Sacrifice – Day 36 – Relaunch Journal

Sacrifice – “Work, give, save, live.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 5:14-15

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Nehemiah models for us what it means to be all in to the vision, financiallyThis makes me ask the question where am I at in my giving and sacrifice?  We are all at one of five places:  not a giver, occasional giver, percentage giver, tither, or extravagant giver.  God wants us to take the next step in our giving in order that we will not be dependent on our things but prove our dependence on God.  He is the one who gave it all at the cross.  Leaders model giving, period.  Lord, in all things give our church family obedience equal to our level of knowledge about the scripture.

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Watch Week 4 of Relaunch:  “Striving  For Unity” Here:

The more you love others, the more you leave your pride.  There is no place for pride when working on a high performance team.  The people are pulling together to rebuild the wall amidst the opposition, and they are learning how to be absolutely unified.  In order to strive for unity we must rely on the power of God, remain alert, and rally to the needs of others.

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you. has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

How Much Should I Give?

I remember getting my first paycheck ever, man what a rush!  Then, sudden frustration towards a guy named FICA taking 7% of my paycheck!  I was a busboy at a local restaurant and at 14 years of age I felt like I was on top of the world.  Money changes you.  In my family growing up I had watched both my parents and my brother practice giving to my local church.  10% first to God’s work, no questions asked.  It was just what we did, and man am I thankful my family taught me the foundations of a lifestyle of giving.  I think most ALL of us reading this post would agree that we should all be GIVERS.  I mean c’mon!  Especially if you claim to follow the teachings of Jesus there is almost no possible way to claim the lifestyle of a disciple and not be a financial giver.  Now let me be clear.  I am not just talking about giving to a local church.  But for anyone who wants to fully follow Jesus, the money under your care MUST point to a acknowledgement and dependance on Jesus.  How you handle money is a way you prove your faith in God.


Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

There have been so many incredible stories I have experienced both personally and church wide, of people listening to God and giving.  They are too numerous to list here.  Last year over 400 family units gave a financial gift to our church.  Easily, that is over 5,000 acts of worship through financial giving.  This is the church in action fulfilling the vision!  Your giving and your handling of the money God has entrusted you with IS a spiritual issue.  But many of us have lived with guilt, frustration and even abstaining from talking about giving habits because of pain, debt, mistrust and let’s be honest, a hard heart.  If this is you the enemy is ripping you off!  So what do I do?

How MUCH Should I Give?

1.  Start Somewhere – Maybe the one “thing” holding back your faith is a reliance on things.  Once you think you rely on things and more of them, your trust in God goes down.  Giving proves you aren’t self sufficient.  If you have never made a gift or it has been a very long time.  It is time to take the first step and make and offering to God.  Ask him to bless it, use it.  be bold and ask God to show you more fully his plan for His money, remember it’s not really yours, you cant take it with you.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20  


2.  What God Tells You – What?  Am I listening for the audible voice of God?  Maybe, but for most of us, it won’t happen that way.  The above verse frees us from guilt and compulsion motivations.  Does this mean if someone is tithing it’s wrong?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  What matters is the heart of the giver, not the percentage of the gift.  Our motivation should be to give AS MUCH AS WE POSSIBLY CAN!  Now, that’s probably not something you have prayed lately.  Once we reduce giving to a check box or a legalistic matter, our heart will become corrupted.  We may even think we are better than someone else because we give and they don’t. Be careful though, comparison is NEVER the pathway to spiritual maturity.  Also, don’t let this one be an excuse to rationalize giving less and don’t let the enemy sneak into your budget and steal your blessings with material things!  


3.  In Rhythm  –  Often giving in rhythm helps you determine the amount to give.  Did you get paid this week, there is your answer.  Now, talk to God, your wife, your kids,  Give first.  Is 10% your percentage?  I would suggest you are never going to go wrong with that. In Malachi 3 God says “test me.” However often you get paid there should be a moment of reverence when you set aside your gift before the Lord to acknowledge his provision in your life.  You see, every time you get paid is an opportunity for spiritual growth.  Give by cash, Give by check, Give online, Give by text, It really doesn’t matter how, but give in rhythm.  Give as a BOLD declaration of your trust in God to give you more.  You should love getting paid because it means you can NOW give!  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart.” 2 Corinthians 9:7


