Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

Today is the last day of 2008. Did you accomplish everything that you hoped to accomplish? I hope so, but I figure that you (like me) did not get everything done that you would have like to get done. I have good news, you get to start over tomorrow!

As we end one year and take stock of what we were able to do and what we failed to do, let us do so with the knowledge that we still have time to do the things we didn't get done this year. As long as we are still working toward our goals, we haven't "failed" we just simply haven't achieved them yet.

If you got everything done that you wanted to do...then congratulations! If not, join with me in pledging to continue to do our best in 2009 to do ALL that the Lord has for us to do.

Let me be one of the first to say, "Happy New Year!" and God bless!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Home Yet

A veteran missionary was returning home to the U.S. after several terms on the field. Aboard a ship bound for New York harbor, a secularist challenged him by pointing out the futility of giving one's life in missionary service. He ontinued by noting that no one on board ship was paying any attention to the veteran missionary, a sign they apparently considered his efforts quite wasted.

The servant of God responded, "I'm not home yet."

The agnostic assumed the missionary was referring to a large crowd that would meet the ship, and he scoffed again when they disembarked--not a solitary person welcomed the missionary. Once again, the missionary said, "I'm not home yet."

A lonely train ride lay ahead as he made his trek from New York City to his small Midwestern hometown. Reaching his destination, the missionary could no longer fight back the tears as the train pulled off. Again, he stood alone. It was then that the inner voice of God's Spirit brought comfort by reminding the faithful servant,
"You're not home yet."

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 172

There is really no place like home. As we near the end of another year, remember, we aren't home yet. Live every day with anticipation of our final homecoming. Make every day count. When we do thins, we will never be disappointed when the time comes for the Lord to tell us, "Welcome Home!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Disaster Averted

Yesterday I wrote about the power surge at the Manse and wasn’t sure what the final results would be. The final tally looks like we lost an alarm clock, a TV, a modem, and a DISHtv network box. It could have been much worse. As it turned out, my laptop, external hard drive and printer were plugged into a ground plug that was burned out (saving everything plugged into it!)

It reminds me of how in our lives we sometimes have more than we can handle. Without help we would be overwhelmed. We would be “fried” just as surely as the appliances that didn’t have a surge suppressor on them. The good news is that as Christians we have a “surge suppressor” for those times of trouble—the Holy Spirit. When we are bombarded with more than we can handle, it is the Holy Spirit that steps in to protect us from the crushing problems that are besetting us. Instead of standing in our own power (and failing to survive) we are standing in the protective power of the Triune God.

The next time you feel that the world is beating you down, remember that you have a Protector, a Comforter, and God who loves you and seeks to shield you from the worst that the enemy has for you. Stand firm. Stand tall. We are overcomers because “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world!”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Out of Control

Last night, the ground wire going into the manse came loose and caused the normal loop of power to go out of control. Instead of the normal 110 volts flowing through the house, 240 volts went coursing through the system reeking havoc. In most of the house, the power simply went out, in others appliances were fried. Normally, this could have been averted by the main switch at the breaker box being tripped (to keep the power from causing all the trouble), but for the main breaker had been removed in order to add an extra circuit. Without the main breaker, there was no way to control the misguided power and the result was not just a loss of power, but a loss of many electrical devices as well. Later on today, we will find out the extent of the damage.

The “out-of-control” power going into the house reminds me of Christians who have “zeal” but lack the proper knowledge of how to us their zeal. Romans 10:1-4 speaks of this,
“Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Without the proper knowledge of God to control zeal, we see bad things happen. For example: the Branch Dividians and Jonestown. The opposite is also bad as knowledge without zeal leads to passivity. Balancing zeal and knowledge is the key. We have the power as Christians to make a difference in our world, but only when we keep knowledge and zeal in balance.

As we head into the New Year, let us be prepared to make a difference with a zeal that comes from God balanced with the knowledge that also comes from God. Without this balance, we will either fail to do anything (knowledge without zeal leading to passivity) or we can do much harm (zeal without knowledge leading to legalism).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Returning Gifts

All across the nation people will be headed to malls and stores to exchange the gifts they received for what “they really wanted.” I hope that doesn’t include you. I hope that you were happy with every gift you received.

