Archive for the 'Generosity' Category

What’s your Giveability?

We give according to our abilities. That was the giving truth we unveiled in part three of our Plastic Donut series. God’s model for funding his church and solving the world’s inequities is his people to voluntarily give according to their abilities. In the Old Testament, that’s how the temple was built…and rebuilt. In the New Testament, it’s how the early church provided for other’s needs.

God expects you to give based on your abilities. In 2 Corinthians 8:12, the Apostle Paul told Christians, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” So God does not ask you to give based on what you do not have, but based on what you do have. That ought to release the guilt from many who wish they could give more, but just don’t have it. Give according to your ability. On the other hand, it ought to challenge others where giving has been stagnant for sometime or even minimal. Give an acceptable gift. Give according to your ability.

In the book, Plastic Donuts, four different giving abilities are mentioned: Profit ability, possession ability, paid-for ability and faith ability. Which of those abilities have you maybe not considered in your giving? Are you giving according to your ability?

If you missed message three of Plastic Donuts, you can view it here:

Trusting God’s Wisdom on Finances

We’re in the middle of our series, “More than Just a Fortune Cookie,” from the book of Proverbs. Sunday we talked about Trusting God’s Wisdom on Finances. Proverbs is full of wisdom on how to deal with money. And the key principle that Solomon passes on is don’t put your hope in money because, “In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5 NLT).

Proverbs teaching on finances goes against conventional wisdom. We’re told to choose generosity over greed, to show restraint instead of self-indulgence, to work hard instead of expecting something for nothing, and to plan ahead instead of acting impulsively. Maybe Solomon’s greatest advice on the subject has to do with our level of contentment, “give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs” (Proverbs 30:8 NLT).

The verse that keeps haunting me this week is from Proverbs 11:25, “those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” In other words, there is some kind of “boomerang effect” that takes place when we’re generous. God mysteriously resupplies those who give away to others. Not sure you buy it? Don’t take my word for it. Put God to the test. Do your own investigation to see if this general truth plays out. I think you’ll find the same thing that many of us have found, “those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Don’t forget to read through the book of Proverbs at least once during this series – just a chapter a day! If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can hear it at cedarridgecc.com. You can also access accompanying resources like our Journey Group Lessons and our Digging Deeper resources for personal study.

Advancing the Kingdom

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Have you ever thought of being intentional with your giving – so that you can be a part of advancing the kingdom of God? Unfortunately, many don’t consider the benefits of using economic resources for spiritual purposes like Jesus talks about in Luke 16. Sunday, I talked about what happens when we start “placing treasure” toward kingdom causes:

1. We align ourselves with God’s agenda.
2. Part of God’s “To Do” List Is accomplished.
3. God allocates funds toward our heavenly account.
4. God is pleased with our giving.
5. God extends his personal resources to us.

The truth is, at the end of life, the only thing that will matter is what you and I invest with the Lord. So, how are you coming?

Can I share with you one secret that has helped Andrea and I to be more faithful in this area of giving? We started giving to God FIRST – before we made the mortgage payment and even before we went to Wal-mart. We found that if we waited until after we paid the bills, it affected how much we thought we could give. By prioritizing God, and giving to him first, it kept us from short-changing our offering. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

One of the most practical things that has helped us to be more disciplined, is to give our tithe online. Like many, we now pay the majority of our bills through an online bill-paying service offered by our personal bank. Our bank cuts the check and even mails it to the church for us. We never see it, so there’s no chance of misplacing it or holding it until a later date. And when we have to miss church, we can still be faithful in our giving. What might happen before is, I would write a check, but get busy on Sunday morning and possibly forget to put it in the offering. I might find it days later in my pocket, then have to remember to put it in the offering next week (if the money was still there). It’s not that we didn’t want to be consistent; we just didn’t have an avenue that worked for us. This works for us. If giving online helps you to be faithful, then why not take advantage of it?

Remember, we have one brief opportunity – a life time on earth – to use our resources to make a difference.

Here this sermon at cedarridgecc.com.