4.  In Faith – Some of us have been tithing for a very long time.  This is a very commendable thing.  Continue to excel in this discipline! Keep going!  It’s incredible what you have done by faith.  Over $3 Million over the life of 217church in the past 5 years!  Now, I have heard of Christ followers upset at others for not “doing their part” You may even feel this way in your heart.  Never make your giving based on what others have given.  Tithing 10% is like training wheels on a bike.  It’s there to teach us the discipline and we weren’t meant to stop there but simply start there.  Once you ride on training wheels you will want to take them off and ride like a big boy, of course!  So let me ask you a question…Who feels like Barnabas today? Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  Acts 4:36-37  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a tithe but a gift of faith.  When you give, something wonderful happens, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.  Maybe you have heard… ‘Mo money, mo problems.’


There is a little known verse in Proverbs that may be the best wisdom on giving you will ever here.  Try praying this and let me know how this changes you.  You won’t be the same if you implement this…

“give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:8-9



This Sunday at 217church

February 8th – Joy & Generosity – Rediscovering Your JOY – Declaring your dependence deepens your Joy!


Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 10:15.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit for more information.


4 Things Mom Taught Me About Financial Health

Yesterday I was preparing my 2 younger kids for school and they asked if they could buy lunch.  I had 4 singles in my wallet so I said, “sure, why not”  Lunch is $2.50, so I figured I could scrounge up some change from somewhere not knowing where that extra dollar was coming from.  20 seconds later, I picked up some clothes off the bathroom floor that should have been in a laundry basket somewhere and what do you know, I heard the clanging of four quarters falling out of jeans from the pile of clothes.  Exactly what I needed.  Sure this wasn’t a life defining moment, but I immediately got a subtle reminder that God has all my financial stuff covered.

Are you holding on to your money, or is it holding on to you? 

Financial LD

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”   1 Timothy 6:9

Ok, let’s all get over the fact that finances are a sensitive subject.  Most of us want to be RICH.  Many of us are already!  But the bible says it’s harder to follow Jesus when you’re rich.  We are sick people. I have money, you have money, if you have access to this article you will have SOME money.  But it’s not how much you have but what you do with what you have.  So how should we handle money?  Here are the four things my mom taught me about financial health.  She’s not perfect, I’m not either, but here is what I learned.

Four Things Mom Taught Me About Financial Health –

#1 Work – with ALL your strength –  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)  Your job is from GOD and He owns Everything!  We didn’t grow up with much, but there was one thing mom taught us, How – To – Work.  It wasn’t like we grew up in a child labor camp but we did our own laundry, dishes, cleared our own plates, and learned the simple art of work.  We pulled our own weight around the house.  Heck there were even times when we did have jobs as teenagers and we contributed to the family finances.  And by the way, mom didn’t pay us to do chores, she empowered us to think of how we were contributing to the family.  The bible says if you don’t work, well then you don’t eat.  No job should be below you, if you choose to mooch off the government, family, friends or others instead of work, well, that’s not biblical.  If you want to be financially sound then learn how to WORK.  But remember your work does not define your worth. 

#2 Give – up your control – (10%)  “Bring the whole tithe…Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing.”  Every Sunday was an opportunity to thank God for the week’s provisions.  I remember times at church watching my mom write a check for $30.  YES THAT WAS A FULL 10% TITHE FOR US AT TIMES.  One thing my mom always did was tithe, and through it all we NEVER went hungry.  All us 4 boys now have cultivated giving hearts.  It’s not just about the 10%, but tithe is training wheels to your giving.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be financially healthy and not give.  It just doesn’t add up.  ALWAYS GIVE First not off what is leftover.

#3 Save – for the future – (10%)  “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but the fool devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20)  Most of us are terrible at saving.  We save virtually nothing and spend everything we get AND then some.  The average house has $8K in credit card debt, not good.  The reason why is most of us want more.  I didn’t say hoard, but saveSAVE SOMETHING.

#4 Live – with no regrets – (80%)  “Put your hope in God who richly provides everything for our enjoyment”  (1 Timothy 6:17)  Did you catch that last part?  ENJOYMENT, not stress, worry, despair, all consuming planning, stock market investment obsession, but JOY.  There is NO JOY IN DEBT!  If you have debt you have a new mission in life, eliminate all of it as fast as you can.  STEP #1 is to CUT the CREDIT CARDS UP!  You cannot give, save, and live a financially healthy life in debt.  Next week I will be writing a post solely dedicated to this one topic.  Eat, drink, live, be content.

