GROW-ing : giving/saving/living

When you have nothing to talk about, you talk about? THE WEATHER.
When you have something to talk about, we still talk about? THE WEATHER.

The weather is the easiest thing to talk about? Why?

  • Because we have no control over it
  • We can’t get blamed for it
  • We can’t escape it
  • And…it’s easy

What’s not so easy to talk about? MONEY!

You may have heard this before – that some married couples will never talk about Religion, Politics, and…MONEY. They vow that it helps their marriage! Those three things have caused many  arguments, but the weather, that’s a safe topic.

Out of the three, money is by far the most divisive. It has broken up many relationships.

If I were to ask, does money make you happy? you’d probably say, no.
But…
If I were to also ask, would a little more money make you a little happier? you may say, YES!

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This week we continue our winter series :

GROW-ing…

We’ve been talking about and will continue to talk about Spiritual Formation, Generosity, Impact and Community.

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Today we continue with GENEROSITY, but will move into some practical thoughts on giving and stewardship.

Last week we walked through 2 Corinthians 9, which deals some important things about generosity:

  • It’s about investing, not losing.
  • It’s about a decision, not the dollar
  • Everyone wins with generosity
  • God’s mission is resourced through generosity

2 quotes we want you to remember:

“The kingdom that Jesus preached & lived was all about a glorious, uproarious, absurd generosity”

“It’s the decision, not the dollar, creates a giver!”

We said that this week we’d get into the nitty gritty of it. Well here we go.

Why even talk about this? Why talk about money?
(and please know that we don’t talk about money too often around The Village)

Generosity is a theme through out scripture. You can’t miss it. If you do, you’re reading with blinders on. Money, gifts, possessions, time – it’s all there. God gives – God calls us to give. God loves – God compels us to love.

The bible talks about money a lot. Directly 800 times, indirectly, more than 2000 times. That’s a lot.

More than 1/3 of Jesus’ parables include references on money or possessions.

Why do you think that is?

Because what we own, make, spend, keep, and owe, is connected to a deeper place – our heart.

Jesus says (Matthew 6) You can’t serve both God & Money.

  • Mammon, the word for money in this text, refers to property and wealth as a god…as an idol. It was a Chaldeon word for both god & money.
  • Jesus’ point is clear: don’t turn money into what it was never supposed to be, a god, an idol.
  • We joke about the term, “almighty dollar”, but we are well aware of it’s power.

Jesus is warning us to be careful not to let money give you orders or boss you around.

You’ve probably heard this… “Money makes a wonderful servant, but a horrible master”

Who has ever felt like a slave to money? Either by choice or by circumstance?

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This is why stewardship is so important – using wisely, what’s been given to you. Using what you have – your time, gifts, skills, land, opportunity, and MONEY, well.

The reason we even use the word ‘steward’ is because we have come to the understanding that everything we have comes from God, and in light of that, we ‘steward’ the gifts of money, time, and opportunity, that we have been given to us.

Psalm 24:1 is the bases for this, “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

As people who are discovering what it means to follow Jesus, this is the worldview we start from. This is the lens by which we see the world.

If this is true…that what we have has been given to us, then we are responsible to ‘steward’ it well.

Here’s the best way I know how to steward finances: 80-10-10. This works! Many Studies, Psychologists, Financial planners, all agree that this works. People without faith in Jesus have even come to know that this works. Live on 80%, Save 10%, Give away 10%. It’s good math. It’s good human ethics.

 

But…if we believe what Psalm 24 says, then we must turn these numbers around:
10     –     10     –     80
Give       Save       Live

 

 

I GIVE…so that it’s not all about me

By giving first, I invite God back into the equation.
By giving first, I remove the chance for selfishness to creep in.
By giving first, I’m grateful for what God gives me.
By giving first, I’m living with open hands instead of tight fists.

So you’ve figured that part out. Which means you’ll probably ask this next question, How much do I give?

  • YES, 10% is either a great place to start or a great place to strive for.
  • There are some really good biblical principals that encourage this (Mal 3, Lev 27, Num 18, etc)
  • It works – it’s good – but it is an OT law. Do you follow every other OT law? Hmmm.
  • Paul says, decide in your heart what you will give. (2 Cor 9)
    • Think about it. Pray about it.
    • Be strategic and thoughtful about it.
    • Which means your giving might be even end up being more, depending how God is challenging and directing you.

Here’s the thing, I really think that giving 10% to the local church is an act of trust, of worship, of gratefulness, of community. And I also believe that if you do this, you will continue to experience God’s provision, and will continue to see all you have as God’s gift to you.

BUT…if you’ve never done this; if you’ve never given 10% of your income away (at the beginning of your budget), I want to encourage you to start somewhere, and see what God does, in and through you. If you’re at 0%, start at 3%. If you’re at 2%, try 5%. If you’re used to giving, but aren’t so consistent with it, commit to 10% at the top. It’s amazing what God will do.

Andy Stanley offers a two-fold approach: form a basic plan with a willingness to consider spontaneity when opportunities arises!

