Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Rare Appeal

A Rare Appeal: The Background

As some of you are aware, the co-founders of this ministry, Brian and Dara Shook, are currently living in separate states. Brian has been caring for his aging father, but as the economy has gotten worse, he can no longer afford to join his wife.  Caring for his father has been a full time job in itself, and because of this, he cannot get a job.

As a member of WarriorSoul Ministries, its principal writer, and a close friend of these two amazing people, I believe that it is possible to bring him home, and to do so with something everyone is fond of... T-shirts! The gist of it is this: You buy the shirt you like, and after overhead, the proceeds go to fund Brian's trip home. Any Additional Funds Will Be Used Specifically For And By WarriorSoul Ministries! There will be no individuals profiting from this fundraiser- We are NOT televangelists!!

The fundraiser itself will last from now until September 10, 2013.

A Rare Appeal: The Selection

A Rare Appeal Standard Front
The front of the Standard
Here is how this works (price breakdown to follow shirt descriptions).

We have two styles of tees available. The first is what we're calling the "Standard" version, which basically means that it's the least expensive of the two.  It sports only lettering, with the words "Mine is a WarriorSoul" in gray and red on the front.  On the back, in red, are the words "WarriorSoul Ministries."  These are selling for $15, and we need to sell 50 of them at the very least... If we do not reach that number, none of the shirts will be shipped, and you will not be charged- But our fundraiser will have failed as well.

 The second style is being referred to as the "Limited Edition."  It has the same wording on the front as the Standard, but features the WarriorSoul logo on the back.  This shirt is selling for $25 and we need to sell at least 20 of them.  Again, if we do not reach that number- No shirts, no charge and no Brian going home.

Both of these styles will be available in black, navy, forest green and ash gray beginning tomorrow.  Currently, they are available only in black.

A Rare Appeal: The Price Breakdown

A Rare Appeal LE front
Front of the Ltd Edition
Because we believe in honesty and full disclosure here at WarriorSoul (and because I believe it will help you understand the need for the prices and set amounts), I'd like to show you the price breakdown.

The Standard version has an overhead cost of $11.35- That's for the screenprinting, labor and service. The remaining $3.65 is what will be coming to us to fund Brian's trip.

The Limited Edition has an overhead cost of $21.75.  Again, this is for the screenprinting, labor and service, but it is higher than the standard due to the graphic used on the back.  Thus, the fundraiser will be receiving $3.25 for every LE sold.

A Rare Appeal: The Minimum Sales Limit Explained

A Rare Appeal Standard back
Back of the Standard
The reasons for the minimum amounts is very simple: The smaller the sales goal is, the greater the base price.  This is due to a few things, but most notably the labor that goes into setting up the equipment which does the printing.  When the batch is smaller, it requires more supervision and prevents leaving the batch to print while getting a new batch ready.

Let me offer you an example: To print a mere 10 of the Standard shirts, the base cost would be $14.67.  However, printing a total of 50 costs $11.35.  If we were to raise our goal to 200, our base price would lower to a mere $8.55, but our relative chances of success decrease as well.

To expound on the example, let's use the LE. Printing 20 of these shirts costs 21.75.  Printing 10, however, spikes our base price to $30.75.  In order to sell the LE at a comparable price to the Standard, we'd need to sell a minimum of 130, and the base cost would be $12.13.  Once more, we see a lower price, but also a lower chance of making our goal.

These are the reasons we've set the limits where they are currently.

A Rare Appeal: The Final Word

A Rare Appeal LE back
back of the Ltd Edition
We've got readers and family from around the world, and I want to reassure everyone that we're able to get shirts to you no matter where you are- Using the company we're using, we can ship internationally, meaning out friends in Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, Japan... Even Tanzania and Guatemala... Can help with this fundraiser and have something to show for it.

So aside from buying a shirt, or a few shirts, how can you help?  Well, you can tweet the shirts themselves, or this blog entry, to make sure that everyone who follows you gets the chance to hear about it, and hopefully pass it on.  You can share the shirts on Facebook and on Pinterest directly from the pages, or you can share the url from any form of social media.  You can also share this blog entry as well.

Feel free to share about the fundraiser and its purpose outside of the internet as well!  Word of mouth when speaking with your friends, coworkers, family and fellow church members can be just as vital and viral as what is shared online.

I'd like to thank you for your consideration and support of this effort, and I am confident that with all of you helping to support it and spread the word, it will be a monumental success. God bless each and every one of you!

Monday, August 5, 2013

God Unchanging - Grace and Mercy

 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love ~Psalm 103:8

We read that Moses had a similar revelation in Exodus 34:6, and we can see that David not only mirrors Moses' own words quite closely here, but he does so again in Psalm 86:15, 111:4 and 145:8.  I tend to think of these passages often when I hear folks, Christian and non-Christian alike, compare the "Gods" of the Old and New Testament.  God is not a man that He should lie, but neither does He suffer from a personality disorder!