Looking for some financial wisdom?  Go pick up a pile of laundry, God has you covered.

Which one of these is hardest for you?  comment below and let’s start the conversation!



Join us at 217church for our new series Live Differently…

May 4 – Financial Health

May 11- Family Health

May 18 – Physical Health

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit for more information.  Celebrate mother’s day with us Sunday May 11.




Unlock The Secret to 2014

Tonight, many of you will be out acting crazy, having more fun that you can handle as you ring in the new year!  I look back at my New Year’ Eve celebrations and I remember a few of them.  One year Summer and I went to New York City and ran a four mile race that kicked off at midnight, another year I remember going outside and yelling at the top of my lungs “Happy New Year!”  But here is where you can find me this year…

unlock combo

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth”  Psalm 86:11

AT – HOME.  There are 4 things I plan on doing at the stroke of midnight that are going to define my year.

My First 4 Actions of 2014…

#1  Kiss My Wife –  That is right, while millions of people will be kissing random idiots with meaningless expressions, I will be smooching the girl I plan to spend the rest of my life with.  I plan to love my wife deeper this year than I ever have.  Today I had the opportunity to take my bride on a lunch date and we talked about all the blessings of God in 2013.  I love this girl more than any other person and will do everything I can to make sure she knows it. Kiss the girl, then love her deeply the other 364 days.

#2 Pray With Her –  After the kiss I am going to sit on the couch, grab her hand and I am going to pray a prayer of blessing over her, our family and our year.  I am going to pray a prayer of provision, purpose, and protection.  God is faithful.  All I am doing is leaning into His promise of blessing.

#3 Do 25 Push Ups  –  Next the pushups…why?  because I still can.  God has given me a body to take care of and I plan on taking care of it.  25 push ups really won’t change much but I am drawing a line in the sand.  He gave it to me, I need to take care of it.

#4 Give a Gift – Finally, I am going online and making a financial gift to the church as a symbol.  I know where EVERYTHING comes from, Jesus!  The Lord gives and takes away.  I’m not sure what 2014 will bring and neither do you but it is His kingdom, His world, His 2014 and I exist to bring glory to Him.

You may think these are small things, but for me, these things will unlock how I define success in 2014.  Depend on God, love my wife, take care of my body, celebrate his provision.

Party on!



P.S.  In case you missed it here is a short video encouragement for 2014



Click Here to Watch the Video

Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2009.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater and Ethel Mcknight School in East Windsor, NJ.  Our new East Windsor Campus Launches Sunday January 12th, 2014  10:15 am at Ethel McKnight School.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services in Hamilton at 9:30 or 11 am! Visit




9 Ways To Get Rich This Christmas

Now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Wacky Wednesday (I added that one myself) are over, maybe we can all begin to think clearly about Christmas, spending, riches, greed and everything that has to do with money, provision and our relationship with things.  I have news for you… “The little numbers on your credit card DO NOT define you.”

Below is a scripture that changed my life so many years ago.  It really isn’t about money, but it so closely relates to how we think about what will make us incomparably rich, Jesus!  However, to think how you handle and spend money has NOTHING to do with your relationship with Jesus is pure foolishness.  They are so closely related it is scary.

credit card

“…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”  Ephesians 2:7-8

If you let me look at your financial records for one year, I could see how much you trust God, what you place your value in and in most cases how close you are to Jesus.  You might scoff at this at first, but it’s true.  Most of the following things come from a deficit in your relationship with Jesus: worry, insecurity, debt, materialism, and worst of all, loneliness and isolation. All of these things affect our relationship with Jesus.  The core issue is, we don’t think we have enough. Is Jesus enough for you?  Here are a few ways to get rich…

9 Ways To Get Rich This Christmas…

1. Receive Grace  (MOST IMPORTANT)-  You have already been given the gift of eternal life you could not afford.  This means we no longer need to have our identity in worldly wealth.  If you want to apply the following 8 ideas, let JESUS change your heart.  Without this #1, you are just dealing with symptoms.  He will make you rich beyond what any man could give you. Eternal life, forgiveness, freedom, wisdom, peace, joy. These are all yours for the taking through the Holy Spirit.  These things are not for sale, the are FREE!