Unfortunately, the best gift everyone received may be the one most ignored—God’s love. God so loved us that he sent his unique and beloved Son to be our Savior, yet many people continue to reject His love.

As we enjoy all of the wonderful gifts we received yesterday, don’t forget the most wonderful gift of all. Let God’s love fill you and flow over to all the people you meet today, tomorrow, and into the New Year and beyond!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Guest

The following is a recitation of Helen Steiner Rice's "A Christmas Guest" by Grandpa Jones.

Today is Christmas, and I pray that each of you makes room for this very special Christmas Guest. He is after all, the Reason for the Season! Merry CHRISTmas to all and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Greatest Christmas Gift Ever

There is a series of commercials out this year for a luxury automobile that has each spot stating with a view of "the greatest Christmas present ever" for various people. A Big Wheel, a pony, and an Atari video game are three of those. The commercial then morphs into the present day where the car is now the "greatest Christmas present ever."

The ads are a sad picture of what Christmas has become--an attempt to come up with the "greatest Christmas present ever" every year. I news for you, the greatest Christmas present ever was given by God nearly 2000 years ago. On that first Christmas morning, our Savior was born to bring us back to God.

Enjoy your Christmas. Enjoy giving and receiving gifts. But remember this, the greatest gift is one that was given a long time ago in the little town of Bethlehem. When you remember that, then everything else will fall into its proper place.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Keep Your Fork

The following is from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live.

So as she was getting her things "in order", she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

"There's one more thing," she said excitedly.

"What's that?"came the pastor's reply.

"This is very important," the woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.

"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked.

"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.

The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!"

"So, I just want people to see me there in the casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, "What's with the fork?"

Then, I want you to tell them:

"Keep your fork....The best is yet to come".

The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye.

He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did.

She KNEW that something better was coming. At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand.

Over and over, the pastor heard the question,
"What's with the fork?"

And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died.

He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.

As you enjoy your Christmas dinners this year, hold on to your fork, the best is yet to come!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Travel

Amy should make it in to Philadelphia in about 10 minutes. Her flight from Chicago was canceled last night and she was forced to spend the night in the airport. Traveling at this time of year often has its difficulties. I know that she will be tired and need to rest before she makes the last leg of her trip up to Stillwater (where it is a lovely 9 degrees this morning!)

Though I wish her flight would have been easier for her, I can't help but think of that time about 2000 years ago when Mary and Joseph were forced to make a trip to register for a census. Nine months pregnant and riding on a donkey is not the most pleasant way travel. Yet, they made the journey. Lost in the crowd and confusion, without even a place to stay. They end up in a lowly stable where Mary would give birth to the Prince of Peace.

A birth that most people would not even notice. A birth that would make all the difference in the world. A birth proclaimed by angels and witnessed by shepherds. A birth that all to often still remains unnoticed by many today. Emmanuel, God with us!

God with us, then, now, and forever! That is the reason I can say to all I meet and to all who may read this, "Merry CHRISTmas!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Excitement and Preparation

We are expecting 5-10 inches of snow in our area today. I received an automated phone call from the Newton schools at 5:05 am to tell me that school was canceled (even though I have no school-aged children and I am not in the Newton school district!) Everyone seems to be excited about this first major snow storm of the year. People have stocked up supplies and firewood and are ready to "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

It just leads me to wonder why a little bit of snow can make people so excited and get them prepared for any emergency the storm can bring, yet the celebration of the birth of the Son of God can get so little attention. It seems to me that if people were just half as excited about the true meaning of this season as they are about this upcoming snow storm what a wonderful world this would be!

Christmas is coming (whether or not the goose is getting fat). Don't let any last minute rushing around close the "Inn" of your heart to Jesus. Use these last few days of Advent to prepare yourself for the best CHRISTmas ever!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Listening "To" or "For" the Word of God?