Giving Generously

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February 2, 2010

Sunday I talked about five “windows” that tithing opens for us.

1. The window of mutual commitment. Tithing says, “I’m loyal to God and he’s loyal to me. I can trust him to take care of me.”
2. The window of personal provision. Tithing puts us into a position to be blessed by God.
3. The window of financial order. Tithing puts discipline into your spending, protecting you from greed and materialism.
4. The window of spiritual identity. Tithing identifies us as “people of God.”
5. The window of ministry impact. Tithing releases resources to support ministry and ministry activities.

If you’re new to this, tithing refers to the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income back to God to be used in ministry. The Israelites were to give 10 percent of their income or crops making it possible for the priests to feed the poor and receive support for their living expenses. Their gifts were used to support ministry. Malachi 3:10 instructed them to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…” The storehouse in the Old Testament was the temple. The storehouse in the New Testament is the church. When we tithe into the storehouse of the church, we are releasing funds into the care of church leaders to use those resources to support ministry and ministry activities. For that reason, I believe your tithe should go to the church you attend. Now there may be causes and projects that you are passionate about and want to help fund. The Bible differentiates that as an offering, and it should be given over and beyond our regular tithe.

When it comes to where we give our tithe, Pastor Barry Cameron says, “Remember, we’re to bring the tithe into the storehouse where we are cared for and led. You don’t eat at Burger King and say, ‘I appreciate the food, but I’m going to go down to Taco Bell and give them my money.’ It doesn’t work that way. We’re to bring the tithe, God’s tithe to the storehouse where we’re cared for and led.”

Another conviction I have is that the tithe belongs to God. We are not free to designate it, divide it, or direct it wherever we want. Unfortunately, some people want to say to the church, “Take my tithe and use it for this or apply it to that.” We can’t do that. That’s God’s tithe. In the Old Testament, priests administered the tithes and offerings. Today, Church Elders are charged with that responsibility. They are to take the tithes we bring and prayerfully and carefully direct their use. It’s important for church members to trust their decisions and not try to direct their tithes to their favorite ministries. Not only is that questionable legally, it creates problems for those who track our finances. Now occasionally, there are missions that we support or projects we tackle in which we ask members to consider giving a designated gift, over and above their tithe (like we’re doing now with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission). But the norm should be to give our tithe to God and trust him for the distribution.

Ultimately, the question of tithing comes down to this, “What do you fear most? Not having enough or not having the involvement of your heavenly father in the realm of your finances.” I hope you’ll take the challenge to start tithing or to grow in your tithing.

Sunday, I also updated you on our current financial situation at Cedar Ridge. For 2009, our giving was about 15 percent down from the previous year. That is a trend many churches are experiencing now. We have certainly been affected by the economy; some members are unemployed or have taken a lesser-paying position. Because of that, we have adjusted expenses accordingly. In crafting our 2010 budget, a 15 percent cut was reflected. Unfortunately since some expenses, like utility costs and mission support, aren’t optional; it means that many of our key ministries took a 40 percent cut in funding. In addition to that, we have cut back our building payments to the minimum amount of principal and interest required by the bank, instead of paying extra on the principal to accelerate our debt reduction.

The good news is that we have not had to lay off staff or cut salaries as many churches have been forced to do. We have not had to cut our mission support. We’re still giving 13 cents of every dollar that’s given, to mission efforts around the world. And God still owns it all. May we be faithful stewards.

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com. Don’t forget to read Chapter Three of the book, Rich Toward God, this week.

Trusting God

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Sunday, I kicked-off a new series called Rich toward God. I asked you to consider four decisions to help you increase your trust in God when it comes to your finances.

1. Put your greed on notice.
Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Decide that you will keep your greed in check.

2. Recognize your true source.
It wasn’t the rich man and his hard work that produced a good crop. It was the laws of nature that God put into place. 1 Chronicles 29:12 says, “Both riches and honor come from You…” Everything belongs to God. We are just temporary stewards.

3. Do your giving while you’re living.
Don’t do what the rich fool did. He died and his stuff passed on to someone else, without his approval or blessing. He refused to be generous in life, but he had no choice in death. One day, every single one of us will give away everything we have. Are you getting ready…while you have the choice?

