Leslie’s Learnings: I thought a thought last night that I’ve never thought before. As my precious Frank and I climbed into bed, I thought, “I don’t want to say goodnight to today.” It was the most wonderful day. Full of memories for daydreaming moments. I close my eyes and smile picturing Tiffany, Heather and Danielle boldly standing on the altar and wooing our hearts as they share about their first week as minimalists. The need for new hangers sparks the realization that the need is not for more hangers, but less clothes.. The cleaning out of a forgotten drawer reveals a thought-to-be-lost-forever diamond earring. And money earned to buy more for self is given generously to offer hope for another. Together, we celebrate getting rid of the old stuff. Then almost in the same breath, our breath is taken away as our Ms. Opal walks down the aisle to meet her future husband in a church decorated by her great granddaughter. “Morning has Broken” fills the air, and together, with weepy eyes, we honor and stand in awe of the old. Heads bow reverently. The words to an old poem are put to song by young Alejandro and a prayer is prayed for our precious couple. Holy happens. It’s true. I didn’t want to say goodnight to yesterday. But oh what delicious memories I have for today. For this, O Lord, I give you thanks! [Today is Day 7 in our minimalist journey. If you want to join us, PLEASE give us a call and we would love to send you a thirty day prayerbook/journal, which you can begin on any day. Blessings!]
Greetings to you, my precious Luke Family, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Before I present the information shared at our recent family meeting, I want to share my heart with you. I love that God birthed us. I love that in God’s infinite wisdom He knew who to call into His heart to love His people. I love that as one looks at the faces of our family, God’s rich diversity rules. We are truly a multi-cultural family that is learning to love one another. I love that God knows our hearts. We love Him, and we love His people. We yearn to be close enough to hear His whispers of love and mission, so that we can help His hurting people in Denham Springs and beyond. I love that we don’t love division. Walls that separate and exclude are unwelcomed in our community of faith. We seek to build bridges where the world says bridges can’t be built. We find common ground between Protestants and Catholics; Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Libertarians; denominations and non-denominations. We love being a part of the body of Christ. We are unique, and we have a vital calling by God to never stop learning how to love Him and love one another. Why? because He first loved us. He loved us enough to birth us. As our Father, God is faithful to let us know when we’re getting it right and when we’re getting it wrong. Right now, He’s letting us know that we’re getting it wrong when we think we don’t need to tithe. Tithing is a kingdom principle that God established. That’s it. Period. The fact that we agree with it or don’t agree with it, is irrelevant. Why would God want us to tithe? He knows we love our money, and He does not want money to control us. What happens when we stubbornly refuse to give to God what is already God’s? Read the next three pages, and you will find out. There’s simply not enough money to do what God wants to do. I love you, and I love us. Please read the remaining pages of this letter prayerfully. God has called us to be a unique presence in His body, and He’s eagerly waiting for our response. With deep love and much respect for who and whose you are – Luke 10:27 Family Meeting 3/30/14 Our current reality: • Greg Lavergne, an assistant auditor for the State of Louisiana and former chair of Luke’s Board of Trustees, has spent many hours getting the finances in order. He had to go back five + years to make sure that the accounting was accurate. He finished this process in February 2014. • Leslie established the Finance Team to make sure we were being fiscally responsible and missional. The Finance Team is responsible for how church funds are spent. • The Finance Team renegotiated company contracts. The Ministry Leaders got creative with ministry. We saved $18,000 last year! • Giving in 2013 was down from 2012 by about $18,000. Had we not been prompted by God to radically trim our expenses, we would have had a larger deficit. • Weight Watchers, a tenant of the church through 2013, did not renew their contract to rent church space. • We cut our giving in half to Heart to Honduras and stopped giving to Community Hands all together because we did not have the money to continue our support. It is critical that we restore our giving to local and foreign missions when current revenues increase. Income for 2013 General Giving for 2013 $175,516* Rental Income (majority from Weight Watchers) $ 4,880 Total Income $180,396 *Does not include designated funds. Designated Funds can only be used for the purpose defined by the giver. Ex: Sponsoring a youth to go to camp. This money can not be used to pay for our general expenses. Expenses for 2013 Pastor & Ministry Salaries $ 78,808 Head Pastor, Elders’ Assistant, Music Minister, Youth Minister, and Nursery Workers Office Supplies $ 10,714 Trustees Expenses $ 86,729 Mortgage, Janitorial, Lawn Care, Property Tax, Insurance, Utilities, Alarm Monitoring Missions & Ministries (all) $ 7,855 Worship $ 1,693 Music Licenses, Altar supplies & Audio Visual Total Expenses $185,799 2013 Deficit (- $5,403) 2014 Information • Luke will sustain a $2,600 increase in expenses for alarm monitoring and garbage pick up (previously paid by anonymous donor). • We need to repaint the church or we will have long term damage. The Trustees are planning on doing it in stages so we can get started on it. • If giving stays the same for 2014, we will still have to cut $13,500 just to cover expenses equal to last year (does not include painting). Jan-Mar 2013 Jan-March 2014 * Difference $55,900 $46,387 ( – $9,513) *includes estimated amounts Here are some of the questions and answers asked at our Church Meeting and afterwards: 1. How many tithing units do we have? Based on individual and family units, we have 72 tithing units at Luke. 2. How much do we owe on our Building? We have two mortgage notes. We owe Whitney Bank $305,088 and we owe Frank Akin’s mortgage $693,957 totaling $999,045. 