As all of us were growing up, volunteering has always been a very altruistic thing. The feeling of giving back out of your blessed fortune to others who may not have as much, or have not been given the same hand in life is a very cool thing.
That can mean something as simple as doing down to your local soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and helping serve people, to actually going all-in and working for a non-profit, trying to help them make ends meet.
Today I’d like to go into more of an opinion piece that will possibly stir up some controversy within the Lutheran community. I’d like to talk about the idea of church-associated and run businesses, and why I believe they are where churches should be headed towards in the future.
Obviously there are many opinions out there regarding the ethics of this, and whether the church should be ‘in business’. I would like to address some of those, as well as some of the advantages of the church sponsoring and helping more of these types of organizations.
In the past few decades, church membership has been gradually shrinking, and has been going on all over the Western world. Some say that young people today just don’t relate to the old and antiquated church, while others just say the world has changed. Whatever the reason, it’s starting to change.
They say starting a business is easy but keeping the shop running is an art. Such an adage has certainly been true for a group of churches located in different cities in the US who decided to go into sales. They work with a group of hardworking Kenyan women who make beautiful handcrafted jewelry for sale as a way of breaking free from poverty.
The jewelry comes in different shapes, materials and colors and keeping track of the items imported is always a tough call to make. Some of the challenges the importers have to deal with include knowing exactly what is in their stock, especially when different pieces of jewelry are more in demand than others. Such a situation is always a major challenge not only for the churches but also for every business person. Knowing the location of any item at any given time is always a hard job unless you have a systematic way of keeping track of everything.
For the group of churches, the different items imported are made from different kinds of stones and therefore differ in quality and pricing. It is always important for them to know how much is in stock in each category. For example, there are necklaces, bracelets and rings made from beads, sea shells, gold and animal teeth among other materials.
The churches struggled for almost a year before finally getting their hands on a reliable inventory control software which helps them keep track of everything include orders they have made, items imported, sold and those that their customers in North America have ordered. For the churches, the business flow has now become easier and they are beginning to relax in their role of business owners. Their business started as a small entrepreneurship with only a minimal investment but things have turned around for good both for the group and their suppliers in Kenya.
One of the things that I noted about the growth of the business is that it was not easy for the church groups in the beginning. They struggled, made losses and even lost potential clients owing to what could be termed as poor management. The business administrators were not always able to replenish their stock on time, would fail to deliver their orders on time, frustrating their clients who ended up pulling out and dealing with other suppliers.
However, listening to the business administrators the other day exposed another side of the business these ladies always dreamed of. Their line of supply is now fully updated not to mention that they know what is in stock, what is not and the pricing of their inventory thus making it possible for them to make profits while minimizing the amount of time and money spent tracking the items. Using inventory control software has been helpful in knowing which handcrafted jewelry is popular in different regions of North America. Such information has helped prevent cases of overstocking or under-stocking on any given product.
Different people assigned with day to day running of the business are always able to monitor their business from different parts as they can enjoy real time tracking options. Keeping different churches in different cities well coordinated has not always been easy but with time there has been a lot of changes and effectiveness which has helped prevent business mismanagement. Finances have been properly managed and all proceeds trickle back to the women in Kenya, a process which has uplifted many peoples’ lives.
Firm believers can do a lot to start enjoying a cleaner and more spiritual living space. Christian home cleansing is a great opportunity that is relatively easy to do. You should consider home cleansing several times per year, especially if you are experiencing particular problems.
When Do You Need to Do Home Cleansing?
We all know that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” The home that we live in could have huge positive or negative impact on our bodies. Prayer and cleansing can be used to consecrate the home and get rid of evil influences.
You should consider home cleansing if you are suffering from a chronic illness or you have been feeling unwell for a long period of time. Cleansing is also necessary in the cases of insomnia, relationship problems, restlessness in children or an overall heavy, dark atmosphere.
Learn More about the Past
You should consider Christian home cleansing if you know something bad about the previous owners of the property. Trying to learn more will provide you with essential information about the causes of problems.
