10 Creative Ways to Give

This post is a continuation of the previous one and is also provided by Kirk Schlabaugh, graduating senior. 

Our last post strove to challenge the way you think about giving and how you define being “wealthy” enough to give. You may be saying to yourself, “Kirk, get real- I am a college student making an annual income of negative four thousand dollars. I am in debt up to my eyeballs. How can I give?!” Your dilemma is real, and I hope that I can encourage you. Earlier I defined being rich toward God as loving God and loving others by using our resources to advance God’s kingdom. Resources are not just monetary wealth; they’re your time, energy, pop-tarts, cars, and whatever else you can use. You have something to give. You can partake in the superior blessedness of giving over receiving (Acts 20:35).

Maybe you are well-to-do or have realized from part 1 of this post that you are more well-off than you thought. Understand that a sacrifice acceptable to God is more than just a hefty donation in the offering plate once a month at church. God wants all of your life (Romans 12:1-2). What are some ways you can be generous and rich in good works?

  1. Offer to use your home for small groups and Bible studies.
  2. Give car-less people rides in your car and ask them about their lives.
  3. Find kids at your high school who don’t get breakfast (statistics show there are plenty of them), and give them pop-tarts in Jesus’ name.
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  4. Partner with missionaries through prayer and/or financial support. Here is just a sample listing of some great organizations seeking to advance God’s kingdom:
    1. Pioneer Bible Translators

    2. Team Expansion

    3. Global City Mission Initiative

    4. Jungle Kids for Christ

    5. Rescue Innocence
    6. Yezelalem Minch 
    7. Christian Campus House at the University of Missouri

  5. Pray for and support a Bible College that is developing servant-leaders for the church! Central has been beneficial to me and my growth as a disciple of Jesus and I strongly urge you to partner with them in their mission to develop servant leaders for the Church.
  6. Go to a nursing home, spend time with the residents, and offer to pray with them (get connected with needs of this kind in your area here!).
  7. Give to your local church and be involved in the ministry they do.
  8. Pay attention to the needs of your neighbor and look for ways to help them in Jesus’ name.
  9. Find someone who needs Jesus and get coffee with them and pay for it.
  10. Find another Christian you want to disciple/encourage and get coffee with them.
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There are many ways to devote yourself to good works and be generous and ready to share. Walking in these good works will be uncomfortable and it will feel strange to begin talking to people you would normally not associate with. Following Jesus as a rich person (or any person) is costly. When wealthy people humble themselves and use what they have been given to advance God’s kingdom, they show who Jesus is. I want to appeal to you once again to consider giving in two ways:  (1) yourself to good deeds in Jesus’ name and (2) your resources to help others come to know Christ, “so that they may take a hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim 6:19).

What ideas would you add to the list?

3 Ways to Have a Better Attitude About Giving

This week’s blog post is provided by Kirk Schlabaugh, one of our resident assistants and a senior soon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries.

Most of us are more economically well-off than we think.

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Comparatively, even Americans just above the poverty line are more wealthy than most of the world (see where you stand).

What’s your point? (you ask).

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By quoting Paul in 1 Timothy 6, I am implying that you and I (I am making a generalization) fall into the category of “the rich in this present age”. This charge is for us. But with great wealth comes great difficulty as a follower of Jesus, as well as unique opportunity to help others.

The difficulty– The love of money is spiritual cancer. Note, he does not say having money is the problem but that loving money and “the desire to be rich” (6:9) drives a person away from Jesus. Earlier in the chapter, Paul has already warned Timothy of the dangers of loving money (v.9-10). Timothy was located in the city of Ephesus, which was a thriving economic hub of Asia Minor. The desire to use religion as a means for financial gain was tempting, and others were yielding to that greed (6:5).

The hunger for more wealth is an unquenchable desire. It leads people away from Jesus and into pangs of anxiety rather than true security. Jesus also warns that we cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24). It would even be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom! (Luke 18:25)

It seems we rich Christians are in a “sticky wicket”, as my New Testament professor Gareth Reese would say. Do we need to give up all our wealth? Some people may need to (Luke 18:18-30). Or is it possible to be fully surrendered, obedient, and pleasing to Jesus while being “rich in this present age”? Because of 1 Timothy 6:17-19, I believe that it is possible. This blog will explore how to genuinely follow Jesus while being rich in this present age.

