- 2016Aug 22
There is absolutely no competition in the Kingdom of God. Run your race. Do what God has called you to do. Am I saying there can never be a friendly competition among church friends? Of course not. But If you are concerned with becoming "the next big thing" in the Christian world, check your heart.
Are you running your nonprofit, because you want to change lives or so that others may know what you are doing? Are you hosting that Bible study in hopes that you will one day be the biggest at your church or so that others may know Christ more intimately? Do you sing just a little louder than everyone else from the choir loft to praise your King or in hopes that someone may discover you as the next big talent at your church?
".....whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31b
Jesus says in Matthew 6:1-2 to be careful not to do good deeds publicly for the admiration of others, for that may be all the reward you will ever get! Do it because you want to see the Kingdom of Heaven grow. Do it to serve others. Do it because the Lord prompted you.
Do you get jealous when the church or ministry across town has an event that happens to catch the eye of the local newspaper? Or do you rejoice that God is using them in such a way?
Do you find yourself critiquing another church, pastor, or ministry that has a similar ministry as yours?
Do you feel genuine excitement when God elevates another church or ministry for His purposes? Or do you secretly struggle with jealousy?
It doesn't matter if no one ever sees how much trash you have picked up after services, how many hours you have worked on that message, or how many women you have prayed with at coffee shops. The Lord saw. He sees you working to bring others unto Himself. He sees your genuine compassion.
May I challenge you to rest in knowing that your place - your role - in the Kingdom is significant. The one who happens to be on stage sharing the Word (whether to 50 or 5,000) is not more significant than the one wiping babies' noses in the nursery. They each have their role. And.....the event, Bible study, or ministry doesn't run as smoothly, if we each don't step into our role and utilize the gifts God has given to us.
"Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. " Romans 12:4-5
Understand that churches, ministries, nonprofits, and Bible studies are healthy when they produce "fruit." Sometimes that is indicated through numbers and sometimes not.
Finally, I would urge you to be very careful about gaging someone else's motivations. It is much easier to criticize, judge, and point fingers at another church, ministry, or Bible study than to encourage and glean knowledge from them.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see the body of Christ live life in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and author of 4 books. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
- 2016Aug 17
Here we go! I thought, as I rolled my eyes, crossed my arms, and sat listening to the pastor one Sunday morning. He was preaching on the importance of the tithe. I can’t really tell you everything he said, because honestly, I tuned most of it out. You see, I had not been going to church for long. I had attended as a child, but fell away for some time, and was just now becoming acclimated to my new church…and now this! The pastor had nerve to speak on tithing.
I was a single mom. I had no money. “Someone needs to go ahead and give a good offering to buy this man a new truck, so we can move on to a better topic next week!” I thought to myself. I was bitter and angry for my own financial woes. I thought surely that was what this thing was all about – the pastor needing something new.
But as the next several weeks passed, his words wouldn’t leave my mind. The concept of the tithe was not new to me. I was raised in church and knew the Bible commanded giving a tenth of your increase back to the Lord, but seriously?! I was a single mom! I had no money! I was making only a few hundred dollars a month to raise my two children. The use of government assistance was the only way I even made ends meet. The tithe seemed so outlandish. Yet, I thought on it. I prayed about it. I argued with God about it. I knew God was prompting me to give. So I did. I wrote my first tithe check and put it in the offering plate as it passed through. Nothing miraculous happened that day or the next or many others to follow. I just kept giving. I actually felt good about it. I knew I was living in obedience to something God had prompted on my heart to do. And most importantly, I learned that my giving was flowing from the love I had for my Heavenly Father and not because He needed my money. I gave cheerfully, not because of what I expected in return or what I thought I deserved, but because of all He had done to save me.
The more I gave, the more I was blessed. I was blessed in many ways, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Over the next several years, I moved away from government assistance, had my broken heart healed through His grace, and made a decent living. All of those things, I believe, were blessings from my obedience to the tithe. Let me be careful, here. I am not suggesting that we tithe to be blessed – that God is somehow our magical genie that we rub and make demands. I am not even suggesting that if you do, God will deliver you to some financial dreams of yours. I am simply saying that for whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, God chose to bless my financial obedience. There have been many years of ups and downs for me financially, since then, but one thing has remained — my desire to tithe and give offerings to bless others.
