Month: October 2016

Radical Generosity

The Bible has a lot to say about money and wealth, and specifically the subject of generosity. There is no question that the way we handle our money individually and as a church community says a lot about our spiritual commitment and our priorities. I have been challenged by this statement lately as I think about vision: If we are going to be a church that makes a deep impact in Northeast Florida and beyond, we must allow the gospel to shape our view of money and wealth.

When you come to the two most comprehensive New Testament chapters on the subject of giving, in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, you see that giving is often times counterintuitive. It goes against the grain of the way that the natural mind thinks and is often a paradox. Paul, in writing about generous giving, gives a number of principles.

Our giving should be purposeful – When you purpose in your heart to give, you are intentional. I have learned that Sunday morning church attendance is a Saturday night decision. What you do not plan and purpose to do is not likely to get done. Regular financial giving in support of the work of the church is a premeditated decision. You have to have a plan and you must purpose in your heart that you are going to be a giver. That means that however you give (whether with envelopes or by online giving), you should have a plan. If you are going to give, then you need to purposefully create a budget that allows giving to be a part of your plan.

Our giving should be sacrificial – The people mentioned in 2 Corinthians were not just giving out of their abundance and overflow; they were actually giving out of their own poverty. Giving is sacrificial which means that it always pushes you to the edge of faith. In order for you to do that, you must not allow luxuries to become necessities.  Instead, you willingly live a little below what you could live so that you can give in order that others might experience life change.

Our giving should be joyful – God loves a cheerful giver. You do not get joy because of what you gave up by giving. You get joy by seeing and experiencing what your giving actually accomplishes. When you see people commit their life to Jesus Christ, you can know that people are going to be in heaven because of your generosity. When you see people follow the Lord in baptism, then you know that people are experiencing life change because you are supporting the work of the church. This is where your joy comes from.

The number one reason most people do not give generously is that they do not have a plan or margin in their budget to be able to give. Dave Ramsey, perhaps the most well-known Christian financial teacher said this, “If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100% of your income.” You are not likely to give more than your plan allows.

For a good rule of thumb for your personal finances, I love the idea of 10/10/80. That means that we give 10%, save 10%, and live off 80%. Here is what that looks like for us.

  • Giving first – honors God. We have a give-first God and we should be a give-first church.
  • Saving second – creates margin. Your plan should allow for you to both prepare for the unknown and for the future by maintaining financial margin in your life.
  • Live on the rest – teaches contentment. You will learn to value simplicity and live within your means.

My prayer is that our church would be known for being radically generous, and that we would be able to look into the future by faith and see that we are able to impact NE Florida and beyond because our view of money and wealth was shaped by the gospel.

C.S. Lewis said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

 

Enough is Enough

Here at Trinity, we are currently in a series called “In God We Trust” that is focused on developing a biblical view of how we handle our money.  Click here for the sermon videos.

Most of us live our lives wishing we had more: more money, more time, more clothes, more, more, more.  The problem is that getting more doesn’t stop the itch.  The first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked how much money was enough.  His reply was “One more dollar.”

The Apostle Paul, while thanking a church for their financial support, said that he had learned to be content no matter what financial state he found himself in.  He had learned how to be content while having a lot of money and while having very little (Philippians 4:11–13).  Here are some things you can do to find contentment in your current financial position.

Learn to be Content – Philippians 4:11

Notice Paul tells us that he has “learned” contentment.  So many times we get frustrated with ourselves and others who are not content.  We expect it to come naturally, but Paul himself had to learn contentment.

Have you ever wondered how Paul could be content no matter what state he was in?  He had learned through experience that God had provided him with the resources he needed to fulfill His plan.  In your life, contentment is hinged upon your realization that God has provided the resources you need to accomplish His plan in your life.  His plan may not include a huge house and multiple luxury cars so you may never have resources to afford those.  If that is the case, you have to give up that goal and be content with the state you are in.  God will teach you contentment.  You can choose to learn it by experience or by example.

Know What “State” You Are In – Philippians 4:12

Paul says he knew how to be content with little money and with a lot of money.  This was possible because his life reflected this worldview:

I am content in my circumstances because I know God is in control and has provided me with the resources I need to accomplish His will for my life.

