Give & Take 2016 Stewardship

RSS Feed

February 28th Give & Take

Give Wisely

 

Week 4 February 28

Focus

 

Giving Wisely means setting aside your arrogance and tendency to judge the worth or deservedness of others and set some expectations for yourself.  As Jesus said you must repent from judgment based on how others live, and, embrace an abundance of spirit, a generosity towards other people, that shows the fruit of being a disciple. In doing that, you will flourish – you will bear fruit.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 13:1-9 New International Version (NIV)

Repent or Perish

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

 

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

 

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

 

Excerpted from Ministry from Two Poles

 

“If the fig tree bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” Well, that could generate a little stress for the fig tree, couldn’t it? It really does sound kind of harsh.

 

Since it is a continuation, to grasp the meaning we need to briefly revisit chapter 12. Luke 12, leading up to this reading, can be a little disconcerting. Jesus made a comment of the sort we don’t usually associate with him; Jesus said he had come to bring to the earth not peace, but division. Family member will be set against family member. This challenges our image of Jesus as the “prince of Peace”, doesn’t it?

 

Still, as God’s own Messenger in the midst of this world, there is no avoiding a certain degree of conflict. Jesus’ insertion into this world as a truly holy person was like putting a white hot piece of iron into a bucket of cold water—a boiling reaction was inevitable.

 

Everyone, Jesus’ disciples among them, are fretting – worrying about all kinds of things – food, shelter, clothing, money, security and status quo. Those worries are causing many to be in conflict – worry is the common theme in Chapter 12. And, in answer to all that worry, Jesus says, “…  and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and God knows that you need them. Instead, strive for God’s kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

 

Luke 13:1-9 appears in two sections, the first being commentary by Jesus on some recent events and the second part is a brief parable about a fruitless fig tree in a vineyard.

 

In verses 1-3 Jesus addresses a recent violent event involving the deaths of some Galileans who were slaughtered by Roman troops under Pilate’s command. Equally tragic was the collapse of a tower that killed eighteen people. After each incident is described, Jesus asks the question, “Do you think these people were worse sinners than you?”

 

Inherent in this question is the exposure of underlying judgments that were prevalent at that time. In the minds of Jesus’ audience, these poor people somehow deserved their lot in life – even to the point of a tragic death. There’s also an underlying assumption that God caused their death – that God punished these same people for some undisclosed sin.

 

Jesus’ question challenges that assumption by forcing the audience to re-examine their judgments. Jesus also tells them, “Unless YOU repent, YOU will perish.” Repent from what, we might ask? The answer is very apparent – repent from judgment based on how others live. Hmmm. The audience is being told that, unless they bear fruit, they will be cut down like a barren fig tree.

 

Jesus is calling the audience to humility – to set aside their arrogance and tendency to judge the worth or deservedness of others, or their need to feel right or more righteous – and, for their own good, to embrace an abundance of spirit, a generosity towards other people, that shows the fruit of being a disciple. In doing that, they will flourish – they will bear fruit. They will live.

Daily Giving Acts

Giving Wisely means setting aside your arrogance and tendency and not judge others.  You should take this time during Lent to look introspectively at yourself and your possessions. The prophet ISAIAH challenges us as we journey through Lent to spend our money wisely. He asks us, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" Lent provides us with the opportunity to confront our sin and make the necessary changes.

 

Set some expectations for yourself.  As Jesus said you must repent from judgment based on how others live, and, embrace an abundance of spirit, a generosity towards other people, that shows the fruit of being a disciple. In doing that, you will flourish – you will bear fruit.

 

Financial offerings are the tangible way that we put God first in our lives and clearly establish our priorities and who we are serving. The Proportional Giving Chart will help you determine your level of giving. Or use the online Giving Calculator.  By using the Giving Calculator you can try out other giving levels (even to tenths of a percent).

It is freeing to know that everything belongs to God.  We came into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing.  As a disciple and steward, we are called to be faithful with what God has entrusted to us.  It is not about collecting our own resources so that we can have what is needed, but accepting God what provides and using it for God’s work. One way we can be good stewards is through knowing where your money is going by budgeting.  Use our online Personal Financial Planning Worksheet to determine your giving level in relation to your own abundance.

Daily Giving Acts

 

Day 17 (Feb 29th)

Give Honestly - Admit your mistakes today. Whether you've made a mistake as a boss, parent, or friend, people will appreciate the fact that you're willing to admit that you're not perfect and that you're working to improve yourself and the situation.

Day 18 (Mar 1st )

ForGive - Forgive someone. Review your life, recall who you feel has hurt or betrayed you and for who you are still holding resentment. Say a prayer of forgiveness.