2. Live on a Budget  –  Know what you owe, what you own and where it goes.  Notice I didn’t just say “get a budget,” you actually have to implement it.  If you aren’t living on a budget you are more than likely mismanaging the money God has entrusted to you.  And on top of all this, no one ever got rich spending more than they had. Proverbs 16:3- “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

3. Give First –  Before you spend a dime, GIVE!  The first item on my budget, Advancing God’s Kingdom.  We do this out of love, not legalism.  Start at 10%.  Send it on ahead.  Feed The Poor. Clothe The Unclothed.  I know, it’s counter intuitive.  But try it. God doesn’t do things your way anyway.  Get over it.  What if you took the first 10% of your income for the rest of your life and gave it away?  Do you think Jesus would provide for your needs? Most of us give out of the leftovers, not the first fruits, there is a difference.  Remember, there is no love without sacrifice.  Malachi 3:10  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “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.

4. Don’t CompareComparison will ruin you, because you will never be satisfied.  You don’t make what they make so why do you think you should have what they have?  They probably can’t afford it anyway. 

5. Work Diligently – This may seem like common sense, but you may need to get an additional job in order to make ends meet.  I meet people all the time who are “too proud” to take a job “below them”.  This is pride.  You may need to move to a smaller apartment or sell your house, or the car.  But work hard, especially if you have debt!

6. Drive the Ultimate Driving Machine – The ultimate driving machine is a car that is paid off no matter what it looks like or what chicks you are picking up with it.  Leases are a waste of money and driving a brand new car is a colossal trap.  When you drive the car off the lot, you flush $$ down the toilet.

7. Save As Much As You Can – Sometimes we can’t afford to save because we have debt.  If this is you, then get on a plan and schedule to pay off ALL your debt as soon as possible.  Live with no regrets.

8. Plastic MUST go – When you got that credit card, you never thought it would lead to this place.  So often the only way out of “that place” is to get rid of the card.  Maybe you just don’t have the discipline to have a credit card.  It’s ok, admit it and start paying with a debit card and cash. SALE is another 4-letter word for DEBT.

9.  People NOT things –  This may seem obvious, but your kids, parents, cousins, wife, siblings, whomever, doesn’t need a bunch of stuff from you to know you love them.  Jesus, my family, and my church family have all made me exceedingly rich.

This SUNDAY IS A HUGE day for our church family.  One church, two locations, three services.  East Windsor (10:15am) and Hamilton (9:30 & 11:00 am) will never be the same because of you.  Can’t wait to celebrate together!



217church is a multi-site church in Mercer County NJ with small groups for families in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater.  Our new East Windsor Campus is meeting Sunday December 8th 10:15 am at Ethel McKnight School and launches weekly services January 12, 2014.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services in Hamilton at 9:30 or 11 am! Visit  If you want to be in on the ground floor of a new exciting church planting environment, contact our East Windsor Campus Pastor Dan Gay at




Before You Kill The Turkey – 3 Questions…

Before you kill another turkey, you need to answer three questions.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is an incredible opportunity for us to reflect on God’s faithfulness and become more aware of the needs of the people around us.  In every community there are real and tangible needs.

This next week may be the best opportunity to let God speak to you about how much He loves the world.   So how do we align our heart with God’s?  We must answer these three questions…

turkey 11-21


“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas, a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  Acts 4:36-37

3 Questions For Thanksgiving

1. Am I Paying Attention?  –   Awareness creates opportunity for response.”

I guarantee you, if you open your eyes you will see needs all around you.  It is impossible not to see the lonely and hurting people around you.  At the train station, in the mall.  Just look into people’s eyes. When you feel like you need to do something, this is the Holy Spirit speaking to you.  Listen and sense the need.  Jesus always gave people a look, a touch and a word.