  1. Remember that your material wealth is only in this present age (1 Tim 6:17)
    As followers of Jesus, we need to remember that the money and resources we have are temporal. When we die, we do not take our money with us. We came with nothing into this world, and we will leave with nothing (1 Tim 6:7). This is why Jesus urges us to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). My definition of being rich toward God is loving God and loving others by using our resources to advance God’s kingdom. God is wanting to remind the wealthy in Ephesus (and today) that their possessions won’t last forever, but their relationship with God and their labor for Him will (1 Tim 6:19; 1 Cor 15:58).

When I was in high school, I loved video games. They were my life; I would stay up until 3:00 a.m. on a school night (disobeying my parents) playing them. I would wake up early to play them. I even broke up with several girlfriends because I wanted more time to play video games. My goal was to be the highest “level” I could be on the games I played. What troubled me was I could lose it all. I feared that what I was pursuing was not lasting. It was then that my mom shared a book with me called Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. He said:

“God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion—namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”  

I remember reading Piper’s words that night in my room. I was thrilled and amazed that I could live for what was truly lasting. For the first time, I realized that I had a directive from God, an objective and true purpose which would guide my life’s course.

Read carefully the words of King Solomon, who was up to his ears in gold: 

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2. Set your hope on the living God, not on the uncertainty of riches.
As I have mentioned already, riches are not helpful when we die. Paul also shows that they are uncertain in this life (1 Tim 6:17).

Do you know anyone who has been let go from a job several years before they planned to retire? Do you know of any families who have been overwhelmed by unexpected medical bills? I’m guessing you do know of such people, or at least you realize and fear that these are possibilities. Money has never been able to provide the security that its lovers have desired. The song Can’t Buy Me Love by the Beatles shows that even those who are not (to my knowledge) followers of Jesus realize money’s limits. It is uncertain.

God is certain and unchanging (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). While we may not get the job we are looking for, or a big house, we can be certain that God will deliver on what He has promised. Acquiring “the good life” or the American dream is not guaranteed, but Jesus’ return is.

Disclaimer: Though Jesus’ return is sure, I am not encouraging you to stop saving money, quit your job, and roll around in the dirt. If someone does not provide for those in their own household, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8). William Barclay, in his commentary on 1 Timothy, says:

“To seek to be independent and prudently to provide for the future is a Christian duty; but to make the love of money the driving-force of life cannot ever be anything other than the most perilous of sins.”

So far, I have attempted to show that we need to have a correct attitude and mindset about riches that looks to eternity and God’s purposes rather than to amassing wealth. What will it look like if someone has “put all their chips in on Jesus”? How will they live?

3. Be generous and rich in good works.
“instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Tim 6:18)

Being generous and devoted to good works is what it will look like for someone to set their hopes on the certain, living God.  It is the behavioral answer of the “how to?” question that this blog post raises.

What we do with our money testifies to who God is and what we value. When we give generously, we testify that God is our provider and true owner of our resources. Our giving also makes it plain that we value the spread of God’s kingdom more than the acquisition of wealth.  

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If I have convinced you that you are wealthy, I pray that this blog was informative, challenging, and helpful to you as you strive, with whatever wealth you have, to follow Jesus and make Him known. An excerpt from CT Studd’s poem says it best: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Keep your eye out for our next post, where we will continue to explore what it looks like to live “richly toward God”.

This post was completed as an assignment for a class at Central Christian College of the Bible. Subscribe today to see more insights into what our students are continuing to learn!

 

Inspired and Useful

This post is courtesy of CCCB junior Jake St. Clair. Jake is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Preaching Ministry, is involved in the Honors Program, and works as a Resident Assistant in our boys’ dorm.

Many issues within the Pastoral Epistles have been contested throughout  the history of the Church. There have been divisions over the doctrines of eldership, manhood, womanhood, worship, leadership, and Scripture. Perhaps the center of the most conflict has been the doctrine of Scripture because both atheists and Christians argue over the nature of the Bible. Interestingly enough, one of the most hotly debated passages in the Bible concerning the doctrine of Scripture exists within the Pastoral Epistles and is often the cornerstone of each side of the argument. This passage is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

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What does “all scripture” really mean?

The main debate concerning this passage is the key phrase ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’. The exact meaning of this phrase was the most common point of contention among the numerous scholars I encountered within my research. John Stott best demonstrates how different translations have been wrung from different theological views of inspiration, some of which hold a very low view of Scripture. Stott first asks the question “What does he mean by ‘All Scripture?’”. This can end in a canonical debate, wondering if both Testaments are included or if certain writers should be included or excluded, but for the purpose of this post the writer will assume that the traditional Christian canon of the Bible is Paul’s meaning of ‘All Scripture”. The only other option would be to include apocryphal and pseudo-graphical writings into the meaning of this text, yet the careful student would rather not.