The same is true for you, single mom. You can tithe. In fact, I would assert to you that you cannot afford NOT to tithe. God’s command on our finances doesn’t have a caveat that reads “except if you are a single mom”. God says tithe. He says give 10% of your increase. And although I came under criticism from some for tithing to the church while I was taking money from the government, I did it anyway. I would much rather be criticized by the world than to live in disobedience with my Savior.
This is not a condemnation to those who don’t tithe, but rather an encouragement to those who feared that they couldn’t. It is an encouragement that our God is faithful. He shows up in ways we can’t even imagine or ask for. And our willingness to give cheerfully to the body of Christ is about so much more than our own pocketbooks, but about seeing those come to know that God we do and in some way, just showing him that our whole hearts trust His plans of hope for us.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of several books and the founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured in countless media venues. For more information, visithttp://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
- 2016Aug 15
I was 17 years old, pregnant, and homeless. All of my dreams had been shattered. I had scholarships to go to colleges across the country. Yet, there I stood, alone and hopeless. The next several years presented unspeakable hardships. I barely had enough money to make ends meet. I was at the lowest of lows - no money, no friends, and no hope. I was drowning. I was crying out in agony, nightly, as it seemed my life couldn't get much worse. It was in this very low moment that I made a decision to give the local church a try again.
I had been raised in church and although I had not been in quite some time, I knew I needed to try to get back. I was desperate. Maybe there was hope there. Maybe a friend. Maybe some encouragement could be offered. It was at the very time when I had no one, nothing, that I decided to go back. The embarrassment of having two children outside of marriage was almost more than I could bear. But then, the question arose, what church would I attend? You see, my two children were biracial - half African-American, half Caucasian. There were no integrated churches in my area. Where would I fit in? How would my children be accepted? Where could we go?
Those may be odd questions for some of you. Perhaps you have never experienced such a thing in your world or have never considered how race even factors in your life. But prior to giving birth to my first child twenty years ago, I don't even remember having seen a biracial baby! And so race was quite a big deal for me! The months and years that passed after his birth presented huge racial hurdles for me. It seemed that both the black and white communities had plenty to say in the way of unacceptance. Some were outright racial slurs cast upon myself and my children. Some even went so far as to ask us to leave restaurants and malls and tell my little boy that he wasn't welcome to play in certain areas. But other racism presented itself in more unique ways. Perhaps I was at work and a coworker talked about "them", or maybe I attended a church service and overheard whispers of "them", quickly realizing that my children and I were the "them" they spoke of. The "them" was the race not represented in the conversation.
For years I struggled with demons from a past I had created and yearned for genuine connection in my local church. And while I grew to love the congregants at the church where I attended, over that next several years, I knew that my black friends would probably not be welcomed warmly. I eventually relocated to another city and found, to my delight, that many churches worshipped freely with all races. In fact, I walked into a church my first Sunday in town and there were hundreds of flags hanging from their ceiling, representing the people of all nations. Tears streamed down my face. Finally, oh finally, I found a place where I could worship with brothers and sisters of all races, and my children would know they were just perfect the way God made them.
I am happy to report that on a recent visit back to my hometown, I found that many of the churches are now integrated. Sadly, some are not. Honestly, this article sat locked away in my drawer for a long time, as racism in my world doesn't present itself very often, in such an outright manner. But I knew that today, in light of my Baton Rouge, Louisiana residency and the tragedies that exist here, as well as the racial tension that has followed, I must share my experience with you. Perhaps it is to shed light on the topic. Maybe it is to challenge you to search your own heart. Maybe this article was written just for you......or maybe it was written just for me.
I realize that some of you live in communities that are dominant in one race; therefore, your congregation is not as diverse. This article really isn't about how diverse your congregation is. This article is more about the heart of your church, your congregants, and you. A few questions to ponder:
- Are all races welcomed warmly in your congregation?
- Are a variety of races invited to speak at your church?
- Do you reach out in all communities, not just to serve them a meal, but to embrace their attendance in your services?
- Do you find yourself saying things like, "Oh, I have plenty of friends from various races. I'm okay as long as my daughter doesn't want to marry outside her race?"
- Doesn't everyone in my life look like me? Do I fellowship, mingle, and vacation with friends from other races or ethnicities?
We are one church, serving one God, and Heaven will look like that church I attended oh so long ago with the flags hanging from the ceiling and the various races represented, so why can't we make it look more like that in today's churches? What can you do to play a part?
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:20-21
Jennifer Maggio is a critically-acclaimed and award-winning author/speaker who is committed to seeing people live life in total freedom with Christ. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a wife, a mother, and national speaker. She is a regular on radio and television. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com .