Friday, January 8, 2010


Hopefully, this will be brief. I'm going to take a break from agape speaks. All the posts will remain online for reading and comments and I may periodically provide some updates on happenings at Agape, but as of today, I'll begin a new, personal blog (more of a journal) at a private web address. I understand that keeping up a blog connected to my home church has certain limitations, and I feel the need to express myself more openly and honestly as I navigate this personal journey as a minister of the Gospel.

If you'd like to connect with me simply email me. Otherwise, God Bless, and see you soon!

Edit 1/12/2010: The new blog/journal will not be public. Sorry, it's for the best.

elder todd

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ministry Musings 2009 - Cooperation & Conflict

Check out the last collection of ministry observations through my various Facebook status updates in 2009. The theme for this post is "Cooperation & Conflict"

"If your criticism is truly "constructive" then it should actually BUILD something besides your own point of view."

"If you truly Love the Gift Giver (God), you will Respect the Gift, and Honor the Gifted."

"One's opinion or influence in any endeavor should be based on the amount of effort and resources they are putting into it. Anybody can shout from the sideline, but not everyone is willing to get in the game.

"If you just don't have the time, energy, or initiative to fulfill a commitment, perhaps it's best to just let it go for the time being. It's not worth maintaining a meaningless title just to leave vital work (i.e. people's lives) undone."

"Before you ask for more, consider what you've made out of what you've already been given. Maybe you'll realize that your current level of progress has a lot more to do with your own initiative rather than the unfair treatment at the hands of others."

"Got a Judas in your life? Don't bother fighting him. Sooner or later, he'll hang himself."

elder todd

Ministry Musings 2009 - Calling & Commitment

Check out the second set of ministry observations revealed in 2009 through my various Facebook status updates. Theme for this post is "Calling & Commitment".

"Every so often, we all should take an assessment of ourselves and seek God to discover if we are doing what He's called us to do, where He's called us to do it."

"Not all servants can lead, but every true leader will be a servant."

"Don't be impressed or influenced by people who claim to be called but refuse to be led."

"David was a dedicated shepherd, renowned worshiper, fierce warrior, anointed and eventually crowned king....all by the age of 30. And nothing, not his father's initial snub, his brother's contempt, or even his own king's assault was able to hinder any of those accomplishments. Why? Because God's Will found a willing David."

"There is no weakness in submitting yourself to one who is called and chosen by God. It takes courage & strength to lead AND to follow."

"The "called" stay "on-call". For the truly called there's much more to serving God than Sunday service."

"Excellence. Period. Anything less is unacceptable."

"Doing our very best in any effort will never compare to simply doing what God requires. Truth is, He can do without all of the things we busy ourselves with that we claim are meant to please Him, but He won't stand for disobedience. I Samuel 15:22"

"No amount of showmanship can make up for a lack of substance."

"If you're not giving up something, you're not giving at all."

"All talkers are not teachers."

"When God has chosen you for something you don't have to compete with anyone for anything."

elder todd

Ministry Musings 2009 - Vision & Progress

With 2009 drawing to a close, I think it's a good time to share some ministry observations I've revealed over the past year in the form of status updates posted on my Facebook profile. This post is the first of 3 and its theme is "Vision and Progress".

"We can’t just see things as they are, but what they can be, and how we can help make it happen."

"True vision cuts through the clutter of opinions, arguments, & agendas to see God's purpose for our life and ministry."

"Ideas with the absence of initiative are completely worthless."

"Authentic Vision is realizing what God has shown you, and acknowledging what He hasn't. Doing what someone else thinks you ought to do will always hinder the things God has actually purposed for you to do."

"Don't ask for opportunity if you're not ready and willing to seize it."

"Age isn't always an accurate indicator of wisdom. God bestows wisdom & vision on some beyond their years. So before you cast aside the contributions of someone because they have yet to live the "full life" you have, beware. You may be casting aside the very instrument God has ordained to spearhead a great Kingdom movement that would impact many, including yourself."

