You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below so we can create conversation and encouragement!

The Monday After: Sunday, October 28, 2012: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Trust

By Marcus Wolfe

I write this as a scrooge.

Not from the place I should be — not even close.

But God has been taking me on a journey regarding generosity which started about 3.5 years ago.  So I was really struck by Pastor Joe’s insightful question today: Why Do I Have So Much?  As I thought about this, the disgruntled part of me of the not-so-distant past would have brooded about what I don’t have; but, increasingly, the developing giver has chosen to look a different way.

I would have focused on being laid off from a full-time job three years ago, but instead I was reminded that I have a part-time job that actually allows me to match my work with my current physical limitations.  It has also allowed me the time to grow spiritually through things like Vantage Point 3, Senior Adult Ministry Breakfasts, better devotions and visiting others; it’s allowed me to grow as I look at serving others where I work.

I would have been upset that we are losing our home of 11 years, but instead I have chosen to see this as a blessing as we are moving from a second-floor unit to a first-floor unit that better matches my current and possible future physical limits.

I would have focused on my labored breathing this morning and my knee being a little sore, but my wife reminded me that I have access to excellent medical care, and that I have good medical insurance, both of which many people lack.

These “but instead” views have not come easy.  They came out of the adversity of these past years with the seeds for generosity being particularly sown last year as I went through VP3 and made the sacrifice of time required for this journey.  It was then as I discovered more about God and more about myself, that I saw where I could plug in and serve with my time and talents.  However, as that has been growing, God still needed to get the last “T,” that of treasure.

That has been His process in me lately.  During the last several years we have increasingly had more garage sales and given stuff away as we anticipated the coming move.  As we now pack, we realize how much stuff we still have and how much we still really don’t need.  I have seen God provide a new place to live, matching us up with believers as landlords who have waited patiently for us to become new tenants.  I have seen the generosity of my church family and earthly family rally around us to provide for our economic, physical, spiritual and emotional needs.  I have been able to praise God for His provision and now I am seeing more and more how I can help others praise God by assisting them.

So where does this lead to with the final “T” of treasure?  I am beginning to find myself evaluating spending and saving based on the question, “What else could I do with these finances from a kingdom perspective?”

This doesn’t mean our spending habits have changed all that much yet, but we are thinking and talking more about where our money goes first.  It has meant a decision to start regular giving to the church again, something I had given up.  It has also meant God touching my heart to reach out in a very personal and financial way to a hurting world. For years, my wife has wanted to sponsor a child through a relief agency, but I let her commitment to Operation Christmas Child be our service to hurting children.  Then several weeks ago I was listening to Christian radio and felt personally convicted that we should step up our giving and reach out to a hurting world and sponsor a child.  And this time I obeyed.  So on October 19th, we “adopted” a 13 year old boy named Jordy from Ecuador through Compassion International.  This step has excited me as I hope we can bring some comfort, joy and encouragement to this young man like has been brought to us these last years by those around us.

Again these are the sentiments of someone in progress.  I am still gripped by the materialism of a modern American, my “wanter” still wants more than I have, but it is my hope that I can move forward with Immanuel in helping God’s Church achieve His mission in Gurnee, Waukegan, Lake County and to the ends of the earth.  And in helping God’s Church reach out, my own heart can be conformed to the image of Christ.  I would be like one of those spoken of in 1 John 3:18.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”(NLT)

Marcus is married to Jessica and is currently a substitute teacher at Zion Benton Township High School.  They care for any number of guinea pigs (currently two).  In his spare time, Marcus enjoys reading, computer games and shooting.  His ministry passions include working with senior adults and the sick, and growing with other men, as well as helping Jessica with whatever ministries she is involved with at the time.   

5 thoughts on “The Monday After: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Trust {Marcus}

  1. Marcus, thank you for your transparency. We are all on this same journey, my brother. I admire your willingness to share. Joe

  2. Thanks so much for pouring out your heart Marcus! I love your quote, “What else could I do with these finances from a kingdom perspective?” It is so easy to think that the $1, $2, or $5 we spend on coffee or lunch is insignificant, but then I think of Feed My Staving Children who can produce a meal for 22cents!! Suddenly my $1 for a soda isn’t so insignificant, when it could have purchased over 4 meals for a starving child. We have so many daily decisions and I think your question gets right to the God’s heart and where our heart should be! Thanks!

  3. Thank you Marcus. It’s always good to hear how the sermon is being lived out. The “but instead” phrase is going to stick with me this week.

  4. It is eye opening to read one’s reactions to sermons five years later, and to see where we are now. Have we grown? Actually yes, we now have a 4 year old daughter that was totally unexpected but has been a wonderful and amazing blessing by God, so yes our family size has grown. Josh, a different Pastor same church, is currently preaching on “Mind the Gap” with a message series very similar to the one written about originally. God actually has a lot to say about our giving. Our sponsored child is growing up, about to turn 18.
    We are in a position now to bless others and are deciding how to best accomplish this, but I must admit I still have selfish wants. My wife is often disabled by her chronic headaches which leaves me playing, doing, being in roles and doing things I had not dreamed of when this was originally written. The biggest change though is the addition of a wonderful 4 year old to the mix. Her name is Hope and we decided on this because she reminds us each day of the hope we have in the Lord, in answered prayers, in the future, and in God’s provision. During these last 5 years God has provided for us in spades. We stayed at the place mentioned originally for 2 years and then moved to Kenosha where God again blessed us and led us to another Christian landlord. God provided for our increasing medical needs as I had 5 orthopedic operations in 6 years. Times were especially tight during the summers when I wasn’t subbing, but each summer we made it, sometimes we had to put aside our pride and ask for financial help. As my health and then Jessica’s health deteriorated, and our ability to work diminished, we both filed for disability. The process was a 3 year ordeal for myself and a 2 and a half year process for Jessica. The conclusions have met our physical and health challenges and allowed us to adjust to a new normal. Men often say they would die for their family as their expression of deepest love. But I am finding the tag along question “but would you LIVE for your family” to be harder. To put my wife’s and daughter’s needs ahead of my own. To think of the “I wants” in light of eternity. As I currently read Tony Evans’ “Kingdom Man” along with Rand Alcorn’s “Money, Possessions and Eternity” and listen to Josh’s Series “Mind the Gap” I am becoming deeply convicted about giving to change someone’s life or to enhance ministry so that even more people in this area can be reached. Jess and I now have bags packed with food in each of our cars to give to people we see on the streets. We try to and sometimes do respond to financial needs around us as we see them. But there is more to be done both in us and through us. Lord help us have the hearts that reach out and give and serve. May Your kingdom grow and You be glorified in our lives each day. Thank you Jesus for your loving example and ultimate sacrifice that secured our salvation. Thank You Lord for Your daily provision for us and Your blessings allowing us to share with others. May we be faithful. In Jesus name. Amen.

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