Certain people can have negative energy. It is possible that the previous owners could have cursed the house, making you experience all of the negative phenomena that are currently taking place. Negative influences could have also entered the property through media like television and radio. The past could be affecting your life today – use your faith to get rid of such influences and invite light into your home.
Spiritual Home Cleansing
Spiritual cleansing is the most important part of the consecration process. You will need to use the right prayer and you will have to perform a few rituals.
Start from the outside and move to each of the rooms. Start by asking the Lord for protection. “We ask Father God for Your light and Your love to flow in this place.” Anoint the doors and the windows as you go.
Say a small prayer in each of the rooms. There are many prayers that Christians use especially for the purpose of doing home cleansing. You can ask your priest for guidance or you can do online research to pick the best prayer for each of your rooms.
Finally, you should get in the habit of chasing evil influences away. Play Christian music at home. Avoid television programs and radio shows that promote violence, aggression and anti-Christian behavior.
Get Rid of Clutter
Spiritual cleansing can be accompanied by making sure your house is free from all negative objects and influences. Call a dumpster rental company to find out more about their services like dumpster sizes (http://www.dumpsterrentalzone.com/dumpster-sizes-and-service/). Here is an excellent resource online about dumpster rental – Dumpster Rental Zone
Certain objects should be taken out of the Christian home. These include heavy necklaces, paintings that have a religious theme, occult literature, movies, dream catchers, yoga literature, visualization literature and even stuffed animals.
Home cleansing will enable you to live in calmer, much more spiritual surroundings. Use your faith to create a better living environment for yourself and your family. Ask the Lord for guidance and in your heart, you will know which steps need to be undertaken.
Organizing a church picnic in a member’s spacious backyard can be a challenging endeavor yet so adventurous. Such a picnic gives church members an opportunity to interact in sports and other outdoor activities. What is more, the excitement that comes with picnics cannot be over-emphasized. To organize one, you need to identify a church member with a spacious backyard that can comfortably accommodate the church members. Be sure to start early preparations as this will allow you adequate time to plan. It is imperative to acquaint yourself with the possible activities members can engage in, prepare them for the activities as well as avail the necessary facilities.
The backyard ought to be well maintained, spacious and conducive. As a rule of thumb, always start planning early enough to get the time needed to make any improvements on the backyard. For instance, if the grass of the one you choose does not impress you, consider having some different grass. There are many turf choices offered by local landscaping companies from which you can choose your preferred one from. Be sure to get opinion also from the landscaping companies on the turf choices. If you intend to have the picnic during summer, Sir Walter turf grass would be the best option. Apart from it being good both in shade and sun, it is easy to maintain. The other ready choices would be the Kikuyu grass and the couches. Once you identify the one you prefer, all you need is to seek services of a local landscaping company to install them.
All church members should participate in different games and activities regardless of their age and gender. Suggest a variety of games to ensure everyone participates. For children, you can try bringing in bouncing castles for them. The most ideal activity would be racing. In fact, you can just have races for all categories and a few bible quizzes or mind games and that will suffice. The shady areas with trees are only ideal for observers. The main backyard with plenty of space and grass should be an exclusive zone for activities. Try to get a bit creative by isolating the areas using a rope. Reserve a place for first aid since cases that need first aid ever occur in such events.
Members should not take their lunch from far. On such an eventful day, you are sure of how many members get tired. Even having them take their lunch from the homestead would be inappropriate. Be sure to bring some extra tables to the backyard for lunch. If the church does not have enough of them, try hiring from an events company. It is also advisable to involve a person who is experienced in organizing events in your picnic preparations to guarantee the success of the picnic. However, it is always within your reach to make such decisions. For example, you can decide to do everything on your own except the services of the landscaping company that you need to consult for turf choices as well as installation of the turf.
