So yesterday I was well enough to go to church at Sunridge Community Church in Temecula, California. I really enjoyed the church. The band at the front was great -- especially the front row guitar on the left who reallys seemed to be enjoying worship. They sang some songs that I knew, and some that were completely new. The sermon (whose notes I'll post somewhere -- I liked it that much) was on finances. It wasn't a sermon on percentages, or contribute to our building fund (Thank God. I realized recently that I haven't gone to a church in my life that hasn't either built a new sanctuary, or put on a new roof at least). But it was about spending money wisely. They had given about a dozen people $100 dollars several months ago saying that it was God's money, and had to be used to build his Kingdom, but with no other restrictions. The places the money went were as varied as the people. One lady took her money and raised more for hurricane relief for a church that was leveled. Another lady gave a hitchhiker a meal, fixed his broken bicycle, and gave him the rest. Another gathered enough money to ship baseball equipment to Cuba for a church hat was starting a program. Another made morning and evening aid boxes for missionaries. And then, one lady heard of a young girl diagnosed with cancer, who wanted a real hair wig (which costs between $1,000 and $1500). Her money went there, and she got the word out to her friends. One of their friends' five-year-old son heard about it and started a lemonade stand to help. Construction workers came by, and the boy told them why he was doing it, and he alone raise almost $500. At five years old.
That was the set up for the sermon on giving. It was mainly about why God gives us resources. He read some of the passages directed to the "rich man." Then he stopped and told us that most of us just zoned out what he'd just said because we're not "rich." Guess what. If you have food, clothing that isn't worn out, a shelter that doesn't leak, and reasonably reliable transportation, you are part of the wealthy 15% on our planet. If you own two vehicles, congratulations, you are the top 5%.
One of the testimonies from the "Kingdom Assignment" that really got me was a lady who realized that it isn't the big sacrifices that matter. Anything you can do to simplify your life and give to others will make a difference, not only to someone else, but to your own outlook on your God given resources. She looked down at her hands and decided to give up her weekly manicure and put that money aside to be given away instead. The pastor went a step further. Do your really need that bigger house? Second vehicle? Expensive hobby? What can you do to simplify that would mean a difference in the way you use your money. And the closing thought was, maybe God gives you more prosperity not to increase your standard of living, but to give you more opportunities to give to others in need.