Instead, we understand that this book was written by Paul to Timothy for the purposes of encouraging his ministry. It is possible that Paul was referring to the Old Testament, or maybe even to the Christian letters that were circulated at the time among the churches. Ben Witherington III determines that Paul is speaking of the Old Testament here. Gareth Reese agrees in this, yet also points out that “Paul himself has numerous references to the fact that his writings are authoritative, are to be read in Churches, are to be obeyed, and are to be held fast as ‘the standard of sound words’”. So it is possible that Paul may be referring to the New Testament documents in this passage as well. We can only speculate to it, but it is safest to say that Paul was probably writing about the Old Testament at that time. Now, however, we may be able to apply this passage to the New Testament as we have it. Certainly it can be argued that the New Testament has been profitable for equipping Christians for ministry and lives of righteousness.

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How does inspiration work?

The next key point of contention found in the phrase ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’ is in the part about the inspiration. Most of the disagreement has been found in the translation of the original Greek . Thus it is necessary to arrive at a sufficient understanding of a proper translation in order to best bring out the meaning of the text. The phrase ‘inspired by God’ is translated from the Greek word ‘theopneustos’. A primitive understanding of this word would start with ‘theo’ being ‘God’ and ‘pneustos’ being from ‘pneo’ meaning ‘to blow’.

The way that this has been translated over the years has differed, though. B.B. Warfield has gone to great lengths to study the history of the understanding of this word and finds that the Latin translation does not do proper justice to the Greek understanding. He demonstrates how the English word ‘inspiration’ comes from a Latin word which has misled many readers. “The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a “spiring” or “spiration””. Warfield surmises that the best way to understand the word is “God-breathed”.  As Reese points out, “The Latin word behind “inspired” means to “breathe in” whereas the Greek word means to “breathe out”.

The nature of what this ‘breathing’ means and its implications have affected our understanding of the doctrine of Scripture. There are many views concerning the mode of inspiration. An older one which is not held very much today is the idea of dictation, that “God simply dictated what he wanted to be written down”. As many have pointed out, this view is not very popular because it would rob the writers of the Bible of their personalities. The typically held view today is the idea of plenary inspiration, meaning the Holy Spirit had a major role in helping the writers. I believe that the manner in which this worked differed according to the writer and what they were writing. This is easy to see with the prophets of old exclaiming ‘Thus sayeth the Lord” contrasted with narratives of the New Testament. In any case, we can agree with R.C. Sproul, who says that “the process of inspiration did not make the Biblical writers automatons… but inspiration did overcome any tendency they may have had to error, with the result that the words they wrote were precisely what God, the divine author, intended us to have”.

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So What?

Now that we have a sufficient understanding of what is defined as Scripture as well as the exact meaning of inspiration and its possible mode, we can look to what Paul is declaring about Scripture within this passage. Warfield said that Scripture “is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this, its Divine origination is of supreme value for all holy purposes”. Paul’s intention in 2 Timothy is to help Timothy grow within his ministry. In this passage, he is explaining to Timothy how the scriptures are to help develop him. It is important to note, as Stott pointed out as he looked to verse 15, that “The Bible is essentially a handbook of salvation. Its over-arching purpose is to teach not facts of science… but facts of salvation”.

It is Timothy’s purpose within his ministry to take that salvation and to share it with those within his congregation and those without. And as he took those words of salvation to others, as he studied the scriptures and learned their truths, his spiritual maturity and his ministerial capability were enlarged and expanded. Stott said that “Scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring ‘the man of God’ to maturity”. Paul’s point is that it is by studying the Word that Timothy can continue to grow in his ministry, because Paul believed he would soon be leaving that world and would no longer be able to teach Timothy.

In conclusion, in this passage Paul is declaring Scripture to have a divine origin that is intended to bring salvific maturity to all believers. We are to study the Word of God and to allow it to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. Scripture can rebuke us and encourage us, teach us and train us… not only as we live out our own salvation but also so that we can share and teach others.

This blog post was originally completed as a paper for the Pastoral Epistles class at Central Christian College of the Bible. Subscribe for more insights on what our students are learning!