Day 19 (Mar 2nd )

Give Friendship - Call an old friend and tell them how much they mean to you.

Day 20 (Mar 3rd )

Give Thanks - Tell someone what you are grateful for today.

Day 21 (Mar 4th )

Ask for ForGiveNess - Acknowledge who you have hurt and where your life has gone astray from your own ideals. Say out loud who and how you have hurt others and how you have hurt yourself. Go to them and sincerely ask for forgiveness.

Day 22 (Mar 5th )

Give with Humility - Pray for your enemies. An act of humility is good for the soul. The combination of God’s grace, forgiveness, and humility will culminate in a giant feeling of Peace.

 

 

February 21st Give & Take

Give Decisively

Week 3 February 21

  • Give Decisively:Decisive giving is giving with conviction and without hesitation despite the fact that you may have misgivings. As the Lord enables you, make a commitment to give back out of love and gratitude.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 13:31-35 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[a]”

Last Sunday, Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness to not trust God and to give up on his mission.  In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 13:31-35) well-meaning Pharisees tempt him to abandon his mission in Jerusalem by running from Herod, who has already beheaded John the Baptist (see Luke 9:7-9).  In this Lenten season we have the opportunity for self-examination.  How often do we follow things that are not life-giving –- foxes, false prophets, the seemingly powerful, wise, or crafty  --- rather than following Jesus in God’s mission that gives life?   Is this also a time for us, like Jesus, to make a decision about our participation in God’s mission?

 

When I reflect on this Gospel passage and I am struck once again by the power and emotion of Jesus’ words to Jerusalem, when he asks them   ----- and now us, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

 

Lent calls us into new ways of heeding Jesus’ call as we adopt new ways of acting decisively in our giving and our living.  And like a mother hen, Jesus keeps seeking us out to gather us in, as he is at work in the world calling us to do likewise.  And isn’t this our mission in Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, to join in the gathering and the seeking so that all may be sheltered in God’s nurturing embrace?

 

Just as it was for Jesus, this is a time for us to act decisively, to make a decision to give decisively in God’s mission that brings life.   

Daily Giving Acts

 

Decisive giving is giving with conviction and without hesitation despite the fact that you may have misgivings. As the Lord enables you, make a commitment to give back out of love and gratitude. Very practically, we need to each decide within our own hearts how much we can give and set that amount aside. Make a plan for this and continue to stretch yourself to increase your generosity.

 

For many years ZION has challenged itself to grow in generosity by giving away 10% of its income. For a church our size, that’s over $40,000 this year we will give away. And we need that money. We have additional staff we could hire; we have ministries that could use more funding. But we choose to sacrifice, to share our abundant gifts, to give generously out of love and gratitude.

 

Very practically, we need to each decide within our own hearts how much we can give and set that amount aside. Make a plan for this and continue to stretch yourself to increase your generosity. For many years ZION has challenged itself to grow in generosity by giving away 10% of its income. For a church our size, that’s over $40,000 this year we will give away. And we need that money. We have additional staff we could hire; we have ministries that could use more funding. But we choose to sacrifice, to share our abundant gifts, to give generously out of love and gratitude.

 

So how will you respond? Prayerfully ask the Lord what he would like you to do. Then make a pledge so that you can be held accountable to it. We will ask you to be decisive in your actions and we will give you help in reaching a point that is right for you. In the coming weeks we will be providing you with tools to help you make a decisive response out of love and gratitude for those gifts that God has given you. These tools will help you take the Purple Heart Pledge. Then on Sunday, April 3rd, the Sunday following Easter, will be our Church-Wide Purple Heart Pledge Service. All of the Pledge Cards will be placed on the altar and blessed as generous offerings to God for what he first gave us. Everyone will then be invited to A Celebration for Taking the Purple Heart Pledge at a lunch downstairs following 10:30 Worship.

 

Day 11 (Feb 22nd)

Give Compliments - Compliment three strangers: a child, someone your own age, and an elder.

Day 12 (Feb 23rd)

Give Praise – Read Psalm 105

Day 13 (Feb 24th)

Give yourself a break – It is half way through the week and many of us have been working hard, but may have hit a wall.  With the weekend still two days away some down time today can help reset your motivation clock. Set a timer for fifteen minutes, and take a nap, read a book, or call your friend. Do whatever it is you’ve been daydreaming about so that you can get back to work refreshed.

