Tag Archives: Church in the Bank

Beg to give

26 May

Beg to give

Here is a link to the giving video we saw at Church in the Bank last Sunday Night if you want to see it again.  Below is a link to a Phillip Jensen blog on the topic.
 
 
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[This post is courtesy of Phillip Jensen, Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.]

Because ministers are the recipients of congregational giving they are hesitant to raise the issue of money. It is a hesitancy felt by both the congregation and the clergy.

Some ministers are concerned about church budget and press the issue too often and too hard. Others feel the apparent self-interest of raising the issue and so avoid it altogether. Some congregations are never taught about giving and others feel bombarded about money every time they come to church.

However, this tension confuses the subject of our giving with the object of our giving—or the gift of giving with the recipient of the gift. It confuses the questions of why, what and how we give with the issue of where best to direct our giving. It is the confusion of the long-term principle of gracious giving with the short-term immediate need for financial assistance.

It is important that we regularly discuss the whole issue of the Christian use of money rather than only mentioning money when we want to address the current needs of a financial crisis. So, while there is a current financial need within the Cathedral ministry, this article is not about that need. Rather it is about the much more important principle of Christian giving.

In the Old Testament, God’s people gave a tenth (a ‘tithe’) of all their produce to God in response to his blessings to them. The idea of the tithe is first seen with Abraham and Jacob (Genesis 14 and 28) and is then made explicit and obligatory in the Law of Moses. While required of the people, it was to be given generously with much rejoicing, not with begrudging legalism (Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 12, 14, 26, 2 Chronicles 31, Malachi 3). These tithes were collected to provide for God’s work—for the priests, Levites, widows and orphans.

New Testament believers also responded to God’s blessings with generosity. We have received God’s ultimate generous gift in the death of his Son, who though he was rich, yet for our sake became poor, so that through his poverty we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9). And we respond to his love by loving him and our neighbours.

The Philippians were the model Christians in this response of generosity. They begged for the privilege to give. Though not wealthy, they gave out of their poverty, not only their money but also themselves (2 Cor 8:1-7). They gave to the poor of the Judean famine, but also to the apostle in his preaching ministry. Paul wrote of their gifts to him as an offering acceptable to God (Phil 4:18).

Their giving was “the grace of God”. It is this act of grace that Paul commends to the Corinthians (2 Cor 8:7). This is why ministers must teach on the subject: not to raise money but to bless the congregation. For generosity lies at the heart of the Christian message. The gospel is all about God’s generosity—his grace—given freely to us. And it is to be met by our response of generosity—giving ourselves “first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us”, wrote the apostle (2 Cor 8:5). Grace befits the Christian as do love and forgiveness. We are saved by grace to be gracious, saved by generosity to be generous—not just with our money but with our very selves.

Christians are, and are not, under compulsion to give. Our compulsion is spiritual not social. We are not under a social or legal compulsion to give but we are under a spiritual compulsion. So Paul can write to the Corinthians, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Yet he knew of the “love of Christ” that compelled or controlled him to give his life for Christ and for others (2 Cor 5:14-15). The Christian obligation to give is not a tax—but a gift. Our obligation to give does not come in terms of law or punishment for failure but in response to Christ’s love for us. We do not give to be seen by others (Matt 6:1-4) but because we are the children of the God of all grace.

So, “How much should we give?” is a strange question for a Christian to ask. In terms of our regular income a tenth is a good starting point. But that is just the starting point rather than a legal figure we must absolutely stick to. Generosity goes way beyond tithing. A more fundamental question to ask is: “How much have we received from the Lord?” For Jesus’ principles are, “Every one to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48), and “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully  will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6).

A better question is, “What does God want me to do with the money he has given to me?” The fact that I have “earned it” does not exclude it from God’s gift to me or from my opportunity to use it generously for the benefit of others. The Christian thief is to stop stealing and start honest working with his hands “so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph 4:28).

So far I have not addressed the questions: “Where should I direct my giving?”, or “To which needy cause should I be generous?” That’s in my next article. In the meantime, it is more important that Christians give than which cause they give to.

And it is important that ministers teach about giving so as not to rob the congregation. For the real beneficiary of the gift is not the minister but the Christian—the donor is also the recipient. As Jesus himself taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In giving we become like God—the God of all grace who loves the cheerful giver.

“Where can lasting joy be found?”

23 Jan
Phillipians2013.001We live in a society where everyone is peddling joy.  The promise of that feeling of that deep sense of satisfaction with life is hung out in front of us by advertisers every day.  It can seem like joy is a product you can buy.  Tap the credit card on the machine and off we go!  The problem is that so many of our purchases and experiences only give temporary joy.  You know the experience, things are great in the moment, the thrill of the purchase, the buzz of the event, but then what?  When we experience temporary joy it’s fantastic in the moment but then in an instant our satisfaction with life disappears seemingly as fast as it came.  The next Monday rolls around and we go searching for joy again.  So where can we get lasting joy?  Sometimes we wonder if it is even possible? 
 
When Paul wrote his letter to a church in the Roman Colony of Philippi in the 1st century A.D he unlocks for us where real and lasting and soul satisfying joy can be found.    
 
Though I have to say when you read this letter it makes you ask questions like:
 
  • How can we have a joy filled relationships with people we never see?

  • How could death possibly be seen as a source of great joy?

  • How can being around people that are very different to me bring me joy?

  • How can I experience joy in my suffering?

