less in earthly things – like Redbox, Netflix and Hulu+.

How about you?  How is God challenging you in 2012?  Will you prayerfully consider giving a little more than you think is humanly possible to something that will last?  Can you, in faith, 'subscribe' to a little monthly missions alongside your Dish, DirecTV, Netflix or Hulu+, or iTunes subscription?

May we challenge you today to pray and ask God how he would like you to become more involved in His work around the world this year?  Would you ask Him if He wants you to partner with the ministry in France?  How about somewhere else?  How about somewhere closer?  Somewhere far...far away?  And, then would you obey what He’s calling you to do?

We honestly would love all of our friends to partner with us in the call to Lyon, France… but, more than that, we want YOU to be obedient to GOD and take a step of faith – wherever that step of faith leads you. 

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