August 2018 Good $ense Newsletter

What You Think, You Are

Can changing our thinking really change anything at all?

Quite possibly as stewardship leaders and learners we’re really in the “changing-what-you-think-about” business. After all, someone once said, “You are not what you think you are but what you think, you are.” Of course there are innumerable psychobabble self-help books that espouse changing one’s thinking to improve self-worth, self-control, self-love, etc.  However these courses often miss the mark by not acknowledging God’s influence since they are all about self!

Further, some might say that a person’s thoughts are their own business but that’s not really true. Every action is preceded by a thought. So sooner or later our thoughts become actions and thus the business of everyone around us. Scripture speaks to that in Luke 6:45 where it states that the good and the evil person brings good or evil things out of the overflow of their heart. In other words, what’s in our heart (what we’ve thought about and reflected on) determines what we do. So if we want to do good and right things, it would be wise to follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8 and think on “things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent or praise-worthy.”

Tying it all back to stewardship, I suggest that we are attempting to change how people think about the four things they can do with money, with God firmly in the picture, and to shift the focus away from self to others:

  1. Giving – from thinking selfishly to a mindset of outlandish generosity to God’s work in the world and to those less fortunate.
  2. Saving – from thinking only of spending everything now or of hoarding excess in bigger barns to a mindset of saving wisely for emergency and long term needs.
  3. Debt – from thinking of immediate gratification to a mindset of delaying purchases until funds have been accumulated so debt can be avoided.
  4. Spending – from thinking that is influenced by advertising and what others have to a mindset that asks questions like, “Do I need this?” “Is this the best price for quality received?” “Does this purchase potentially interfere with my relationship to God?”

May your stewardship leading and learning be successful in transforming the thinking of many others to be good and faithful stewards of that with which God has entrusted them. Also, I trust our newest resource providing high quality estate planning at ministry pricing, through our stewardship champion Estate Planning Ministry, will serve you and yours well.  It is currently available in Illinois with more states to follow. Check it out here: https://goodsensemovement.org/stewardship-champions-epm/

Sid Yeomans
Good $ense Movement
www.goodsensemovement.org
Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!


A Better Stewardship Year, pt. 4

The “Why” of Stewardship Ministry

There are many good reasons for our churches to have intentional stewardship ministries.  As we think about the upcoming start of the new ministry season, it can be helpful to remember why we’re doing this in the first place.  The “why” can keep us going when the obstacles loom large.

Stewardship honors God.  When members of our congregations practice Biblical stewardship, they honor God as their Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.  They acknowledge God and the advancement of his Kingdom as of greater value than worldly treasure.  When we consider that the main idol of our day is worldly treasure and momentary pleasure, stewardship leads us to worship a different God – one who loves us for all eternity.

Stewardship reminds us of Christ’s return.  Is there a greater hope in all the Bible than the hope of Christ’s return and our eternity with him?  When we look at many of the parables that Jesus taught about stewardship, we see a consistent pattern – the pattern of an owner entrusting his resources to his servants and going away for a time, only to return later and call his servants to account for those resources.  The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27) is probably the best example, but echoes of this same theme can be found in the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19).

Stewardship guards our hearts.  Jesus tells us that our hearts will follow where our treasure leads (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:34).  Stewardship teaches us to put our treasure in heaven; the act of putting our treasure there rather than here on earth guides our hearts to value eternity more than this life.  Stewardship reminds us that we are “aliens and strangers” on earth and that our real home is with Jesus in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16) and helps us to fix our minds and hearts on things above rather than on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2).

Stewardship paves the way for life transformation and discovery of God’s will.  Because stewardship helps us focus our thoughts on God rather than on the things of this life, it is a key element of the transformation that results from not conforming to the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2). Consider the believer whose heart is still caught up in the things of the world.  Will such a person be in a position to discern God’s will when it comes to buying the nicer car or the less expensive but adequate one?  Will he be able to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting in key financial decisions like what house to buy?

Stewardship enables us to seek first God’s kingdom.  It’s no accident that Jesus called his disciples to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness in the context of where we locate our treasures and what consumes our thoughts (Matthew 6:19-33).

Stewardship creates a “spiral” of worship and obedience.  When we say to money, “You’re not the most important thing in my life”, we’re freed up to acknowledge that God in fact occupies the place of supreme importance.  We worship him not only with our finances but with our time, our hearts, our energy.  As we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we learn to seek first God’s kingdom.  And this very growth spurs us on to greater and more intentional stewardship in a pattern that spirals upward (or, spirals downward where stewardship is lacking).

