RSS

Category Archives: Finances

Building Renovation – June update

Below is a letter sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church providing an update on the progress of our building renovation project. We’re getting closer.

 

The high cost of Christmas lights

As we were talking one night in Elista, Naomi asked me about the medical costs for my hip surgery. Since I had time on my hands in the hotel in Moscow, I decided to total them up. As you can see, it turned out to be the most expensive Christmas lights we ever purchased. Thank God for good insurance.

Category Total costs Out of pocket expenses
Ambulances $2,529.13 $100.00
Hospital & personnel $26,999.56 $1,000.00
Ultrasound $2,543.73 $25.00
Surgery & follow up $8,671.00 $25.00
Rehab Center $4,307.14 $752.18
In-home physical therapy $1,539.75 $0
Rx $3,154.46 $187.19
Primary Care Physician $1,160 $200.00
Physical Therapy $4,715 $525.00
Totals $55,619.77 $2,814.37

Considering I have another follow up visit with the surgeon on Monday and possibly more PT to come, as well as more follow up on the blood clots, it’s not quite done yet.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Finances, Health

 

Transforming lives through strategic stewardship

Book Review: A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving, by Mac Pier

A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving by Mac Pier is the follow up to his previous book, A Disruptive Gospel. In the first book, the author lays out the philosophy and strategy to using generosity to reach cities with the gospel. In this book, he tells stories of how it is taking place.

In this volume, the author weaves together three big ideas.

The first is God’s vision for the world as referenced in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah gives us the big picture of a God who comes to transform cities, who causes nations and nature to rejoice in him. Isaiah announces the coming of a Savior who will be the ultimate expression of the generosity of God in the gospel.

The second is that of movement. A spiritual movement is taking place when the Christian population is growing faster than the general population. A movement is taking place when the church is making an impact on the great social realities of a city or nation. A movement is taking place when Christian leaders are finding themselves in places of cultural influence.

The third big idea is that of a relational network, a movement of friendship.

The book contains 31 chapters in which the author interviews 40 leaders in 10 countries around the world who are using generosity for the sake of the gospel. While you can easily read the book in one sitting, you could also read one chapter a day over the course of a month and let the stories sink in. The interviews and stories are designed to encourage the reader to think of creative ways to use their own resources to help fuel the advance of the gospel.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Books, Finances, Generosity, Quotes

 

Passing down a legacy of generosity

Book Review: Giving It All Away … And Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously, by David Green with Bill High

David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, believes that the rule of generosity, the rule of giving, is the foundation for building a lasting legacy. In the early part of the book, he explains the concept of legacy.

Leaving a legacy is about succession—those who follow after us… “When all is said done, your ability as a leader will not be judged by what you achieved personally … You will be judged by how well the generation behind you did after you were gone. Your lasting value will be measured by succession.”

Later in the book, he explores the meaning of generosity.

My journey into generosity has shown me two important thing, among others. First, generosity has a starting point. You don’t just wake up one day and poof, you’re generous. It begins with a decision to steward your resources with a heavenly mindset. Second, generosity depends not on how much money we have but on the posture of our hearts. Too often we think of generosity as the sharing and giving of money. But that’s a shallow definition. Generosity goes much deeper.

Part of the book is a memoir where Green talks about lessons instilled in him by his parents. He also describes what the family experienced when they sued the US Government over Obamacare and the case went all the way to SCOTUS, the US Supreme Court. The rest of the book explains how David and the Green family developed their convictions and commitments towards generosity and how it impacts their business, Hobby Lobby. He also describes their approach to wealth management and passing on wealth to children and grandchildren.

In the final chapter, he lays out the family’s basic ideas regarding wealth, business, and generosity.

  • We are not owners of anything. God owns everything.
  • God wants us to be good stewards of everything he’s put into our hands.
  • We all have wealth—our intellectual capital, our social capital, our emotional capital, our spiritual capital, and our financial capital.
  • Stewardship produces responsibility: as stewards, we need to be found faithful.
  • The great joy of stewardship is generosity: giving it away because we get it all back again in the form of joy.

While the book is very simple, straightforward, and easy to read, it will stretch your thinking on the subject of generosity and passing wealth on to the next generation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Books, Finances, Legacy, Ministry

 

Principles & Practices of Giving

I attend two pastors’ groups that meet on a monthly basis. At one of the recent gatherings, the topic turned to giving in the church. One of the men said he asked his treasurer for information on how many people in the church gave financially and how many gave a tithe.

Being curious myself, I asked our Financial Secretary at First Central Bible Church to do some research and give me the same type of information. Here’s what she shared with me. (She shared the numbers, but not the names.)

We currently have 194 members. Our average weekly attendance is 219 people.

We have 120 giving units. A giving unit may be an individual, a couple, or a family. A giving unit may be a member or a regular attender. Of the 120 giving units,

  • 2 gave $20K or more during 2016
  • 11 gave $10-20K
  • 15 gave $5-10K
  • 45 gave $1-5K
  • 47 gave less than $1K

The numbers reflect the Pareto Principle, that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people, or in this case, 80 percent of the money is given by 20 percent of the people.

The results prompted Carol and I to talk about how much we give and where it goes. The bulk of our giving is to FCBC and a portion goes to support some missionaries we know.

The results also prompted me to review what Scripture says about money and generosity.

