Tag Archives: Stewardship

Having More Than You Need

Having More Than You NeedWhy does God give some of His children more than they need and others less than they need? So that He may use His children to help one another. He doesn’t want us to have too little or too much (Proverbs 30:8–9). When those with too much give to those with too little, two problems are solved. When they don’t, two problems are perpetuated.

God distributes wealth unevenly not because He loves some of His children more than others, but so His children can distribute it to their brothers and sisters on His behalf. Paul said that the God who supplies seed to the sower will increase our store of seed.

Why? So we can stockpile seed or eat it? No, so we can scatter it and spread it out that it might bear fruit. Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s His provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with this money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build His kingdom in heaven.
~ Excerpted fromThe Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

The tricky part is that we often tend to compare what we have to those who have more and feel like we’re missing out. The reality is that we are better off than the majority of the world.

How are we using our resources?

Need ideas on how you can help others?  Check out this blog post.

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Generosity, God, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Money, Religion and Spirituality, Stewardship

Our Magic Moment came at a price

It was our last day at Disney World. We had gotten to the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 am and it was 10:25 pm. We were spent… but wanted to squeeze in one more ride.

When we got to the ride the sign said there was a 40 minute wait. The park was only open for another 35 minutes so we couldn’t use a Fast Pass.

As we stood there talking about what to do an older gentleman who works at Disney came out to chat with us. Learning of our dilemma he told us we only needed to know two words – Magic Moment.

After a bit more chit-chat he took us to the Fast Pass line and sent us through with instructions to tell the ride attendant those two special words.

As we stood there waiting to board the ride Eli said, “You just had your Magic Moment.” He explained that those who work in the parks try to give out special treats like that to help add an extra spark to your visit.

It was a great way to end our fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom. But I couldn’t help thinking about all those people who had been waiting in line before we got there. They were still waiting when we got on the ride.

Our Magic Moment came at a price.

Those of us who belong to the kingdom of God have freedom from sin and death. We have a new identity and a new lease on life. We have a restored relationship with God and the promise of an eternity with Him forever.

We did nothing to earn it.

We did nothing to deserve it.

It comes to us free, but it came at a price.

It cost Jesus His life.

What will we do with God’s gift today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Eternity, Forgiveness, Freedom, God, Grace, Heaven, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Relationship with God, Sacrifice, Sin, Stewardship, Thankfulness

Our Magic Moment came at a price

It was our last day at Disney World. We had gotten to the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 am and it was 10:25 pm. We were spent… but wanted to squeeze in one more ride.

When we got to the ride the sign said there was a 40 minute wait. The park was only open for another 35 minutes so we couldn’t use a Fast Pass.

As we stood there talking about what to do an older gentleman who works at Disney came out to chat with us. Learning of our dilemma he told us we only needed to know two words – Magic Moment.

After a bit more chit-chat he took us to the Fast Pass line and sent us through with instructions to tell the ride attendant those two special words.

As we stood there waiting to board the ride Eli said, “You just had your Magic Moment.” He explained that those who work in the parks try to give out special treats like that to help add an extra spark to your visit.

It was a great way to end our fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom. But I couldn’t help thinking about all those people who had been waiting in line before we got there. They were still waiting when we got on the ride.

Our Magic Moment came at a price.

Those of us who belong to the kingdom of God have freedom from sin and death. We have a new identity and a new lease on life. We have a restored relationship with God and the promise of an eternity with Him forever.

We did nothing to earn it.

We did nothing to deserve it.

It comes to us free, but it came at a price.

It cost Jesus His life.

What will we do with God’s gift today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Eternity, Forgiveness, Freedom, God, Grace, Heaven, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Relationship with God, Sacrifice, Sin, Stewardship, Thankfulness

Are we settling for more and missing the best?

Our Indiana taxes came back different from what I had figured because I missed one newly required document. Ugh! A local office helped with the proper form to file an amendment.

When the gal helping me commented on not understanding why this new form was required she also added that just a few years ago we were suppose to be headed towards doing away with paper forms – an attempt to simplify the process.

I’ve heard that before in regard to other areas of life but I have yet to see much evidence that life is getting any more simple. This is perhaps most evident in the field of electronics.

With each new gadget or app we are empowered to walk around with the world at our fingertips. New technologies are great, but they don’t automatically make our life more meaningful.

We can do life differently!

Enjoying simplicity is counter to the message our consumer culture is barking from all angles. Society constantly tries to manipulate us into buying and consuming more than we need.

I see restoration-minded Christians bucking the trend. Instead of buying things they don’t really need, they fast periodically from those habits that suck them in to this alternate reality.