Day 14 (Feb 25th)

Give Up Sugar – Americans swallow a whopping 13 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. That is a daily level equivalent of 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. According to the American Heart Association, women should max out at the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of added sugars daily; men should stop at 9. Besides, sugar is a primary contributor to the aging process.  So, add some years to your life and instead look around you. Where else is there sweetness in your life?

Day 15 (Feb 26th)

Give Respect - Challenge yourself to look at others and appreciate the things they can do and, more generally, to appreciate people for who they are. Understand that everybody is different and relish the chance you have to experience different people.

Day 16 (Feb 27th)

Give Encouragement – While you are out today, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.

 

February 15th

Give Joyfully and Freely

Week Two February 14

Focus

  • Give joyfully. Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, can we truly know what love means.

  • Give freely. Like the Istraelites, give of your firstfruits before other priorities get in the way.

Lesson

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

First fruits and Tithes

26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.

Can you imagine a line item on your paycheck devoted to “Firstfruits”? Like your taxes or 401K contribution a percentage of your wages are taken out before your check is printed. The passage from Deuteronomy 26:1-11 deals with the concept of offering to God the firstfruits of our labor as an act of worship, thanksgiving and dedication of ourselves and our possessions to God. By doing this, we commit ourselves to living in God’s way.

"Firstfruits" refers to the first portion of the harvest which is given to God. By giving God the firstfruits, Israel acknowledged that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the firstfruits was also a way of expressing trust in God's provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. The practice of the Israelites shows they considered the offering to be a time of great joy. The first fruits were carefully reaped and laid aside in a spirit of festiveness. They were carried to the priest with thanksgiving. They were laid at the alter in a great celebration of all the good that God had done for their people.

Joy can come from giving freely, by setting aside your resources like the Israelites with your firstfruits, and trusting in God.

Sometimes it seems we think of our offerings more as we do of taxes (one of the line items on our paychecks), a sort of unwelcome intrusion into our lives and into our worship. But with the help of God we can come to know the great joy there is in giving foremost and freely of what we have to him, relinquishing control, placing it in the hands of others, and, knowing the great good that will result, rejoicing in our gift.

  • Have you discovered the joy of giving?

  • In what ways can giving make you a joyful person?

  • When have you experienced the abundant joy of giving?

 

Give Joyfully and Freely Daily

Don’t forget to give joyfully before other priorities get in the way.  Use our online Personal Financial Planning Worksheet to determine your Firstfruits giving for 2016.  The Proportional Giving Chart will help you determine your level of giving.

               

Day 5 (Feb 15th)

Give Back - Through once-a-week chatty letters, friendly cards, uplifting notes and an occasional small gift, you can encourage and support an elderly person. It only requires about 30 minutes each week.  Call the church office to get information on elderly people in the congregation that would love your notes.

Day 6 (Feb 16th)

Buy One, Give One Free - Most people enjoy getting a bargain, but today your challenge is to pass the joy forward. If you spot a deal in your local supermarket or restaurant, snap it up and pass it on. Stock up on the deal of the day and share the love with your office, play group or wherever you happen to be today.

Day 7 (Feb 17th) 

Give Attention - For all its benefits (and there are a few) technology also has its pitfalls. Our phones can be addictive, and sometimes counter-productive to real face-to-face relationship. Do you need to check Facebook again? Will that view only exist if you Instagram it? You know what we're about to ask, don't you? Time to disconnect and reconnect.  Can't switch off for a whole day? OK, try three hours. No Facebook, no WhatsApp, no phone calls (unless you're arranging to meet up in person). Be present, fully, for someone else. Give them your undivided attention.

Day 8 (Feb 18th)

Give the Bible - The Bible is for living. It's for weaving into conversation, for encouragement, for good times, for hard times. It has something to speak into every situation, and it's a generous gift to give, so give it to someone that needs it today. If you can't think of a particular person to encourage, then share your favorite verse or encouragement on a social network. Got a little more time? Spend ten minutes praying or thinking about someone you know who is experiencing a tough time. Send them a text or a card with an appropriate verse inside it, and let them know you care.

Day 9 (Feb 19th)

Read Proverbs 3

Day 10 (Feb 20th)

Give It Up - Being generous isn't about what you have - it's about what you do with what you're given. Where's your treasure? Because that's where your heart is, too. Today, do an inventory analysis. What are you holding on to? Is there anything you need to give up that is bogging you down?

Pray about the stuff you’ve got and think about why it’s important to you. Ask God to show you anything in your life that you’re clinging onto too tightly, and to help you use it for others. Filling up some bags for Crossroads Urban Center is a great way to giving it up!

