God and Money!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 04

January 27, 2020

God and Money!

I was struggling for a blog topic when I asked two hostesses at Applebee’s in the Fashion plaza what they would like to read a blog about. I wish I had remembered to write down their names to give them proper credit. But this will have to do. They wanted to read about “business and wall street.” I don’t know a huge amount about those topics but know a bit about what the Bible says about money. I hope that this blog is close enough to what they asked for. 

What the Bible tells us about money:

  1. The Bible tells us that how we manage money is important. If we don’t manage a little bit of money well, God we never entrust us with a lot of money.
  2. The first tenth of our money earned belongs to God. Give the first tenth of your money to the church, or whatever faith community that you belong to. If you don’t belong to a faith community, find one and join it.
  3. We don’t want to test God by being irresponsible. The second tenth of our income needs to go into the bank to be saved for a difficult time. I realize that it is easier for some people than others to save money but we all could do some. If you tell me that it is “impossible” I will ask if you have tried. We all could spend less than we do.
  4. When we have gained prosperity, we have an obligation to help those who have been less blessed than we have been. We must never fall in love with our money. Our money is a tool to do good things to others.

The stock market:

I am a small investor. Here is my own advice on the stock market.

  1. Never invest money that you need.
  2. Never buy stock to sell it. Buy stock that pays a dividend and buy to receive dividends.
  3. If you want to get rich quickly, you will go broke. True wealth takes a long time to accumulate. There are no shortcuts to long-term investments.

God wants us to take money seriously without getting greedy about it. How we manage the money that God gives us is a barometer of how close we are with God. Do it well for God’s glory!

Again, I thank the hostesses at Applebee’s for this blog idea. I hope that they, and everyone who is reading this, will find prosperity in life.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Money

#Stewardship                                                             #Investments

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 03 January 20, 2020 Baptismal Entrance or Exit?

It was a joy to participate in my grandson’s baptism this past Sunday. I remembered the joy that I felt more than thirty years ago when I baptized my daughters. Now, I participated and watched my daughter baptize her son. 

I don’t know how many baptisms I have done in thirty-five years of ministry. It is the entrance into the church of Jesus. Parents, in our tradition, must be members of the congregation in order to have their children baptized. They make promises to God that they will participate in church activities and bring their baptized children also. All too often I have seen parents and children disappear after baptism, never to be seen again. Their promises to God, to the congregation, and to their children become dishonored. Do I dare to say that they are lying to God when they make such promises and do not keep them?

Ministerial colleagues tell me that I take the disappearance of such families too personally. They tell me that every congregation faces these same issues. Yet, I can’t help but take these broken promises personally.  When parents assure me that they will be there, and don’t, it seems a bit personal to me.

I don’t know, in twenty years, if my grandson will be part of the church or not. I rejoiced that he was baptized and will do everything I can to mentor him in the faith. Yet, I don’t know what his Christian future will be. Some things I can’t control. I will pray that he will, indeed, become a disciple of Jesus. While I am praying for him I will be praying for the families whose children I have baptized and who then disappeared. I will continue to pray that they will see baptism as an entrance, not an exit, and keep the vows that they made to God. 

May God make disciples of him and those I have baptized in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    

#BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   

#Baptism

#ChristianDisciples                                                 

#PromisesToGod

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 02 January 13, 2020 Prayer and Fasting For The Middle East

The news is hot with worries of war again. Seriously, during most of my lifetime I can think of very few years when our nation was not at war. Even when we were not at war, I remember our nation involved in smaller military actions. 

I was young during Vietnam. When that was over, it was not very long until we invaded Grenada, operated covert wars in Central America, sent troops to Lebanon, participated in airstrikes against Libya, fought Operation Desert Storm, invaded Afghanistan, and invaded Iraq. We also were militarily active in Somalia. I think that I left out our cruise missile attack in Kosovo. 

Perhaps I am leaving something out but it seems that we are always at war. Now there are new threats of war after our military forces killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, retaliated by firing cruise missiles at our bases in Iraq. Will our military involvement in the middle east never end? Are there no other ways to bring peace and justice? War seems only to cause as many problems as it solves. Often “winning” one war only sets up the next one.

The Commission on Christian Action of our denomination is requesting that we all have a day of prayer and fasting for world peace and justice. The requested date for this is Sunday, January 9th. Will you join in? The whole text of this pleas is posted on the website of the Reformed Church in America. Please join your brother and sisters in our denomination in this day of fasting, prayer, and focus for world peace.

https://www.rca.org/news/rca’s-commission-christian-action-calls-prayer-and-fasting

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #War

#Prayer                                                                       #Fasting

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 01 January 6, 2020 A Blessed Year

A Blessed Year

I hear a lot of people still making “New Year’s Resolutions.” I thought that this tradition had died out years ago because no one that I know keeps resolutions more than a week into the new year. The only resolution that I make is the one to make no resolutions. This one I have kept for years.

