If You’re Ready to Find Joy in Giving

Maybe you cringed at the thought of reading a post about giving. It’s understandable; giving is a spiritual practices that is often difficult to speak about for myriad reasons. God, however, has shown us in His word that He intends giving to be joyous and celebratory. And that’s how He’s moved Tim and Angie Hill to feel about giving. Maybe you want to feel that way, too? Read on!  

The Hills sat down to answer some questions about giving, a spiritual practice about which they are very passionate and in which they find much joy! We hope the following interview blesses you as you consider God’s view of giving and how He is inviting your heart to wade in or wade deeper into the waters of giving and generosity.

As always, thank you for your generosity and commitment to Accelerate, our one-fund that supports all ministry efforts at Immanuel. 

Immanuel Church: How do you feel giving has blessed your lives?

Tim and Angie Hill: Giving to Immanuel and other charitable causes blesses our family by helping to keep money in the proper prospective. As it says in Matthew, No one can serve two masters. By giving away a portion of the blessing that God has given us, we can break the bond of servitude to money.

Giving also blesses our family by allowing us to bless others. We believe in the work Immanuel is doing. We know that Immanuel has blessed our family in so many ways and we want to be a part of helping Immanuel bless others. We believe in the work done by the other charities we support and we want to help, if only in a small way. Perhaps it is an over-used cliche that it is better to give than to receive, but I am sure most people can think of a time where they gave their time or an item, or money to help someone-out and they left knowing that they were the ones truly blessed. That is how we feel about our giving.

IC: What role does your faith in God have in your giving practices?

Tim and Angie: Faith plays a critical role in our giving because we are 100% confident that God will use the money for the purpose he intends. Without this faith, we would be more likely to doubt how the money would be spent and thus would likely not feel as generous or would at least be less joyful about giving. A confidence that we are giving back a small portion of what God first gave to us and knowing that giving is part of God’s plan makes giving an expression of faith rather than a burden or something we are “supposed” to do.

IC: If you were part of a committee responsible for relaying the importance about the practice of giving in the Church, how would you express this message to others?

First, we would need a catchy slogan like Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord Almighty.” Or how about Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Money and giving are often difficult for people and church communities to discuss. I believe that is because too many people give from a sense of guilt or duty. It says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I believe this has to be the key to any promotion of giving. It has to be about giving because of a sense of gratitude rather than a sense of necessity.

Also, while monetary giving is important, it’s important to focus on giving time and talents in addition to treasures.

Lastly, I believe some see a Biblical tithe of 10 percent as unobtainable, and, thus, become frustrated. But we don’t need to be frustrated at the thought of giving a specific amount. Bob Goff said at the Loves Does summit, “Focus on who you are becoming.” Make a plan, set a goal and strive toward it. In the words of Goff, “Pitch, pick and point!”

IC: If there was a point at which you didn’t give, what are the differences in your lives now compared to then?

I can remember a time when giving at Church was an act of seeing what I had in my wallet, deciding what I could afford, and then needing to been seen putting something in the offering plate. It was something I probably should do because God and the people around me were watching.

We moved away from this by deciding to become more intentional in our giving just as we were becoming more intentional in our faith. This involved making a commitment in our giving and signing up for an automatic giving program. It also meant having a plan to move from the current level of giving we were at to a tithe over a number of years. As we did this, giving no longer felt like a burden. It felt like a blessing. It no longer was “paying” a portion of our hard earned money. It was expressing our gratitude for the abundance God has place in our care. It was no longer selfishness. It became stewardship.

The Monday After: Know Contentment Through Generosity {Dawn}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, July 13, 2014: Habits of Happiness: Know Contentment Through Generosity {Listen HERE!}

By Dawn Kelley

He was walking down the street pushing a shopping cart full of cans.

It was one of the ways he made his living. I would see him every Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning walking through my dad’s neighborhood collecting aluminum cans from recycling bins and trash cans.

He did it joyfully, most often with a smile on his face, and sometimes he would smile at me a give me a slight wave. One day I saw him walking with his cart in the pouring rain; he had only a light jacket and had a hat on his head. I was in my nice, warm well-covered car watching him as he continued to dig and collect cans. I felt a huge tug on my heart to give.