February 10 - Ash Wednesday

Give Intentionally in a Spirit of Humility and Simplicity

February 10 - Ash Wednesday

Focus

  • Give quietly and with pure motives. “Selfie” behavior in giving is not appropriate.

  • Giving needs to be intentional and purposeful. Giving is at its best when it’s a conscious effort that’s repeatedly made.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 6:1-6 New International Version (NIV)

Giving to the Needy

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” How often times we have all expressed this by showing off our new car to friends, displaying our intelligence at work in a less than humble way, or by spending your money so that people know that you are loaded! 2014 was the year of the selfie: the self-portrait of the digital age. According to Twitter, as trends go, the selfie reigns supreme. We all do it! Type ‘selfie’ into the Google search bar and you'll find 246,000,000 results; take a look at Instagram and over 90 million photos are currently posted with the hashtag #me.

It is easy to fall into this “Selfie” behavior. We all, at times, want to be recognized and appreciated. We all want to impress people with our gifts and devotion. Yet, the Bible is clear that we must seek to impress God alone. This requires a motives check-up. After all, motives matter when it comes to being rewarded by God. This means you must do the right thing in the right way.

In Matt 6:1–4 Jesus begins by urging you and me to give with pure motives that please God. After laying down this principle, in 6:2–4, Jesus focuses on the topic of financial giving. He says in 6:2: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”17 The word “when” is a key word throughout this entire passage. Jesus does not say “if” but “when.” He assumes that His disciples will give…including YOU! This means giving needs to be intentional and purposeful.

Yet, maybe you’re thinking, “I’m barely making ends meet and you want me to give?” Absolutely! You’re never too poor to give. If you’re struggling to get by, give to someone who is struggling more than you. The Lord will meet your needs.

Jesus also says in 6:3–4 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Which means give in a private way. Don’t give with your right hand while you wave your left hand in the air. Instead, just drop your check in the offering, pay with automatic transfers through direct debit or Paypal, or send it in the mail, without drawing attention to yourself. Give in a spirit of humility and simplicity, as an act of worship.

Give Intentionally

Giving needs to be intentional and purposeful. Giving is at its best when it’s a conscious effort that’s repeatedly made throughout the year. Take a simple step to give consistently to Zion and make your life one step easier by giving:

Online through Paypal - ZELC is excited to provide the opportunity to give your tithes and offerings online in a safe and easy way. This system enables you to support the church by making a one-time contribution or establishing a recurring contribution.

Through Direct debit from your bank account - Enjoy the convenience and peace of mind of having your contribution automatically debited from your banking account monthly or semi-monthly. Simply complete a direct debit form, available in the business office or download here, and attach a voided check. Return the form and voided check to the office.

Daily Intentional Giving

Day 1 (Feb 10th)

Give Treasures - Give $5, $10, or $20 to a non-profit of your choosing

Day 2 (Feb 11th)

Give Time - Do someone else’s chores for the day. Allow them to enjoy some free time to themselves.

Day 3 (Feb 12th)

Give Humbly - We’re doing the opposite of flaunting. This act is about blowing someone else’s trumpet and telling others how great they are. It’s the generous antidote to gossip and criticism – talking up someone’s good points and letting others know what you appreciate about them. Think about who adds a spark to your

life just by being uniquely them. Got someone in mind? Great, now go shout to the world about them. This one can be done in the simplest of ways and still have a huge impact. Declare how great they are through a quick tweet, post a knockout

photo of them on Instagram, casually mention in conversation at work how brilliant another member of staff is.

Day 4 (Feb 13th)

Give Clothing- Donate 5 items of clothing to Crossroads Urban Center (Collection box at Zion). You’ll de-clutter your wardrobe and help a struggling person keep warm. Bring with you to Zion on Sunday.

 

 

GIVE & TAKE

Starting on Ash Wednesday Zion will begin its 2016 Stewardship Pledge Drive, Give and Take.  The Pledge Drive is based on the 40 days of Lent.  During Lent we will ask you to Give for 40 days instead of taking something away. These will be simple daily tasks to keep you aware of various ways you can embrace giving into your life.  Also, we want you to understand that personal and household stewardship is crucial in responding to God’s abundant grace. So, we will provide tools throughout the 40 days to equip you in becoming faith-filled, lifelong stewards. 

Then, on the Sunday following Easter we will ask you to Take the Purple Heart Pledge and commit intentionally as a faithful response to God and as a statement of support for God’s work. We acknowledge that God first took the purple heart challenge in giving Christ for us; which calls us into the tension of our response for giving of ourselves in the discipline of Lent - as we hear in the Ash Wednesday liturgy, “Invitation to Lent:"

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Posts