3. How much do we pay for our mortgage monthly? We pay Whitney Bank $3,076.20, and we pay Frank Akin $923.80 totaling $4,000. 4. Why did the church decide to take on this much debt? Frank Akin agreed to loan Luke 10:27 $717,052. Regrettably, the construction costs exceeded the original estimate to buy the property, build the sanctuary and renovate the church office. A second loan was necessary to complete the project. 5. When does the bank note come due and what happens then? Both loans come due in Oct 2015. The bank can ask for the full amount to be paid or hopefully, renegotiate another five year term loan. 6. What are we supposed to do? Tithe. God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. “Test Me in this,” says the Lord, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10 A tithe is the first 10% of one’s income. We are not called to be irresponsible in providing fundamental needs for our families. If tithing seems impossible, treat it as a goal. Determine an intentional , responsible plan for moving toward a tithe over a given period of time. 7. Can we do fund-raisers or try to get more people to come to church? Certainly, but not in place of tithing. God wants us to tithe. Please prayerfully complete the enclosed commitment card, and place it in the offering basket on Easter Sunday or mail it to: Luke 10:27, 536 Centerville, NE, Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726. God bless you.
Learning’s from Luke…. By Rachel Roussel “I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ But your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:18-19 Each day we each struggle with worries that can produce anxiety and fear. Maybe it’s personal or the economy, jobless rate, murder rate, or other problem. But recently I heard a pastor say, “worry is meditating on words that are not God’s word.” What can we meditate on instead? God’s word tells us to think on good things, to fear not and be anxious for nothing. God’s word says that he’s our provider, our fortress, our shield, our present help in time of need. God’s word says that when you cry out that you are slipping that he will grab you and hold on until you get back on your feet, and he gives us renewed hope when all hope seems lost, and renewed cheer. Cheer? This simple word at the end of the verse can easily be overlooked, but it’s important to remember that God always comforts us and carries us through times of trouble back to the place of joy. In Matthew 6:25 God tells us to stop worrying about our lives. Instead, focus on what God is doing today, and on what we can do today to help bring his plans into being. Because as Romans 8:39 says, “Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”
A Learning at Luke…… By Jenn Bull Recently, my husband asked me what I thought the difference was between trust and faith. Being an introvert who often goes away and processes things for a while (it’s been over a month) I didn’t answer right away. I have pondered the question a few times and am not sure I have completely come up with the answer but I love the question. The way we speak about trust and faith is similar but I also see a distinct difference. We say, “I trust you” or “I have faith in you.” Both are declarations that only we have the authority to speak yet one (trust) points to something more specific than the other (faith). I trust someone when, over time, they have shown me that they are sincere, reliable, and capable. They really mean what they say, they have followed through in the past, and they have the skills necessary to do what they say they are going to do. Faith on the other hand points to something deeper. While they may not have shown sincerity, reliability, and/or competence in the past, I have faith that it is within them. “I trust you” simply says what it says. “I have faith in you” attempts to draw something out that thus far has been unseen. Trust cannot exist without faith, yet, faith can exist without trust. This is because faith is a gift from God. It is that place within us that goes to the heart and often does not make logical sense. It is often a challenge to explain our faith. It simply exists but wrapping our minds around it can be a daunting task. When we have faith in someone or something, that faith comes from the light within us that sees the potential in the other and is not dependent on the past. Faith looks to the future possibilities. It goes to the heart and takes us out of our heads. When a parent continually makes room for a child to mess up it is because in the heart of the parent, the potential for the child exists. The light within the parent is trying to interact with the light within the child. This is also the distinction that creates the grey lines (and the grey hair) between when to let our children fall again and when to carry them. Knowing which one to choose depends on whether we are choosing from the head or the heart. Sometimes, it’s from both. Help us, Lord God, to follow Your guidance in our dealings with faith and trust. Make us sensitive to the light within ourselves and those around us. From there, help us to act accordingly. We adore You, O Christ, and place our faith and trust in You. Amen.
