God’s Currency

Has God’s face ever been on a coin? We are the coin that bears the living likeness of God. Giving if ourselves with whatever that may include, is the only legal currency of the kingdom of heaven.
– Gordon and Gladis DePree

Matthew 22
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

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They say money makes the world go ’round. And it is true that our economies drive much of our culture and innovation. If there is money to be made then someone will find a way to make it happen. In doing so they move the world forward.

The economy if God’s kingdom does not require money. God doesn’t need our money he wants our hearts. And if we surrender our whole heart to God, to be used by him to move his kingdom forward then we truly are the currency of God. Just like a coin has an image (Caesar, Kings and Queens, presidents) we bear the image of God.

Who decides how to use your money? You do. If you are God’s money will submit to his plan?

What if we actually lived like we were the currency of God’s Kingdom?

Stewardship Series

This month we have been working through a stewardship series.  We have talked about how we need to be stewards of ourselves, our relationship, our time and (this coming Sunday) our money.

All of these thing are in all of our lives.

All of these things come from God.

How we steward all of these things show us how well we understand the Gospel.

That’s really what stewardship as a follower of Jesus is all about: the Gospel.

Jesus has rescued us, and he wants us to tell that good news to others.  If we look at all the things in our lives as just our things, and not opportunities to move the Gospel forward then we are missing the point.

It’s all about the Gospel.

Stewardship [or] All About (all) the Benjamins

I am currently working on a series of sermons about Stewardship.  As a pastor, when I use the word stewardship the common assumption is that I’m going to talk about money.  If I say, I’m doing a series on stewardship, people hear, “Here come four week talking about money, give more, give more, give more.”

Can I be completely honest and vulnerable about something here on my blog.  (I’m going to anyway so deal with it.)  I hate this common understanding of stewardship.  I hate it because it is just too narrow.

Am I going to talk about money?  Yes.  1 week.  Am I going to talk about tithing and giving offerings?  Yes.

I have said before and I will say again, I will never apologize for talking about money at Creekside because no one is getting rich at Creekside.  If all of a sudden all the pastors pull up in Bentleys then we will start apologizing for talking about money so much.  (Just between you and me, we are so far from that becoming a possibility.)

Another part of my problem with the common understanding of stewardship is that all that matters is Tithes and Offerings.  These stewardship campaigns often feel like, the goal is simply to increase tithes and offerings.  To give a shot in the arm for the year to make sure that we keep making budget.  Ministry has expenses, there is no way around that, and at Creekside we try to run a pretty tight ship to make sure that we are getting the most of the resources that people have given in tithes and offerings.  So it’s important to talk about the importance of giving, and we do that every week.

But stewardship, and specifically talking about financial stewardship is more than just tithes and offerings.  God cares about every penny that you spend.  And he cares because he gave it to you, and he wants you to use it towards his purposes in the world and his purposes for your life.

Pay your bills, enjoy your life, there is nothing wrong with doing these things.  But stewardship is so much bigger than just making sure people tithe.  Tithes and offerings are a key indicator in spiritual growth and if people are truly trusting God, but so is whether or not you are spending wrecklessly on credit, or if you are neglecting your financial responsibilites.

All of that is also stewardship.

I think we would all benefit, church attenders and church leaders, to take into account that God has called us all to be disciples, not just on Sunday but every day where ever we go.  And not just with 10% of our gross income, but with every dollar.  God cares about all of our life, and how we are using all that he has given to us to advance his mission of grace to the world.  And he cares about the Benjamins, all of them, as well as the little copper Lincolns.

God is Way Smarter Than Me

In my previous post I talked about how life is expensive, there is always another expense. I have been entrusted to steward the things that God has resources that God has given me. I also talked about investing in Missionaries with their various projects and buildings and expenses.

Today we were working on how to solve a problem with a Brick Machine that Creekside Purchased for Dwellings the home building ministry of Alternative Missions. The Machine was in customs with a $1200.00 customs fee. At first I was angry that this was happening. This machine will be used to help build homes to change the lives of families in the area around Cofradia. It will also provide jobs for several guys to support their families. Its a great thing for the town, and for the families. This customs thing made me angry.

We received an offering to buy the machine, and I didn’t want to go back to say, we need more money. So instead we decided to call around to see if there is anyone who can help. Our Administrator, Liz, said she had a call from someone who wanted to give to the Brick Machine, so I called this individual first.

I spelled out our situation, what was going on, what the need was. We were ready to give a certain amount from our missions budget, and then we were just looking for the difference. And I asked (asking people for money is always scary) this person if they could help in anyway. She said, why don’t I just cover it. I was thinking awesome, she’ll pick up the balance. She said, no, I’ll pay for the whole $1200.00.

What the What . . . ????

She then told me that she had recently been blessed with some money and God told her to just give it to this brick machine project. She was just waiting for an opportunity to give.

How amazing is that? Pretty amazing. God had a plan for the customs fee. God had a plan for getting this Brick Machine where it needed to go. And I was really close to just putting a little bit of money toward it when God wanted to pay the whole thing.

God is good. He really does have a plan, and he is way smarter than us. Too often we settle for our own good ideas. God is good.

Oh and by the way, this video is of the brick machine that we are buying. The Video is amazing, I don’t really understand why they chose this song for the the soundtrack, but it’s amazing.

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/v7LLi916GE4/