Many older people often have the mindset that they are too old to do some things. Yes, they may not be able to go out and start competing in a sporting event that is for those who are much younger, since their bodies may not be as strong. However, other aspects that many seniors think they are too old for, is really not an issue. One of these issues is the type of religion that you practice and are recognized as a member of this religion. Judaism is one religion that is rather strict on just who can be considered Jewish and who cannot be. This is one reason that many seniors think they are too old to convert. The process is long and hard, but a senior who wishes to do this are not going to be denied this option due to their age. They simply have to be ready to work for it, as it will take a lot of dedication.
What you Need to Prepare For
One of the major things that you need to prepare for when you are ready to convert is that the Rabbi that you see is going to try to persuade you to not join. This is their way of weeding out those who are truly not ready to be Jewish or simply have no desire to do this. You will meet with the Rabbi periodically in which time he will try to point out that you are not ready or that you truly do not believe the same was the Jewish people believe. This process can take quite a while, as many people have said that they waited up to a year to allowed to begin the actual conversion process.
There will be many lifestyle changes and rules that you are going to have to adhere to in order to become a converted Jew. These rules are something that everyone goes by and they will be told to you and taught in depth. Just a few examples though, your clothing will need to be more modest throughout the year, you cannot eat dairy with your meal, you may not be able to attend all the functions that you once attended if they are held in a place of worship other than a Jewish place of worship and the like. One of our readers just had a group of residents at a local retirement home convert to Judaism. The members of this community ended up moving to a retirement community that fit their needs when it came to their new found religious beliefs.
Putting in the Time
To become Jewish, learning all the rules and the like will take quite a bit of time. However, you will find that if you serious about this, you can make it work. Whether this is the best decision for you or not will depend on what you truly believe. Many people are interested in Judaism before they learn the ins and outs of what to expect, while others are still all for converting after learning what they need to be prepared for.
Do not let your age stop you from doing something that you are truly interested in or believe in. Just because you are older does not mean that you cannot become a converted Jew and live out your life in a way that you have always wanted to do.
Churches have always been tagged as high-risk by most insurance companies. Not only are churches easy targets for vandalism and break-ins, these are also magnets for both internal and external theft. The issue of theft and damage has even made insurance premiums to soar higher as new hi-tech gadgets and equipment come into play. From touch-screen computers to state of the art sound and audio-visual devices, churches have never been more vulnerable to risks than ever before. When thinking of applying or renewing insurance, it is imperative that person in-charge for the assessment prior to application be aware of the factors which can help lower insurance premiums for churches such as updated security system, fixed asset tracking, online and cloud protection, and other mechanisms that may portray more security and stability.
Addressing Break-Ins and Vandalism
No matter how tight a church’s security system, it must be tweaked from time to time for more efficiency and efficacy. State of the art alarm and CCTV systems must be established to reduce exposure to risks. Implementation of practical and effective security measures and access solutions such as a network of CCTV cameras, security patrols, and electronic lock-and-key access system will help manage the dilemma of facility break-ins and vandalism as well as theft. Insurance companies usually give discounts to churches who have outstanding connection with top security companies to ensure safety at all time.
Data Management – Online and Offline
Churches are also easy targets for both online and offline breach of data. Electronic keys and smart-badge systems may be implemented to address this concern. There are quite a number of innovative equipment which one can easily add to existing computer system. Online and offline security controls must also be plotted out to prevent leakage of confidential materials that can be detrimental to a church or group of churches. As today’s churches are tech-savvy in nature, fool-proof data management systems can alleviate insurance premium costs due to certain risks stipulated.
Fixed Asset Tracking and Management
Two of the most intensive and demanding tasks in managing churches are the management and documentation of fixed assets. From office computers to digital projectors, media equipment, music and sound equipment, and accounting-related documents, using equally modern asset management software offered by inventory management companies will extensively aid in fixed asset tracking and management protocols in churches. The software is intended to facilitate proper and consistent monitoring and managing on the utilization, performance and control of fixed assets. Apart from lowering insurance premiums, this system also enhance up-time, improve risk management rules, and empower strategic planning.
