Just Good Enough Doesn’t Cut It In The Area Of Giving

Photo by Jay Nungesser

In A Hot Pursuit of Excellence

Have you ever discovered something in life that really captures your interest?

Something that consumes your thoughts? Something that drives you to spend more time, energy, and resources on that one thing? That one thing you want to be excellent in above all other things?

When I was a young man, playing the trumpet was my one thing. My parents and I poured our “extra” time, energy, and financial resources into my fledgling music career.

I practiced at least three hours a day. My parents and I travelled across town 45 minutes in each direction in order for me to take trumpet lessons once a week. I played in three different area civic orchestras which not only took rehearsal time to participate in each week, but lots of travel time and personal energy as well.

We spent money on gas getting from one music activity to another. We spent money on lessons. We spent money on music, new trumpets, accessories, and repairs. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars in a hot pursuit of excellence for me to be the best trumpet player I could be.

Have you ever had one thing that has driven you to attempt to be the best at in this life?

Excellence In Giving

Have you ever considered that God wants us as Christians to be excellent in the area of giving? With that same passion, drive, and energy that we put into our own pursuits, God wants us to put that into giving as well.

In 2 Corinthians 8:7, we read these words written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth:

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

The word excel used in this verse carries with it the idea of abounding or overflowing. Excellence in giving means we aren’t just meeting the minimum requirements. We are going above and beyond the minimum.

Paul tells these Corinthian Christians that they are excellent in a lot of important areas. They are putting in a lot of time, energy, and resources into other areas of their Christian walk – faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and love. He reminds them to put that same kind of passion, that same type of enthusiastic energy into the area of giving.

In the eyes of God, good enough doesn’t cut it when it comes to this area of giving.

Questions: So, how about you? Are you excelling in this grace of giving? If not, why not? What do you need to do to start excelling in this area of your life?

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:

Do You Act Like A Little Kid When It Comes To Giving?

Photo by Worapol Sittiphaet

Photo by Worapol Sittiphaet

“No” and “Mine”

I have four daughters.

Yes, there’s a lot of estrogen flowing at my house, and this daddy is a big sap with his girls.

At the time of this writing, my third daughter, Katelynn, is 22 months old. She is quite the little chatterbox at this stage in life, and she has two favorite words right now. You may even be able to guess what they are!

The first word is “NO.” The second word is “MINE.”

Did mommy and daddy teach her these words? Well, not intentionally at least. This is simply the human condition, our sin nature, at work.

So, this is typically what happens at the Jones’ house. Katelynn will get a hold of something as simple as my car keys. I will politely and lovingly ask her for my keys back, because I need them. And, what do you think the first two words are out of her mouth?

Of course, her two new favorite words – No and Mine! And then, she doesn’t want to obey daddy and give them back. I end up in a little wrestling match with this sweet, little adorable girl to get my keys back! Once I have them yanked out of her hands, she has a meltdown.

We Can Act Like Little Kids, Too!

I know this is a fun and adorable story about my little girl, but unfortunately, the sad reality is that this happens with us as adults too.

God has richly blessed us. He has given us money, talents, abilities, food, cars, clothes, and houses that He ultimately wants us to use for His glory.

Then, the Holy Spirit taps us on the shoulder and says, “Hey, Larry. I’d really appreciate if you would give at least 10% of your income on a consistent basis.” Or maybe He says, “I’d really like you to cook a meal and take it to a family that needs help.” Or, “I’d like you to give a few dollars to that homeless guy on the corner.”

But, we end up just like my daughter Katelynn. We take ownership of what is already God’s to begin with and those two favorite words come spilling out of our mouths, “No, God. Mine!”

God’s Word teaches us that everything belongs to Him to begin with. In Psalm 24:1, we read these words:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:

Questions: What is God asking you to give, today? Why haven’t you given it to Him, yet?

3 Ways My Parents Taught Me To Love God And His Church

FBR t-shirtLoving His Church

In the month of September, my church has been celebrating our love for our church. We’ve been wearing special “I love my church” T-shirts on Saturdays all around the Metro Kansas City area. We’ve been taking “selfies” of ourselves wearing these T-shirts around town. We’ve been writing social media posts about why we love our church. We’ve even been hashtagging our love on social media with the hashtag #loveFBR on these posts and pictures.