"Ministry is something like owning a house: for you to move on, someone has got to move in, and both come with a cost."

elder todd

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

At Your Service

John 13:12-17 (NIV)
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Every Christian is called to serve God and according to Jesus' teaching and example that will many times include serving one another in some form or another. Problem is, few have a heart to serve in our current orientation of Church fellowship and discipleship. Popular thought has it that serving is relegated to Ushers, Deacons (after all, the Greek word for Deacon means "servant" right?), and those not mature, skilled, or anointed to teach, preach, sing, or play an instrument. How far from the model of Christ we have drifted! He himself elevated humble service of others as one of the greatest of ministries that honors God and impacts mankind.

Too often we jump at the chance to do the "stage work", but when it's time to the "leg work" we manufacture a myriad of reasons as to why we can't or won't serve, from supposed time limitations, insisting that we're already doing enough, or the often unspoken but clearly evident attitude that we're just above that kind of thing. Many people, especially those who are used to ministering during public worship, don't realize that service is one of the most effective methods of bonding with those they minister to. People may admire the gifts we display publicly, but what really draws us together is the feeling that we are part of the same team, and that doesn't come through preaching or singing at one another, but in working side by side even in the most mundane duties.

Secondly, we often fail to see how much the "leg work" prepares us for the "stage work". Those we lead around us are not only looking to be led by command, but by example. They want to see that we understand what doing the work we're asking them to do is like, and even more so, that we would not hesitate to join them in completing the work.

When's the last time you performed a simple yet act of service for your church or another individual? When you notice garbage in the church lawn, do you stop to pick it up or do you continue on your way knowing someone else will get it? When services are concluded do you socialize until it's time to pack up your family (or just yourself) and rush out the door, or do you volunteer yourself to help with any variety of things they may need to be done before the building is emptied? When you hear that a brother or sister is ill, do you casually inquire about them or do you take it upon yourself to ask if they need any help completing work around the house.

I love to preach. I love to teach. I love to play the organ. And it appears that people are blessed by my ministry in those areas. But some of the greatest moments of spiritual satisfaction have come from changing the sign outside, vacuuming the floor alone in the sanctuary, or driving folks home in the church van after service. (and that's after I've preached AND played the organ!) So let's recommit ourselves to selfless service. Not only is it a blessing to God and men, but it will be a blessing to us as well.

elder todd

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Bucks Stop Here - Pt. II

Part One dealt with the basic principles of Tithes & Offering and perspective on the many games and gimmicks prevalent in the Church today. But, there several misconceptions concerning tithing and in Part Two, I'll take a look at a few of those while reserving commentary on the collection and use of offerings for Part Three.

The Command to Give
Make no mistake, giving is not just a recommendation for righteousness, it is commanded by God. In Malachi Chapter 1, God demands we honor him as we would any earthly authority. He rebukes the priests for offering sacrifices of sick and blind animals upon the altar by noting that they would not dare do the same in offering tribute and paying taxes to their secular governments. Chapter 3 takes us even further, by describing those who do not tithe as robbers who are "cursed with a curse" and assures those who are obedient in giving as being protected from those people and things that would destroy the fruits of their labor. This clearly indicates that God considers it sin when those who profess faith in Him do not to give as He commands.

The Perceived Privacy of Giving
While the Bible clearly states that each man should give as he is compelled in his heart, it is unreasonable to assume that no accountability in giving can be expected because you sealed your gift in an envelope. Practicality demands that someone has to count the funds that are given and keep track of all dollars given and those who give them. The highly trusted men and women who accept this humble duty are not blind, and should not be expected to pretend so. In fact, a sudden change in one's giving pattern may indicate the giver is encountering a crisis of severe hardship and may allow the leadership of the Church to inquire about and offer assistance to that person while operating in wisdom and the utmost concern for their dignity.