One of my problems with resolutions is that always looking to improve keeps us distracted from how many blessings we really have. Anyone reading this is more blessed than most of the residents on this planet. I wonder if it is time to end the custom of resolutions and begin instead to start a new custom of “blessings.”

I got this idea from a friend on Facebook who posted a picture that got me thinking of this new tradition. The picture is attached below. What if instead of resolutions we focus on the blessings that we receive. How about weekly, or daily, we write what we are grateful for and put that into a jar. At the end of 2020, we each open our jars and read all the blessings that we were grateful for. I bet that we will forget many of these things that we were once grateful for. Opening the jar will remind us of those things that we were blessed with.

Will you join me in counting blessing rather than making resolutions? The more we pay attention to our blessings, and focus on them, the more we will appreciate them, and the fine lives we live. Our troubles will seem insignificant in comparison. Please, take this challenge and feel gratitude each and every day.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #I2020

#Gratitude                                                                  #Blessings

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 44 December 30, 2019 Farewell To Don Imus the Impure Prophet

Don Imus, perhaps the most famous name in radio, died last Friday. Since his retirement in March of 2018 I have hoped that he would come back. Now, these hopes are vanquished. I used to listen to him daily and still have never found a radio station to listen to daily.

He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He has been fired for bigoted rants, has been accused of sexual harassment, and has been discharged for being intoxicated at work. He has been sued in court and has settled several lawsuits out of court. So why was I so attracted to him?

I appreciate his generosity. Published sources claim that he is responsible for raising 40 million dollars to fund the CJ foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. His name is on the pediatric center at Hackensack Medical Center. I don’t know how much he contributed to get his name on the building. For years he ran a ranch for children with cancer. Some would recover, others would not. He did more for charitable causes than anyone else that I have heard of.

What I appreciate most is that he held people of authority to account. When interviewing politicians, he never treated them in a special way but treated them as people who were hired to serve us. Often he asked them questions that I wish I had the chance to ask them. He many ways he was a prophet who would tell politicians what they needed to hear but whom other media members would not dream of asking.

Imus also had prophetic words for Christians as well. In 2012, amid the Vatican Butler scandal, he asked the hard question, “why would the Pope have a butler? Jesus acted as a butler to his disciples, why should the pope not be a butler.” His point is well taken. Christians claim to imitate Jesus and we need to hear about it when we do not.

Imus said things that needed to be said and asked questions that needed to be asked. He spoke important prophet words. I thank God that I had years to hear him and pray that God will raise up another prophet to take his place. He wasn’t perfect but what prophet ever was?

Rest in Christ’s presence, I-man.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #ImusInTheMorning

#DonImus                                                                   #Prophets

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 43 December 23, 2019 Working Without Gloves

A few weeks ago, as we were distributing lunches to the day laborers in town, one of our distributers made an important observation. She noticed that many of the laborers had no gloves. I was a bit embarrassed that I had not made this observation myself. Somehow it alluded me, yet when she mentioned it I paid attention. She was correct. Despite the weather, many of them had no gloves and some had no hats either. Despite the cold temperatures, gloves were a luxury that they could not afford.

It seems incredible to us who live middle class lifestyles that anyone could live without gloves. The fact is that there are people who do. Most of us have a surplus of gloves and color coordinate them based on our outfits. We take many things for granted. Yet, living near us are people for whom gloves are unaffordable luxuries.

One of the women who has supported our lunch program could not live with the thought that our area workers lived in such a way. She obtained hats and gloves and brought them to the church for us to distribute. The very next day we gave out hats and gloves with the lunches. The workers looked truly grateful. 

I do feel a bit embarrassed that for the years of distributing lunches, I never noticed the lack of gloves. I became focused on our task and was overlooking other needs of these people. I am so glad that this was pointed out, and our group rose to meet the challenge.  We take a lot for granted but I’m grateful that God gives us these opportunities to see how much we have and grant us the chance to bless those with less.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #DayLaborers

#ColdWinters                                                             #Generosity

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 42 December 16, 2019 A Restaurant That Honors Veterans

Last week we welcomed back my son-in-law from his army deployment. Naturally, we wanted to take him out to a fine dinner to celebrate his homecoming. Gluten free is a necessity in our family. My daughter quickly used her gluten-free app and found Brasserie Memere in Closter. I had never heard of it, but it sounded good. 