Biblical principles of giving

  • It all belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
  • We give back to God what he has given us (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)
  • We worship God with our first and best (Proverbs 3:9-10)
  • Promise—If we give, God will meet our needs (Proverbs 3:9‑10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Sequence—We give to God first, then God meets our needs (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Challenge—Give generously and see what God does (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Rather than tithing (giving 10%), the New Testament teaches generosity (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • While tithing may not be a requirement, it is a good guideline, since it was the pattern of godly people before the Law was given (Genesis 14:17-20; 28:10-22)
  • Our giving should be periodic, personal, planned, proportionate, and properly protected (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
  • Generosity is best determined by what we give when we have little, not when we have much (Mark 12:41-44)
  • We have been blessed in order to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • Excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7)

Let me encourage you to review what Scripture says about giving. Ask God to search your heart to see if you are obedient in this area. Ask him to show you how much he would have you give in 2017. Ask him for the grace and strength to obey him and to trust him to provide for your needs.

 

The benefits of fundraising

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak to a church about my upcoming ministry trip to Russia in March 2017. I was able to talk with them about short-term ministry trips in general and my trip to Russia in particular. I asked the individuals to pray about the needs of the trip, including the $5300 I need to raise for the airfare, visa, lodging, meals, and helping underwrite the costs of the students who will attend.

On the one hand, fundraising is not my favorite thing to do. I always feel a sense of tension every time I write and mail out a fundraising letter.

I don’t like

I like

Asking for money

Sharing a vision for what God wants to do
Asking for help

Seeing God answer prayer

Depending on others

Being surprised by who God raises up to partner with me

Admitting my needs

Seeing how God provides

Not being able to do it myself

Having to trust God

Not remaining independent

Being part of a team

Feeling as if I am prying $$ out of unwilling hands

Giving people permission to be generous with God’s resources
Not being in control

Seeing God provide the exact amount at just the right moment

When I am honest with myself, I resist fundraising because of my pride. After all, I am a good American, of Scandinavian descent, who lives in the Northeast. I should be able to stand on my own two feet and take care of my problems and needs, thank you very much. I would rather go without than appear needy.

However, when I take that approach, I rob people of ministry because I don’t allow them to use their gifts in service. I rob them of the opportunity to partner with me in a cause that is bigger than both of us. I hinder the body of Christ from functioning as a body. I miss out on God’s blessings because I don’t allow him to answer my prayers and meet my needs. I miss seeing God remove barriers and solve problems.

When I use my own resources and pay my own way, I come away impoverished. When I act humbly and ask for help and then depend on God in prayer, I am enriched and blessed.

I have to remind myself that fundraising is not about asking for money. It is about sharing what God wants to do in my life and in the world. Fundraising is about asking people to join forces in meeting a need and reaching a world with the message of the gospel. It is ministry to and with people for the cause of Christ.

Rather than call it fundraising, perhaps we should adopt the approach of one mission agency and call it “friend-raising.” Ultimately, we are broadening our network of contacts, supporters, and friends. As a result of last night’s gathering, I now have one more church and a larger group of friends who are helping me expand God’s kingdom and equip his servants.

While it may not be my favorite thing to do, fundraising/friend-raising is a unique opportunity to trust God and minister to others. Which, ultimately, is why I like fundraising.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Finances, Ministry, Missions, Russia

 

The Heart of Generosity

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying the topic of generosity, seeking to understand what Scripture says about money and giving. We have examined passages in the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 1 Chronicles 29:10-22) and the New Testament (Mark 12:41-44; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Matthew 25:14-30).

We have gleaned several principles from our study:

  • It all belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
  • We give back to God what he has given us (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)
  • We worship God with our first and best (Proverbs 3:9-10)
  • Promise—If we give, God will meet our needs (Proverbs 3:9‑10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Sequence—We give to God first, then God meets our needs (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Challenge—Give generously and see what God does (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Rather than tithing (giving 10%), the New Testament teaches generosity (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • While tithing may not be a requirement, it is a good guideline, since it was the pattern of godly people before the Law was given (Genesis 14:17-20; 28:10-22)
  • Our giving should be periodic, personal, planned, proportionate, and properly protected (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
  • Generosity is best determined by what we give when we have little, not when we have much (Mark 12:41-44)
  • We have been blessed in order to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30)

As we wrap up this series, we will compare and contrast a couple that was not generous and several churches that were generous.

Ananias & Sapphira

Acts 5:1-11

Churches in Macedonia

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Influenced by Satan (3)

Inspired by grace (1)

Lived in great affluence (1)

Lived in great affliction (2)

Gave out of their surplus (2)

Gave out of their poverty (2)

Told self-centered lies (3)

Gave with a sense of joy (2)

Kept as much as possible (3)

Gave as much as possible (3)

Reactive—caught up with the emotion of the crowd      (4:32-5:1)

Proactive—they initiated the gift (3)

Felt an obligation to give (4:32-5:1)

Begged for the privilege to give (4)

Concerned for the opinion of others (4)

Concerned for the needs of others (4)

Met expectations

Exceeded expectations (5)

Gave their money (2)

Gave themselves (5)

Appearance of worship (2)

Authentic worship (5)

Revealed a phony faith (2-4)

Confirmed a real faith (5)

Condemned (5, 10)

Commended (1)

A frightening example to avoid (5, 11)

An encouraging example to follow (1)

God doesn’t want our time, talents, and/or treasures. God wants our heart. When he has that, we willingly give him everything else. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

Excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7)

This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 25, 2015. It is the final sermon in a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.