Monthly Archives: March 2013

Two Percent of Two Percent

six-centsTo me, this is the chapter. This is the chapter that we all need to not just read, but to live. If you are one of the individuals who bought the book but haven’t began or finished reading or life got too busy (it does that sometimes). Just sit down and read this chapter. Just this one.

If I could just quote Rich again and again and again, I’d do it. Because there is absolutely nothing that I can say or clarify that does justice to the point he has hammered home. It’s time for us to do something. Tangible. Sacrificial. To give. Our money.

Yes, that’s right. Money. Ack! We shrink back, do we not? Someone so bold as to say, “Give your money!”? I mean this is why people hate the church right? Because we’re all just so money hungry, all we do is talk about money, we want your money??? Right? Wrong.

Jesus wants your life. He wants you to know He loves you and died for you in a real and tangible way. But Jesus also, never hesitated to talk about money. “Fully 15 percent of Jesus’ recorded words dealt with money, more than what He said about heaven and hell combined” (Rich). There is a direct line to our relationship with money and our spiritual health, Jesus knows it, Rich knows it, we all know it.

Money is powerful. And in this chapter I realized that when we say our giving can change the world, it’s not just for a plea to get our money, it’s reality. It is indeed fact.

Once Rich can get us past the emotional barrier that we do need to tithe, 10 percent, he starts stating some of the pertinent facts of our reality vs the reality of the world. While we may not see ourselves as wealthy (I drive a 2001 Lincoln Continental in a neighborhood where I am surrounded by a sea of Lexus and BMW sweet rides… while 93% of the world’s people don’t own a car), we are. Fact.  You’re rich. Get over it and stop being mad at the people you walk by that you’re jealous of. You. Are. Rich. Stop whining.

The total income of American church goers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than five thousand billion dollars). It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty.

One percent. I read this and think to myself, “Can I tithe one percent more? Can I give one percent more to an organization that I trust to carry out this mission?” Here’s another sobering truth from Rich, from the stats that American church goers (in 2005) gave just 2.58 percent of their income (27% less of the income given during the Great Depression…).

The bottom line is that the commitment that American Christians, the wealthiest Christians in all history, are making to the world is just about 2 percent of 2 percent – actually about five ten-thousandths of our income. In simpler terms, that amounts to six pennies per person per day that we give through our churches to the rest of the world – six cents!

So there it is. In black and white. Feelings aside. Frustrations about what the pastor preaches aside. There it is. Facts. Simple truth. Now deal with it and let’s decide what we are going to do.

Let’s just say that as believers we decided that we would actually tithe our full 10%. What would that be? I loved the table that Rich had, some of it below:

  • $168 billion – the extra money available if all American churchgoers tithed

________________________

  • $705 billion – amount Americans spent on entertainment and recreation
  • $179 billion – amount spent by teenagers ages 12-17 (2006)
  • $39.5 billion – total U.S. -government foreign assistance budget for the world
  • $31 billion – amount spent on pets (2003)
  • $5 billion – total Oversees ministries income to 700 Protestant mission agencies, including denominational, interdenominational, and independent agencies (2005)

Here’s what’s even MORE mind blowing about these facts:

  • $65 billion (less than 40% of the $168 billion if we tithed) could eliminate the most extreme poverty on the planet for more than a billion people
  • Universal primary education for children – $6 billion
  • The cost to bring clean water to most of the world poor – $9 billion
  • Basic health and nutrition for EVERYONE in the world – $13 billion

(And if you do the math, we can do all of the above and still have $75 billion left over to help)

Has your mouth dropped open by now? Mine has. I’ve read this over and over and still have to remind myself to close my mouth because my entire life I have watched the poor on the news, seen the images of kids drinking water and I know it will kill them… and thought “Wow, this problem is just too big.” I’ve sent in my six pennies and thought, “Hey, at least I’m doing something – but really it’s a big problem.”

Yeah, it’s a big problem because people are dying – but it is NOT out of our realm of reach!! Not at all!! Here’s what else I loved about how Rich put this into perspective.

Imagine how stunning it would be to the watching world for American Christians to give so generously that it:

  • brought an end to world hunger;
  • solved the clean water crisis;
  • provided universal access to drugs and medical care for the millions suffering from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis;
  • virtually eliminated the more than twenty-six thousand daily child deaths;
  • guaranteed education for all the world’s children;
  • provided a safety net for the world tens of millions of orphans.

Think about the statement it would make if American Christian citizens stepped up and gave more than all of the governments of the world combined because they took Jesus seriously when He said to love our neighbors as ourselves. Terrorists might have a harder time recruiting young men to attack a nation so compassionate. Other wealthy nations might be shamed- or inspired to follow our example. Adherents of other relations would surely wonder what motivates the Christians to be so loving and generous.