This truth about God is not only spoken of here; later on, in the days of the prophets and harsh judgment, we read very similar sentiments.  In fact, it is often missed that true love gives way and in fact enables the administration of just punishment- Even toward the object of affection.  For example, look at Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nehemiah 9:17, Isaiah 55:7, and Jeremiah 32:18 to offer just a few.

A great Bible teacher and commentator once made the statement that there is a great deal to be found in some of the smallest and least suspected passages of the Bible. Indeed, he went on to say, much of what we meditate upon within Scripture can be found within some of the smallest portions- In this case, the phrase was: "Slow to anger."  The quote regarding this section of the verse specifically says the following: "not speedily punishing sinners, but patiently waiting for their repentance."
Mercy pardons sin, grace bestows favor undeserved, and the Lord has each in abundance.  In the word's of Charles Spurgeon, "All the world tastes of his sparing mercy, those who hear the gospel partake of his inviting mercy, the saints live by his saving mercy, are preserved by his upholding mercy, are cheered by his consoling mercy, and will enter heaven through his infinite and everlasting mercy. Let grace abounding be our hourly song in the house of our pilgrimage. Let those who feel that they live upon it glorify the plenteous fountain from which it so spontaneously flows."

There is a great disparity which exists, however, in the concept of biblical grace and mercy, and the twisted understanding of the same by much of humankind.  God's justice MUST be met, so His mercy and grace will only carry each of us for so long in this life.  Eventually, we come to the crossroads whereat we choose to abide in our sinful behavior and thus abandon our First Love, or to flee our sin and cling to He who gave Himself up for our redemption. Choose we the former, and we will see ourselves set aside for the day of judgment; but if we take hold of the latter, we will find ourselves sheltered beneath His wings in the worst of the storm (for we are bequeathed only so much as we are able to handle by the strength afforded us through the Holy Spirit).
Contrast this understanding of God's divine grace and mercy, however, with that understanding by which the unsaved and unbelieving world carries out their debauchery.  It is the mindset of those who have heard and reject that they are simply not ready, and they will turn to God when their need is greatest: Little do they understand that they are drowning and marked for death, so their need is indeed at its greatest.  Likewise, those who have not yet heard continue to sin in blissful ignorance; their misdeeds counting against them, certainly, though the irony is that they survive by sole merit of the grace and mercy they know nothing about.
Between the two, however, the first group's crimes are greatest; the latter abuses the grace and mercy of God through ignorance, but the former willfully, gleefully and without remorse abuses that gift which they know of, yet which they refuse in a misguided attempt to make the "good times" last as long as possible.

Note now the only difference which can be drawn between God's actions within the Old Testament and His actions and responses of our time: It was His own slow response to sin; His own patience and longsuffering; that prevented judgment against the peoples of the world from falling more often than it did during the Old Testament period.  It is the blood of Christ which now dissuades the diverse and varied punishments of our just and holy God from falling more often now; yet by His own work, God holds His wrath for the day of judgment more completely now, as it is the blood of His only Son which cries out (in stark contrast to the blood of Abel) for continued patience, longsuffering, grace and mercy.
Ephesians 1:7-8 tells us this much- That if not for the shed blood of the Lamb, we would not have the grace we now know; nor would we have the sort of forgiveness we now understand; nor would we live beneath the covering of mercy we so often take for granted. By direct and absolute intervention, God Himself provided a means by which all of humanity could survive and live eternal- Yet such an offer is not an automatic thing, though it is, according to the Word of God, retroactive (that is, our sins are removed from us through the acceptance of the Sacrifice).

How dare we so cheapen the wondrous workings of a graceful and merciful God by saying that we are encumbered by having to do such great work as to merely accept His gift?!  Far too many have had this attitude in regards to the great and glorious work of our Lord, and far too few ministers illustrate the full passion of our Redeemer so as to set these minds aright.
Therefore, let us carefully bear in constant and perpetual remembrance Paul's statements from Romans 5:20-21-
"Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Some have used this verse to accentuate their claim against God; saying that only a cold and cruel psycho would introduce a law with the specific intent of causing sin, an offense for which this "psycho" imposes death.  However, it ought to be pointed out that this is a horrible interpretation and/or translation.  Look at this passage again, this time in contemporary English-

"The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful. Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life."

The law, then, was introduced in God's grace and mercy; not to cause sin to increase- Sin is sin; it is anything which goes against the nature of God- Instead, the law was introduced for the express purpose of exposing the seriousness and extent of sin to humanity.  It was introduced to show the need for reliance upon the Lord, not because of what He did, but because of human kind's own weakness.  It is through this understanding of the unchanging nature of our God that we are able to sing with the psalmist, "the Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love."