#Giving Tuesday

Stonepoint Leadership Team

GivingTuesday_mchimpSince its inception in 2012, #GivingTuesday has gone from being a clever idea, to a movement that seems destined to stay for the foreseeable future.  In a few short years, #GivingTuesday has gone from producing $10 million dollars in 2012 to an estimated $360 million in charitable contributions in a twenty-four hour period this year. As we see the #GivingTuesday movement garner more attention as it goes viral, here are three thingsthat are helpful for you to consider as we approach #Giving Tuesday.

1. #Giving Tuesday helps remind us to take the focus off of ourselves.
The original idea of #Giving Tuesday was to help consumers take the attention off of themselves and their spending and look for ways to give to others in need. Reports this morning estimate that Americans spent over 30 billion dollars (an increase from last year) between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yes, you read that correctly! In a day and age where Americans spend a lot of money on ourselves, it’s good to find places and ways to bless other causes we believe in with our finances. Let’s face it, Christmas is always merrier when we give rather than receive. We would do well to pay close attention to the words of Marvin Davis Winsett,“Teach us to value most eternal things, to find the happiness that giving brings, to know the peace of misty, distant hills, to know the joy that giving self-fulfills, to realize anew this Christmas Day, the things we keep are those we give away.”

2. We can all become more generous.

If you take a quick glance at #GivingTuesday statistics, you’ll notice two quick things. One, #Giving Tuesday contributions are rising each year, either because of more participants hopping on the band wagon or because of slightly more generous people. (Either way, it’s a great trend!) Secondly, the percentage of giving pales in comparison to the money we spend on ourselves. While our generosity on #GivingTuesday looks promising, it’s less than 2% of what most people just spent on themselves and their families this past weekend. Call me crazy…but what if we matched dollar per dollar on what we spent as Americans on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone (because we all know we’re not done shopping) and gave the same amount to causes we believe in on #Giving Tuesday? If we gave dollar for dollar, we could give almost $31 billion dollars to causes around the world.

3. We could end the World Hunger Crisis in ONE WEEKEND.

Though cost estimates today are difficult to determine with precision, in 2008 the UN stated that $30 billion dollars would end hunger and global poverty for one year. That means, the amount of money we spent as consumers in one weekend after Thanksgiving in 2018, could’ve helped prevent poverty across the world, if not annihilate it! Yes,I realize that we’re not in 2008 anymore, but I do believe we could end the food crisis and give fresh drinking water across the world if we dug into our pockets a little. I don’t know about you, but the idea of making that type of difference gives me the desire to forego gifts this year around the tree for the opportunity to provide such amazing gifts for others around the world.

So, what’s the reality? If you’re an American, you are among the top 2% of all wage earners in the world. With that being said, it would please God greatly for us to spread our wealth for things that impact eternity. We may not end World hunger this year, but you can still make a difference by giving to a place that is transforming lives, making a difference in society, and will steward your money wisely. Jump on the Bandwagon today and make #GivingTuesday a new yearly tradition and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35) As I look to give, I may show a slight bias, but here are a few great places you can give that I believe are making an eternal impact.

  1. Stonepoint Church http://stonepointchurch.com/give (We have several strategic partners that we give to monthly that benefit from your giving. Two of them affect Van Zandt County and are listed below.)
  2. Hope Pregnancy Resource Center http://www.hopecanton.com/donate/
  3. Manna Food Bank https://www.facebook.com/pages/Manna-Food-Bank/1443217122670170
  4. Orphan Outreach http://orphanoutreach.org
  5. Sole Hope http://solehope.org

Since God has blessed us richly, let’s consider sharing a portion of that blessing with others in His name.

Abide Daily

Anonymous, Stonepoint Member

Our Journey Group is diving into the four core values as our group study for the next few weeks. We’ve been assigned to pick up a concordance (or to make use of a nifty Bible app of our choice) and dive into the Word, exploring verses pertaining to each core value.

Don’t remember what the Journey Group core values are? Here they are, just as a refresher:

  1. Abide Daily
  2. Devote Relationally
  3. Live Authentically
  4. Admonish Biblically

Now, I don’t wish to delve into each core value specifically in this post. But what I would like to hone in on is Core Value #1: Abiding Daily.

If I am honest, before these past few months I’d probably be brushing the dust off the cover of my Bible if I didn’t keep a protective case around it and lug it around to all the spiritual functions I attend. But as I’ve paused to crack open the Word and wade into the pages and ideas inside, I’m remembering how beautiful it is to soak in more than one verse a day. This emptiness deep inside is losing itself to the filling of God’s peace in the words He is speaking to me.

First, I combed through my dictionary to find the word “Abide.” The definition is simple: “to remain, to dwell.” Remain ultimately means staying faithful to something, while dwell means being in the presence in or around someone or something.

