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Category Archives: Generosity

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.

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

 

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 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.

 

 

How are you investing your life?

What is your investment strategy? Sports memorabilia? Stamps? Vintage comic books? Stocks & bonds? Or is your investment strategy giving it all away? Serving others?

In our series on Generosity, we have seen the following principles in the Scriptures—It all belongs to God. We give back to God what he has given us. We worship God with our first and best. God’s promises that if we give, he will meet our needs; that is, if we follow the sequence of we give first, then God meets our needs. We are to give generously and see what God does. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we see one more principle—We are to use all we are and all we have for God’s glory. Matthew 25 contains two parables about the kingdom of God. The parable of the 10 virgins (1-13) emphasizes that we are to WAIT faithfully until Jesus returns. The parable of the talents (14-30) emphasizes that we are to WORK faithfully until Jesus returns.

God has entrusted some of his resources to each of us (14-18). Jesus tells the story of a rich man who heads out of town on a long journey. Prior to leaving, he entrusts his portfolio and possessions to three trusted servants. Since a talent represented 20 years’ wages, he is giving each one an enormous amount of money. But he is a wise leader, and he tailors the assignment to each one’s ability (15).

We often raise our first objection at this point. We believe that life should be fair and we should be treated equal. We complain if we get less than someone else. However, as F. D. Bruner pointed out, “In the kingdom of God, not all are created equal.” Some have a greater capacity than others. If you gave five talents to a one talent person, you would frustrate and overwhelm him. If you gave one talent to a five talent person, she would be bored out of her mind. God in his grace gives us exactly what we deserve and are capable of handling.

God will hold us accountable for what we do with his resources (19-30). After a long absence, the master returns and wants to settle the accounts. We see that faithfulness will be rewarded (20-23) while unfaithfulness will be punished (24-30).

The servant given five talents brings his ledger and shows that he doubled the master’s investment. The master praises him, promotes him to a greater level of responsibility, and invites him into a celebration party. The servant given two talents brings the same rate of return and receives the exact same praise, promotion, and reward. It is significant to note that rewards are NOT based on results. Rewards are based on faithfulness.

The servant given one talent operated out of a sense of fear and a scarcity mentality. Fearful of making a mistake, he was paralyzed into inaction. John Gardner once observed, “One of the reasons why mature people stop growing and learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” Instead of receiving praise, the master calls him lazy and wicked. Instead of receiving a promotion, he loses what he was given. Instead of being invited into the party, he is kicked to the curb.

What is your investment strategy? What is in your portfolio? What financial resources has God given you? What is your spiritual gift? What natural talents and abilities do you possess? How are you using them for God’s kingdom?

Brendan Francis said, “If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don’t hoard it. Don’t dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke.”

Don’t be afraid to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. Hudson Taylor’s words on this subject are encouraging—“Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”

The story is told of the great artist Bertoldo di Giovanni. He was the student of Donatello and the teacher of Michelangelo. On one occasion, he came into the studio and found Michelangelo working on something beneath his abilities. Giovanni picked up a hammer and smashed the project. He proclaimed, “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly! It will cost you your life.”

How are you investing your life? David Garland posed a rather convicting question, “When Christ returns, he will not ask if one had the date right but ‘What have you been doing?’”

Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory.

This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 18, 2015. It is part of a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

The Cycle of Grace Giving

Pastor John Piper began a sermon on money by saying,

Richard Halverson, the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, pointed out something that bothers a lot of people and excites a few. He said,

Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.

That is a good paraphrase of Matthew 6:21 where Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In other words, what your money goes after is a signal of what your heart goes after. And Jesus cares more than anything about what your heart is going after.

What our hands do with our money shows what our hearts are doing with God. Or to get right at the heart of the matter: what we do with our money shows what we believe God is doing with us. What money is to us shows what God is to us.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is the culmination of Paul’s teaching on the subject of giving. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, he explained the principles of giving. In 2 Corinthians 8, he presented the church in Macedonia as an example of generous giving. In 2 Corinthians 8:7, he challenged the church in Corinth to excel in the act of generosity. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul explains the cycle of grace giving. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

Money Talks

Give generously (6-7). Each one of us has the responsibility and privilege of giving. Giving is a private matter of the heart.

As we contemplate how much to give, we need to keep in mind two facts. (1) The law of the harvest. If we sow sparingly, we receive a rather thin harvest. If we sow generously, we receive a bountiful harvest. (2) God weighs our motives. He loves sincere (not reluctantly), willing (not under compulsion), cheerful givers.

God’s grace abounds to us (8a). When we give, God responds by pouring out his grace to us. Paul heaps four words together to make his point—“all grace,” “all sufficiency,” “all things,” and “all times.” God will give us all we need, not necessarily all we want.

We give even more to God (8b). God doesn’t bless us so we can be blessed. He doesn’t reward us for our own benefit. God pours out his grace so we can abound in every good work. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

God blesses us even more (10-11). God will multiply our seed and increase our harvest. We will be enriched in every way so we can be generous in every way. The cycle begins all over again. The more we give, the more we will be given by God to share with others.

There is a three-fold result to the cycle of grace giving. People’s needs are met (12a). God is praised and glorified (11b, 12b-13, 15). The giver is appreciated and prayed for (14). The cycle of generosity results in more and more people giving thanks to God.