A problem many of us face is that we don’t know what resources we have and how we are using them.  We must evaluate our resources and our obligations and use what God has provided in the most effective way.

WHAT IS A BUDGET?

A budget is simply a plan to manage the money in your home.  When used correctly, a budget will help you determine what kind of house you could live in, what kind of car you could drive, what kind of clothes you could wear, etc.

HOW DO I BUDGET

Step 1 – Begin with your current situation.

  • Identify how much money you are currently making.
  • Identify how much money you are currently spending. Note:  If you are spending more than you are currently making – STOP!

Step 2 – Track your Spending.

  • Using a diary or an online tool, identify what you spend money on for one month. I use Personal Capital to track my spending. (https://www.personalcapital.com/)
  • Assign it a category.

Step 3 – Develop a plan.

  • Use a budget worksheet to determine what your expenses should be. Here’s a great budget tool. *Download Monthly Budget Plan
  • Discuss ways you can increase income or decrease expenses to make the plan work.

Step 4 – Work the plan.

  • Exercise your faith in God by trusting Him to meet needs with the resources He has provided.
  • Example: Your budget only allows $250 per month for a car including maintenance, insurance, gas, and payment.  Trust God to provide you a vehicle that fits with the means He has provided.  In other words – don’t drive a $500/month vehicle if God has only provided the $250/month!

 

Realize the Source of True Contentment – Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” has been used by athletic teams, motivational speakers and many others for multiple things.  Paul wrote it while talking about dealing with money.  His point was that he could handle any financial setting by relying on God.  Having a lot of money didn’t ruin him because Christ was his strength.  Being broke didn’t ruin him because Christ was his strength.

Acknowledging our dependence on God to use our finances in accordance to His will is the key to learning to be content and living within our means.  For you, it will not be your will-power or lack thereof that determines your success in this struggle for contentment; it will be your willingness to depend on God and His strength.

Breaking Ground on the Connection Plaza

This weekend we broke ground on the Connection Plaza, the anchor piece of the Generations campaign.  In less than 18 months, nearly 500 families have given over 1 million dollars to help us remodel our auditorium and get us to the groundbreaking of the Connection Plaza.  It is exciting to see our campus begin to take new shape as we start these projects.

The groundbreaking ceremony featured pastoral staff, as well as leaders in our church who have greatly helped with the Generations campaign.  It was great to have Richard Lovelace, Vice President at Stellar Commercial Group (the Jacksonville-based design, engineering, construction and mechanical services firm that is building the Plaza) there to let the crowd know that, “the plans are done, the paper work is done and the permits are done.  It’s now time to get to work!”  David Long from Miller Electric and David Coxwell of JB Coxwell Contracting were also at the groundbreaking.  Both of these men and their companies have done so much for our ministry.  We are excited to have them involved on this project as well.

We believe that this building will provide a clear “front door” to our church, helping us to improve our guest connection.  It also will provide a community space for relationships to connect deeper, both on the weekend and throughout the week.  It also connects our main auditorium with our preschool and nursery building, improving security and ease of drop off for parents. Site work begins this week.  We are anticipating the building completed by late April or early May.

Our prayer is that the Connection Plaza will help us fulfill the mission that God has given us: to reach as many people as possible with the gospel and to develop them into committed followers of Jesus Christ.  We believe that everyone in our church has a responsibility to help our church fulfill that mission.  Here are three ways you can be “on mission.”

  1. Bring people with you to church. God connects you weekly with people so that you can connect them to Him.  We work hard to ensure that when you bring someone with you, they will have a positive experience and hear the Gospel of Jesus preached clearly. Let us know who you are praying for and we will join you in praying for them.
  2. Volunteer to do your part to minister to people who attend our church. We need people to use their talents and abilities so that our church can reach and disciple.  Let us know what area you are interested in volunteering. Click here for more information.
  3. Give generously so the ministry can continue to reach people with the gospel. When you give to Trinity, it helps us to do what we do each week to reach people, both here in Jacksonville and around the world.  It also helps us to expand our influence in our community through new initiatives like the Connection Plaza, new campuses and other opportunities God brings our way. Click here for more informaion.

This is definitely an exciting time to be here at Trinity.  God is clearly at work in many different ways.  You can join us as we seek to reach people and disciple them.  Take one of these steps today.