Implementation of access management solution, state of the art security system, and fixed asset management tracking solutions must be considered part and parcel of church management. Enforcing these systems will help establish a procedure that will lessen exposure to risk. From assets tracking and management to innovative alarm systems, access control, software and online management, and so on are just some of the methods which can be of help. This, in turn, will help save substantial amount on premiums paid for insurance.
With 2014 approaching, Christian attorney Charlie Verne decided he needed to be more than a lawyer to his clients. Knowing he was blessed with a thriving law practice, a happy, healthy family and the love of Christ, Charlie realized he was in a much better place than many of the people who came to his for legal help, guidance, advice and representation. Many of Charlie’s clients struggle with lifelong medical issues through no fault of their own. Whether being born with a genetic condition, suffering with injuries from an automobile accident caused by an impaired driver, or complications from surgeries, each of Charlie’s clients had major health issues and the bills that came along with them.
After spending hours in prayer about how to best help his clients, Charlie suddenly had an idea. While he would continue to help his clients with their legal issues and challenges, Charlie knew he could really help by holding a fundraiser to help with his client’s medical bills. With his connections and relationships, Charlie knew he could throw a fundraising event that would be successful in raising enough money to make a major difference in the lives of his clients and their families. Charlie put his idea on the top of his to do and prayer lists and decided he needed to enlist some extra help.
Charlie went to his pastor to talk about his idea and get some feedback. After praying over the idea together, both Charlie and his spiritual adviser felt good about moving forward and decided to put the plan into action. For the next three weeks, Charlie devoted all his spare time and energy into coordinating a fundraising event that would help his clients cover their medical bills and wipe their debt free.
With the help and blessing of the church, Charlie and his colleagues held a donation based attorney advice day. For a minimum donation of $50 dollars, people could have access to the advice and expertise of some of Canada’s top attorneys. Charlie and his fundraising team advertised the event on Facebook, Twitter, on local television and radio, in newspapers, in church bulletins and through word of mouth and waited with bated breath as they opened the doors to the event. Within minutes, every single attorney had a client in front of them and more eagerly awaited their turn to speak with a lawyer and get help with their legal questions, issues or problems. At the end of the day, Charlie and his colleagues had raised over $10,000 to help his clients pay off their medical expenses.
Since that October in 2013, Charlie and his team of fundraising volunteers have raised over $100,000 to help Christians with medical issues pay their bills. With help from the church and their donation space, the community’s involvement and support and the willingness of Charlie’s colleagues to donate their time, no money is spent on hosting the event and 100% of all profits go to covering the medical bills of his clients. If you are interested in volunteering, fill out this contact form.
This article is dedicated to all of the worship leaders out there! Raise your hands!
If you have been leading worship for more than a few months, you know that it sometimes has the tendency to get stale and routine, with the same people playing the same songs, with the same instruments. Worship isn’t supposed to be stale! It’s supposed to be vibrant, and engaging, and always trying to worship our Creator in the way we best know how.
He has given us these gifts for a reason, and it’s not to just go through the motions of worshipping Him. It’s to be loud, and new, and always be continuing our growth journey with Him!
But what is a practical way to do this as a worship leader? Well with any stagnation situation, it’s always good to be able to change something up, such as the environment, or situation, or something like that. For worship, this can mean the music, the musicians up there, how and where you are playing from, and the instruments that you use to play.
Some weeks, the full band with drums, bass, keys, guitar and backup singers are great, but other times it’s great to just strip it down to a very low-key, acoustic worship. Here are a couple of unique musical instruments that can help add some variety to your worship set. The only issue now is finding someone in your congregation that can play them!
The first new instrument on our list can be fairly old-school to some people, but after hearing a few worship sets with one in them, it’s amazing what kind of presence it can create. An accordion can be the perfect instrument to add a very big ‘wall’ of sound to any worship. It’s long and droning background chords, and ability to play complex melodies make it a very versatile instrument. It can either blend in well with the backing instruments, or come to the front and play much more of a lead melody role.
