why giving matters

2 04 2010

Some people I’ve had conversations with about my being a missionary raising support for serving overseas have questioned whether individuals should give to support others in missions. There are lots of reasons why giving matters, but I want to look at just one: how giving benefits the giver.

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me … Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:10, 17, 18.

Paul is excited because he sees the Philippians’ gift as a sign of their spiritual growth. He understands that our hearts follow our treasure, and opening our wallets often indicates what we really value. Follow the money. Paul sees that the gift they sent indicates they are partnering with Paul’s ministry to make Christ known where he hadn’t been proclaimed: they are excited to see God’s kingdom growing, and their giving demonstrates their partnership in the gospel.

Two quick observations:
(1.) The fruit increases to their credit. Giving in response to Christ given for us in the gospel increases our joy in Jesus. Paul sees that in a real sense, the Philippians actually benefit more in giving than Paul in receiving.
(2.) The gift is offered to God, not to Paul. It is “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” As Paul followed the Lord’s call in his life, his real needs created opportunity for the people of God to offer gifts back to God by giving to meet Paul’s needs.

So, what does this mean for me as I invite you, my friends, to partner financially in sending me to Kiev? This time of support raising is ministry, not simply fund raising. I am seeking to give you and others the opportunity to grow spiritually and increase your joy in Jesus by giving to support his work in Kiev. I am providing you with an opportunity to worship God with your wallets. So pray and consider giving to support me in Kiev.

Because people are ultimately giving to God, not me, I am free to tell you about the opportunity to partner with me in the gospel and not worry about whether you’ll “reject me” or not. After all, its not about me, but about what God is doing. Perhaps you’re giving to some other ministry–great! God gets the glory. Perhaps you are not able to give because of pressing family needs or job loss- that’s ok, but please let me know so I can pray for your real needs. God works all things for his glory and for your good, if you love him. I have the joy of reminding you how Paul closes the passage above:

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Philippians 4:19,20.

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giving thanks

27 09 2009

Its nearly 2:00 AM Monday in Kiev, Ukraine right now.  No wonder I feel a bit tired, jet-lagged here in northwest Georgia just outside Chattanooga.  Yesterday (Saturday) morning I got up at 3:30am for my flight home from Kiev, and I was home by 10:30pm.  This morning I woke early, alert and excited to gather with other believers to worship the Lord together.

Thank you for your prayers.  My trip was worthwhile, and I got a good sense of what the Presbyterian missionaries are doing to equip and encourage the Ukrainian church in Kiev and Odessa.  There are a number of ways I could serve in Kiev after learning Russian, including music ministry and mentoring, evangelistic outreach, discipleship, and possibly theological education in the future.  The team there looks like a good fit for me, and I got the sense they may think I’d work well as part of their team.

Please continue praying for me as I pursue where and how the King is calling me to serve in the coming years, and as I serve where he has placed me right now.  Tomorrow morning I’m returning to my full time civil engineering work, helping to push back the brokenness and play my part in seeing God’s common grace blessings extended through better, safer, and more efficient transportation systems.  I remain your debtor–thanks again for your prayers.

Last Sunday I was excited to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ in Kiev, where I found myself longing to know Russian and thankful for Hebrew words like “hallelujah” that call everyone everywhere to praise Jahweh.  Today I was thankful to be able to worship in English.  Isn’t it exciting that God’s steadfast love, which narrowed through Abraham, Israel, Judah, and David until it focused on Jesus, burst out to all the peoples, languages, and nations of the world when Jesus rose from the dead?  As Psalm 57:9 says, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.”

Here are three pictures:

I’m at the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) in Kiev, built by Yaroslav the Wise in 1037, destroyed when the Mongol’s sacked Kiev in 1240, and rebuilt in 1982.

The Kiev skyline at nightfall, from the front balcony where I stayed the first half of my trip.

Maydan Nezalezhnosti is the “Independence Mall” in the center of downtown Kiev.