As we have celebrated our love for our church over the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting back on my childhood and how I learned to love any church I’ve ever been a member.

The reason I love God and His church is primarily due to the example of my parents. As a boy growing up in my parents’ home, I learned to love my church through watching my parents love their church in 3 ways.

3 Ways My Parents Loved Their Church

  1. They gave of their time. They viewed church attendance as a priority, so anytime the church doors were open, we were there. On Wednesday nights, we were there for Awana ministry. On Sunday mornings, we were there for Sunday School and worship service. We would go back for Sunday night services. We also would also attend special missions conferences and revivals (remember those?). And now, as an adult, I’m at church almost every day, because I work for a mega church!
  2. They gave of their talents and abilities. My dad is an artist – he paints and sculpts, and he used those talents to help the church on various projects. He also served as a club leader in the Awana program. I can still remember him wearing his uniform and us kids having to wear those bright red neckerchiefs and the little plastic slides that held them in place. My dad also drove a bus for bus ministry, picking up kids and bringing them to church. My mom is a singer, and she sang solos as well as sang in the choir. She gave me a love and passion for using my musical abilities to serve God and His church in worship.
  3. They gave of their financial resources. My parents taught me how to give at the level of 10% of my income and beyond. Every week, my parents would write their check, place it in a giving envelope, and take their envelope with them to church and drop it in the offering plate. Now, as an adult in an age of electronic giving, my tithes and offerings are automatically given online each week.

In Romans 12:6-8 (NIV), we read these words:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

We demonstrate our love for God and His church through giving of our time, talents, and finances.

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:

Questions: Do you demonstrate your love for God and His church on a consistent basis? Are you giving faithfully of your time, talents, and finances? What talents and abilities has God given you that you could invest back into His Kingdom?

Why Some People Have An Easier Time Giving Consistently Over Others

Photo by 401(k) 2012

Photo by 401(k) 2012

The Excuses

“Larry, I wish I could give more.”

“I wish I could give at the level of ten percent of my income, but things are really tight in my family. You know how I had to take a cut in pay last year? I’m also having to help out a friend in real financial need right now. That’s kind of like tithing, right? Me helping out my friend could count toward my tithe to God, couldn’t it?”

If I had a dollar every time I had a conversation similar to this, I could build up a sizeable love offering for my church!

And while helping out friends in need is a noble deed, I can’t say that those financial gifts can “count” toward the tithe according to God’s Word. God makes it pretty clear that we are to bring His tithe and offerings into the “storehouse” [Malachi 3:10]. In the Old Testament, the storehouse equaled the tabernacle, temple, or synagogue. In the New Testament, the storehouse equals the local church that you attend.

An Easier Way To Giving Consistently

In the area of giving, some people seem to have an easier time giving consistently at the level of ten percent and beyond.

After counseling with people on personal finance issues over the last few years, I believe there are two main reasons some people have an easier time giving back to God and His church than others:

  1. They have a monthly spending plan. You know, the dreaded B word, a “Budget.” They give each dollar a name and tell each dollar what to do.
  2. They make giving to God and His church a priority in their lives. Their offerings are listed at the top of their budget form each and every month. They give God the very best of the “firstfruits” of their income [Proverbs 3:9].

I know in my own family, we have learned important Biblical financial principles – how to give, save, and spend – through ministry programs such as Financial Peace University and Crown Financial. God has blessed us in amazing ways as we have followed what His Word teaches us regarding financial matters.

All this Biblical financial stuff really does work!

In my own personal experience, giving at the level of the tithe can be relatively pain-free if you have a financial plan, if you make giving a priority in your life, and then if you follow through with your planned gift.

Execution of that plan is key!

A great way you can demonstrate your love for God and His Church is through having a financial plan and establishing giving as a priority in your life.

Isaiah 32:8 tells us, “But he who is generous plans generous things, and on generous things he stands.”

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this exact issue:

Questions: Do you have an easy time giving consistently at the level of ten percent? If not, why not? Do you have a monthly financial plan? Have you established giving as a priority in your life?

Give Like An Angel Investor, Not A Venture Capitalist

Photo by Kim Seng

Photo by Kim Seng

Shark Tank Reminded Me

Have you ever seen the TV show “Shark Tank?”