Once you know how to use it well, it can become as useful as a guitar!
The next instrument on our list is the classic violin. In years past, this was much more common throughout worship sets, but not as much in the last few years. It’s about time we bring back that nostalgic sound of the violin. It is important however that the violinist knows how to blend into the rest of the band. They grew up playing melodies and the leads through songs, so making sure they don’t ‘take over’ the music is important.
The third instrument on our list is the tenor saxophone. This beautiful, and rich sounding instrument can really add a large depth to your music. It’s very soothing and warm, yet can really stand out with its raspy sounds. It’s not just for sensual jazz any more!
Last but not least, the lap slide guitar is one instrument that is rarely seen in worship music today. When you say slide guitar, most people start thinking of twangy country music, or old people sounds. But with modern slide guitars, especially played with modern stylings, their sound can be very smooth and versatile. A good acoustic slide player can add a whole another dimension to music that most people haven’t really heard too much of before.
If you have ever been on a mission trip, or even just ventured into the developing world, you know how much of an issue clean drinking water can be to people living there.
Their surface water supplies that they usually do everything with from wash clothes, to bathe, to even use the bathroom, are becoming more and more contaminated. This leaves some of the water supplies alright to do certain things in, but certainly not drink from.
Thousands of people around the world are dying everyday from very preventable diseases, and as Christians who are supposed to care about the world, we should be outraged. Why should the less fortunate have to die at the hands of the inaction of the more fortunate? We’re all God’s children, and deserve the right to life!
Well we started to do some searching around for cool companies and technologies that are really making a difference in this epidemic. These simple and functional devices are not only giving people in impoverished areas a clean supply of drinking water, but a new lease on life. A life without meaningless disease.
The first, and probably most utilitarian water-purification device is called the LifeSaq. This brilliant innovation was meant to be a shipping sack for grains and supplies, and then turn into a water purification bag, using UV radiation, and a 5nm filter to eliminate almost all bacteria from the water. This bag also has very simple slits in the sides, so after filling the bag, it can be worn as a backpack for ease of transportation over longer distances.
The Lifestraw has a number of innovative systems out there for water purification in the developing world, but its flagship and initial innovation was the actual Life Straw. A small, plastic tube that looks a lot like the recorders we used to play in elementary music class, this portable device can provide instant clean water from virtually any water supply. So if someone is traveling and comes across ground water, they can safely drink it without catching any sort of disease.
The Solarball is a device that looks like a large hamster ball. It has two sides, one completely translucent, and the other black. It is meant to heat up using the solar rays, and have the evaporated water move from the dark side to the clear side. Overall, one of these balls with result in about 3 liters of clean water per day. Simple, yet effective.
Ceramic Water Filters
The last water purification device on our list is a series of ceramic water filters developed by UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program for use in Cambodia. These gravity filters are made from fired clay, and have very small pores that virtually remove all harmful bacteria from the water, and will produce about 1-3 liters of clean water per hour.
So if you are going on a mission trip in the foreseeable future, or just want to make a difference, I highly recommend that you look into one of these amazing technologies. They could just save a couple lives with a very easy donation.
As a Christian, we are given the very unique circumstance of being on this world, but not of it. What that means is we are called to live Godly lives, and serve the one who saved us from our own depravity, all in a very un-Godly, and broken world. We were born of this world, and of sin, but won’t need to be here for long.
But before we go to heaven to be with Jesus, how are we supposed to act and live our day-to-day lives here? How are we supposed to teach our kids that? The earth is just a small proving grounds for the eternal, so how do we show the same love that Jesus showed us to the world around who haven’t discovered Him yet?
We’ll try to cover a few helpful areas and things to consider when looking at the idea of living a Godly life in a very un-Godly place. It is a difficult thing to do, but in the long run, it will be completely worth it. We will have our rewards waiting in heaven, and not on this earth.
