When I was a kid I learned a song that goes like this:
"Love is something if you give it away
I think it's true for the blessings we've received as well. If we turn around and bless others I believe God will provide more for us to continue to use. (Check out the story of the three servants in Matthew 25:14-30)
Our church has been blessed during the past year as our giving has been greater than our expenses (certainly not what many churches experience!). At our December Council meeting, our Treasurer, John Rohrer, suggested that we find a way to bless others in our community with some of our excess. We assigned John, Keith Larsen, and Gene Westlund to prayerfully decide how to disperse up to $10,000. What a fun job!! If you're interested in where these gifts were directed you can click here to see the "Joy of Giving" report.
The stories these men have come back with, and the cards and emails of thanks we've received, are wonderful! It makes you wish you could do this all the time.
The danger we all face is the temptation to hold tight to what we have and just use it for ourselves or our own "family". It's important (and biblically taught) to care for our fellow believers. But sharing our gifts with a pre-Christian person helps to build a bridge - one that God may enable us to cross over and bring the Good News to them via. Not all of the individuals and organizations we gave to are Jesus-followers or have an overtly Christian mission. What message does our blessing send to them? That the people who identify themselves with the name of Jesus Christ are willing to share his love in tangible ways. Some of these folks may have had a negative opinion of Christians (lots of people do). After this act of kindness done in Jesus' name they probably now have at least a little better opinion of us. And who knows what the Holy Spirit may do next?!
This Sunday we'll have a chance to consider the other side of the coin: turning our focus and love on ourselves. Tim Boonstra will be preaching about the last days of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and how their attitude of self-worship led to their downfall. Read chapter 17 in your copy of The Story (or 2 Kings 21-25).
About 25 years ago a youth group in Texas was gathering for a Super Bowl party and the youth pastor offered the following prayer before they dug into the food: "Lord, as we prepare to enjoy the Super Bowl, keep us aware and concerned for those who don't even have a bowl of soup." Out of that prayer a movement arisen that has spread throughout the country. Last year over 7500 youth groups participated and collected over $8,400,000 in cash and food items which were all donated to local food banks.
This year a number of the churches in our valley will be participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring. On Sunday, February 1st, plan on coming to church with one or more cans of soup and maybe a couple of bucks which will be given to The Cove. Our teens will be collecting the soup and donations. What a great opportunity to continue to "give it away"!
Thoughts about living as a Jesus follower and life at Community Covenant Church