Friday, October 07, 2005
ASK MMI: Gas Mileage & Free Masonry
Today, we start a new column here at MMI called "ASK MMI: Your Ministry Questions Answered". Do you have a question about ministry that you'd like some input on? Simply send an email to me at email@example.com and we'll pop it on the blog for other ministry leaders to comment on. Here's our first question:
Dear MMI,I have recently started following the discussions on your MMI blogs and have really found them helpful and full of insight. I do want to ask if there have been any discussions about how different churches handle reimbursable expenses such as mileage. Specifically the issue that I am struggling with is that with the recent increases in gas prices (and related expenses such as motor oil, etc.), the IRS has raised the allowance to 48.5 cents per mile. This issue was discussed at our last board meeting. After much discussion, some of it heated, they voted to reimburse me 45 cents per mile. Much of the discussion came from the treasurer's wife who has several times questioned my integrity in what I have submitted for reimbursement (in which she did again in this instance). There is an underlying issue with her in she knows my position about her family's participation in Masonic activities.In a conversation with her again this morning, she promised that she would bring this up again at the next board meeting and once again questioned my integrity in a reimbursement that I submitted.What I want to know is how have other churches dealt with the issue of reimbursement policies, mileage allowances? I guess I would also be interested in knowing how other churches deal with someone who does everything with a vendetta attitude and how pastors have dealt with Masonry.
Well, everyone... what do you think? How does your church handle this; and how would you deal with this person's dilemma?
ToddAdd Your Comments and Ideas now...
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Seems like a fairly easy and obvious answer: ask the advice of accounting professionals. They know the standards like the back of their hands. There's probably a few experts in their congregation. Why not use "the body?" Mileage reimbursement has nothing to do with Masonry; seperate the questions/issues and deal with the facts.
Also, since there is already strife over Masonry, why not work to resolve it? Ask for a mediator.. the Pastor to help clarify and resolve? Much better than avoidance, which will cause more damage...
Posted by: bernie dehler | Oct 7, 2005 11:46:41 AM
We used to have two rates - one for volunteers that was tied to the IRS rate and one for staff that was 2/3 of the IRS rate. Last month our deacon board voted to raise the staff rate up to the current IRS rate. Hope this helps.
Posted by: Kim | Oct 7, 2005 6:22:47 PM
Masonry is demonic. The wife probably will not let up despite protests or evidence to the contrary, especially if she is under the influence of a lying spirit. So at the next meeting, when she brings up the issue, quote this verse: "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses" (1 Timothy 5:19). Ask her where her other witnesses are and if she would move for an independent audit of the church finances. Since her husband is treasurer, watch her reaction. Of course, she probably will be offended that you are questioning her husband's integrity, to which you can counter that now she knows how you feel. But if she acts even more strongly, then one of them may be embezzling church funds. Sometimes the most paranoid about funds are the ones skimming the till.
Posted by: Michael Rew | Oct 8, 2005 12:08:59 AM
The issue here is not reimbursement for mileage. That issue is only a smokescreen for a someone who is "out to get" the pastor. It is clearly an issue for church discipline. I have seen this numerous times in my 20 years of ministry, sometimes directed at me, sometimes at other pastors. One thing I know for sure, dealing with the reimbursement issue will never solve the problem. The battlefield will just shift to another front. The leadership in this church should take swift and decisive action before the situation mushrooms into a full fledged fight. If they feel inadequate in dealing with such issues then I would suggest calling in a denominational representative or church conslutant trained in biblical conflict resolution.
Posted by: Rich Viel | Oct 9, 2005 10:02:44 PM
" If they feel inadequate in dealing with such issues then I would suggest calling in a denominational representative or church conslutant trained in biblical conflict resolution."
I'd suggest following the advice given by our Lord in Matt. 18. First, 1-1. Then bring a witness, if not resolved. Then make it a church issue if still not resolved.
It's a good opportunity to learn how to use Scripture for correcting and rebuking, per 2 Tim 3:16, which says:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"
Posted by: bernie dehler | Oct 10, 2005 12:49:19 AM
I agree that the issue is not mileage reimbursement. My church (denomination) prohibits Masons from holding church office. Many congregations are otherwise compromised when this is allowed.
Posted by: John Reeves | Oct 10, 2005 11:17:53 AM
I agree 100%. I've just found through experience that many church leaders know what is biblically right to do but just can't bring themeselves to do it. With a consultant or denominational representative helping them through the process they can learn that following Scripture is always the right course of action even if it isn't easy.
Posted by: Rich Viel | Oct 10, 2005 11:29:38 AM
Free Masonry, in our denomination, is grounds for discipline for members. One cannot pledge devotion to God and to the secretive allegiances to a masonic order. Non-members, of course, need to be dealt with differently. You feel, by what is written, that masonry is the underlying factor in the attempts to undermine you. The underlying issue must be dealt with first, because, as you see, it is tainting even relatively simple issues, such as gas mileage. Pray for the correct way to handle this situation and handle it from the cause, not from the effect.
Posted by: dc | Oct 11, 2005 12:23:36 PM
"I agree 100%. I've just found through experience that many church leaders know what is biblically right to do but just can't bring themeselves to do it."
Wow, what a sad commentary. Where's the role-modeling?
Posted by: bernie dehler | Oct 11, 2005 1:54:21 PM
I find all this very interesting. I'm entering vocational ministry soon, and can't doubt I won't encounter the whole Mason issue. Slightly off topic, but would someone direct me towards some good resources for further research?