Certainly, this way of life often takes more effort and creativity on the front end, requiring their full imagination and a willingness to part with unnecessary comforts. But in the long run, they seem to be creating a more sustainable and less contrived existence.
~ Excerpted from The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

Jesus came to bring us the opportunity to experience real life through a relationship with the Father. But is that the core of our existence?

Take some time to pause and reflect on what it is that gets the best of or the bulk of your attention and energy.

In the scheme of our rhythm of life how much attention are we giving to pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?

Are we enjoying His presence throughout the day or are we preoccupied with the stuff of life?

Are we settling for more and missing the best?

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Consumerism, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Life in General, Margin, Priorities, Relationship with God, Stewardship

Money CAN Buy Happiness!

Despite the abundance of folk wisdom on the topic, it wasn’t until a decade ago that researchers started to take a hard look at whether money really does have anything to do with happiness. What the studies found is that while there is a connection between wealth and happiness, it is pretty weak.

“It’s not a zero correlation, even at higher income levels, but it’s not a very big correlation,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside and a leading happiness researcher. Money, she says, “matters less than we think it would.”

But as further research spelled out, spending money on others can result in increased levels of happiness!

First, they surveyed 632 Americans on their general happiness, along with what they spent their money on, and found that higher “prosocial spending”  – gifts for others and donations to charity  – was indeed correlated with higher self-reported happiness.

Then came a detailed look at 16 workers before and after they received a profit-sharing bonus from their company. They found that the only factor that reliably predicted which workers would be happy six to eight weeks after the bonus was their prosocial spending  – the more money people spent on charity and gifts for others, the happier they were.

But was the happiness caused by giving money away, or were charitable people simply happier to start with? Good question!

To show a connection, they then performed an experiment in which volunteers were given a small windfall of $5 to $20. Some, chosen at random, were told to spend it on a bill, an expense, or a gift for themselves. The others were told to buy a gift for someone else or make a charitable donation.

Afterwards, the second group  – the ones who had given the money away  – reported being significantly happier than those who had spent the money on their own needs.

Turns out Jesus was right!

You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ~ Acts 20:35

Feeling a bit down? Need a little pick-me-up? Looking to jump-start the flow of endorphins (happy hormones) through your veins?

Go give something away!

***

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Filed under Generosity, Joy, Money, Stewardship

Hands off it’s mine!

I don’t know why such things stick out to me but a couple of weeks ago I was slowing down at a red light when I noticed the car ahead of me – a PT Cruiser. The first thing I noticed was a Christian “fish” symbol on the back.

That’s not so unusual. Lots of people have them on their cars. What seemed strange to me was the combination of this symbol and the license plate which read:

“My PT”

When we accept God’s gift of salvation and give ourselves to follow Jesus, we are surrendering not only our sins but our entire life and all of our possessions. So why identify yourself (fish symbol) as a follower of Jesus and then blatantly acknowledge that the car is yours?

Now, I’m not passing judgement on this person because that responsibility is God’s alone, but it does raise the question – who has ownership of our possessions, God or us?

And since this is the first day after Christmas – the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday by giving each other new stuff – perhaps its a good time to ask ourselves…

… who owns it?

***

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Greed, Stewardship

A question as we head into Christmas

Here’s a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time: Why do I have so much? …We need to slow down occasionally and force ourselves to wrestle with that question.

Why? Because a consumer-driven culture keeps us laser-focused on what we don’t have, and focusing on what we don’t have leaves our hearts vulnerable to greed… If God has blessed you with more than you need, it’s so that you can share your abundance with those who have need. Embracing that simple truth is the key to ridding your heart of greed.

Guilt is conquered with confession. Anger is conquered with forgiveness. Greed is conquered with generosity. Generous giving will break the grip of greed on your life.  So whether or not you think you have extra, give and give generously.
~ Excerpted from Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

Let’s be honest. Few of us will spend money this Christmas on things that we really need. Most of what we buy will fall under the umbrella of want.

Why not challenge your family and friends to sort through their stuff prior to Christmas and give away 4 or 5 things that others can use. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great destinations for such things.

And who knows, sorting through all our stuff might give us a deeper appreciation for the priceless gift of Jesus this Christmas!

***

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Filed under Anger, Christmas, Forgiveness, Generosity, Greed, Guilt, Stewardship

Celebrating Christmas as Jesus would

Why does God give some of His children more than they need and others less than they need? So that He may use His children to help one another. He doesn’t want us to have too little or too much (Proverbs 30:8–9). When those with too much give to those with too little, two problems are solved. When they don’t, two problems are perpetuated.

