From Keith Anderson
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Living in a world where we are trained to obtain stuff: clothes, electronics, toys, etc., it’s hard to not fall into the trap that we deserve to treat ourselves to more. It’s easy to put giving on delay while we save for something we need to make our lives easier. And it’s difficult to remember how rich we truly are.
Over the past few weeks, however, the community of St. Paul’s avoided the trap, didn’t delay, remembered, and as a result, exhibited true generosity. Vince gave a message on money that’s not easy for pastors to deliver, but one that Jesus didn’t shy away from either. Tom came forward and spoke on ways we can apply God’s word on money through Compassion International and MAAC.
Because our church family has been so gracious with our wallets and pocketbooks over the past year, St Paul’s was able to write a check to MAAC that will provide food, shelter, clothing, and advocacy for dozens of people in our community. Through Tom’s influence and encouragement, 15 children in South America, Central America, Asia, and India were given an opportunity for a new beginning through Compassion sponsorships. These children, in addition to those already sponsored by St. Paul’s families, will have basic needs met; but more importantly, will receive spiritual teaching and mentorship throughout their childhood. And the potential for who they share their blessings with is endless.
It’s often difficult to remember that nothing we have been given or earned on this Earth is truly ours. None of it belongs to us. Without God’s influence on our socioeconomic and family background, education, and job opportunities, we would have nothing. We are simply stewards of what we own, and what we do with “our stuff” can either draw us into greater selfishness, or have amazing eternal outcomes.
Just as highly-addictive consumerism can be, giving can be addictive as well. And when giving becomes something your heart loves to do, it’s amazing to see how God blesses your life. I’d love to hear from you about how God has blessed you as you have sponsored Compassion children over the years, or how he is currently blessing you as you decide to take Vince up on some of the challenges he has delivered over the past few weeks: donate to MAAC, sponsor a child, give to your local church, tithe, or give sacrificially. Please leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. Don’t feel as though you are bragging about yourself…after all, it’s not really your money. Use this as an opportunity to encourage others to allow God to bless their lives.
We will be traveling on mission to Panama from 8/31/13 – 9/8/13. We will be working with a church that we first worked with when we visited Panama last year. The cost of the trip will be around $100 plus airfare (approx. $650). Anyone interested in joining us on this trip or in gathering more details can contact Bob Jeram at church or at firstname.lastname@example.org
From Steve Bell.
A businessman is late for an important meeting. His job is on the line and he runs the risk of losing it if he doesn’t show up on time.
He circles the block again and again looking for a parking space, but to no avail. As the minutes tick away, he finally stops the car in the middle of the road.
“Dear God”, he prays, “please help me find a parking space so I don’t lose my job. I’ll go back to church, I’ll quit drinking, I’ll be more attentive to my wife and kids. I’ll put 20 percent in the plate and I’ll stop kicking the dog. Please help me!”
When he opens his eyes, there’s a parking space no more than three feet away. He looks at it for a second, then turns his face to the heavens and says, “Never mind- I found one.”
Wait a minute- I think I know this guy.
From Steve Bell
For a few months now, I’ve been lending a hand with music once a month at a local recovery meeting. I hack my way through 5 or 6 songs, folks thank me because they don’t want to hurt my feelings and I head home. In many ways, it’s similar to the time Laurie and I used to do seminars with Prison Fellowship:
1. It’s always inconvenient.
2. It’s mildly stressful and I’d always rather be doing something else.
3. It’s easily the most spiritually rewarding thing I do all month.
I’ve learned to live with the tension. My gut’s a wreck and my face burns the whole time I’m leading, but when they say, “See you next month, “ I think, “A whole month! Come on!”
Years ago, we were welcoming new members one Sunday at St Pauls. One of the Pastors asked, “So, what do you get when you join the church? Membership cards? Discounts on VBS supplies? Assigned parking spaces? No, you get to serve, that’s what you get!”
Heady stuff. We get to serve. I may hit a sour note or two, but when I witness a ragged crowd lost in worship, I remember- I don’t have to serve, I get to serve.
And then I think, “I have to wait a whole month to do this again? Come on!”
From Tom Andrix.
As part of Vince’s talk last Sunday on generosity, I presented the opportunity for individuals to sponsor children through Compassion International. These kids are typically being raised in severe poverty areas of the world with little chance to break the cycle. Compassion seeks areas of highest need where there is also a strong church presence. They train, equip and resource local Christians to provide spiritual instruction, education, responsible relational interactions and, where needed, food and more significant medical care. Compassion is currently in 26 countries partnering with nearly 6,000 churches ministering to over 1 million kids.
Compassion had sent us 15 potential kids to sponsor and I’m thrilled that eleven have already been selected. We are hoping in the next week or so for the remaining four to be picked up and sponsored to set a significant milestone in St. Paul’s Outreach.
Would you like to be a part? Will you take advantage of this opportunity?