I SAVE…so that it’s not all about now

Canadians save less today than 10 years ago. 0.8%, down from 1.4% (this will eventually effect consumer spending and economic growth).

People spend almost $5000 a year in impulse purchases – that’s almost a full TFSA limit.

Seth Godin Talks about the $37000 latte.

  • $4 a day on an afternoon coffee or snack
  • 10+ years of this + the credit card high percentage debt = $24000
  • saving that same money with 7% over 10 years = $13000

I’m not telling you not to buy coffee, but if you’re buying coffee and not saving, something’s wrong.
If you’re buying stuff before you save, that’s not right.
If you’re wasting money without knowing where it’s going, and not saving for your future, it’s simply unwise.

Proverb 6:6-8 says,
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.

There are lots of ways to save. Just like giving, you have to be strategic and decisive about it.

I LIVE…on the rest, as a mature & responsible neighbour, friend, parent, and human.

Proverbs 13:7
One pretends to be rich, but has nothing.
One pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

Proverbs 22:6 has been quoted at baby dedications, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Funny thing is that the verses that follow are about stewardship & generosity.

(7)The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
(9)The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.
(16)One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Stewarding God’s resources takes planning & training. It’s takes some work.

Why not try talking about the 90%? We (rightfully and sincerely) encourage conversation about the 10% of giving off the top. However, if we’d be wise and intentional about the rest, the 90%, we’d have no problem giving away the 10%.

Many are unable to be generous because they have yet to develop a sustainable plan for what we decide to keep.

Simply put: Live below your means. You have 3 choices: above, within, below. Which one do you think is best?

TAKE IT HOME

Giving takes TRUST
Saving takes SMARTS
Living on less takes GUTS

All 3 of these…honour God.

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Bonus Material: (sign up for our Sunday Financial Health Classes)

On Giving…
– Make a budget and when doing so, put giving at the top, before any other expense.
– Start with something. If 10% sounds crazy, start with something smaller for now.
– Pray about this. Ask God what he thinks you should give. We ask God for all sorts of stuff. We ask God for wisdom in all areas of our life. He is faithful to lead and direct you in the process with gentleness.
– Create a rhythm and routine. Give weekly or monthly or every time you get paid. Make it a first thing, not a last thing. Use our Canada Helps partner to make it easier. Or use an envelop system if you like to give cash or cheque. This helps you to be committed to what you’ve decided to give.
– Be open to God’s voice in your life. Be open to opportunities to help, to serve, to give. In the end, as much as your giving is helping (the local church, a charity, a neighbourhood need, etc) others, your giving is actually helping you to become the person God is shaping you to be.

On Saving…
– Those who don’t save are saying that they don’t care about their future.
– Those who don’t save are thinking selfishly about today, without any thought for tomorrow.
– Yes, there are seasons where saving might feel impossible or is impossible, but don’t let that be the norm.
– Save for: 1 – emergencies, 2 – retirement, 3 – future purchases, (4 – education if you have kids)
– When you get a deal on something, save the difference.
– When you finish paying something off (car, furniture, loan), keep saving some or all of that money.
– If you’re buying $5 coffees, but aren’t saving, that is not good. Buy cheaper coffee and save the difference. That goes for any small luxury.
– It’s not that you shouldn’t enjoy going out or vacationing or nice things. Please do. But, if you’re spending money on those things and not saving, then you’re doing it wrong. Save first, use what you have left to spend & enjoy.

On Living…
– All we will say here is this: create a budget, and stick to it. It’s amazing what we can live on when we create healthy parameters to live within.

GROW-ing : in generosity

When you think about generosity, who comes to mind? Think about a name or person.
For me that person was my Dad, who would’ve been 80 years old this past weekend. (He passed away 14 years ago)

Doesn’t that person, in some way, make you smile? Why? Because generosity brings a smile to our face, and a sense warmth to our heart. Not just when we’re the recipients,  but also when we are the dispensers.

Some stats came out this week about the richest people in the world in regards to their generosity. Some give away a fair bit, others, not so much. I won’t mention all the ‘low’ ones on the list, but one pops out – Jeff Bezoz, Amazon, who gives away, only, 0.1% of his annual income. This pales in comparison to Warren Buffet & Bill Gates who are in the 30-40% range.

Ironically, a “Christian Leader”, during this same time, spoke out in saying that poor people don’t contribute as much to society, because they give so much less. Terrible. Stats actually say that those with less income give (percentage wise) more than those with more income.

2 Questions:

x Why?

The more you have, the harder it is to release it? A certain lifestyle is not easy to keep up?

x What spurs on generosity?

We continue our winter series : GROW-ing

Today we land on GENEROSITY.

Generosity is a theme through out scripture. You can’t miss it. If you do, you’re reading with blinders on. Jesus talked about money, as much or more that he did about faith & hope. Why? because it’s tied to deeply to our heart. We see generosity in the form of money, gifts, possessions, time, etc.