Before the reading of Scripture, does your Pastor (or whom ever is reading) say listen "to" or "for" the Word of God? The preposition makes a great deal of difference. Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it simply have some of the Words of God hidden within its pages? Is the Bible reliable and authoritative, or must it be deciphered by scholars who can tell us what parts are the "Word of God" and which parts are just "stories of man?"

I don't claim to be able to explain everything found in Scripture, but I do claim it ALL to be the Word of God. We may never understand it all until we are in our glorified bodies in heaven, but that doesn't change the fact that the Bible (all of it) is the Word of God. It doesn't make since that the Lord would provide us with His Word and then have it full of errors or untruths. I am not against critical study of the Bible, I am simply against those who go into the study with an agenda of separating the "true" Word of God from the rest of Scripture.

The difference is in how we look at the Bible. Is it a book that we are looking at judgmentally, or is it the Book that stands in judgment of us? The attitude we take makes all the difference. We live in a time where too many people believe the Bible is scientifically inaccurate, historically confused, and full of errors. Because of this perception, many people feel that it is intellectual suicide to accept the whole Bible as the Word of God.

It comes down to this--either the Bible (the WHOLE Bible) is the Word of God or it isn't. There really isn't a middle ground. Given the option of trusting a scholar to tell which words are God's words (and not all scholars agreeing as to which words are God's words) or trusting God to have provided His Word to His people, I choose God over scholars every time!

As a final note, I believe that the reason we have so many people who do not read and know the Bible today is a direct result of scholars having demeaned the Scriptures for so long. Why should we study and learn something that isn't true? Well, the answer is very simple. The Word of God IS true and that is why we should know it and live it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

Karen Carpenter sang that rainy days and Mondays always got her down, but that is not normally the case for me. This Monday was an exception. On Monday, I got a weird message on Facebook from a former Preceptor of mine. When I realized it was junk and deleted it, it was too late, now MY account had been hijacked. Messages went out to everyone of my contacts with the possibility of infecting every single one who simply open it up to see what the message was about. On top of that, I was not feeling well and couldn't even work to fix the problem.

Well, I think the problem with Facebook is fixed (at least I hope so) and I am no longer feeling sick. Now it is time to reflect on what happened and how it relates to our Christian walk. Amy will tell you that's just what I do--I try to relate everyday things to our Christian walk in order to find ways to communicate the Gospel to others.

I received the message that started the whole problem from one person. The message was then sent to my 86 friends on Facebook (yes, I don't have as many as most people!) Then, any of these people who opened the message are potentially the next round to spread it to those people they have as their friends. One bad message could have affected 100's or 1000's of people by the end of just one day. The biggest problem for me was that it made ME look like I was sending the messages and some people were actually mad at me (until they settled down and realized I was a victim of fraud, not some mass spammer!)

How many people's reputation is ruined by people who get only some of the facts and then run off to tell other people (while making just a FEW embellishments). These people in turn go out and do the same thing and soon a good person has everything they do questioned. You have seen that and so have I. As Christians, I urge everyone everywhere to be quick to listen and SLOW to speak. It is Biblical, and it just might keep us from hurting innocent people!

P.S. Other than the Facebook thing, this is not really about me in particular, except that I have seen good people hurt by innuendo and false allegations from so-called Christian people and it has to stop!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What If?

Jadon Lavik writes these words in his song, "What If?":
What if I climbed that mountain, what if I swam to that shore
What if every battle was victorious then would you love me more
Would you love me more
What if I were everyone's first choice, what if I went farther than before
What if I stood high above the rest than would you love me more
Would you love me more

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I'm in awe of why you do
Why you do, why you do, I'm in awe of you, ooh

What if I ignored the hand that fed me, what if I forgot to confess
What if I stumbled down that mountain then would you love me less
Lord would you love me less

What if I were everyones last choice what if I mixed in with the rest
What if I failed what I passed before then would you love me less
lord would you would you love me less, oh no oh no oh no

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I'm in awe of why you do
You do you do you do

What have I done to deserve your son sent to die for me
What can I give I want to live give me eyes to see
In a world that keeps changin' there's one thing that I know is true
Your love is stayin' there's nothing else I'll hold onto

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I'm in awe of why you do
Why you do

At this time of the year it is easy to get caught up in "earning" love by giving the "best" gifts to those we care about. isn't it great to know that we don't have to be the best to be loved by God? God loves us whether or not we are a superstar. As we continue our Advent journey, let us share this love with all we come into contact!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just Whose Birthday is it Anyway?

