Tag Archives: Luther Symons

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

622 Items for the Anglicare Christmas Hamper Appeal

19 Nov

In just 2 weeks Church in the Bank (with the help of a few from the SNAC Morning Congregations) have collected 622 items for the Anglicare Christmas Hamper Appeal.

I think it’s fantastic.  Praise God for the generosity of his people.  As we’ve looked at the book of Acts recently at the Bank we were struck by this description of the early church.

44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.a 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the •temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

Acts 2:44-47

Everywhere the gospel has gone throughout history and throughout the world Evangelical Christians have always done two things.

First and foremost we have, being compelled by the love of Christ for us (2 Cor 5:14), spoken of Jesus so that others might turn to Him in repentance and faith.  Like the persecuted and scattered early church in Acts 8 we have always talked about Jesus and will never stop talking about Jesus!

The second thing that Evangelical Christians have always done is establish structures to care for the poor, the marginalised and the excluded in our cities and towns.  Caring for orphans and widows and families and in fact anyone in their distress is simply what we do.  It’s the other way that people know that we are disciples of Jesus (1 John 4) i.e. that we love one another.  From Samuel Marsden (the second Chaplain to the Colony of NSW in the early 19th century to now Evangelicals have always established and built and funded schools, hospitals, places of refuge, homes to care for the elderly and many more institutions to help with the social needs of our city.  Anglicare  was established and is founded upon these principles.  Did you know that the government only became involved in social welfare post the Second World War.  Prior to this social welfare was the exclusive domain of charitable institutions and in particular the churches.

So where will these goods go?

This morning they are off to the Anglicare packing warehouse in Mt Druitt and in the next 3 weeks we’ll receive 20-30 boxes back from Anglicare to give to local families in need in our area.

Praying that God will use this to grow His Kingdom and to help families at Christmas.

Luther

P.S. Russell Gray was the closest with 610 and so a book from Phil Colgan is coming your way!

Sydney Households Go Hungry

19 Oct

 

 A new report reveals that 45,000 Australian households using Anglicare services are food insecure.

One of the critical ministries that we are part of in the Diocese of Sydney is through Anglicare.  This week is ‘Anti-Poverty Week’ throughout Australia which is aimed at raising awareness of food insecurity amongst Australian Families.

New research estimates 45,000 households using Anglicare Emergency Relief services don’t have enough money to adequately feed their families. Of this group, adults in 22,000 households go without food for a whole day, most weeks.

‘When there’s not enough to eat’, a report released today by Anglicare Australia, is based on a national survey of households using its services. Continue reading

MTS at Church In The Bank

25 Sep

One of the great things that God has been doing amongst us over the last decade is seeing CITB raise up the next generation of gospel workers. One way this has occurred is through the MTS program.

MTS [‘Ministry Training Strategy’] is a two-year ministry apprenticeship where men and women leave their careers to be trained in how they can use the rest of their life to proclaim Jesus as ministers of the gospel. I have the privilege of training our apprentices at St George North and I’m passionate about our church continuing to support this vital ministry. These men and women are the future leaders of our churches both here in Sydney and throughout the world and so keep praying that the Lord of the Harvest would keep raising up workers for His harvest. Our world desperately needs Jesus and our churches really need godly and well trained leaders.

Our current apprentices are Cameron Noakes and Meg Pollett.  They are both currently in the second year of their apprenticeship Continue reading

Preaching and Prophecy – Luther’s Sermon Blog (part 2)

21 Sep

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Here’s another question I didn’t get to in our great question time on Sunday Night …

How is prophecy different from encouragement or preaching? I’m confused.

Don’t worry that’s a great question because in many ways there is overlap between the three.  It can be somewhat confusing!  Preaching may include both encouragement and prophecy.  Though not all encouragement and prophecy is preaching.

Let me explain.

Firstly, we need to remember that New Testament Prophecy is different to Old Testament Prophecy.

Many have argued that the apostles and other New Testament writers truly inherit the mantle of the Old Testament canonical prophets, since they claim absolute divine authority for their words and call upon believers to acknowledge that authority.By contrast, the prophetic ministry given to certain members of the Corinthian church and our churches today requires assessment and evaluation, Continue reading

Prophecy and Tongues – Luther’s Sermon Blog (Part 1)

19 Sep


Prophecy and Tongues – Luther’s Sermon Blog (Part 1)

Here’s some of the questions I didn’t get to in our great question time on Sunday Night …

Can we be sure that prophesy and tongues still exist?

This is a great question and one I’ve been pondering alot recently and spoken to many people about.

Here’s a few thoughts.

Firstly, As I read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and the rest of the New Testament there isn’t anything in the text itself that suggests to me that the gifts don’t exist anymore.  I think the burden of proof on this question ought to be on proving that these gifts don’t exist not that they do.

Secondly, Continue reading