Don’t Compromise Character
The first main point to consider when trying to live in this world, and not of it is to never compromise your character. You have strong moral beliefs, and it is very easy to be swayed by the ways of this world to be a certain way. Satan is very good at deceiving us to give in on those little slips of character, that really don’t seem to be much in the moment, but add up huge over time.
The easiest way to get someone to do what you want isn’t to try and impose a belief that is completely opposite of what they think, and attack them with it. That is an easy enemy to know and to fight against. The easiest way to do it is to continually make little tiny offshoots of the beliefs they already have, and just gradually work that needle farther and farther away from where it should be. “This way is really bad, but what about this? It’s pretty much the same as what you are already doing! Why not?”. As Christians, we need to resist this gradual moral degradation, and stay strong to the morals we were taught as kids, and should be living with today. The world needs more backbones.
Know What is Most Important
In a world where many things are throw in front of us, and viewed as ‘important’, we really need to keep our true north and realize what is truly important in life. It’s not what everyone else is doing, or what is popular at the time. Television is great at showing us what we should be paying attention to, and what we should be doing. This is just wrong, and we are acting on and building our lives around the whims of the corporate powers that be.
Why would we want to get so wrapped up in aesthetic fame and celebrity status? Is there any actual worth in that? Absolutely not.
We need to know that as Christians, we live for something much more important.
The Things of This World are Fleeting
In the fame and glitzy culture that we live in, things like wealth, bling and status are prized. But how many of those people have turned around and found themselves bankrupt after living that life of luxury? Wealth and glamour are things that are given by the Lord, but really aren’t worth anything. He may bless you in your life with great wealth, or great poverty. But in the end, neither of those matter. They are both gifts from Him, and He can take them away at any moment.
We all need to continually realize what things are going to last, and disregard the things that are fleeting.
The following article is a story from a frequent reader of the newspaper, and is about traveling abroad, especially in a place where there are not as many Christians. It covers
- How to travel abroad
- Meet like-minded Christians
- Never be Disconnected from Home
I hope you enjoy this unique story! Go grab some Vegemite and enjoy!
I have been a Christian my entire life. I grew up in the church, and have always had a great relationship with it. But I’ve always been a traveler, so when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a life circumstance, I took it right away.
This adventure was leaving the frozen and cold North America for Australia, without really having an idea of where I was going, how I was going to get there, and who I was going to meet and spend my time with.
That kind of change and nebulous thought would be paralyzing for some people, but personally, I love it, and always have. New situations excite me, and without that constant change in my life, it really becomes boring and stagnant.
Upon arriving in Australia, I knew things were different. Not only did they have goofy accents, but they also seemed to drive on the wrong side of the road! In some areas, the culture and behavior of the people were very similar of that from the US or Canada, but other ways, they were much different.
One thing I quickly learned was that people there were mostly non-Christian, and didn’t really care much for religion of any kind. This was a drastic change from the majorly Christianized North America that I was used to.
So as I started traveling around the country and doing awesome things, I found it was very different and interesting to speak with people about their religious beliefs. Some were open to talking, while others weren’t.
I was fortunate enough to meet a number of very strong Christians living in the midst of a very pagan world, and making huge progress for the Kingdom of God. They are not just pretending to be in Church, but actually living how Church should live.
I made friendships with these people that will probably never be broken, at least in our hearts. They were truly Christians living the Christian walk, and spoke worlds to me in how we should be acting within “the world”.
It was very difficult initially to convey and articulate this to my friends and family back home, who hadn’t actually experienced this first hand to know what I was talking about yet. Over Skype conversations, we would talk about things on a very surface level, but nothing more meaningful than that. It was like being stuck in between living in the real world, and pretending to in some sort of hidden and fake one.
In the end, it was really great to be able to travel down through Australia. I met many great people, did some awesome things, and really had the experience of a lifetime. It was also very nice to be connected with the Internet, so I could quickly and easily connect with anyone I wanted to back home.
If you ever do get the chance to go down to Australia, I strongly encourage it! It’s a much different place to be, but very rewarding at the same time.