Whose Is It Anyway? by Wendy Knutson, CPA

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As we start 2017 and continue our discussion of generosity, it’s the perfect time to talk about beginnings: the beginning of God’s word, the beginning of creation, and the beginning of our concept of generosity. God’s precious word kicks off in Genesis 1:1,

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (NIV) This firmly places God as the creator of everything.

Intellectually, we know that God created it all. But let’s think a bit deeper. Imagine if you will, that you go to work tomorrow and there are no longer any roles, no job descriptions, and no one has a clue what they’re supposed to be doing. You might be thinking, “This is exactly how things are at my job!” But please, stay with me for just a moment. How would this work? In a workplace like this, there would be chaos! I picture the Keystone Cops or the Three Stooges. Would God, in His infinite wisdom, have created the heavens and earth in this way? No!

His creation is quite the opposite – God created the world with order and design. He gives each of us a role and a job description. He gives each of us a purpose. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Because God has a purpose for each of us, He will provide all the resources we need: time, talents and treasures to fulfill His purpose. I’ve heard it said, “God will always provide a provision for His vision.” He makes us this promise through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians in chapter nine verse eight, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” What a beautiful promise! I love God’s use of superlatives: all, always, everything. He leaves no room for doubt or ambiguity.

Let’s turn back to our workplace example. Your employer hires you for your knowledge or talent and then provides you with resources. They provide you the time you need to do your work and the equipment or resources to do your job. The company provides tools for your use, but they retain the ownership. When you leave the job, you don’t take these things with you because you don’t own them. Let’s think about this in terms of God’s creation. If God created it all, is it possible that God maintained ownership and we are just managing what He has entrusted to us. Scripture tells us, Yes!

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Psalm 24:1 (NLT)

“For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.” Psalm 50:10

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:8 (NIV)

When we understand that God created the world, how can we not acknowledge that it all belongs to Him? As we begin this new year, I want to encourage you to acknowledge something like this to the Lord: “God, thank You for creating our world. It is beautiful and wonderful. You are a mighty Creator and everything you make is good. It all belongs to You. Thank You for making me a part of your Creation. Amen.”

How is God impacting your heart about generosity?

Generosity – How Can We Not?

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It is my joy to write articles regarding generosity in our church’s monthly church newsletter. I am thrilled to share them here on my blog and hope you’ll follow our church’s journey toward generosity.

I have loved numbers as long as I can remember. From the very first debit and credit that lead to my work as a CPA, numbers have always made sense. If you can’t put it into a spreadsheet, it probably doesn’t have a solution. Personal finance has also interested me for many years. Last year, my husband, Dan, and I were blessed to lead Financial Peace University at our church. That experience changed our lives, our marriage and the way we manage money.

Since then God has continued to work in my heart in the areas of personal finance, generosity and stewardship. I have felt challenged to dive deeper into His Word and learn how it relates to generosity. Through Bible study, prayer and books, I have discovered that God continually has much to say about generosity.

Generosity is truly a heart matter and God is a heart surgeon. When we allow God to work in our hearts and we fully focus on what God has done for us by sending his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins our heart is changed.

A changed heart, in turn, becomes a generous heart. With the full knowledge of all God has done (and continues to do) for us, how can we not praise Him? How can we not be generous? Just like a fruit tree cannot help but bear fruit (unless it’s sick), generosity will flow from a changed heart.

These are my thoughts as I’ve been looking at generosity through God’s word. How is God is speaking to you about generosity?

Wendy Knutson

Is Borrowing In God’s Ministry Vision?

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The purpose of this article is to start a conversation about debt in ministry and to explore some practical benefits of being debt-free. In our society, borrowing, is acceptable. A given, if you will. Individuals and businesses borrow money. In fact, many believe that you must borrow to run a successful business. But is borrowing in God’s plan for the church?

People today are enslaved to debt. In fact, 46% of adults cannot withstand a $400 emergency without selling something or borrowing money. That means almost half our nation cannot handle a $400 car repair without going into debt. Of the households that have credit card debt, the average credit card debt is about $16,000. It’s probably safe to say that if they have that much credit card debt, they probably also have a mortgage, one or two car payments, and a potential student loan.

Enough of the negative! Let’s talk about the positive. The Debt-Free Church by Jeff Berg and Jim Burgess points out several benefits of being a borrow-free church. Let’s discuss two this month.

1. Leadership sets a financial example.

People are hurting and come to church to be led, even in the area of finances. What better way to lead than by example! When we choose to operate a borrow-free church, we are leading by example in choosing to trust God – and not the bank – to fund the ministry.

How can we not, as ministry leaders, live by example? People will see the joy of nancial freedom and feel empowered to follow with similar decisions in their personal lives. When a ministry walks the debt-free journey, it is able to wholeheartedly share personal nance tools such as Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.

2. Debt-free ministry fosters member engagement.

When we commit to not call the bank, we must tap into the gifts and talents of our members and volunteers. To do this, we must engage with our members. Engaged church members see that they really, really matter, and they are energized to stay involved. Engaged church equals healthy church!

The Hills is a debt-free church based in North Richland Hills, Texas. Mike Washburn, Executive Pastor explained to us that,

“God called The Hills to be debt-free, and there are incredible blessings that come with the decision to operate a debt-free church. We are set free to use the resources that God gives us. In fact, we are able to be more generous with kingdom expansion because we are debt-free. This emphasis on working with what we have has brought about a focus on discipleship with our members to help them man- age what they have and become joyful givers.”

Catch two more positive aspects of borrow-free ministry next month!