For all these and so many more reasons, stewardship ministry is a key – even foundational – component of discipleship in our churches.  It might not get the limelight like a great worship band or a cool student program, but stewardship ministry (whatever form it takes) can make a major difference between a church that is seeking God wholeheartedly and producing life transformation and a church that simply runs programs for consumers.

Stewardship leader, be of strong heart!  The work you do – though it may not be appreciated and may even sometimes be seen as a distraction from other “more important” programs – matters greatly in the lives of your congregation and the strength of your church.  Because of this, Satan will do anything to disrupt or stall your work.  Don’t allow him to discourage you!  Pray through the barriers and any resistance you encounter.  The eternal results are worth it.


Truths That Transform: The Steward’s Mindset (pt. 2)

God Owns It All

Last time, we affirmed that God created everything.  But, unlike the gods of some other religions, the One True God didn’t just create the universe and then leave it to its own devices.  Instead, God cares for his world on an ongoing basis.

Hebrews 1:3 affirms this: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  When challenged by the Pharisees for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus himself said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 1:17).  Paul also confirms this when he mentions that in Jesus all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).

In fact, Jesus is the very reason that the world was created in the first place: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

So the universe was created by God and for God, and is sustained moment by moment by God’s power.  As a result, everything in it belongs to God.  David affirms this in his prayer of praise to God after the Israelites gave generously to build the Temple:

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Jesus pronounces God’s ownership in several parables, including the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27), the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19), the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9).

Realizing that God owns everything frees us from the burdens of ownership.  Do we suffer a financial reversal?  The idea that wealth never belonged to us in the first place helps us to see it not as our misfortune, but rather as simply an event in which God has allowed redistribution of that which he owns.  This isn’t an excuse to be careless with God’s resources, of course (more about that next time), but it can be a great comfort to know that the One who owns the universe is the same God who cares for and provides for us day by day.

Another result of the fact that God owns everything is that we don’t own it!  Jesus demonstrates this in the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21), who accumulated so much that he had to build bigger barns to hold it all.  But when his life was over, it became apparent that he didn’t really own all that wealth, because it passed on to someone else.  Since life itself is not permanent in this world, it makes no sense to think that we permanently own anything.

This was the attitude of the men and women mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.  The writer says of Abraham, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Even the one who had received the promises never built a permanent home, because he realized that even the Promised Land here on earth was not permanent!

What, then, should be our relationship to money and possessions, if we don’t truly own them?  Tune in next time!


Stewardship Selections

What will Matter in 50 Years?

Adapted from Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids

Many things we do today will have little if any meaning in 50 years.  Their effects are only temporary; most of them will be forgotten next month, let alone more than half a lifetime away.  One exception to this is how we train our children financially.

We train our children in many ways – some intentional, some unintentional.  We train them to love God and to love others, to be respectful and courteous, to be safe, to value learning, and in many other ways.  But one of the most often neglected areas of life preparation is in the area of personal finances.  Whether it’s discouragement over our own bad decisions, a perceived lack of expertise, or simply a lack of understanding of the importance of this key area of training, we shrink back.  Unwittingly, we allow peers, advertisers, and the culture at large to train our children – and they will rarely impart the values we would hope for in our children.

Our kids are affected by a society suffering from affluenza, defined by psychotherapist Jessie O’Neill as a “painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more and more stuff.”(1)  O’Neill sees the following effects of affluenza on our kids:

  • Loss of personal productivity
  • Loss of future motivation
  • An inability to delay gratification
  • A false sense of entitlement
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Depression
  • Self-absorption
  • Compulsive, addictive behaviors

Our children can be impacted by any or all of these effects.  But the biggest risk of abundance is to our kids’ spiritual lives.  As the nation of Israel demonstrated over and over again in the Old Testament, abundance tends to make us forget God, whereas need tends to make us depend on him.

The good news is that if we as parents take seriously the task of training our children financially, we have a great chance of offsetting or preventing these consequences of affluenza.

How are the parents in your congregation doing with training their children financially?  Do they feel equipped and empowered to make a difference in their kids’ lives in this area?  Do they need help?  If you’re looking for a way to come alongside the parents in your congregation to help them in this crucial area of raising up their children, check out Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids.  We’d love to support you in this key endeavor!

 

  1. O’Neill, Jessie H. The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence. Manassas: Affluenza Project, 1997.

Stories of Transformation