God distributes wealth unevenly not because He loves some of His children more than others, but so His children can distribute it to their brothers and sisters on His behalf. Paul said that the God who supplies seed to the sower will increase our store of seed.

Why? So we can stockpile seed or eat it? No, so we can scatter it and spread it out that it might bear fruit. Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s His provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with this money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build His kingdom in heaven.
~ Excerpted from The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Have you ever attended a birthday party where everyone exchanges gifts with each other but not the person whose birthday it is? Nope! Me either! Jesus said that whatever we do for “one of the least of these we do for Him.” (Matthew 25:40)

Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. What will we give Him this year?

***

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Filed under Christmas, Generosity, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Stewardship

Saying “yes” to God-prompted opportunities

A while back I heard about a guy named, Sasha Dichter, who directs the innovative non-profit Acumen fund. Dichter has investors all over the world pouring resources into parts of India, Pakistan and East Africa where the average income is less than $4 per day. They have a goal to make 100 million in investments, touching 50 million lives.

That’s amazing. But it isn’t the part of Sasha’s story that inspires me.

Sasha has spent much of his life saying ‘no’ to people, professionally and personally.  When you direct a large operation looking for maximum impact, saying ‘no’ goes with the territory. But after a while, it started getting to him. It seemed to clash with the generous nature his company was built on.

One night, everything changed. Just after boarding a train to go home, a man approached him saying he needed money. Sasha met him with the standard auto response ‘no’ he had become so efficient at providing. Only, it was the last ‘no’ he would say for the next 30 days. He went home, and before cooler heads could prevail, went public on his blog about his intentions.

For 30 days, he would give money to anyone who asked of him. Whether that was his spare change, or millions of dollars of resources that his firm controls.

He knew everybody wouldn’t think this was a great idea.  He knew people would say giving to a guy on the train wasn’t the smartest way to give—that he should give to a homeless shelter instead.  But Dichter realized his generosity experiment was about him.  If he really wanted to see broken places and people in the world healed, he had to start by being more open himself, being willing to take risks. He was “tired of hiding behind what was smart instead of doing what was right.”

The experiment changed his life.

Sasha now has a ‘yes’ bias to his calling that gives purpose to every encounter. He is trying to live life as a ‘yes man’ in response to the issues that grip his heart.

The vast majority of us aren’t about to venture into microfinance in the next 30 days. But we could learn a lot from the spirit of Sasha’s experiment. It could be life changing to make a commitment to God:

God, for the next 30 days, if I see a need, emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, I’ll do my small part toward meeting it.

I’ll start saying ‘yes’ to every prompting I feel from your Spirit within my sphere of influence instead of saying ‘no.’

How much difference do you think it would make in the world if you had that kind of availability to God? That kind of intentionality towards others?

I’ll answer that for you: it would make a huge difference. Consistent obedience, a heart that’s open to give God back everything he’s placed in your hands, is enough to change everything.

Make the commitment. 30 days. If you see a need, do as much as can to meet it. If you hear from God, say ‘yes.’ I can’t promise you’re going to end up changing 50 million lives. But I can promise you’ll change the lives of the people God wants you to.

And you’ll be changed in the process!

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Filed under Generosity, influence with the world, Loving others, Money, Morphing, Stewardship

Jesus sat down to watch

It’s a sobering thought to realize that Jesus is with us always no matter where we are or what we are doing. In many ways, living with this awareness would be comforting and encouraging; to know that no matter what difficulty we are facing we are not alone.

But in some areas of life the reality that Jesus is there watching gives us less than a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, it would be absolutely terrifying! One of those aspects of life might be having Jesus watch what we put in the offering plate on Sunday morning.

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.” ~ Mark 12:41-42

Notice that it doesn’t say “Jesus happened to walk by…” or “Jesus glanced over…” No, Jesus intentionally sat down and watched as people filed by and dropped in their offerings.

Why would Jesus do this? Because money is a litmus test of our true character. It is an index of our spiritual life. Our stewardship of money tells a story of how we relate to God. It’s a barometer of our faith in His ability to provide for us. Jesus was so interested in who was giving what that He used it as an object lesson.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.'” ~ Mark 12:43-44

The widow who gave less… gave more! To give from our surplus takes little faith, but to give sacrificially demonstrates our trust in God. Imagine Jesus gathering some folks together to observe what you and I put into the offering plate in order to teach an object lesson.

Would it be a lesson of surplus or of sacrifice?

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Filed under Faith, Money, Stewardship, Trust