If you aren’t familiar with the show, here’s an excellent description from Wikipedia:

The show features a panel of potential investors, called “sharks”, who consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investments for their business or product. The entrepreneur can make a deal on the show if a panel member is interested. However, if all of the panel members opt out, the entrepreneur leaves empty handed. The show is said to portray “the drama of pitch meetings and the interaction between the entrepreneurs and tycoons.” A one hour pitch by a contestant is edited down to “a dramatic 10 minute segment”. The show is said to personalize “the desperation and pain experienced by victims of a broken down economy.”

I was watching the show several weeks ago, and I was reminded of the various types of investors. In the world of small business start-up investing, there are essentially two types: venture capitalists and angel investors.

Let’s look a little more closely at these two types of investors.

Venture Capitalists And Angel Investors

There are a couple of key differences between these two types of investors.

Venture capitalists are mostly concerned with making money. They typically invest a lot of money and they are hoping for a substantial return on their investment. For the venture capitalist, it’s all about the money – give a lot and make a lot!

Angel investors, however, handle their investing a little differently.

Yes, just like venture capitalists, they invest a lot of money and are interested in a return on that investment. But, their primary interests are in the people who started the company as well as the success of the business in which they’re investing.

They really like the person who started the business and want this person to be successful. They also really like the business model that this entrepreneur has created and want the business itself to be successful.

You see, for an angel investor, it’s not all about the money. The financial return on investment process is almost like a bonus to them.

Giving Like An Angel Investor

In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus told His followers,

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

As believers, I think it’s way too easy to fall into a “give to get” mentality, much like the venture capitalist. Yes, many times God does richly bless those who give faithfully and abundantly, but this shouldn’t be our primary concern.

I believe our motive to give should be like that of an angel investor.

First, we have a unique relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the “people” part of angel investing.

Second, as children of God, we should have a deep personal interest and desire for the Kingdom of God to be successful. This is the “business” part of angel investing.

One way we can demonstrate this love for God and desire for Kingdom success is by giving back to our local church a portion of what He has given to us to manage.

And, the bonus for us as believers is that God promises to take care of our needs when we put Him and His Kingdom as our number one priority.

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:

Questions: Have you ever thought about giving in terms of small business investing? How have you given in the past, like a venture capitalists or angel investor? Do you give because you are looking for a financial blessing, or because you love God and want His Kingdom to succeed?

How An iPad Changed My Perspective On Heavenly Treasures

iPad 1 photoMy Pride And Joy

In August 2009, I made a significant financial purchase.

I bought my very first iPad, a first generation Apple iPad. The cost was around $500.

For several months, I worked hard and saved any extra money I could. I even did some additional side work in order to save up enough money to buy this amazing new technology that Apple produced.

For at least a year or two, this iPad 1 was my pride and joy. I took it with me everywhere. I used it for everything.

Then, of course, Apple had the audacity to build newer and better iPads (what seemed to be every 6 months), making my glorious iPad 1 practically obsolete. Now five years later in 2014, you can go online to websites such as Craigslist and buy this same iPad for around $100-150. This tablet computer has depreciated greatly in value over time.

Ultimately, though, the materials used in this iPad will end up in a landfill or be recycled into another product.

Jesus And Our Treasures

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about our treasures and their value in this life and the next.

He said in Matthew 6:19-21,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Jesus gives us three key thoughts in these verses.

First, earth is a bad location to store our treasures. They will decay over time, plus there is the potential for theft.

Second, heaven is a better place to store our treasures. They will never decay here, or ever be stolen.

Third, our hearts follow our treasures. When we are consumed about our earthly treasure, our hearts are concerned with a temporal earth. God wants us to store up treasure in heaven so that our heart is focused on heaven. If we are believers, this is our ultimate destination, our eternal home.

So, Where’s Your Treasure?

Isn’t it ironic that we as believers in Christ often devote so much time, attention and money into the things that rust and perish? But, we ignore those things that truly last forever.

May I ask you this question, where is your treasure? Are you perhaps more concerned financially in earthly things such as cars, iPads, computers, phones or houses? These items lose their monetary value over time and will eventually be destroyed.

Or, are you investing in eternity? A great way to invest in eternity is by giving back to the Lord what He has entrusted to us through the weekly offerings of your local church.

The old saying goes that we can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:






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