Based on this passage, Christ followers should:

  • Obey God’s command to give
  • Be generous
  • Trust the law of the harvest
  • Have a proper view of God
  • Give joyfully
  • Trust God to keep his promise
  • Seek God’s glory

We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 11, 2015. It is part of a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

The FAQs about Giving

“There are three conversions necessary to every man: the head, the heart, and the purse.” Martin Luther

Last week, we began a five-part series on Generosity at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. I asked the congregation to take on “The 90-Day Challenge.” Between now and December 31, I will worship God with my giving; I will give generously; I will give my first and my best; I will trust God to provide for my needs; I will look to see how God meets my needs; and I will share the results so others can praise God.

A challenge of this nature, or anytime you bring up the subject of money for that matter, raises a number of questions. In this message, I want to ask and answer five basic questions: What should my perspective be about giving? What is the purpose of giving? What principles should guide my giving? Should I give a tithe? and How much should I give? The answers to the first three questions are found in 1 Chronicles 29:10-22 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

What should my Perspective be about Giving?

  • God owns it all (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). The first and most important principle in money management is recognizing that none of it belongs to me. Everything belongs to God. Rather than being an owner, I am a steward of what he has entrusted to me.
  • We give back to God what he has given to us (1 Chronicles 29:14, 16). In a very real sense, none of us makes a donation or gives an offering to God. We are simply acknowledging his ownership and giving back what already is his to begin with.
  • Giving is a natural part of worship (1 Chronicles 29:10, 13, 20-22). Giving is one of the many ways (prayer, service, singing, sharing, silence, etc) we worship God.
  • You cannot separate doctrine and duty (1 Corinthians 15:1-16:1). After teaching about the reality and necessity of the resurrection, and leading the Corinthian church in praising God for bringing Jesus back from the grave, Paul addresses the subject of “the collection.” Theology and practice, doctrine and duty are closely tied together.

What is the Purpose of Giving?

  • Our gifts support the ministry of the church (1 Chronicles 29:15). David took an offering to build the temple. The tithe was used to support the ministry of the Levites and priests.
  • Our gifts minister to those in need (1 Corinthians 16:1). The context of 1 Corinthians 16 is that Paul is raising funds for the church in Jerusalem which is experiencing a famine.
  • Giving has a unifying effect on the church (1 Corinthians 16:1). Paul is raising money from Gentile believers in Corinth and Galatia to minister to Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Giving focuses the church on what is most important.

What Principles should guide my Giving?

  • Giving should be …
  • Periodic – “On the first day of the week…” (1 Corinthians 16:2a). If you get paid weekly, give weekly. If you get paid twice a month, give twice a month. The pattern of your giving should match the pattern of your income.
  • Personal – “…each of you…” (1 Corinthians 16:2a). Rich or poor, young or old, all of us have the responsibility and privilege of giving.
  • Planned – “…put something aside and store it up…” (1 Corinthians 16:2b). Don’t wait until the offering plate is passed to decide what/if/how much to give. Think, pray, and decide before you ever come to church.
  • Proportionate – “…as he may prosper…” (1 Corinthians 16:2c). The amount we give should not remain static throughout our lives. As our income increases, so should our giving.
  • Properly Protected – “…those whom you accredit…” (1 Corinthians 16:3-4). The offering should be handled with integrity and grace.

Should I give a tithe?

To answer the question about tithing, you have to understand that the principle of the tithe existed before the Law was given. Abraham offered a tithe to the priest, Melchizedek, after God delivered him in battle (Genesis 14:17-20). Jacob promised God a tithe if he brought him safely back home (Genesis 28:10-22).

You also have to understand that the Law required three tithes, which totaled up to 22.3%. The Israelites gave a tithe (10%) to God of all produce and animals (Leviticus 27:30-33). A festival tithe (10% of the remaining 90%, or 9%) was eaten in Jerusalem as part of a sacred meal (Deuteronomy 12:5-6, 11, 18). A charity tithe (10% over 3 years, or 3 1/3%) was used to help the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Deuteronomy 26:12-15; 14:28-29). In essence, the Old Testament tithe was a flat tax on everyone who was part of the nation of Israel.

Beyond the tithe, there was also a freewill offering that was to be given from the heart (Exodus 25:2; 35:29).

How much should I give?

After studying the biblical passages, you are left with the conclusion that the New Testament does not teach tithing. Instead, it teaches generous giving (2 Corinthians 8-9). 10% might be a good starting point, since it was the practice of godly people before the Law was given. However, it was not meant to be a requirement or a limit.

The story is told of Sam Houston, hero of Texas history, who gave his life to the Lord in the latter years of life and asked to be baptized. He was taken down to a little country stream, and the pastor said, “General Houston, you should take your glasses off because I am going to immerse you in water.” There were also some papers in General Houston’s pocket, so he took those out as well.

Then, just as he was getting ready to go into the water, the pastor noticed that General Houston still had his wallet in his pants. He said, “Well, General, you might want to take that wallet out of your pants. It is going to get wet.”

Houston responded, “If there is any part of me that needs baptizing, it is my wallet.” So Houston was baptized, wallet and all.

Give generously, and see what God does.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 4, 2015. It is part of a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.