We had two glitches before starting. The first was that the ceremony went much later than we expected. We had to call the restaurant to ask for the reservations to be delayed. The second came with our numbers. We had planned dinner for the five of us and two babies. At the armory, Marco’s mother’s family was there to greet Marco. They wished to join the celebration also. We called the restaurant to add reservations. Our original number was now doubled. The management assured us that this was no problem. We were greeted warmly.

We were seated graciously by owner Evelyn Ciszak. I mentioned to the waiter that we were honoring Marco who was home from deployment. In response to this, the service was overwhelming! Co-owner Peter Chin came over to greet us and thank Marco for his service to our country. The waiter was unbelievable attentive. It was a fine dinner. I’m the world’s biggest cheapskate. I complain about the price of White Castle.  Even I admit that the food was worth the menu prices. 

I began to get a bit annoyed at the wait to order desert. Sensing my impatience, the waiter came to explain that we were getting desert for free and it was being made specially for us. The owner wished to honor Marco’s military service. Soon one of the owners came with our free deserts and presented it to us; Macaroons. There were plenty of them for all of us and two left over.

The owners chatted with us some more. They really wanted to honor us for having a veteran in the family and they showed their appreciation. How many individuals go out of their way to honor veterans? Many of us give lip-service to honoring veterans. This couple lost money in doing Marco honor. I will certainly be back to show my appreciation.

If you are in Closter, please stop by and visit Mr. Chin and Evelyn Ciszak at Brasserie Memere, 107 Vervalen St. in Closter. They are worthy of our support.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #BrasserieMemere

#EvelynCiszak                                                           #PeterChin

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 41 December 9, 2019 Military Arms

Military Arms

Renaissance Man, staring Danny De Vito is an old film now, but I was thinking about it recently. In this movie, Danny De Vito is hired to instruct a group of under-functioning soldiers how to think critically. He instructs them by teaching them Shakespeare and succeeds in instructing them not to be just soldiers, but soldiers and scholars. There is more to being a warrior than strength and fighting.

This reminds me of the Medieval code that knights swore to when becoming warriors in Europe. The code is as follows:

1. Believe the Church’s teachings and observe all the Church’s directions
2. Defend the Church
3. Respect and defend the weak
4. Love your country
5. Do not fear your enemy
6. Show no mercy and do not hesitate to make war with the infidel
7. Perform all your feudal duties as long as they do not conflict with the laws of God
8. Never lie or go back on one’s word
9. Be generous
10. Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice

And so, it is today that our soldiers are called upon to not just be capable making warfare but to defend and respect the weak. They must be violent when called upon as well be gentle and protective of the weak. How is one person to do all of these things. My hunch is that these soldiers need our help to balance such opposite behaviors.

On Saturday, my son-in-law returned from deployment with the National Guard. He was serving a mission in the horn of Africa and this was his fourth deployment. This return is different. He was married shortly before deploying and his son was born while he was away. Now, he returns as a husband and father. His warrior ways must yield to his loving protective ways. I bet he needs help and support to do this.

We train our young people in the ways of the warrior and send them off. Now, when they return, we must help them learn the skills of loving nurturers. Military arms must now hold spouses and children, not guns. Let us all be there for our returning warriors.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #NJNationalGuard

#113thRegiment                                                       #44thInfantryBrigadeCombatTeam

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 40 December 2, 2019 Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day has always been a wonderful time for me. One of my greatest memories of this day was watching The March of the Wooden Soldiers on television while smelling the turkey cook in the electric roaster. Each commercial I would run into the kitchen to look through the window on top of the roaster to see the turkey cook. I would have removed the top to look except my mother always forbid me from doing this. To this day I love the smell of turkey cooking in an electric roaster which I purchased several years ago. Thanksgiving is still a wonderful day.

This year, at church, and at home, we began Thanksgiving dinner began with each person sharing what he/she was most thankful for during the year. We also told of our number one hope for the next year. It was fun to hear from each person and this conversation enabled us to get to know one another on a very deeper level than we all had previously known. I do hope to repeat this ritual during future Thanksgiving celebrations.

I wonder why we only “give thanks” once every year. Should we not be thankful each and every day? I have gone through difficult times in my life and yet, even in those times, my life has been easy compared to the lives that millions of people around the world live. My worst day is better than the days of the majority of people on the earth. Should we not be as thankful every day of our lives as we are on Thanksgiving Day?

This is a challenge to everyone reading this. Will you join me each day of the year in articulating what we are most thankful for at that time, and our hope for the next day? I bet that if we practiced thanksgiving every day and not on one day, our peace and joy will increase and our joy will be contagious. Let us celebrate Thanksgiving Life, not just Thanksgiving Day.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #ThanksgivingDay

#Gratitude                                                                             

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: