As I was saying we chose May 23 to allow the weather to clear some. Elder Camara is going to host the gathering on his farm. We will provide food and drinks. We are also working on a few surprises that have not been nailed down yet. I will notify you what they are when they have been verified. I know you will like them though! I guarantee that you will. Gatherings are our opportunity to fellowship with each other. It is also our opportunity to lay hands on newly ordained ministers and confirm their ordination. I don’t know how other elders do this, but I typically am very willing to allow other ministers to lay hands on the one being confirmed and pray with us. It is a very spiritual time for all involved and I hope you don’t miss it.
Ohio is holding a gathering this month. I hope those of you within traveling distance will go and support their gathering. They are certainly welcome to support ours! These gatherings are for fellowship. Let’s take advantage of them and fellowship with each other. Come on out!
Also, I want to put in a plug for the many lessons available through NACM. I have taken the Soul Care 101: Carrying for Un-saintly Saints and the Chaplaincy Course offered here. I can tell you as a psychology student at Marshall University, the techniques taught in the Soul Care 101 and Chaplaincy Course are solid and basically the same as the curriculum taught in accredited colleges. They are techniques I use everyday in my career as a chaplain and as a peer support specialist/peer recovery coach. They are psychologically sound and if nothing else, will teach you to be a better listener. All to often people listen to what others say, but they do not hear what others are saying. Soul Care 101 and the Chaplaincy Course teach you how to become an active listener. These are skills all ministers need to have. How can we claim we are ministering to people if we are not hearing their hidden messages to us? I strongly recommend taking these courses and any others offered. THE NACM leadership would not offer these courses if they did not feel they would benefit the members. I know I learned a lot from taking them and still occasionally review the material. I understand one course now offers certification upon completion. I am checking into that because I would be interested in any certifications I can get. I am considering the course regardless of certification, because I have found that NACM course offerings make me a better listener. As a human being I have the tendency to hear but not hear. This is something we preachers need to overcome. I recommend these courses and hope the ministers of West Virginia take advantage of them. I know one of the courses is basically for chaplains. I know many of you do not feel called into a chaplaincy ministry. I still recommend the course because the skills it teaches will be invaluable in any ministry. Please consider taking Soul Care 101 and the Chaplaincy Courses. You won’t regret it. Yes, there is a fee attached for the courses and the books. The fee is minimal and often reduced. The books are yours to keep. I do not regret spending the money for them! If it will help me in my ministry then it is cash well spent! It has indeed helped me in my ministry! It refreshed much of what I had already learned in school and it taught me to be a better listener. It was well worth my investment!
As summer winds down, we get ready for another school year. Christians everywhere are plagued by the extraordinary prices they have to pay for school supplies. Let’s keep that in mind at this time and remind Christians that if they do what God has commanded, that He will keep His promises to see that our needs are met. I say that because a friend of mine suggested to me that he was going to forego his tithe and offering to the church in order to see that he could buy his children extra supplies. This thinking tends to permeate the church. In my life my tithe and offering come first no matter what! I have found that God is always faithful to me in keeping His promises. Before I began tithing my income, I could barely make ends meet. I was always living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay my bills. Then I became a soldier in the Salvation Army Huntington WV Corps, and part of my soldier’s covenant was that I would tithe my income. I felt I was signing that covenant with Jesus Christ Himself. I decided to take a leap of faith and sign it. Then I began paying my tithe faithfully. Since that time I have wanted for nothing. Yes, there are times still when I do not have two pennies to rub together but I never do without. I am a big soda drinker. I drink Mountain Dew and other products all the time. Last month I tithed my money, knowing I was cutting myself short on money to buy my soda. I had no more than wrote the tithe check when the intercom of the facility in which I live buzzed. They made an announcement that they had a surplus of soda, which was nearing its expiration date, and they wished to give it away. God had supplied my soda until my next check came in!
Many people approach God the wrong way when it comes to tithing. They act as if they are making an investmennt annd expecting God to make good on it. If your congregants act like that please tell them to keep their tithes! God blesses tithing. He sees to it that my every need is met but He is not Wall Street. He isn’t going to make me rich because I tithe. He commands tithing and He commands obedience. He is not a genie. He does however honor those who serve Him. As your congregants face the extgra burden of school supplies remind them that God must come first in all things. If we put Him first and trust Him, He will meet our needs. Since I have began tithing I seldom am broke. If I am broke I want for nothing and income is usually on its way. I once was broke one day after payday and stayed that way until the next payday. Now I usually start payday with money already in my account. On those rare occasions when I am broke I find that my needs are still met. I want for nothing, even if it means the Lord simply lifts the desire for something to drink!
I did not intend to make this blog quite this long. I started out with the intention of giving a plug for the 2020 gathering and the courses available on NACM. Holy Spirit led me to plug for tithing, a topic I normally shy away from. However, I strongly encourage our West Virginia ministers and any others reading this blogto consider investing in the Soul Care 101 and Chaplaincy courses. It will be one of the best investments you ever made. The skills you learn are invaluable to ministers and to human beings in general. After all, who could not benefit from being a better listener?
I also recommend that you practice tithing and teach it in your churches. I know. People tend to get turned off when you preach about money. Therefore try a different approach. Offer tithing as a challenge. Challenge your congregants to put God to the test. After all, He tells us to do so in Malachi 3: 10 where He says “Bring your whole tithe into the storehouse of God. ‘Test me in this’ says the Lord almighty…”
I suggest challenging thoose of your congregation who are willing to do so to tithe for a period of six months. At the end of the six months ask them if their finances improved during the time they were tithing. Have them testify to what the Lord did for them as a result of tithing their income. Tithe your own income. You will find that you do not become rich as a result, but your finances improve tremendously. God does not make promises He will not keep.