I have decided that the next birthday party that I am invited to, I will send the host a wish list of what I would like to get. Crazy you say? Well, as I watch TV, read the newspapers, and go grocery shopping, all I seem to be hearing form those conversations I pick up is, "I want this for Christmas" or "I want that for Christmas."

Now, I am not saying that we have to stop giving gifts at Christmas (besides, I like giving and receiving gifts just as much as anyone I know!) What I am saying, is that it is time once again to remind everyone just Whose birthday it really is! Can you imagine how happy Jesus would be (and how shocked your pastor would be) if every member spent as much time, effort and money in doing something for Jesus and the church at this time of year as they do for everyone on their Christmas list?

This is not an attempt to make anyone feel guilty, or sad. I just think it would be wonderful if we could rekindle the excitement for pleasing Jesus with our Christmas gifts as much as we get excited giving to our friends and family. Oh well, I don't mean to sound like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I just want to give us all some food for thought!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


When I got home from Bible Study last night, my furnace was not working. I checked the breakers, the kill switches and the thermostat and everything seemed OK. I even checked to make sure the filter was clean--it was. Well, since I did not want to bother anyone last night, I settled in for a chilly evening.

This morning when I got up, it was just 51 degrees in the house! I will tell you that this is a good way to get a quick shower and out the door to an office with heat! At 9 am I called our building and grounds person to ask if there was something I could do to make the furnace work (since I am not really familiar with oil furnaces.) He told me that there was a little red button to push and to try that. So, back over to the manse to find the "magic" button. It took a while, but when I found it and pushed it PRESTO, the furnace kicked in!

All of this sort of reminds me of some Christians that I have dealt with in the past. They look like they are doing everything right. They come to church and Sunday School, they give, they help out with projects, but they seem to be missing something. There is no joy in what they do. What they lack is "pushing the red button" of letting Christ's love rule their hearts.

We can do all the right things, but if we don't do them in, with, and through love, we will always miss out on the joy that is there for us. The Third week of Advent is all about joy. Don't you think it is time to let love bring the joy into our lives? Me, I now know where the button is and I, for one, will make sure to use it when I am "feeling cold!"

Grace, Peace, and WARMTH for you as we continue our time of Advent.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holding on to the Wrong Things

Recently, my wife Amy was fixing some items around the Manse as she worked on getting it ready for Christmas. There was a broken ornament and a chimney from a lighted courthouse that needed attention. She went to work with the superglue and soon everything was fixed! Unfortunately, there was a small problem, not only was everything fixed, but her thumb was now stuck to the superglue container.

Now when you get you skin superglued, it is not a pleasant experience. So I got on the internet to find out how to free Amy. The first article said to use fingernail polish with acetone. Unfortunately, Amy's nail polish remover did not have acetone. The good news was that one of our neighbors had the right kind of nail polish. The bad news was that it didn't work!

Back to the internet. The next article said that WD40 would work. I had some WD40 so we tried it and it worked, she was free!

Now I am not writing this to embarrass Amy. Things like this happen, and since I am the one who asked her to help, it was partially my fault she was in that situation. What I learned (again) from this experience is that even good things, when used inappropriately, can have bad results.

We live in an era where too many people are using good things in inappropriate ways and suffering the consequences. Sex within marriage relationship is great and a God-given expression of our love for one another. Sex outside of marriage is like the thumb stuck to the superglue container--there is a problem that only an outside agent (like WD40) can fix. Sports, jobs, family, and movies all have theirplace, but when they become more important than God, they are a problem.

