This is How the Family of God Grows

This is How the Family of God GrowsHow does the family of God grow?  How does a man or woman who is spiritually dead meet Jesus Christ and be born again into the family of God?  How can we who are children of God encourage and love those who are lost into the arms of Jesus?

We live in desperate times.  People from all walks of life and in every socioeconomic stratum are in great need.  One needs physical healing.  Another needs relief from loneliness.  Still another needs freedom from addiction.  And they all need Jesus.  We all need Jesus.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  There is great need for the hearing of the word of God in our families and in our communities today.  And the word of God that we all need is not just the word that is spoken in pulpits on Sundays and Wednesdays.  The word of God that we need is not just the word spoken by our missionaries and teachers as they travel.  No, the word of God that we most need is the word of how we live each and every day of our life before a lost and dying world.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9)  If you have been saved then you have been chosen and you have been given a marvelous and glorious task.  This task is of utmost importance and will bring you great blessings and great joy.  Your task is to proclaim the praises of Him who called you with your very life.

Joyful, thankful people are the most attractive, pleasant people to be around.  Those who are blessed and know it, and then humbly share their blessings with others, will always draw a crowd.  Although we all face difficulties and troubling circumstances we can still live a life of praise and thanksgiving.  And by sharing in our blessings and being generous with what we have we can meet someone else’s need.

What happens when those who are thankful and blessed meet those who are desperate and in need?  Ministry happens.  It is at this point that God is able to use His people to draw those who are lost and searching towards reconciliation with Christ.  This is a personal process that is unique in each and every situation because every person and every need is unique.

I believe that God is calling His children to get involved in the lives of the lost and hurting who are all around them.  In other words, it’s time to get interpersonal and nurture some relationships with people who may not normally be our first choice for a friend.  By the way we love unselfishly and without expectation of reward we may be the only picture of Jesus that some people ever see.

It’s time to let the lost person know, beyond anything else, that they are loved.  It’s time to let the struggling Christian know that they are not alone and that we are praying for them and will always welcome them back with open arms.  Most of all, it’s time to tell the world that God wants to reclaim his children and desires that all men be saved.

May we live a life of such light and fervor before the Lord that there is no question that the God we serve is real and is able to save the souls of men.  This is how the family of God grows.

My questions for you today are: Have you been invited into the family of God?  If so, are you now living a life that invites others to join our great family?

More than Giving, More than Saving

investing,saving,giving,stewardshipAs I continue to seek God and follow hard after Him (Psalm 63:8), I learn something new almost every day.  To be a committed Christ follower is to be a student who sits at the feet of his Teacher and longs for instruction.  I believe that I have learned more about God and Godliness in 2013 than in all of my previous years as a Christian combined for one simple reason: I have made it my priority.  Rather, He has become my priority and everything else flows out of that.


One of the topics that I have given some attention to in the past several months is the matter of stewardship.  I know and have believed for a long time in the idea and practice of tithing and financial generosity.  I’ve mentioned before that my wife is a natural born gift-giver and Operation Christmas Child (where she gets to prepare shoe boxes full of goodies for kids all around the world) is one of her absolute favorite things.  In her, I have an excellent model of what it means to be generous with both time and finances.

As a couple we currently give between 15 and 20% of our yearly income to the church and to charitable causes.  We do it because we believe it is both a responsibility and a privilege that has the promise of many blessings.  Everything we receive is given to us by God and we take our responsibility as stewards of His resources seriously.

Beyond giving, however, there is another aspect of stewardship which I confess has been a weakness of mine.  Responsible money management was, for many years, an area in which I stumbled.  I spent freely in my college years and amassed credit card debt.  I was also a procrastinator when it came to the checkbook and would, on occasion, bounce a check because I was not keeping good, accurate records.

All of that changed when I married Vicki.  She has an affinity for numbers (she’s a high school math teacher, bless her heart) and is inclined to be a saver where I was inclined to spend.  I know one of the reasons that the Lord brought her into my life was to begin to show me how important it was to be responsible with finances.  Though the early years of our marriage were lean ones, she was eventually able to eliminate the credit card debt and through a well structured household budget, get us to the place where we were spending less than we were making.  At that point we did what anyone else would do, we began to put the extra income into a savings account.  This is a practice that we have continued to this day and it is a good, solid financial decision to save a portion of what you bring in.

More than Giving, More than Saving

Lately, however, I have become convinced that there is more to good stewardship than simply being generous in our giving and smart with our budget so that we have some savings.  I believe that God wants us and expects us to grow and increase that which He has given us.  Consider again the familiar parable of the talents found in the 25th Chapter of the book of Matthew:

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25: 14-18 NIV)

If you know the rest of the parable then you know that when the master returned he called his three servants to each give an account of what they did with the resources they had been entrusted with.  The two servants who increased their original allotment were praised while the third servant, who did nothing with his allotment, was rebuked and stripped of what he had been originally given.