  • God gives – God calls us to give
  • God loves – God compels us to love

“The kingdom that Jesus preached & lived was all about a glorious, uproarious, absurd generosity” (NT Wright)

Even though we know this, for some reason, generosity spurs on a few feelings: Two of which are difficult to swallow: Selfishness & FEAR (the biggest obstacle in giving)

Jesus wants us to grow in our generosity.

  • to and for needs
  • to and for others
  • and yes…to and for the local church (remember, as the church receives, it’s called to give away)

Next week, we’ll dabble in stewardship: what we do with the money & resources God provides.
(That will be fun. Nitty Gritty. Practical.)

Paul, when writing to the early church in a city called Corinth, takes some valuable paper space to talk about generosity. (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

In essence, this is a sketch of what it means to be God’s people.

 

Generosity isn’t just about nice quotes & sayings that make it on a Starbucks cup with your name on it. Generosity is connected to how we see God, the world, the church, and ourselves, and others.

There are some valuable things we can learn from Paul’s words. Let’s dive in.

 

 

1 – Rules of harvest, gardening and farming, apply to finances & giving.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. ” (9:6)

Just like planting seeds, there is a correlation between what we give and what we get back. But, be careful that you don’t see this as a way to get rich. That is NOT what this is about. (by any means)

What Paul is trying to say is that generosity is about investment and not loss.

Farmers who plant, never think about the seeds they lose, but about the crops they gain.

No farmer would ever pray “God, please give me a crop, I’m not sure I’m ready to sow any seed though, but I’m trusting you get involved. And I’m holding on to my seed, just in case.”

That would never happen.

Giving & Generosity are opposite of that prayer. They would go more like this, “God, I’m going to plant these resources that I have, and trust that you will make them grow into more than I could ever imagine.”

When Paul says, plant generously and you will reap generously, he’s comparing our giving to how we plant seeds. The more we plant, the more that will grow. If you are generous in your planting, you’ll have a generous crop.

2 – Generosity is always a choice & a decision.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (9:7)

Lowell Berry, a successful business person…in fertilizer (of all things)…was known to be generous…at home, at church, at work, everywhere. Someone asked him why he gave so much and how he gave so much. When he was 12 years old, he decided to give a portion of anything he earned. He only started earning money after college. But his decision came so many years before.

The decision, not the dollar, creates a giver!

Paul gives a few instructions:

  • give thoughtfully
  • make a decision and stick to it
  • don’t do it with resentment/reluctance
  • give with a smile

3 – Everyone wins when we’re generous.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (9:8-11)

In a nutshell, Paul is saying that when we are generous, everyone wins.

God is the one blessing & providing
We’re on the receiving end of this
We’re also on the giving end
God provides for the one giving and the one receiving
God blessing us, so we can in turn bless others

This all results in everyone being thankful!

  • the one giving
  • the one receiving
  • the one who’s been blessed
  • the one who’s blessing
  • Everyone is saying thank you

4 – Giving & Generosity aligns our life with God’s mission & agenda.

Simply put, as we said a few weeks ago, our generosity, money, gifts, time, effort, words, everything…is what resources God’s mission on earth.

Know this…God’s mission is a commitment to helping the poor, helping the broken, helping those who are discouraged, helping those who are lost. When we give, when we serve, when we’re generous with time & money, all that stuff gets done. And…we get to take part in a plan that is so much bigger than our single life or single bucket of seeds.

Who doesn’t want that level of significance? I do. I hope you do to.

When we’re generous, we get to be part of that.
Don’t leave it for others (my dad, your _____) Let’s join this adventure. You and Me and Us.

Unless we open our palms & let the seed fly, we will never know what fruit God might bring.

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What does that look like for our church community?

Volunteering…everything we do…every way that we serve is about…
– making people feel at home here
– helping people discover Jesus
– loving, serving, caring, listening, …

What does this look like for me?
What seeds are you planting with your generosity?

If you don’t know where to start or don’t think you have it in you, look back at a time when someone was generous with you…invested in you. That, along with a conversation with Jesus, will get you started.

 

 That’s an exciting place to live. Let’s live there together!

Marriage Retreat 2019

Marriage Retreat 2019

Register today for our upcoming married couple retreat! You’re not going to want to miss this!

When: March 29-31
Cost: $525/couple includes two nights stay and five meals.

Details:

  • Sign up on Sundays or email your confirmation to connect@thevillagewhitby.ca
  • A $100 deposit is needed upfront and the balance is due upon arrival or anytime before the retreat begins.
  • Send your deposit/payment to Cheryl R. or Jonathan M. (payment can be made via email transfer).

The Park – February “Take Homes”

Each week we will be providing “Take Homes” for you to use to continue the discussion at home with your kids.

An administrative reminder that we are redoing/updating our registration at The Park. Thanks to those of you who stopped by the registration table last week to fill out family registration forms! If you have not done so yet, please grab a registration form this week to fill out. All families (new and old) will need to complete this registration. Get your Family Registration Form here!