2. How Much Will I Give?  –  “Our heart demands our attention.”

Tithing 10%, and giving in general is a faith and heart question. We are instructed to set aside the first 10% of our income for the advancement of God’s kingdom.  It is the FIRST thing God wants us to do out of joy and empowerment as opposed to guilt and restriction.  He sees your heart to give and he is pleased.  He loves when our motivation is to please Him.  The verse below conveys His instruction regarding tithing:

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”  Malachi 3:10-12

3. Will I Forgive My Family? –  “Family hurts but Jesus heals.”

One thing I can guarantee, we all at one time or another have had a family member offend us.  Life is short, Thanksgiving is here, so get over your pride. Seek forgiveness and forgive and this will be the most powerful thing you do.

“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:4

OK, sharpen the knife, time to eat!



We are officially #Relaunching @217church after 6 full years of ministry.  Our first Sunday services will be Sunday February 7, 2016  Don’t worry, we have regular weekend services leading up to this historic day for us as we prepare and build our teams!   Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit for more information. or watch a weekend message here




The Secret of Contentment

One of the most difficult things to learn in this life is how to be content with what we have.  Let’s face it, we all would enjoy a better job, a nicer car, a little bit more stuff and additional convenience.  Try this exercise: take your car and trade it in for a “lesser car” and see if you feel a bit discontented.  Why is it that so many of us are dissatisfied with our current circumstances?  Probably because we have been fed the lies that a materialistic culture saturated with marketing breeds.  We are the most marketed culture EVER!


“…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,”  Proverbs 30:8

SO NOW that we have established we have this dysfunctional disease called materialism, what do we do?

Here are 4 Things to Rid Us Of Our Materialism

#1 Stop Comparing: One of the foolish things we tend to do is compare our own standing financially with others.  This is as simple as visiting someone’s home and seeing they have “nicer stuff” than you. Their TV is flat screen, their refrigerator is stainless steel, their house has new carpet, and on and on the comparing goes.  What has God blessed you with? Do you feel it is enough? There will always be someone who has nicer things than you do.  It is not what you have, but how satisfied are you with what you have.

#2 Give First: Try this for 30 days and see if it doesn’t reorient your financial life.  Ask God how much you should give and to whom and then obey.  When you give, you are saying to your money, “you don’t own me and I will not be mastered by you.”  After you give celebrate by telling NO ONE!  Just quietly develop the lifestyle of generosity without the approval of others.  Then you will ensure you are not doing it for man’s approval, but rather for God’s.

#3 Eliminate Entitlement:  You do not DESERVE a new <fill in the blank>.  Entitlement is destroying the financial future of the next generation. Work an honest wage for an honest job and learn to wait for what you want or think you need.  No one owes you anything.  God’s chief purpose for your life is not for you to be rich, but you were born to glorify God with all you have.  This means you must pray to God that he will rid you of thinking you are better than other people.

#4 Pray Continually: Beating materialism on your own is one of the most foolish things you can attempt to do, especially if it is something you have struggled with in the past.  God has to literally root this out of you.  You will have to plead with Him to beat down and subvert your fleshly desires for more things.  The SALE sign may be your worst enemy.

Contentment isn’t easy, but it will only come from a relationship with Jesus.  If you must, buy nothing over the next 30 days that is not a need.  Don’t justify and call a want a need, you know what that means.


join us this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 am at the AMC 24 Theater in Hamilton, NJ!  We are a unique contemporary church in Central Jersey dedicated to restoring lives and rebuilding and renewing the community around us.  If you live in the Mercer County, Burlington County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA area, learn more about 217church by clicking HERE


Financial Health Part 2: Taking Back Control

Who wouldn’t want to live debt free, have the ability to provide for basic needs, be an extravagant giver and understand the power of saving?  Not many people I know would say, ‘I want to live with a mountain of debt.’   Yet the average household lives with $8,000 in debt, saves less than 1% of income and gives away less than 3%!  What is wrong with us?  What should real financial health look like?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6 ESV)

I recently finished gathering all my financial records and completing my taxes.  My taxes are complicated so I hire someone to assemble them and complete them for me.  At the end of the process, she gives me the report and I pour over it.  It is a great opportunity to reflect on God’s blessings.  I review the year and see how much I owe.  I see how much I paid in interest on my house and how much I gave.  It’s all there and I use tax time to do a heart check on what I value.  I review the year and how I spent all the money that was entrusted to me.  Am I content with what God gave to me to manage? Taxes are very revealing, the numbers don’t lie!   So what is our responsibility when it comes to money?  Here are a few principles to get you started…

Know what you OWE – This is a non-negotiable!  If you are in denial about what you owe, you will never be able to go forward on solid ground with a plan to get out of debt.  It may be discouraging, but you can either pay now or pay later.  Keep this verse in mind and let it motivate you as you gather your records. “The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 ESV)

Know what you OWN– Do you own cars, jewelry, antiques, a house, any retirement funds? To go forward you need to know what you own.  This will help you to understand what you might need to sell in order to get out of debt.