The good news is that whatever mistakes you have made, they aren't a permanent. God is willing to forgive us for our failures. God has provided the WD40 to our Spiritual failures--Jesus. As we continue our Advent journey, let us all take the time to repent of our shortcomings and allow Jesus to restore us to the proper relationship with the Father. Then we can truly have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Hot is Hot?

Following the Vesper's Service Sunday night our congregation provided a chili supper for those who attended. Since I normally make my chili too hot for most people in New Jersey, I decided to make a "toned down" version. The goal was to keep the flavor and reduce the heat. I think I did a pretty good job of accomplishing that goal. I did, however, still warn the people that it would be hotter than most chili they usually have.

What was the result? Some thought is was just the right heat, some thought is was way too hot, and some felt that it wasn't hot enough! For me, that meant I accomplished what I set out to do--middle of the road heat. While this was an appropriate way to fix chili, it is not an appropriate way for the Church to behave!

For too long, too many churches have tried to be "just right" in how they appear to those who come to services. We have to make sure we are not too liberal or too conservative. we have to make sure we are not too filled with the Spirit or too lacking in the Spirit. I think that it is high time we quit trying to reach people by watering down Christianity. It is time for us to take a stand. We need to teach that there are absolutes. Jesus told us that there is no way to the Father except through Him. That is absolute. There is no other way.

Will this be a popular stand? For some yes, but for others, no. The question is, are we trying to please people or God? If we are trying to please people, we will always be changing our beliefs. If we try to please God, our beliefs will remain constant, but our methods may change (After all, Paul did say "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." 1 Corinthians 9:22).

As we continue in Advent, let us remember the Reason for the season. Let Christ be first in CHRISTmas. May the spice of Christ fill you this year!

Monday, December 8, 2008

More about Peace

Thomas Merton writes, “Man is not at peace with his fellow man because he is not at peace with himself. He is not at peace with himself, because he is not at peace with God.” Peace involves harmony, being able to live with people from diverse backgrounds. Within the fellowship of believers, peace means working for unity. Peace should rule our relationships. Unity is not uniformity. We have different personalities and different gifts. These are necessary for us to accomplish all that God has for us to do.

We need to learn to accept our differences (as long as those differences are within God's established patterns). Peace will come from using our differing gifts to work together for God and not when we use our gifts to wage combat with each other. We all have a role to play in God's kingdom. It is high time we realized that we MUST work together in order to accomplish all of the work the Lord has for us.

I can only do so much, you can only do so much, but together we can do so much more. It is amazing how in God's kingdom, working together doesn't just double the productivity, it grow is exponentially!

Do I have to agree with everything that someone else believes in order to work (ecumenically) with them? Of course not. There are fundamentals that must be agreed upon--for example that Jesus is Lord, but in the non-essentials, there must be more tolerance. I wore a robe last night for our ecumenical service not because I wanted to, but because it was what was expected by the people from the other congregations that were attending (OK and expected by some of my own congregational members!) Did wearing a robe make a difference? To me, no. To others in attendance, yes. That is what I mean by tolerance in non-essentials.

If we truly want to see peace in our towns and churches there is only one place for it to start. As the song says, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." So, are you ready and willing to work for peace today? If you are not willing to work for peace, I can guarantee you this--you won't find it!

Jesus said in John 14:27, “My peace I give to you.” Don't you think it is time to take Him up on his offer?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Second Sunday of Advent

Tomorrow is the second Sunday of Advent. Just as the first week was all about "Hope," the second week is all about "Peace." I wonder if anyone else out there finds it strange that this year the Second Sunday of Advent falls on Pearl Harbor Day?

While many pulpits across this country will have sermons preached on peace, many people will be remembering one of the darkest days of the last century. In a way, I think it is more than fitting to be preaching peace on this day. In fact, I think that we should probably be preaching peace more often than we do. We still live in turbulent times. The threat of terrorism and and even pirates still make the news. Many people live in fear.

This can only change when we let the Prince of Peace into our own lives and share Him with others. As you continue your Advent journey, make sure you do your part to spread peace wherever you go: the mall, the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or even church!

Friday, December 5, 2008


I spent the day doing virtually nothing (Well except for the phone calls from the office and the phone calls from one of my elders!) I found it interesting that at certain times during the day, I felt that I should be doing "something."

I sometimes have trouble taking a whole "day off." I know that I should, it is just hard to not let my mind wander to the things I could be doing if I wasn't "resting"(especially since I don't have Amy here with me to help keep me away from work).

I have to admit, that now that the day is mostly over, I don't regret taking most of the day to do nothing. I think that many of us press on (even when we don't need to) to accomplish more and more. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with working hard, I have a problem with people who work hard and then wonder why they burn out or have relationship problems!

The LORD expects us to take a Sabbath. It doesn't have to be on Saturday--for me it was on a Friday this week! We need to rest, so that we have the stamina to do what we are called to do. So, the next time someone wants to give you a hard time because you are taking time out to rest, you tell them that Tim said it is OK!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Advent is (or should be) a time of preparation. We are to take these weeks before Christmas to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. As I look around me, I see "signs of the season" everywhere. Lights, trees, wreaths, and the like are popping up everywhere. Christmas songs are beginning to be played at every store I stop into.

Everyone is excited about Christmas--but for the wrong reasons I am afraid. Christmas has become all about getting (and receiving) the "right" gifts, parties, baking cookies, and a big family get together.

One of my favorite Christmas specials is "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The scene where Charlie Brown finally asks, "what is it all about?" and Linus quotes the passage from Luke 2 always impacts me.

It is OK to do all of the things we do at Christmas, but not at the loss of the true meaning of Christmas. I will not say, "Happy Holidays." It will always be "Merry Christmas" to me. I just hope and pray that everyone I know and love does not get so caught up in the fluff of Christmas that they miss the point.

God came to earth--for me, and for you. THAT is what Christmas is all about. God loves me (and you) so much that he would take the human form of a baby, live and die a horrible death, for me (and you). Then on the third day--resurrection! may you never forget the reason for the season. Start preparing your heart now so you can truly say, "Merry Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Discount Christianity

'Tis the season for bargain hunting. Black Friday, Cyber Monday--deep discounts offered to entice spending. Everyone loves a good deal and seems willing to wait for hours in the cold for the chance to nab a bargain.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to save money, but there is something wrong when we take that same philosophy and apply it to our Christian lives. It seems that today there are too many people looking for a "discount Christianity." They want the good things God has to offer without the willingness to "take up their cross and follow Jesus." In 2 Samuel 24:18-24 we read:
On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" "To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped." Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you." But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.

David knew the importance of sacrifice--it should cost us something or it isn't truly a sacrifice. We learn in 2 Chronicles 3:1 that this land David purchased becomes the place where Solomon's Temple was built. Had David simply taken the Arauah's gift for the sacrifice, the land would not have been available for the Temple.

We have too many Christians today that are very happy to sacrifice other people's things without considering the ultimate cost. What we give to God MUST cost us something, or it is not a true sacrifice. We live in times where everyone wants to get more and more "stuff" for themselves while neglecting their Christian obligations to feed the hungry, clothed the naked, and to take care of widows and orphans.

While I believe it is great for you to save money and get a great deal on the things that you need, is it right to purchase more than we need (25 pairs of shoes, four winter coats, etc.) and fail to help those in need because "we can't afford it?"

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus without sacrifice? It is an oxymoron. Jesus has called us to a life that costs us our life, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Our tithes and offerings are just one part of that. The fact that they are a sacrifice that costs us something is what makes them a real gift.

I had to deal with this myself recently. We don't have an HDTV and they are becoming more and more affordable. I really looked hard at getting one, but decided that, at least for now, it was money that could be used better elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I really wanted a nice, big HDTV, but it was not the best use of the resources God has provided us right now.

The money that could have bought the TV will be better used to help people and not to help myself! Is it easy to do this? Nope! I really would like to see sports in High definition. For me, to splurge on me and ignore those hurting would be to try and discount my Christianity.