Next, flipping through the highly-condensed concordance in the back of my Bible, I found the word “Abide” and searched out each Scripture verse that was listed below.

(What is a concordance, you may ask? If you Google the word “God,” it will pull up every instance of the word “God” found on the internet. In the same way, if you look up the word “God” in a Bible concordance, it will show you every instance the word “God” is found in the Bible.)

In my small concordance, the first verse that appeared under the world “Abide” was Luke 2:8. It says, “That night there were shepherds staying [abiding] in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.” This verse never stood out to me before as it did when I read it during this study.

These shepherds were staying up all night to sit and watch their sheep. In Psalm 23:1, it speaks about God being our shepherd: “The LORD is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” In the New Testament, Jesus calls Himself God by placing Himself in the position of Shepherd. “I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus says. “I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father” (John 10:14-15a).

As I watched the picture before me of the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, God captivated me by this thought: Jesus watches over me even as I sleep. As a shepherd does, Jesus is always with me, watching over me, guiding me.

This is what God revealed to me through this verse. Before I even take the time to abide with God, before I am ever faithful to Him or before I make room in my life to be in His presence, Jesus is already abiding with me, waiting for me to spend time with Him.

This changes how I approach God. I actually want to meet with Jesus, because He is so excited to just have a conversation with me. To show me one more amazing facet of His character in His Word. To blow me away with His goodness and peace and sheer awesomeness. To listen to my heart as I pray and to answer in specific ways for His glory and my good.

“God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him.” I think that is what God wants to bring to us as we spend time with Him: peace and satisfaction. That is what my ever-longing heart craves. And He is the only thing that will truly fill the deep, heart-breaking emptiness inside me.

I hope you find His joy and satisfaction, too, as you open God’s Word and spend time with Him.

Decisions?

Brian Tate, Edgewood Campus Pastor

Decisions. 

Something we have to make everyday. What are we going to eat? What are we going to watch? Which way to work are we going to take? How do I discipline my child with the decisions they make today? What am I going to do with my time? And the list goes on and on and on and on. 

choices decision doors doorway

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What guidelines do you use to make your decisions? What dictates the choices you make? What outside influences have molded the way you think? Which guidelines or influences do we need to hold on to, or let go of, or change just a little? 

In Genesis 13 Lot has a decision to make. Abram (later he will be known as Abraham) laid out two options: “The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” (verse 9)  How would Lot choose? What would be the deciding factors that makes it clear to him? The people living in the land? The looks of the land? God giving him an answer? Discussing it with Abram? This is a turning point in Lot’s life. The decision he makes will affect not only him, but his family. 

“Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the LORD or the beautiful land of Egypt.” He looks and thinks that the grass is truly greener on the the other side. Lot focused on two things in order to make his choice: 1. The appearance. 2. The past.

  1. Appearance – Lot looked at the appearance of the land. How is it going to benefit me? Is it going to make my life easier? Is it going to make me happy? Is it going to make me look good? How prosperous will it make me? Lot looked through his eyes. He did not seek God’s face! We do this all the time. We come to a fork in the road and make a decision. Most of the time our first factor is the appearance. We judge things from the outside. We rarely look at our heart or others or ultimately God’s. We make decisions based on very shallow things.
  2. Past – Lot thought about the garden of the LORD (Eden). I want to be like that, the ‘good ole’ days!’ Will it restore my life to the way it was? He also compares it to Egypt. “I want my life to look like someone else’s life.” When we make decisions on outside appearance we compare quickly to others. The future does not always hold prosperous gain. Sometimes our past must be burnt down to truly see the future that God has in store for us. We are a new creation, the old has gone! Not only our old self, but our old past. It’s completely made clean by the sacrificial blood of Christ. 

What happens because Lot made a decision? In verse 13 it says, “But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the LORD.” Lot makes a decision and finds out that he lives among people that are wicked and go against everything the LORD says to do. What are the results? Lot is captured in war and saved by Abram. And later Lot’s city is destroyed because of the extreme wickedness and sinning against the LORD by the people (Sodom and Gomorrah). Lot, in the end, loses his wife because she looked back at the past and appearance of their home. The same things that governed Lot’s decision, plagued his wife’s decision to look back instead of listening to God. 

So what do we do? 

  1. Look past the appearance of things and deep into the hearts of people. Then, go one step further…look past the appearance of things and deep into the heart of God. If Lot would have scouted out the town and realized the extreme wickedness and sinful acts of the people of the land, I think he would not have brought his family into such an environment. Also that the environment is not pleasing to God. While the appearance looks awesome…the heart is deceitfully wicked.
  2. Look towards the future. We don’t know the future…so what does that make us do? Rely on God and His decisions for us. God wants to walk us through our decisions, but we must trust Him in the matter, look forward (not back) and trust that He knows best. Even if the appearance of the situation looks horrible.