Okay, I have to stop quoting Rich (I told you I could just quote the entire chapter I am so motivated). This is the whole gospel, a gospel without a hole. This is the good news, demonstrated with action in tangible ways that saves peoples lives. It could literally change everything. The two most important words in that last sentence – Literally. Not figuratively, not “oh that sounds good but the problem is too big”… LITERALLY. And, Everything. It would change EVERYTHING. Not just one child being sponsored and getting an education – an entire GENERATION and generationS getting educated, with clean water, and nutrition. An entire generation and those after them and after them and after them – that are contributing to society because they can. Because they aren’t concerned about how to get water and if that water will kill them, because they have nutrition so their brains can develop and then education helps them reach even more of their potential and this cycle begins to occur – a very very very positive cycle that can literally, change everything.

And it begins by us living out our faith. It begins with a commitment to say “yes” in our actions when we look at Jesus and we have said, “Yes, I’ll follow you” – we follow Him. We follow Him not just to church on Sundays, but to the world with the resources we can give.

This is not a hopeless situation. Watching the news does not have to be hopeless. We can change history and in doing so the world WILL stand up and wonder why and our answer… will be Jesus – and then, then these questions and doubts of our faith will have to cease. Because I believe even the strongest critics will sit up and notice the change being made in the world, all in the name of Jesus and wonder what that guy is really all about – for his followers to care this much.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Putting The American Dream To Death

High school students spent spring break in Haiti at Hosean International Ministries.

High school students spent spring break in Haiti at Hosean International Ministries.

I thought Rich started to address the topic of giving in a brilliant way. Even I was squirming at the beginning of this chapter because you see, I work hard for what I have gained or hope to gain. I’ve never been one to not want to give. One of the greatest frustrations of taking a pay cut for a new job (my choice, and a very good choice) was the our ability to give in the way we had previously was just not the same, just not there. But when I don’t know what’s coming, these conversations always make me squirm at first.

But this IS a topic that must be addressed. I loved the concept of God entrusting us with our resources, finances and otherwise, we’re not entitled, but entrusted. Much like we give our retirement to a stockbroker or a financial adviser – for them to help us grow our resources.

A few other points that really stood out to me:

  1. The parable in Matthew 25, one verse is always on my mind “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” I have always always enjoyed this and try to keep myself accountable to this verse in particular. Am I a good steward of what I have?? Such as money, but also time and other resources. I 100% believe that God will keep his promise to multiply my efforts and outcome by being faithful with a few things – even such things as the blessing of being a parent. If I am faithful to this I believe God will multiply those outcomes in my children.
  2. The community in Acts 2 – I loved this quote, “These folks were transforming the culture, not letting the culture transform them.” Sometimes where we live and the values we see just are counter-cultural to the ideals of our faith that we try to live. We don’t have to be radical, but our differences will stand out just by being faithful.
  3. I also loved that Rich mentioned a very tangible way to live this by asking questions such as: Should I buy this new car? take this vacation? increase my savings account? Maybe, but not until I prayerfully consider what God would have me do with His money. – The questions could absolutely be YES. For us right now, increasing our savings account – a very “yes” answer there. But there are some funds where the answer is, “No. Send to Haiti.” In January it was, “No. Use that to GO to Haiti.” And let’s be honest, there were years where the answer was, “Yes, GO TO THE BEACH.” I love those answers 🙂 But the point is to be very conscious, intentional, and to ask – where will this best serve You?

Simple. Tangible. Actionable.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

AWOL For the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of All Time

AWOL Absence With Out LeaveYikes. It is super hard sometimes to take a an honest look at myself, at my family, at the culture of church that I am so proud to have been raised in and be a part of. But to be open and honest with our faults and failures is the only way to be real. It’s the only way I believe to start making a difference and to truly loving on people. If a broken people can’t and don’t feel loved and accepted, if we can’t show each other the warts, we can’t fully build trust and love.

Well, this chapter showed the warts of the Church. There were times I was cringing! I was thinking of a good friend who is a very vocal atheist and flat out against “religion” (if he only understood that I TOO am against “religion”). But I was thinking of him while reading this chapter and hoping he never really found out some of this stuff, even though it’s such a huge vocal part of the history of the world AND the Church. But I would think, “Is this why? Is this why he is so angry?” There are moments while reading where I see his point.

We have historically been AWOL when it mattered. Nobody reminded us more of this than the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.~

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people… I felt we would be supported by the white church… Instead some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

Yikes. I pray that God will reveal to me where I am more cautious than courageous. Where am I remaining silent? The Church, yes, the Church needs reform, we need to understand TRULY IN OUR HEARTS and lived out through our lives the normal automatic marriage of faith and works – this is the way to proclaim God’s love for a people who desperately need hope and who desperately need a meal. But it doesn’t start with “The Church”. It starts, with me. What am I doing? What am I not doing? What do I need to START doing?

The passage by John Stott that Rich quoted (I won’t write all of it but I highly encourage you to re-review it because it’s awesome) rocked my world:

Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish, there is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked The question to ask is “Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?” It is sheer hypocrisy on our part to raise our eyebrows, shrug our shoulders, or wring our hands. The Lord Jesus told us to be the world’s salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame.

So there it is. In black and white. Extremely clear. Lord, forgive me. Help me see where I have been a hypocrite and help me change, give me the courage to Do. Something. Because that’s where is starts. Without those two words moved into action, we really are AWOL for the greatest humanitarian crisis of all time.

2 Comments

Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel