The Gift Of Generosity

Does it matter if you’re generous? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know that my wife and I are poor. I was recently sharing at a men’s group at my church about this. I had said my wife wanted to get a Nintendo Switch, but it costs too much and even too much as a Christmas gift. It couldn’t be done. This was said because we were talking about coveting and wanting things you can’t have.

We’ve had a surprise from that recently. Someone in the group really was alert when I said that and told my wife they were going to buy us one and asked what games we wanted. It’s in our living room right now. We got it yesterday. This same person also has a wife who teaches dance and is willing to get Allie into the class so she can learn it as she wants to lose weight that way.

We have another friend who upon hearing that we were going to be getting the Switch offered to give us a game of our choice. It has been one we have been spending time enjoying. I have been marveling over this lately. Gifts aren’t my love language, but they do mean something to me.

For the Switch, I saw this person in church yesterday with their wife and kids and I talked to him and his wife about what it meant after the service. Here they have Christmas coming up and kids that will be needing to go to college and so many other things, and they went out and did something like this for our Christmas hardly knowing us at all.

We were told that he grew up in a place (I won’t say where, as I want to keep him anonymous) where there was great poverty and his mother had to walk half a mile from the house and half a mile back regularly just to get water to bathe the children. It told me he had seen that poverty and understood what it meant when someone was in that.

Around here, we have someone on the local radio station who has a drive to help out foster kids at Christmas to make sure that they all get gifts for Christmas. It’s a wonderful cause, but here’s the thing. I understand he’s Jewish. While he could be Messianic, if he’s not even a Christian but providing so kids can have a good Christmas, shouldn’t we who are followers of Jesus do that?

Christians are to be generous people. Scripture tells us that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Don’t you want to be someone the Lord loves? My wife and I don’t have much, but we try to give what we can because we know there are definitely people worse off than we are.

Now this is concerning money, but there are other gifts you can give. You can give the gift of your time. You can give the gift of service. You can give the gift of listening.

You can also give to those who are close to you. Don’t take for granted they know how much you mean to them. They might not. Sometimes someone might be helped if you just pick up the phone and call them and ask how they’re doing. Take them out to lunch or something of that sort. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy place. Some people would be fine just being taken out to fast food just so they could talk to someone.

Gifts like this can give hope. As I thought about this gift this friend had given us, it really made me think there could be more hope than I realized. The church has already been generous to us and maybe there was something more we could do then. Just yesterday I got to teach a class on apologetics and it was such a thrill. Someone said afterward they would like to see a small group started.

Christians are to be giving people because we have been given so much. Hugh Ross has been on my show a number of times and he has said at one point that it has been said that Christians have enough resources to fulfill the Great Commission in five years. I can believe it. Why isn’t it fulfilled? It’s not a priority to us.

Christmas time is here and it is the season of giving. When you’re giving, please also consider with end of the year giving a donation to Deeper Waters. Make your donation through Risen Jesus and let me or my wife know or my in-laws so that we can make sure we will get the donation. It is tax-deductible that way.

Please pause today to consider how you could give to someone. To you, it might be a small thing. To them, it might be everything.

And oh yes, to the two I’ve mentioned about who have been so generous to us….

Thanks. We are blessed to have friends like you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Our Failure To Give

Are we not giving enough in ministry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve said before that I’m a game show junkie. If I’m reaching for the remote, my wife knows that usually I want to turn on GSN. Sunday, I’m watching one of my favorites, Idiotest. There’s a pair of ladies on there who are playing because they want to have enough money to go on a mission trip.

Okay. Let’s be clear right at the start. That’s awesome. People wanting to go on a show and win money not for themselves, but so that they can do something special in ministry. It’s the kind of thing that we should all aspire to. However, despite how great that is, it also indicates something.

The church is failing.

Can any of us imagine in the 1st century Paul going to Caesar and trying to earn more funds so he could do ministry work? Hardly. The church had to give and take care of its own. It was a fledgling movement, but still growing rapidly, and people had to look out for one another. There were people who were wealthy and there were people who were poor.

Whenever we as a church go outside of ourselves in order to raise up the funds, we make a silent confession before the world. That confession is that the church is not giving enough of itself. It must rely on those on the outside.

Back in January, I had Ty Benbow on my show to talk about abortion. One thing he said was that if every church in America adopted just one child every season of the year, we could end any abortion debate. Just one. Of course, not every family can do that. There are plenty of poor families. There are some who can give more than they are.

This also includes not just money, but time and services. Do you realize that if you give of your time that you are freeing up money that could go to greater causes that we can’t directly intervene in? If you volunteer to do something at your church, that means there’s more that can go somewhere else.

I recently wrote a blog where I mentioned the giving of 10%. I’m not saying the New Testament teaches the tithe. I think it instead teaches that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Just that should be something to make us think. God loves a cheerful giver. Don’t we all want to be the kind of person that God loves? Then we should consider being cheerful givers.

Yet as someone said who commented, most pastors would be thrilled if their churches would give 10%. Many of them don’t. The poor of course I’m not really speaking about. Those who don’t have any money to give are not obligated to give, although the poor can give service in other ways. What I am contending for is that we can do something more.

Many of us will be tempted to think that a little bit can’t make much of a difference. By itself, one is absolutely right. Yet if everyone gives a little bit, a little bit can become a lot. If your local blood bank has a blood drive, it would be ridiculous and medically dangerous to think that you have to supply blood for everyone in need. It’s not ridiculous when you realize that when many people do that, then many can benefit.

It’s important to note that there are many pastors who have greed. It’s a sin that anyone can fall into. That’s also why I encourage churches to have upfront financial statements so everyone can see where the money is going to. Be aware pastors that you need to encourage giving, but if you overdo it, you will come across as greedy. Be aware also person in the pew that the church has to say it sometime and just because it’s said doesn’t mean greed is involved.

It’s great to see women going on a show wanting to win money for a mission trip. It will be even better when they don’t need to because the church does give enough as it is. Hopefully we can reach a day where the church is better known for generosity than they are for hypocrisy.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Will You Give?

How much will you give for what you want? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife is trying to diet and get in shape right now. She’s on Weight Watchers and frankly, she’s doing pretty awesome right now and learning to control herself. We also go to support groups for her. I am one who is underweight and I can’t relate to being obsessed with food, but I do go anyway to be her mutual support.

Last night, I was thinking about the concept of how these programs work if you do them. It’s all about how much you’re willing to give. It’s a simple concept and it’s one we know from our every day experience, but it hits at something true. How much you succeed in your life will depend on how much you are willing to give and you will get better at whatever you wind up giving the most to.

Let’s suppose you want to be a good baseball player. You have a dream of playing in the major leagues someday. What do you do? Well you sit and watch your favorite team play all day and you read a lot of books about baseball, but you never go out and practice. You never go and work out and build up your body so that you yourself can play baseball. You will wind up knowing a lot about baseball, but you’ve never given yourself to playing the sport. You will not make it to the majors.

When I was in Bible College, I was a commuter. Now I’ve always been good at video games, but when I went to visit some guys on campus, I got pretty good competition at the original Super Smash Bros. (That’s how long ago it was) Why is it that that was working out that way that I wasn’t doing as good as I thought I would? Because these guys all lived together and no doubt got together regularly and played and so they had got better at it.

If you want to do anything in life, you will have to give and you will only get out what you give. This post started talking about dieting. If you say you are trying to lose weight, but you never want to exercise and you want to eat whatever you want without limits, you will never lose it. You might really want to, but without effort, nothing will happen. Ultimately, someone has to decide that they want health more than they want food.

If you want to learn another language, you are going to have to sit down and spend some time studying the language. Most of us are not going to be savants that learn by osmosis. Even if you do have a natural capacity for learning, you still have to do some work.

I have had my father-in-law Mike Licona be on my show three times at this point. At the start of one show, I wanted to point out something about us. Mike was not an academic in school and he would struggle just to make passing grades. I was the kind of student who went to school, came home and played video games all day long, and got A’s. Yet you know what? When it comes to apologetics, both of us have to give and both of us have to study. Right now, Mike can easily run circles around me. If I ever want to get to the point where he is, I have to work.

This will also apply in your marriage as well or any other relationship. Too often in marriage we ask about what our spouse will give us. We rarely ask about what we will give them. How many men are saying “I don’t get enough sex in marriage!” Well how about asking what you’re giving? Frankly guys, a lot of times you might not be getting sex because I hate to say it, you’re an insensitive jerk to your wife. Have you considered doing things like, I don’t know, helping out around the house, taking care of the kids, investing time in your relationship with your wife?

Now you women, don’t think you’re getting off of the hook. Some of you are asking the opposite question. “When is that lazy bum going to help me with this housework?” You see, too often in marriage, men and women really have the same attitude. “If they don’t do what I want, I won’t do what they want.” Well that’s just petty. There are a number of women who will advise you even that if you want to have your husband do more around the house, seduce him. Really seduce him. Let your husband know that you want him and watch and see how he changes.

Here’s a possibility the wife and husband might be dreading. “What if I give to them and they still don’t treat me right?” That’s hard, but you know what? You’ve done the right thing. There’s no guarantee someone will respond favorably even if you do the right thing. Jesus’s audience sure didn’t respond favorably to His message and He never did anything wrong. You do the right thing anyway and you pray to God for the well-being of your spouse. When you stand before God, you can do so knowing you did the right thing. Besides, if you’re doing the right thing just to get what you want out of the deal, are you really doing the right thing? Husbands shouldn’t give time and help to their wives to get sex. Wives should not give sex to get something they want from their husbands. Of course, if your motives aren’t pure, I recommend you still do the right thing anyway and ask God to help you with your motives.

What about children? You will have a better relationship with your children the more you give. Note also please that this giving does not mean you buy everything in the world that they want. Of course, there’s a time and place for material gifts in any relationship, but when you’re gone one day, your kids won’t be saying “I really wish they’d had bought me that X-Box I wanted.” They will want that time. They will want to know you were interested in what they were interested in. Maybe not to the same extent, but you can talk to them about it.

If you want to be good at apologetics, you will have to give. If you want a good relationship and understanding of God, you will have to give. You will have to do the work yourself. The more you do it, the better you will get.

Also, keep in mind there is no need to fear if God will give or not to you. God is the greatest and most generous giver. He may not give you what you want, but He will give you that which is for your good if you are one who loves Him. Give your all to God and watch and see what happens.

So today, I ask, what are you willing to give? If you are not willing to give, do you really want something? There are no shortcuts in this. Just do the right thing. Give.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Care For Our Own Any More?

How can the church be the salt and light to the world if its abandoning some of its chief responsibilities? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

This is about a friend.

This is about a friend who is in need.

This is about a friend who is in need and the church is silent.

I wish I could say that this kind of thing is an anomaly, but it’s not.

When you go to church, part of worship is giving some of your tithes and offerings to the church. Now why do you do that? Is it because the church is full of money-grubbing people and that’s all that they want? No doubt, this is true of some churches, such as in the case of a lot of people you will see on a station like TBN, but I have hopes that most churches are not really like this. Most churches have ministers that are trying to do the right thing. Of course, I think too many of them are unequipped and have no business being in ministry, but that does not mean they’re in it for the money.

What all does a minister have to do? Off the top of my head, here are some duties.

Preaching a sermon.

Preparing for a sermon.

Personal study to learn about what to preach.

Church administrative duties.

Counseling.

Visiting people who are in the hospital.

Attending church events.

Could possibly be teaching some classes.

Remaining on-call for anyone in the congregation in need.

And from there, the list goes on. Keep in mind a good minister also has to have his own personal time for prayer, Bible study for himself, and if he’s married, he has to have time for his family. Furthermore, no minister can remain working 24/7. He’ll burn himself out. He needs to have some time to relax and enjoy himself in leisurely activity.

When you pay your pastor’s salary, what you are essentially saying is that the work he does is so important that you don’t want him to have to work elsewhere so that he’s not capable of doing all of that. You are pretty much paying him so that he can be there full-time in order to help meet the needs of the body.

Ideally also, a good pastor will be training others under him to be leaders and thus giving him less that he absolutely has to do, consider the example of Moses in the wilderness who trained others under him to answer questions and left all the really difficult matters to Moses. Had Moses not done this, he would have burnt himself out and been unable to lead the people.

Now what else is your money going towards?

It could go towards other staff members as well, but also, your money is going towards the maintenance and care of the building or the place that is rented and to getting materials such as Bibles that can be used for purposes of evangelism. A church has to make sure that it is taken care of after all.

Beyond that, what?

Good question.

These can go into a savings for when the church has an emergency, which is just fine, and they can also go to ministry projects, which are feasible and can be carried out, but another need of these funds is to care for those who are in need.

And in this last one, we have failed big time.

I am one who has been unable to find work in this economy for a long time. That’s the way it is. What do I do in the meanwhile? I do work for my in-laws and they help provide for us in return and we do have some government aid.

Hello. Did you hear that?

Yes. Government aid. Ideally, Christians would be giving this kind of support, but they too often don’t. Instead, it becomes the job of the government. The government should not be in the charity business and the fact that the government is the organization taking care of the poor, especially the Christian poor, is proof that the church has failed in an important aspect of its mission.

I said this was about a friend at the start. Let me use that as an example.

Meet Marc.

Marc is a friend I know through the Christian Apologetics Alliance where we are raising up funds for him. I would love to donate, but seeing as I have no real income, I’m incapable of doing that. Yet as I thought about this last night, it just got me angry. 

Now I’m not one of those people who condemns the rich. If you are wealthy, you have a gift from God if you use it right. It is no sin to have money. It is a sin for money to have you. If you have the money and can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with buying a Mercedes or going on a nice vacation or living in an expensive house or enjoying many of the finer things in life.

Of course, if you’re doing all of that and you’re stingy with your money towards the poor, that is a problem.

There are too many Christians who are like that.

Note also in this that I am not making a message of socialism. I am a capitalist. I don’t think the role is that government should force you to give your money to the poor. Rather, God loves a cheerful giver. It should be that you will want to give to the poor because they are people in need of your support.

So let’s go to my friend Marc. What’s his story?

“Not long ago my car needed to be repaired for a leaky transmission. Since I’ve been out of work I couldn’t afford the work. Some people offered to pay for the work, and so my car was towed (because it was not running) to a local dealer. The mechanic there drove the car and blew the engine, then the dealeship said they don’t do replacement engines and that was that. The dealership took the $1600 for the work they claimed they did. I was desperate and took some bad advice that I could get enough money through a student loan. That didn’t happen. So now I owe a different mechanic $3414 for a new engine plus labor plus lot fees, and he’s filed a mechanics lien. So I will lose my car that I had already paid for. Since becoming unemployed I’ve ran through all my savings, and just recently (after the whole car mess) became homeless. I won’t even have my car to sleep in. If you can help, please do. The money goes to Dave’s Automotive in Carbondale, Illinois

Plus, having a car again GREATLY expands where I can apply for jobs.”

This Christian has been going through a hard time including doubt and anger. It’s been a real struggle, and I think one of the biggest struggles is that Christians are not helping out.

And sadly, this is common.

You see, I happen to have a great interest in math. Let’s suppose you have a church of 200 people. That’s a fairly decent number of people to be in a church. Let’s suppose this church wanted to help Marc out. One Sunday, everyone in the church gave $20. Now it’s quite likely that no one will be breaking the bank, but you know what they will do?

They’ll break Marc’s debt.

Can’t do it that way? Okay. Picture a month with four Sundays. Each Sunday, every person gives $5.

The same result happens.

You see, most of our money in the church is really wasted. My ministry partner wrote an excellent article on this here. Churches get started in huge elaborate building projects and never finish them. That’s money that could have been used for the Kingdom of God gone to waste. Following the principle of Luke 14 and counting the cost before you start something, that’s also an embarrassment. 

We also spend money on projects that aren’t worth the investment. Again, another example of that is here. I have seen so many churches with these Family Life Centers and I can’t help but wonder how many of them are really being effective in ministry. Looking at the way the church is going in the world and how many people are falling away, I’d say they’re extremely ineffective. 