Thanks, and Grace and Peace to those in the trenches.
Posted by: Russell Duren | Oct 17, 2005 12:21:39 PM
I agree with Bernie and all of you. Two separate issues, but complicated by the fact that this person holds a "power" of sorts, office. That complicates the issue(s). I agree with having an arbitor or someone professional in dealing with the reimbursement aspects. And even in dealing with the Masonary entanglement. If you have a denominational "Pastor" to pastors who can come in and help clean house, that can be more effective. If the Sr. Pastor is alone then it will seem like personal vendetta from the Sr. Pastor. In the church I was formerly in, we were give a credit card with an allowance. That allowance could to be used for all professional expenses: gas, lunches for church related activites, seminar registrations, books, etc. Anything that was church related could be a part of the expense. It made it so much easier than keeping records and then justifying to the IRS on your tax return. You still have to reconcile to the receipts to the church, but that was their position to take care of the records. The amount of the allowance could be gone over for a good reason if reported to the Deacons or financial board. There is still accountability, but there was more freedom and an understanding that prices increase.
Posted by: James | Oct 17, 2005 12:41:46 PM
we do it two ways right or wrong. First is if it is a long trip tehn we send a credit card along, secondly if it is errands usually the person just blesses the church by turning in no expense. i personally have found out that in this way i can not out give God. His reimbursement is a lot higher than .48 per mile. It is easier to have the church buy the pastor a vehicle and have a gas card.
Posted by: Martin | Oct 24, 2005 11:31:54 AM
EVERYONE! PLEASE READ MY POST!
There is a far bigger problem at hand here than mileage reimbursement and finances, Todd. You are in leadership at a church which has not identified and rooted out the influence of a false religion (belief system) in the church. The mere fact that freemasons are allowed to be in church office or even membership (I don't mean "attendance" because they need Jesus/the gospel more than ever) is devastating to that church body and speaks to me of major discernment and spiritual unhealthiness within.
Like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, every form of Freemasonry "calls itself Christian", but denies the diety of Jesus (or makes him out to just be one of many gods) and perverts the way to salvation and access to God. All freemasons (of every order/rite) are required to be initiated by advancing through the same, first three degrees to become a Master Mason. In these three degrees alone, there are oaths taken which subtly, but directly, identify the disciple with teachings that blatantly contradict Scripture. In one of the very first oaths, they are required to be blindfolded, led in, and admit that they are spiritually blind and need to be "enlightened" by freemasonry (not Jesus). Jesus said "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
All masons must swear an oath upon death (some even with a sword to their throat), pledging to be obedient first to the freemason way, THEN God, family...etc. There are many other contradictions, like teachings that "all roads lead to the same God"/the acceptance of all belief systems as acceptable worship. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6).
Other lies include the use of the Bible, the Koran, the Satanic Bible (in some rites like the Scottish), and other religious books, side by side; the Satanic Pentagram/Star, the symbol of Satanism which is directly over the head of every Grand Master's seat (the leader of every local order)in every "lodge"; the claim that a man named Hiram (born during Solomon's time and builder [or mason] of the Temple) is the true messiah, even having been raised from the dead after three days; high-ranking father's of certain rites include men like Anton Levey, writer of the Satanic Bible... and the list goes on and on and on. The fact is, freemasonry is just another tool to blind the spiritual eyes of men from the Truth about Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:4 says, "...the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Rather than delve any further: I have included links below, to a video and a book about freemasonry from a truly Christian perspective. They are both dig deep into the countless practices of freemasons that contradict Jesus teachings and furthermore, they are very well documented with pictures, testimonies, etc. They are also great tools for exposing "the Truth" about masonic practices to church leadership/boards.
There are hundreds of other good resources exposing freemasonry, but I strongly recommend these, especially the video.
Video ~ Freemasonry : From Darkness to Light?
"Many Masons go through the first three degrees and become Master Masons believing it to just a nice fraternal organization, not realizing their own leaders have consciously lied to them because they don't want them to know the true teachings of Masonry." - Ron Carlson, Co-Host and Author
Book ~ The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge
by John Ankerberg & John Weldon
"The philosophies and symbols used in the Masonic rituals all point to a world view that includes God as a benevolent but unapproachable father who holds all men as his children, regardless of their beliefs. The secrecy and rituals are also reminiscent of paganism and the occult."
May the Spirit of Jesus give you clear discerment and grant you wisdom as you confront this false teaching that has wormed its' way into so many churches.
Posted by: Russ | Oct 24, 2005 2:42:30 PM
Russ - thanks for the info on masons!
The way I ahndle mileage is to keep track of it and have my accounant deduct it from my income taxes, then the church doesn't know how much you are claiming. The only word of caution is make sure you have some accountability here - don't deduct miles that aren't within the tax code's allowance. Finaincial integrity is a must. Also, make sure you are not getting reimbursed by your church and claiming milage on your income tax - not legal.
Posted by: Pastor Dan | Oct 30, 2005 8:42:17 AM
What a great lesson on free masonry and mileage. I deduct mine as Pastor Dan has related. Free Masonry is a cult and not to be allowed into the Christian church. The conflict of spirits here will devour the church.
"Much of the discussion came from the treasurer's wife..." which is NOT the treasurer (??), and what is she doing in the boardroom, "This issue was discussed at our last board meeting.” ??
Some kind of hanky panky is going on! RevJay
Posted by: RevJay | Nov 13, 2005 12:24:46 AM
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