Money is the Easy Part, by Wendy Knutson, CPA

By 0 Permalink 0

Money is the easy part, sometimes. We all have our challenges. Mine is time. Often, it’s easier for me to write a check than to give of myself, to give a piece of my heart, by making the sacrifice of time.

This hit home recently when a church workday popped up on the calendar…

As is our custom, prior to Lent and Advent, we ready God’s house for celebration. My thoughts around the church workday have always sounded like this: “I give to the church in many ways but cleaning is not my gift”, “I don’t clean my own house; why should I clean the church?” “What if I hire someone to clean instead?” and the ever popular, “I’m too busy”. These are not thoughts I’m proud of but the struggle is real. As God started changing my heart toward generosity, suddenly, my justification attempts weren’t working. I was feeling guilty. Why couldn’t I simply hire my housekeeper to attend the workday? Wouldn’t my church family appreciate the professional help? Wouldn’t God like that? Somehow it didn’t feel right and I started asking, why?

We all have the same 24 hours. Time is a limited resource requiring choices, even sacrifice. Is sacrifice important to God? Does He call us to make sacrifices?

The answer seemed to be in the story of the widow’s offering:

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 (ESV)

Jesus’ distinction between the rich, giving from their abundance and the widow, giving from her lack, make His desire for our sacrifice unmistakable. The widow gave from her heart.

The example of the widow is striking but it pales in comparison to the example set by Jesus. His incomprehensible love, which led Him to death on a cross, is the epitome of generosity and sacrifice. Jesus made this ultimate sacrifice for me and he calls me to do the same:

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6 NIV

How can I not respond? How can I not return a bit of a Saturday morning for the one who gave me life? Now, the question and the struggle become ridiculous, don’t they?

Did I attend the church workday? Yes! I had no choice. I stepped through the doors, uncertain and apprehensive, but God generously provided me with a heart ready to serve. What did I find? I found acceptance and community with my church family and people, equally busy, cheerfully sacrificing for the one who gave it all. Maybe that’s what God intended all along.

Where is generosity the most difficult for you? Do you have a story when you’ve answered God’s call to sacrifice? I’d love to hear it. Is God currently calling you to make a sacrifice and you’re not ready? I’d love to talk with you about it and wrestle through it together.

Invest in Jesus by Wendy Knutson, CPA

By 0 Permalink 0

As a Christian, I want a heart devoted to God, a heart to speak clearly, confidently and unapologetically about Jesus. I long to lift my hands in praise when moved by a song, unconcerned what others think. I want to generously give God the glory for the good times and feel peace and serenity in times of trouble. I want to be ALL-IN. Imagine my delight to discover God Himself places this eagerness directly in my heart!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

To me, when Solomon writes, “God has put eternity in our hearts”, it means a desire for God – a longing and yearning for something more, more than we see around us, more than ourselves. What does it look like to turn this longing and yearning toward God?

Maybe it looks like this when Jesus told us our hearts actually follow our treasure:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Simple enough. Or is it? In The Treasure Principal, Randy Alcorn explains this concept with an analogy. If you buy stock in Google, suddenly you’re interested in Google. You watch the stock price and you read the latest news about Google. If you’re a nerd, like me, you even study the annual report. It’s the same with Jesus, if we invest in Him, we become more interested in Him. But where do we invest in Jesus?

Paul helps us answer the question when he defines the church as the bride of Christ and His very heart:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ gave HIMSELF because of his deep love for us, the church. He gave it all. There was nothing left to give. That’s what I call ALL-IN! How can we not follow His lead, investing in what is most important to Him – the church? We have a wonderful opportunity to invest in Jesus through OUR church!

When we invest in Jesus, through our church, our heart and love for Jesus naturally grows. How can it not? Pray and ask God to show you how he wants you to invest in your church. Keep your eyes open for opportunities He has uniquely prepared for you. When you sense God’s leading, act, right away. It’s a step you’ll never regret.

How is God working in your heart to invest in Jesus? Have you seen this progression from investment to passion in your own life? Where you’ve put forth the action and your heart followed suit? I’d love to hear your story.

Best News Ever! by Wendy Knutson, CPA

By 0 Permalink 0

Have you ever received news too good to keep? News that had you jumping with excitement? Bursting at the seams? News you wanted to shout from the rooftops and tell everyone? Even strangers? Are you a person who’s good at keeping secrets? I’m not. My mouth often gets ahead of me. I’m a blurter.

Easter Sunday, my husband, Dan and I, received this type of news. We were entertaining family when our daughter and son-in-law asked to speak to us privately. As I stepped into the bedroom I thought, “this could be good or this could be bad”. Then, snap! They’re pregnant!!!! Oh the joy, the excitement. Our first grandchild! I wanted to tell everyone. But wait, there was a catch; we had to keep it a secret. “No blurting, Mom!” The news wouldn’t become “Facebook Official” for a few weeks.

The news of a new baby is joyous, but it pales in comparison to the news of Jesus’ Gospel! In a nutshell:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

The Gospel is life changing! We don’t have to keep it secret. In fact, God commands us to do just the opposite and he gives us a plan. Complete and practical, including the WHERE, WHO, WHAT and WHEN.

WHERE: Acts 1:8 tells us where to take the Gospel: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. For now, we’ll focus on Jerusalem, the city in which we live.

WHO: God wants us to share the Gospel with the people in our Jerusalem. The people we see everyday: family, co-workers, the bank teller. Wait, who? The bank teller? But we barely know her?

WHAT: The thought of telling the bank teller about Jesus leaves me shaking in my shoes. How about you? I’m scared. What do I say? God tells us to fear not and promises to put His words in our mouth:

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:7-9 NIV

WHEN: What about timing? When do we speak? We must rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. Ask God to show you opportunities too good to miss. Ask Him to open the door. When He shows you. When you sense His nudge, take a deep breath and speak! Remember, God gives you the strength and the words. He’s got this!

Please share with me your Acts 1:8 experience. The WHERE, WHO, WHAT and WHEN in your Jerusalem.