Let’s compare that to a ministry like this one here, the ministry of Deeper Waters, an apologetics ministry.

Now I’m not one who really cares about having a lot of money. I care about having enough. In fact, if I generally have extra money, aside from buying books, the main thing I’m thinking of is how can I do something nice for my wife. Can I take her out to dinner or buy her something that would put a smile on her face? We also would like to be able to give on our own to ministries like Voice of the Martyrs.

So here is pretty much what I’m doing most of the day. I wake up and I check my emails and Facebook and see what needs to be done. Then, I go about writing the blog. The rest of the day is spent in many cases reading and studying and often times, answering questions that come in from various people. Throughout the week, I’m also preparing for the weekly podcast where I hope to bring the best information to people. Also, I am regularly sent books by groups like IVP to review and in addition to that, many people will come to me asking about a book and if I can find it at the local library or if they’re willing to send me a copy, I will read it for them and tell them what I think. They can send me web sites or YouTube videos or things of that sort that they need addressed. Lately, there has been more public speaking going on for me too.

None of these I am paid for generally. Some people do donate, but not money.

Just like ministry in the church, when you donate to an apologetics ministry, what you are telling the person is “I value the work that you give so much that I want you to continue doing it.” Often times, I think apologists are seen as villains in the church because we do that wicked “debating” and “arguing” and we are so caught up in the life of the mind that we are missing out on the true essence of worship which is all about our passions.

Supposedly….

Just ignore that little part about loving God with all our minds.

Sometimes, I think it’s like being the police force. The apologist shows up and the church members are like “Oh great. Here comes that guy who wants to make sure we’re all walking in line and that all of our beliefs add up correctly.” In some sense, we are. We want to make sure the church is not straying into heresy. This doesn’t mean eliminating every wrong belief. It means eliminating those that are so serious they put someone’s salvation in jeopardy.

At the same time, we’re also like a military force. You know why many of you can sit safely in church and worship? It’s because people like the apologists among you are out there in the front lines and are busy taking bullets on your behalf. We’re the ones that are engaging the atheists and cultists and such in the hopes that they will leave you alone. (Of course, we also hope they will come to Christ, but many are just not open yet.)

Unfortunately, the church has had a habit of neglecting the apologists in its community and the work they do and supporting those that are parasites on the community. Think of how many people pay to go see Joel Osteen for instance. I have said before that when Michael Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga are names every Christian knows and Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and others of that ilk are out there trying to get support, we will have a much more equipped church ready to handle the challenges.

The question is, do you really value the apologetics work that is done or not? When you see people who are serving, do you want to help them with preparing the ground for harvest, or do you just want the fruit of the garden? Now some people are unable to donate, and I understand that. If you’re in that camp, offer prayers and support. This includes your own pastor too. If your pastor does a good job with what he does, let him know. Pastors often go extremely unappreciated. For us, we pray for our pastor every night. We want our church to be prepared to fulfill the Great Commission.

This also doesn’t just apply to Deeper Waters. I do hope you will donate to us. (If you do, just click the donate button and then email me or Mike and Debbie Licona and let us know that you want the donation to go to us.) There are several several other ministries that could use your support. Of course, there are major ministries like Risen Jesus, Reasonable Faith, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and others that need your support. There are also several starting up that need your support. J. Warner Wallace has gathered a list of tent makers and they could use your support. That list can be found here.

Also, I am certainly not saying to support only apologetics ministries. Support ministries that give to the poor of your community. Support ministries that are doing overseas evangelism. Just don’t lose sight of the ministries that are right outside your front door. These ministries involve people who are giving their lives to the kingdom in service.

With people like Marc being among us and in desperate need of help, it is a scandal for the church that we are unable to care for them. It is certainly true that we will always have the poor among us, but if we abscond our responsibilities to the government, what message are we sending? We’re giving the government the go-ahead and saying “The church of Jesus Christ is incapable of meeting the needs of the people around it and ask that you in the kingdom of this world help us out.” 