What was I to give? I had no money and his cart would not fit in my car to give him a ride home. I pulled the car over to see what I could give him and under my passenger seat I found an umbrella. As I pulled up to where he was stationed on his route I rolled my window down and greeted him while handing him my umbrella. He thanked me and walked away. I saw him many times after that with the umbrella hanging on his cart. His smile captured my heart, and it showed me what it really meant to give with a joyful heart. Pastor Byian’s words were a reminder for me that no matter what my circumstances, God has given me so many ways to be generous.

I read on wikipedia, “Generosity is not solely based on one’s economic status, but instead, includes the individual’s pure intentions of looking out for society’s common good and giving from the heart. Generosity should reflect the individuals passion to help others.”

For me that passion comes from Christ, and it reflects His love not only for me but for those He places in my path.

I often think about what people are thinking when they give. I wonder if they are giving a gift, money or their time out of obligation or because they truly want to give and they find deep joy in doing so. I know that sometimes I am giving because someone told me I need to or because scripture tells me to give.

This message challenged me to evaluate why I am giving. I am challenged to question my motives and give from my heart with pure intentions. Reading in Phillippians gives me a clear understanding of what God hopes for me in the area of generosity. He wants me to give without expecting any thing in return. He wants me to follow His leading in giving, whether it’s giving of my time, money, or even of my kindness. In the end, I can do it because God has given me the strength.

I want a happy life that reflects generosity.

Dawn Kelley is the wife of Andrew and the homeschooling mother of four, Jaden, Niya, Makayla and Aiden. She loves to read and write in her spare time, and she currently uses a personal blog to share her adventures in motherhood and womanhood.

 

World Outreach: Responding to the Washington Tornado Disaster

Thank you for your generosity to Accelerate, our one-fund. Because of your generosity we are able to partner with God in the work he is doing here at home and around the world.

by Robert Brooks, Immanuel attendee

Image11242013122328On November 23, a group of 16 men from Immanuel and Chain of Lakes Bible Church left early in the morning for a chilly three and a half hour drive to Washington, IL less than a week after that city was hit by an F4 tornado. Because the situation was ever-changing they we were not sure as to what we would be doing or what to expect. We met Chad Allaman whose family home had been wiped off the floor. The devastation was surreal. There were vehicles and machinery everywhere. People of all ages were clearing debris to the curb. There were groups of people walking from house to house assisting people. Vans and people were up and down the roads passing out gloves, hand warmers because of the cold, coffee and hot chocolate. At one point Famous Dave’s lunch trucks were passing out lunches. The generosity of people was overwhelming.

Of course, the Church was quite evident. Local churchs’ vans were bringing in people and supplies. Everywhere you looked people were praying with each other. God’s love was evident. While our group was working the home next door had also been destroyed. The couple from Burma was standing in the front yard in tears and shock. They had no help whatsoever. Half our group went over to work with them and pray for them. Our group became the hands and feet of Christ to them. We were also able to connect with a group from Camp Timberlee. What a great group!

imagejpeg_1

We had been working for several hours when I stood up on the deck of the house and looked toward the direction the tornado came from. There was a three mile long by half mile wide path of destruction. Nothing standing but a few stripped trees. At some point the homeowners came to us and told us that the husband had a valuable ring that was lost in the wreckage. They said that there was a pile of rubbish in the yard that looks like it could be part of the closet that the ring was in and asked if we could look for it. Three of our men got on their hands and knees on the frozen ground and down with their hands and claw hammers. Why did they do this? Love. What was the pay-off? The ring. Like the woman who searched for her coins their persistence paid off.

imagejpeg_2The following day we worked at a school clearing about two dozen fallen trees and cleaning the roof and alcoves around the school. From there we went to the previous days homes to help do some final clearing. We walked from home to home assisting people clean and move belongings to the curb.

One thing that struck me was people’s attitudes. Those that lost everything seemed to be handling the situation better than those that had part of a home left. The people that still had something were desperately clinging to the remainders of their life while those who lost everything were going to start afresh. Kind of like salvation. We need to be presented to Christ in our nothingness. Empty and broken, not clinging to our past. We need to see ourselves as Christ sees us as a beautiful mess, a lump of clay that He can mold into a new creation. That is my desire for my life and what leads me to follow Christ into the field of souls.

ICYouth: Live {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

Happy New Year!