4. Make God and His kingdom your top priority.
The problem with the rich man was that he left out God. He was rich toward himself but he wasn’t rich toward God. Jesus said in Luke 12:31, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com. Don’t forget to read chapter two of the book, Rich toward God, this week.

It’s not too late to sign up for the estate planning seminar, Sunday night at 6:00 pm at our Broken Arrow campus. Over a hundred people already have. There is no cost for the seminar, but you do need a reservation.  Reserve your spot by emailing Janice Wilmoth at jwilmoth@cedarridgecc.com or calling the church office, 254-0621 and register with the receptionist.

Looking forward to celebrating with you this Sunday!

Haiti Earthquake Relief

By now you’ve seen and read of the devastation caused by Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. Like most catastrophes, the reports go from bad to worse. Often times we’re left wondering how we can possibly help. Andrea and I just made a contribution through an organization called I.D.E.S. (International Disaster Emergency Services). I.D.E.S. is an organization that works among Independent Christian Churches to help in disaster relief. They partner with existing organizations in an affected area to offer immediate aid to the hurting. The great thing is that gifts designated “Haiti” will be used 100 percent to bring relief, without the overhead costs of so many other organizations. If you’re interested in helping that way, you can give online at www.ides.org.

Sunday’s sermon

Here are some thought from Sunday’s sermon. Post a comment if something really helped you or if there’s any area that you really struggle with or if you have any questions.

Jesus told them this story: The business of a certain successful man did very well. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I can’t possibly spend all the money I’m making at my current standard of living.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I’ll sell my old house and I’ll build one with more square footage and additional amenities. I’ll trade in my fully-functional automobile and I’ll buy one that is higher-end and a later model. I’ll increase my retirement portfolio with IRAs and mutual fund investments. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Retire early. Engage in hobbies and leisure activities. Enjoy the good things of life.’” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get have you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up earthly wealth for himself but is not generous toward God. (My paraphrase of Luke 12:16-21)

Jesus condemned the rich fool not because he was rich, but because he wasn’t generous toward God.

Giving is like anything else you deem important in life. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. Here the plan for giving I shared on Sunday (comes from Andy Stanley’s book, Fields of Gold).

1. Priority giving. Proverbs 3:9-10
2. Percentage giving. 1 Corinthians 16:2
3. Progressive giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
4. Prompted giving. Exodus 25:2

Overcoming the Fear of Lack

Here’s my outline for sermon number two in our “High Definition Generosity” series. I’d love to dialogue on any comments you have. Or feel free to ask a question if you have one.

Lessons from a Fearful Servant. Matthew 25:14-30

• Fear paralyzed the servant.

• Fear put the servant in self-preservation mode.

• Fear caused the servant to lose perspective.

• Fear made the servant miss out.

Insights to free yourself from the fear of giving

1. It’s all God’s anyway – you’re a manager. Psalm 24:1; Deuteronomy 8:18

2. The law of the harvest applies to your finances. 2 Corinthians 9:6

3. Financial giving aligns your life with God’s agenda. Matthew 6:19-21

4. Trust God to provide for your needs. Matthew 6:33

High Definition Generosity

Today, in my message, I talked about the generosity of God. I’ve always thought of God as a “giving God” but I’m not sure generous was a quality I would identify? Great, awesome, loving – absolutely. But Joe Stowell reminded me, in a sermon I heard at Exponential ’06 (put on by Crown Financial Ministries and Generous Giving), that God, throughout the Bible models extreme generosity for us. He’s the God of the fatted calf. The God of the best robe and the best ring. The God who fills your cup and it’s running over. This is the God who is willing to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you ask or think. We’re talking about the God that doesn’t just offer life, he offers abundant life. The God of abundant grace. And this is the God who sent his only son, to die for sinners like us. Why does God love a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)? Maybe it’s because that’s when we are most like Him.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions on this message. Just click on the word “comments” at the top of this section. Listen to this message at cedarridgecc.com/resources/podcasts.