If we are to show the love of Jesus to the rest of the world, we have to be able to show it to those who live among us. While the passage is written to Israel, I do think it applies to us. In Malachi 3, God asks the people of Israel to test Him. Can’t He rain down blessings so they will not contain it? If God loves a cheerful giver, is it not likely He will enable that person to keep giving? No. This is not prosperity Gospel. This is not give to get. This is give so you can keep giving. 

Remember also, start with your local church. That is the immediate body that deserves your help. If your local church is not worth giving to, then you need to find a new local church. In our day and age, it can be hard to find a good church that really seeks to uphold the truth of Scripture and encourages discipleship. Keep looking. They’re out there.

From there on, move to other ministries that you think are worth supporting. Think Deeper Waters is worth supporting? Then support us. If not, then don’t. Remember, this is not just me. There are several others. I linked to Wallace’s article with some. There are also ministries like that of my ministry partner, tektonics.org, and ministries like Adam’s Road, a ministry to Mormons that gives all of their music away for free. 

Also, please help out someone like Marc. If anyone among us is fallen and in need of help, we are obligated to help him. Remember, if any one of our body suffers, we are all suffering. It would be awesome to have Marc get this taken care of as soon as possible and know that the body of Christ was behind it all. 

Another point that needs to be made is I am in no way telling you to give what you don’t have. I’m not interested in grandma cashing in her Social Security and sending it all in. You must take care of yourself and if you don’t have the resources, you can always pray and encourage. That is more of a blessing than you know.

I wrote this because Marc is a friend in need, and Marc is an example of the way the church is failing to do its job. By all means, we must continue our ministries of reaching people who have not heard Christ and tending to the sick and feeding the hungry, but we must also help those in our own household who have fallen and can’t seem to get up. We must also support those out there who are doing the work that not everyone is capable of doing or has the time and resources to do so the rest of us can rest easy at night knowing the Christian faith is secure.

If you have the resources, please consider being generous with them and helping out those who are seeking to do what they can to help the Kingdom.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Giving and Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been taking us through 1 Corinthians 13 lately to see what the Apostle Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the topic of love in relation to giving.

Many of us often see big announcements from businesses when they make donations. If you go to some stores and shop, you can see them announcing how much they’ve given to a local charity. Most of us upon seeing this can think it’s just PR. To an extent, we can be right about that.

Of course, we shouldn’t blow it all off that way. Some companies could really care about these charities and want their customers to know that this is a caring company. We cannot judge the hearts. However, we can at the same time be aware that a large act of giving does not necessitate the existence of love.

Paul here tells us that one can give all that they have to the poor and still not have love. We can remember the story of Jesus being in the temple and seeing the rich come in and dropping in large amounts of money. It is when the widow comes in and gives all that she has that Jesus really pays attention.

We can also remember the words about the Pharisees that Jesus said in that they like to make it known when they are giving gifts so everyone can see. He tells us that they have their reward then. They want to give to be seen by men and so they are seen by men. The reward is given.

Now sometimes you will give and the giver will know who you are when giving. This happens with PayPal donations today to our ministry and we definitely see it when we have Christmas and birthday celebrations going on. “Okay. This gift is from Mom. This gift is from Aunt Susie. This gift is from my brother.”

Isn’t there such a blessing however in receiving a gift often and not knowing who it’s from? Right off, I can think of three incidents in recent history in which I have received a generous gift from someone and to this day, I have no idea who it is. Of course, I can speculate each time, but I suspect that the person just wants to see the satisfaction of knowing that we enjoy the gift. In a sense, that person too has their reward in the joy of giving, but I can be sure that they have even more coming eventually.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells them that God loves a cheerful giver. When we give, it should not be something that we think we’re guilted into. A lot of churches do this on sermons involving tithes. Whether you think the tithe is valid today or not, the point is that sermons on giving to the church regularly tend to be met with skepticism, and we can see why. Unfortunately, there are a lot of churches today that are highly interested in big bank accounts on Earth instead of in Heaven.

By all means, Christians should give, but giving itself is not a sign of love. It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Let us learn to love first then and those of us who might have a tendency to being stingy can learn more about giving on the way.

We shall continue next time.