Also, it can and should be utilized as one of several standards by which those who serve as leaders in the Church are held accountable. Remember, the warnings in Malachi were directed primarily at the priesthood. So it is without question that any member of leadership should be faithful in their tithing with the expectation that continued failure to commit in this area may deem one unfit for ministry. This can be expressed in two vital principles concerning leadership and giving:
  • - It is the assumption of the lay members that those who are exhorting them to full submission to God are striving to be faithful in all areas of their Christian walk as they are, even looking to them as examples. This includes the area of giving. So even though what one gives is not made public, it is our duty first to God and then to the Body that we are not misleading in this assumption.
  • - Leaders are decision makers and those decisions will often include the stewardship of Church finances. In this context, it is unethical to contribute opinions or express one's vision on purchases, projects, and ministries while not contributing to the funding that makes them possible.
The Lack of Accountability
Since tithing is a command, there must be some mechanism by which failure to obey God is handled with the same loving grace that would accompany the addressing of any other fault. While this may seem like a foreign concept, think of all the other highly personal sins that we have no problem bringing up in personal (and unwisely, in sometimes very public) moments of counsel and ministry: sexual sin & lust, shacking up, addiction, relationship issues, etc. All such sins are dealt with and spoken of openly. And there are many who would claim that failure to do so would result in sin running rampant in the Church. Is disobedience in giving any different? The Bible doesn't indicate it is, therefore we must be careful not avoid an important aspect of our Christian duty simply because of modern sensitivities. As in dealing with any other sin, whatever method of accountability is adopted should be consistent and entered into with wisdom according to the Word. We should not resort to knee jerk reactions based on a momentary lapse in giving, but we are responsible for seeking to restore one who continues in disobedience.

elder todd

The Bucks Stop Here - Pt. I

I can't think of a more uncomfortable subject to approach in the Church than that of giving. Throughout scripture, God's commands to his people concerning giving are unequivocally clear, yet by many abuses, misunderstandings, and false assumptions we've turned a glorious form of worship into an affair that is tedious at best and scandalous at worst. So Part I will deal with the biblical perspective on giving.

is the English word translated from the original Hebrew and Greek words that both mean “a tenth”. The Tithe is a God-commanded 10% “return” of our increase (income) which is used to support the ministry of the Church and those in His service. Tithing and the purpose of those funds given was formalized in the Law given to Moses. (Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:20-21, Numbers 18:25-29). God designed the Tithe to be affordable for everyone by placing it in proportion to each person’s income. Jesus Christ paid both the tithe and civil taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 17:24-27). He also commanded it by saying, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Luke 20:25)

An Offering is a voluntary gift given beyond one’s Tithe to the work of the ministry. Offerings may be requested and distributed according to specific purposes or needs of the Church.God has given us right to be able to make our own decisions concerning the resources He has provided. We can bless God or curse God (and ourselves) with our obedience concerning money. Obedience blesses God, while disobedience is a reproach unto God. (Isaiah 1:19-20) Whether concerning Tithes or Offering, giving is a matter of Obedience to God and Love for God. The two attributes are intimately related by Christ Himself: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) This clearly indicates that are claims to love God and are spoken desires to support the Church are questionable at best if we are not obedient in our giving.

Finally, let's deal with the abuses. It's important to realize that the money grubbing gimmicks we are so familiar with are not a new concept. Since the time of the ancient Hebrews, there has been no shortage of charlatans and tricksters who seem to possess no fear of God and are all too willing to take advantage of the faithful and gullible to satisfy their own greed. Whether it's hundred dollar prayer lines, "covenant" partnerships that promise special access and "point of contact" items (cloths, oil, pendants/jewelry) for a monthly or annual gift, or just the old fashioned pulpit begging, it all reeks with the stench of corruption. We would do well to avoid all such dubious practices, and instead remain faithful to the teaching of giving our tithes and offerings faithfully unto the Lord.

elder todd