I admit, until very recently I did not consider that this parable had very much to do with money.  I used the NIV version of the text because it specifically says “bags of gold” (in other words, the master gave each servant an allotment of wages) but in the King James version it says “talents”.  I always took that word “talent” very literally and applied this parable to the abilities that God had given each one of us.  And I still think our Master expects us to use our talents and abilities that he has gifted us with and to grow and develop them for His glory.  There’s no doubt that one day we will be called into account for what we did with our abilities during our time here.

But will we not also be called to give an account of what we did with our financial resources as well?  If the Lord has so blessed us such that we have a surplus coming in each month then I believe that the parable of the talents makes it clear that God expects us to wisely and prayerfully put that money to use in such a way that it will grow.  After paying our bills, tithing and giving of gifts it can become as much of a sin to “hide” our money away, fearful of losing it, as it would be to spend it frivolously and without wisdom.  In other words, we need to look at carefully putting our money to work by investing it.

For me, there’s only one small problem; I know next to nothing about investing.  I am going to spend the next several months learning all I can about how to do it and praying for wisdom and guidance as I go.  I’ll be talking to other Christians who I trust and getting their perspectives on the matter as well.  Please pray for me as I seek to honor God with every single resource that he has given me; time, talents and finances.

How do you feel about the matter of finances as it relates to the Kingdom of God?  Do we have a responsibility to use and grow what God has given us?


Plastic Donuts: Giving that Delights the Heart of the Father Book Review

plastic donuts,book review,giving,titheI’ve read a lot of great books in 2013 but Plastic Donuts is surely one of the neatest.  Let’s start with its appearance:  It’s a hardcover book but it’s not much bigger than my outstretched hand.  It’s also brief and to the point, weighing in at only 128 pages.  The price is also nice, at only $9.99.  And of course there’s that title; Plastic Donuts.  How can a book called Plastic Donuts be about giving?  It just makes you want to pick it up and start reading, doesn’t it?

So goes the story that Jeff Anderson, the author, was sitting and working at his desk one day.  His daughter, a toddler at the time, came up to his desk and with a smile and a giggle offered Jeff a pink, plastic donut out of her toy kitchen set.  Jeff smiled back and gratefully accepted the plastic donut to the delight of his daughter.  The exchange blessed Jeff because of the unexpected gift from his daughter and his daughter was delighted by the attention and praise of her father.

Jeff says God opened his eyes through that interaction.  Just like that plastic donut that was given to him, God does not need our gifts to get by.  God desires our gifts, given from the heart, because it blesses both the giver and the receiver.  Likewise, God delights in giving His children gifts out of the pure joy of giving.  And God has been giving gifts to us out of his great love and joy since the very beginning of the creation story.  (Imagine what the Garden of Eden must have been like before the fall!)

In Plastic Donuts, Jeff looks at giving from a scriptural point of view and does a fantastic job of condensing a lot of information into a very natural, easy to understand guide that just about anyone should be able to pick up and read.

Jeff’s main points for the book are: What we give needs to matter to us and We determine the amount and he gives ample scriptural basis for both.  What we give needs to matter to us because it needs to be given out of love and in honor of God and we determine the amount because there is no set amount for a gift.

I can hear some of you thinking “but what about the tithe!” and I can assure you that Jeff does a great job addressing the tithe.  The long and short of it is this: the tithe is primarily for the maintenance of the local body (the church) and yes, God does expect his children to give of their time and finances to maintain his church.  Tithing is important, but it isn’t all there is.

An interesting point about the tithe Jeff discovered from his research: mentions of the tithe in the Bible account for only 2 percent of the total of all that the Bible has to say about giving.  In other words, by focusing on the tithe we are effectively ignoring 98% of what God has to say about giving.  Let’s not make that mistake.  Let’s read and understand all of what God’s Word has to say so that we can give Him the glory that He is due.

On a personal level, I really value this little book for the insight that Jeff shares through it and I learned some things about giving that really blessed me.  I hope that you get an opportunity to read it, because I know that it will bless and instruct you also.

For more information on this topic, check out author Jeff Anderson’s website at and be sure to read his interview over at Beyond Evangelical.

Plastic Donuts: Giving that Delights the Heart of the Father is available from, Barnes and and other fine booksellers.

  • ISBN-13: 9781601425287
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/21/2013
  • Pages 128