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Jay Barnes, President, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minn. (at Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash., www.oursaviorsbaptist.org) Sunday, July 24, 2011, notes from the 9 and 10:45 am service. (I pray my notes are useful to you.)
Standard of living or standard of giving?
Day-to-day job deals a lot with money - how to raise more money, how it is used or not used to further school's vision. He and his wife mentor to engaged couples, spending a lot of time looking into money issues, knowing that's a big issue with married couples. When he got promoted to president, a real estate called and suggested he needed a larger house. "Why?" he asked, "I have trouble taking care of the one i have." Uganda had 3 masters-level nurses but Bethel worked to create a Masters program with a university in Uganda - they just graduated 7 new nurses. Then he read "A Hole in Our Gospel" by Rich Stearns - "Boy, talk about a book that wrecks your life. You've been given so much, what are you going to do with it?".
He had just cleansed the temple, just advocated for paying taxes (render unto Caesar what is Caesar's), met with Zaccheus, and now he's here talking about giving sacrificially versus acting pious - not to mention accusing religious leaders of stealing from widows. (Between Palm Sunday and Easter, one of his last teachings.)
So... makes him wonder - what would we need to do to be praised by Jesus instead of condemned?
2 Corinthians 8:9, 11-14: A group in need, a group with more than it needed.
"9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich. [10 And herein I give my judgment: for this is expedient for you, who were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will.] 11 But now complete the doing also; that as there was the readiness to will, so there may be the completion also out of your ability. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not. 13 For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; 14 but by equality: your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality."
This is how Jesus acted towards us, this is how we are to act towards other. Can we imagine putting ourself into a position like Jesus gave?
The principles Paul notes:
- Give in proportion to what you have. (Net and gross argument is totally bogus.)
- Give eagerly and cheerfully.
- Give towards the goal of equality within the body of believers.
- Believers are to help each other.
- If you give generously, you will receive generously.
- God is the source of all resources. (What you receive might not be just money, it might be far better.)
- God wants to produce a harvest of generosity in us. (Remember, you can't outlive God.)
If you could solve one world problem, what would it be?
"Passing the Plate:" Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money
20% of Christians give nothing.
60% of all giving comes from 5% of Christians
Only 27% of higher wealth American Christians (earning over $100,000 annually) give more than 3%!
American Christians who go to church at least twice a month earn $2 trillion per year -- greater than the GDP of all but 5 countries.
If "serious" Christians gave 10% of their AFTER tax income it would generate an additional $46 billion a YEAR. (Note: Gates Foundation is worth a total of $36 billion.)
$22 billion: (a "pick all" list)
- 150k new missionaries
- Triple efforts on Bible translation
- quadruple resources spent on missions
- 1 million new water projects (solving water problems in Africa and Central Asia)
- 5 million micro loans
- Full resources to wipe out malaria
- Sponsor 10 million children
- Provide need-based scholarship to 10-15k needy college students
- feed and clothe all refugees on three continents
- several additional things, he spoke too quickly
American Christians spend:
- $27b candy
- $93b water, soda
- $86b new tv
- $45b on state lotteries
- $100b fast food
What if Christ-followers were known as the ones who did all that stuff?
- What if I matched to a charity what I spent on bottled beverages?
- What if I matched to a charity what I spent on clothes?
- What if I matched what I spend each month on my cable bill and cell phone to Bible translation.