  • How is humble service of others a source of great joy?

  • Is it possible to find joy in things my mates don’t?

  • Is it possible to be joyful and exhausted?

  • Is it possible to be joyful and broke?

  • And if I’ve found joy … how do I keep it?

 
Paul is going to show us in his own life and in his letter to the Philippians that THE source of real, lasting, life-shaping, soul-satisfying joy is actually a person, Jesus Christ!
 
Over the next 9 weeks at Church in the Bank we’ll see why Jesus is the answer to these questions that matter so much to many of us.  Whether you already follow Jesus or are just curious about him you’ll find what Paul has to say about the profound joy that can be found in him fascinating and life-changing.
 
Luther
 
Pastor
Church in the Bank

Are you a Pharisee?

22 Oct

As yet another politician fell by the wayside recently because his private life did not match up with his wholesome public persona I was reminded yet again of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees.  Everyone who has read the Bible knows that the Pharisees are the bad guys of the Gospel story.  They were the ones who hated Jesus and certainly Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms for them.  As a result, it is easy to condemn the Pharisees for their cold religion and hypocrisy.  However, even as I read about their failings, I fear that if I am honest the spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well in my heart.

Jesus’ major problem with the Pharisees was their hypocrisy.  They put on a show of religion, ostentatiously obeying all the laws and fulfilling all the important religious obligations, however, their godliness was only on the outside.  They were not willing to admit their sinfulness.  The outward appearance was white but their hearts were black.  As a result they refused to listen to Jesus.  Jesus famously said that he had come to heal the sick not the healthy.  Jesus’ message of salvation was for the sinner, not for the righteous.  Continue reading

Praying in small groups

20 Oct

[This post is courtesy of Col Marshall, posted on The Briefing 22nd November 1994.]

If there is one sure-fire prayer point in small groups, it’s praying that God will make us more prayerful! Everyone believes in prayer; everyone recognizes that we need to pray more, but everyone has trouble making it a priority. Put it down to the bustle of 90s life, or simply to sinful, independent hearts—either way, we can always find something which is more pressing a task than speaking to God in prayer.

Prayer ruts

Most Christian groups pray. Most Christian groups easily drift into prayer ruts. Our times of prayer become hurried intercessions, a quick vote of thanks at the end of the Bible study, prayers for the sick or ‘those who aren’t with us’, or general prayers for more love and peace. Of course, these are all great things to pray for, but we usually end up praying for them by default, because we don’t put in the time and effort to think about what to pray. Continue reading

‘What it means to be God’s man’

12 Oct

Recently the guys at SNAC met together to enjoy some great food and fellowship. Tim Booker joined them to discuss and challenge the guys on the idea of ‘What it means to be God’s man’.

Check out some of the great things the guys had to say about the night below …

What did you think of the night?

Rob: It was very encouraging to be challenged again to be a christian man, to take initiavtive and to stand firm in this world.

Tim: I found tonight to be a real challenge – but a good one!

What are some of the biggest challenges facing christian men seeking to live a godly life?

Greg: Consistency, it is very difficult to remain consistent within this world

Pete: I would have to say breaking out of the comfort mold that we like to live in within Australia

What can you and your christian brothers do to help eachother live as ‘christian warriors’ in this sinful world?

Eddie: To continually pray for each other and look into God’s word and rely on that as our guide

Cam: To combat this sinful world Christian guys must be comrades. We’ve got to bite the bullet and open up to one another. We need to share our victories and our battles. We need to read God’s word and pray together. We need to be more like a Band of Brothers than a lone ranger; more like the A-Team than James Bond.

What was your biggest take away from tonight?

Tom: That as a Christian guy I need to focus on fulfilling a mans duty under God

James: To not to be lazy and just sit at home

Adam: To be a man for God who is willing to take his stand and do his duty

The Return of The King – Ryan’s Sermon Blog (Part Four)

11 Oct

This is the fourth and final installment of the ‘Return of the King’ Sermon series blog posts. 

Q:  [From Matthew 25:31-46] As Christians, and with realities that people don’t know Christ and are ultimately going to hell, how can we rationalise having time to ourselves, just relaxing having fun?

 

I struggle with this one and I don’t think I’ve thought it through enough. However here are some initial thoughts. We live in a society that is basically hedonistic (a hedonist strives to maximize pleasure) in form i.e. life is all about ‘me’ time and having fun. We worship through relaxing and enjoyment and making sure that the ‘I’ is entertained. Some people simply work during the week so that they can do this on weekends. Whole industries have sprung up to help us in this worship; economies have come to be shaped by it. The world of the eternal weekend – can there be anything better? Continue reading

The Return of The King – Ryan’s Sermon Blog (Part Three)

4 Oct


This blog post is a continuation of the previous two “The Return of The King” posts dated 03/10/12 and 26/09/12

Q: “What happens if we are faithful and there are no fruit visible?”

I take it that if we are faithful then there will be fruit (no matter how small).

Some issues: we land in some hot water if we focus too much on the fruit aspect.  While visible fruit can be a helpful way to gauge things at times, if we focus too much on the fruit then we can turn into a bunch of neurotic people who start doubting whether we’re even saved. And while the bible encourages introspection of sorts, it doesn’t encourage that kind of of crippling of ourselves.

The answer to all of this is not so much to fix our eyes on looking for fruit but rather to fix our eyes on looking to Jesus. That’s important. Continue reading