Come the arrival of a new year, I have found it fruitful to sit down and reflect on the year past, focus on the present and look forward to the year ahead. This year, however, I decided to delay a bit.  Be it scheduling, busyness or lack of focus, I found a way to avoid sitting down to write my Year in Review and my Year Ahead. The real reason is still in an unknown void: perhaps I didn’t want to look back, was apprehensive about looking at the now and surely skeptical about looking at the future. I buckled down and did it, eventually, and found myself in one of the most fruitful times I have had with the Lord in quite some time.

For me, the past year has been a roller coaster. That analogy, while cliché, very accurately epitomizes how I have felt in all aspects of my life: school, family, friends and faith … all of it.  Starting the year off, I dealt with a lot of internalized relational struggles, some that I still deal with to this day. As the months moved on, a friend of mine got very sick, there was a series of other pitfalls, yet all the while I found great comfort and solace in God and praised Him for His goodness.

The summer rolled around, and friendships blossomed and life was great. Yet as it drew to a close, I could feel Satan attempting to pull me away from the God that I loved.  I began to live for my flesh, and drove wedges in some of the most important relationships in my life.

As school began, it drove me insane with frustration as things became really challenging for me. My brother left for college and my mom became really ill toward the end of September, resulting in eight days of hospitalization.  Due to that, I was forced to fulfill some big responsibilities as my dad had to continue to work and I tried to juggle school, my little brother and daily visits to my mom.  Her sickness continued and resulted in another fou- day hospitalization just recently.  All the while, I’ve put God to the back burner and have only really called on Him out of frustration.  Granted, I had great weeks and months with God all throughout 2013, but the past four months especially have been categorized by a lot of emptiness and regret as I lived for myself and not for Him.

So, I sat down in prayer and asked first for forgiveness for not living as an example of Jesus, for merely skating through the year and just waiting to catch a break. Pastor Josh spoke a few weeks ago and mentioned not erasing anything, and just learning from it, and that really resonated with me. I asked for realignment and began to pray about my word for 2014, and this is the one I came up with: live.

My life when living for Christ with all I can is categorized by joy and peace, all the fruits of the spirit. Yet when I live for myself, I often times feel as I have the past four months… empty.

John 10:10 states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I am not setting lengthy resolutions or unattainable goals this year. I simply wish to live in a matter that Jesus would be proud of; I wish to live and have life to the full, something no worldly thing could give me.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: Thinking about the Holidays {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

The smell of pumpkin pie wafts through the air, various cakes and desserts line the counter tops and crock pots sit in the fridge, ready to be pulled out and turned on. I sit in the front room of my grandparent’s house, brainstorming a Christmas list to appease my urging grandmother. The annual Black Friday and Christmas ads sit sprawled across the floor as my mother plans out her shopping route. We all know she won’t get to any of the big sales she wants, but it’s her time to spend one-on-one with her mom, and that is why she enjoys going.

I love Thanksgiving because it’s a time where everyone expresses their gratitude — gratitude that sometimes sit dormant or go unsaid all year. While receiving thanks from someone is a true blessing, giving one almost tops that. A heartfelt note, phone call or even text message truly goes a long way for both giver and the receiver. By the time this is most likely read, it will be the day after Turkey Day. But what’s a better way to start the Christmas season than giving thanks to the people in your lives?

It is such an easy time to shift our views and realize how much God truly blesses us. It’s almost a path set out for us, so why not seize the opportunity. I am thankful for my father, my mother who holds my family together and does everything for me and also for my brothers who keep me laughing and are constant support. I am thankful for Immanuel and the family that I have there. I could not imagine spending a Sunday anywhere else. I am thankful for the adults in my life: my youth leaders who are like second family to me and my youth pastor, all of whom have shaped me into the Man of God I am today. I’m thankful for my friends.  Lastly, but certainly not least, I am thankful to the God who wakes me up each morning, decides to give me breath and provides all of the afore mentioned things for me.

The other thing I love about Thanksgiving is that it is the beginning of such a joyful time of the year. The tree goes up, the lights turn on and the general atmosphere shifts as people prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. It is a time of togetherness and community and love; I can’t wait. As gifts are given, carols are sung and time is spent together around the dinner table or the living room. As the snow and lights produce a sense of beauty, I pray that everyone encounters the God of genuine love, joy, peace and happiness this holiday season.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.