A learning at Luke 10:27 By Becky Walding In a world of uncertainty I often find myself looking ahead and wondering about all the what if’s and things to come whether they are good or bad, most often bad. I get so caught up in the unknown that I allow myself to get to a state of worry and then fear enters without even realizing it. Once in that place I become so frozen that I can’t or won’t allow myself to savor all that life is offering at this moment. I become so fearful it literally stops me from seeing anything good in my life because I am so focused on the if’s. This morning in my quiet time with Jesus, I asked him a question, “What do you want me to learn today?” this is what I heard.. “Be content- live for today, enjoy each moment. Do not worry about things to come, instead put all your trust in ME and I will guide you and keep you safe. I just love how he knows just what we need and when we need it. Feast on these verses. Philippians 4:11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 37:24 …though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with his hand. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. So today I am leaning into these truths and trusting. Father God, I want to savor each day with you and cherish every moment with the people in my life. Thank you for your sweet way of talking to us and reassuring us that you are right there with us every step of the way. I pray that as I savor all you have to offer that I will continue to grow closer and closer to you each day. Love you so much. Your servant, Becky
It was a Freudian slip. An error in speech due to an unconscious wish. His prayer during our worship service was coming to an end. “in the name of Jesus we play. Amen.” We play?! I love it! Praying is playing with God. Wow! That’s no Freudian slip. That’s divine revelation. God wants to play with us. I’ve prayed with prayer shawls and prayer books, but never with play dough. The unconventional thought seeped into my soul. Pray with play dough? Preposterous. Call out to God with a crayon? Absurd. Seek the Lord in sand? Strange. But not according to recent research in the field of Social Sciences . Studies of the brain prompt Neuropsychologist R. Joseph to say, “The limbic system (of the brain) may well be the seat of the soul or may serve as the neuro transmitter to God.” We are wired to connect with God. Creative arts heighten that connection by offering a “slow-paced setting conducive to reflection.” John Berryman, author of Godly Play, encourages us to be in the presence of Godly laughter. “Godly laughter,” writes Berryman, “is that of creation and play.” So, here’s to pink play dough, a pack of colored pencils, a sack of sand and a box of crayons. Teach us to pray, Lord. Teach us to play. . . . . with You! We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
I wish you could experience my daughter-in-law, Kathryn, tell this story. She’s such a gifted storyteller. During Sunday School this past Sunday I wanted our children (ages 3-12, a most amazing, delightful blend) to experience the omnipresence of God, i.e. God is always present everywhere. As a part of our exercise Kathryn took three different age groups to play Hide and Seek in the sanctuary. First, they entered the sanctuary like little, noiseless ninjas. Next, they silently sought their hideout while the “seeker” counted. When the seeker was ready to seek he/she whispered the scripture, “If you seek me, you will find me.” After a couple of solo rounds the seeker said softly “If you seek Me,” and the hiders gently joined in, “you will find Me,” until all had been found. The following point was to be made: Even though we can’t see God, God is here. When Kathryn got to the “God is here” part, she heard an audible gasp. There stood her stunned daughter, Caroline, age 3. Body motionless. Eyes as wide as saucers. Disbelief refusing to flee from her face. S-l-o-w-l-y . . . three very BIG words came out of her tiny, petite mouth. “G-O-D is H-E-R-E?!!!” Incredible! Unbelievable! The Big guy?! The One I talk to every night?! He’s here?! WOW! Utterly, totally amazing!! No wonder Jesus said, “Unless you become like a child you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” Help us get this, Lord. Grow us younger, Grow us smaller. Grow us into a deeper understanding that wherever we are, You are. Y-O-U are H-E-R-E!! Incredible! Amazing! What are You seeing? What are You hearing? What are You longing to be for us? We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.
Unhurried intimacy with Christ. Like a salmon swimming upstream it’s a daunting task. Why? Why is it so difficult to linger in God’s presence? Why is it so hard to just hang with the One who knows us better and loves us stronger than anyone? When I was growing up my Mom had a mantra: “Leslie, slow down!” I wish I had been a better listener. Have you ever noticed how the beautiful things in God’s creation take their time? Slowly, insistently light defies darkness as the sun rises. A baby is born. A flower blooms. An oak tree looms large in our yard. Each formation takes the path of gradual growth. Each formation experiences barely perceptible change from one day to the next. I think God likes unhurried. Today, Lord, help us linger in Your Love. Give us the courage to challenge “busy” and “not enough time” by spending gentle, relaxed time with You, the One who saves us from ourselves. We get that it’s going to take us time to learn how to take time. So, bless us with persistent patience, Jesus. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.