Know where it is GOING– You must get on a budget!  A budget is just planned spending, it’s a God-inspired plan of how he wants you to spend money.  Do you ask God where you should give, save and spend?  The monthly inflow and out-flow of how you spend money IS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE.

Financial health is not an option, its a requirement of those who want to follow Jesus!  The big target on the wall is writing a LIFE TRANSFORMATION VISION for your Financial Health…

In Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.  Colossians 1:28-29

How can you live more healthy spiritually, financially, physically and in your family?  I believe is starts with a heart change and then a commitment to a 217group.  You will grow more in a group than you will on your own. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)  You can learn more about our 217groups in New Jersey and Southeastern PA and get involved with one here!

5 Ways To Get Financially Healthy

Handling money is an acquired skill that can bring great satisfaction or great destruction and pain throughout your life.  It’s not about how much money you have, but how you handle it that counts.  No doubt by now, you have heard about retirement.  Maybe you think are almost there, maybe it seems far, far away.  I woke up yesterday and realized my oldest daughter leaves for college in just about 3 years.  A sobering truth.  Here is the tension:  If you neglect to save anything, you burden others. You are a fool (Proverbs 21:20) If you accumulate too much you depend of money instead of God. You are a fool. (Luke 12:20)  Money can ruin your heart, even when you don’t think it is happening.

“…for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

So how do we achieve this balance in this life?  Let me make one thing clear, THE GOAL IS NOT TO RETIRE!  The goal Jesus has for you is to be absolutely spent accomplishing his mission.  If you have breath, you are on mission.  If you die rich, you missed the boat.  If you die broke, you get it. Achieving financial health has more to do with your habits and less to do with “how much.”

How To Get Financially Healthy…

  • Get Rid of LazinessThe person who doesn’t want to work costs everyone else money.  Get a job!  It doesn’t matter what kind of job, just get one.  Then keep it for a while.  One of the most valuable things parents can give their kids is WORK ETHIC.  If your kids are mooching off you, STOP THE MOOCH!  This means you have to initiate tough love.  This means you are going to have to work hard.  I live in the Northeast next to the financial capital of the world, New York City.  I can promise you this:  If you don’t work hard you will not be financially prosperous.  Hard work may not make you incredibly rich, but it will make you credible!
  • Get Rid of Entitlement – No one owes you anything!  Not even your parents, especially if you are in college.  If you expect a handout, you have a problem.  I said nothing about helping those who are having trouble make ends meet, but when you expect a “freebie”, then you have a character problem.  If you enable this behavior, you have a character problem.  These first two ideas live and feed off each other. 
  • Get Rid of Greed –  The more money you get, the more you tend to spend, and the more you spend the more you want!  You can unsubscribe, delete, complain or get mad at that statement, but that is pretty much a basic human condition.  How do I know this?  The average American household has over $8,000 in unsecured credit card debt.  You want more and I know it!  So do I!  But I must work to battle against my own evil desire to have and accumulate more stuff.   There is hope to temper the sin of always wanting more possessions, but it will take a lot of hard work and a lifetime to control.  It is NEVER good for anyone to get everything they want, nor is it healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to live in poverty, but if your identity is in a symbol on your car, your street address, or the size of your house you have a greed problem.  I don’t want greed to have any influence in your life.  You probably have “enough” already.
  • Get Rid of Credit – Credit card debt isn’t about your income, but how you manage your income!  Could you go thirty days without using a credit card?  What if by the beginning of 2018 we all paid off our credit card debt.  In order to have the confidence to stop using credit, you will need a BUDGET.  A budget is simply planned spending when you tell your money where to go, and how to work for you. borrowing from your future will cost your future.  The bank loves you because you are their slave.  Slavery exists today, and we have made it legal.  “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7
  • Get Rid of Some Stuff – The more you hold on to your money, the more it gets a grip on your heart. If you want to take a first step in getting financially healthy, you have to learn to GIVE.  Otherwise, you will be a prisoner to your money.  Still don’t believe me?  Want to take a BIG RISK in your heart management?  Take something you have had for a long time, that you value deeply, that has monetary value, and GIVE IT AWAY!  When you die, it won’t be yours anyway.  Don’t just give away your junk!  Don’t think about it too much. JUST GIVE.  IF you think you will give when you have more, you won’t.  The more you have, the more difficult it is to part with your money.

