Monday, March 24, 2014

someone once said

"It is an anomaly of modern life that many find giving to be a burden. Such persons have omitted a preliminary giving. If one first gives himself to the Lord, all other giving is easy." — John S. Bonnell

found this qoute this morning and thought it was reaffirming to what i wrote in my last blog post.

here are a couple more good ones...

"I believe with all of my heart that God's people possess God's provision to accomplish and fulfill God's purposes in the world." — Joel Vestal

"There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbour." — John Calvin

"There are many hearing me who now know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart." — Robert Murray McCheyne

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The root of the fruit.


Literally, wow. Thats my response to a sermon we just listened to online.

I appreciate pastors who are willing to be vulnerable, to do hard things, to ask tough questions, to challenge himself and his congregation.

Last year dave went to Nepal with Mountain Child. Just a couple weeks ago david platt went on a similar trip with Mountain Child. Then he delivered a sermon at his home church sharing his experiences and asking some direct questions of the congregation that basically require action or inacation as the response.

I'd reccomend watching/listening to it yourself for deeper/further understanding of these questions, but to summarize he asked if we will choose comfort or the cross? will we settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission? will we be marked by indecisive minds or undivided hearts?

On a bit of a side note, but... not really... our church has been talking about generosity and giving and going through Andy Stanley's book "How to be Rich"... which is great. Believe me, im excited that this is being talked about. Dave and i were asked to give a little testimony of... well... giving. Our journey of giving and sorta connecting the points made in the book. Which is a bit awkward and embarrasing, but more than that its almost impossible to do rightly.

Heres how i picture it: giving, serving, ministering, sacrificing, worshipping, fasting, praying, and so on are all just different branches on a tree, all hopefully bearing good fruit, but perhaps some are in the process of being pruned, or being grafted in, or maybe withering from neglect, etc... different and yet they all stem from one place, they are all rooted in one thing.

So to simply describe any fruit on a branch, is kinda pointless if you dont explain what its all rooted in. You may listen to a speaker tell you how she exercises and eats all organic and avoids processed foods, but most likely only a moment of motivation will come along as opposed to actual transformation unless you really understand and connect with WHY she lives this way and WHY you should as well. Likewise, we can get up and share where we give, what we give, how we give, who we give to... but if folks dont first understand WHY we give, then we're just describing a snapshot of something and not actually teaching or challenging anyone to cultivate the growth of this particular area.

In this case, the questions that platt asked in his last sermon, start to point at the root of the matter of giving because the branch will not bear good fruit if it isnt rightly rooted in, so really, we have to focus on the root; the fruit is only a small indicator of the health of the branch and its roots. And yes, this isnt just about giving money, however, what and where you spend your money is a really good indicator of what you value more. Time is another indicator fruit. And there are others.

So what do you value more, the cross or comfort? Others or yourself? Safety or obedience? If you are rooted in the cross and others and obedience... deciding whether or not to give isnt even an issue. Why? because you have already given everything to Christ. You have already submitted to his ways and recognized that everything is the Father's to begin with, and giving is simply a matter of following (or obeying) where and what and to whom and how much the Spirit leads. And you cant help but give it joyfully and freely because its nothing compared to the endless love and majesty and beauty and holiness and faithfulness and power and might and righteousness and forgiveness of the Creator of all good things. Your comfort, your life, your wants, you, you, you, you, you... have already been placed on the cross. You're dead. And Death isnt halfway. Its final. Its irreversable in your own power. When you choose to follow Christ, you are choosing death. But then HE ressurects you to new life and then you bear HIS name and you carry HIS light and you walk in HIS power and authority you share HIS life and you give HIS good things and you go to serve and love HIS children and you get to know HIS heart and HIS ways more and more.