Exploring our heart connection with money is both difficult and character building. Our community of  217church is learning to be more giving to the mission of the church in the community and this week is all about SAVING.

Don’t miss this Sunday…


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Our Financial Breakthru Series continues Sunday at 217church.  Come explore 4 words that lead to financial break thru:

March 12 – Save / Plan for the future

March 19 – Live / With NO regrets

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

A Budget Strategy

Just this last week, it happened. As my family was pulling into a restaurant to have a nice Christmas break lunch, I heard a terrible grinding noise.  I HATE CAR REPAIRS!  I tried to shut it out of my mind, and after we had our lunch I took the car down to my local shop to see what was the matter.  It wasn’t pretty.  The whole ordeal ended up costing us around $700 in total repairs.  It was a Budget Busting Moment.

Are you holding on to your money, or is your money holding on to you?

Handling money is a big responsibility, and how you handle money can make or break your character.  The reason it is such a critical issue is because for most of us, money is a part of our every day life.  We interact with it more than almost any other one single thing.  But there is a way to handle it that brings glory to God, and there is contentment when we realize our money is really not our money, it belongs to God.  So how should we manage it?  The dreadful B wordBUDGET – TELL YOUR MONEY WHAT TO DO!

The Building Blocks of a Budget…

1. Give First – No matter how much you make, everyone can give something.  Some people want to argue about how much to give and when to give, but the essential building block of having a financial life that exudes maturity is to give first.  If you never give, what you are saying is “I am selfish”.  So many people in our community are generous with their time, energy and yes, MONEYIf you want to have a Fresh Start in Your Finances,  GIVE – SOMETHING – NOW.  It doesn’t matter to whom or where, just let God transform your heart and become a giver.  When you give, you reveal something about yourself. “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.

Here is one reason you need to be a giver…

  • One Fall day right before thanksgiving in 1982, I was seven years old and I remember a family from our church showing up with boxes.  At first I didn’t know what they were for, but when I looked inside the boxes there was food.  It was much needed food for our family of 5 at the time.  It was because of people in our church who GAVE that our family was able to eat on Thanksgiving.  When you GIVE, you are proving you believe in Jesus to provide for your needs, and the needs of people in your community.

Question: What is holding you back from giving?

2. Save – Did you know that the United States has one of the lowest savings rate of any developed country?  This is a sad state of affairs for our country, but as Christ followers we can be counter cultural and set an example of SAVING rather than example of DEBT.   “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Proverbs 21:20.  Most of the time, the reason we don’t save is because we are so busy paying interest on credit card debt.  Before you save, pay OFF your credit card debt.

Question: Do you have a get out of debt plan?

3. Essential Spending – You know what goes into this piece, but never has it been easier to pay bills!  In our essential spending block is the gas bill, the mortgage, the water bill, insurance and it is entirely automated.  I write maybe two checks a month and at the beginning of the month, on one spreadsheet I have listed where ALL of my essential spending is going.  1 Timothy 6 says, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

Question: How content are you?

4. Non-Essential Spending – There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with enjoying money after you have taken care of the above three items.  As a matter of fact, God actually encourages it!  There were entire weeks in Hebrew culture set aside on the calendar for feasting and partying!  Unfortunately, many of us have upside down budgets.  We impulsively get what we want first, and if there is anything left over, we might give.

Question: What is a way you can enjoy what you have more?

It’s time for a FRESH START IN YOUR LIFE!  Happy Budgeting!

217church meets 9:30 & 11 am at AMC 24 in Hamilton, NJ

  • January 6 – Fresh Start in Your Finances
  • January 13 – Fresh Start in Your Health
  • January 20 – Fresh Start in Your Faith