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Core 52: Chapter 21 - Money

When I was a kid, I remember on occasion my grandfather, who lived up in New York, making his way to Florida for work and also making a little time to see his grandkids while he was here.  I remember on one occasion when he took my cousins, Doug and Jennifer, and myself, out to dinner and then we went to an arcade to play some games.  Now, remember the timeline I’m working on and maybe you can relate to this a little better.  I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, so we’re talking early 1980s (wow, is that even possible?!?! ) and video arcades were the newest craze. All you needed was a roll of quarters, and you were likely to keep yourself entertained for at least a whole 15 minutes, or maybe 30 if you were really good at Pac-Man!
I remember my grandfather pulling a roll of quarters out of his pocket, opening it and just sort of dumping it into our grubby little greedy hands.  He didn’t even count them out – he just dumped them into our hands, and we ravenously grabbed them and ran to go play games.  After having munched countless power pellets in Pac-Man and failing to jump flaming barrels in Donkey Kong, I slowly walked around the arcade looking for my grandfather certain he would beckon us out the door and take us home. On my way back I was almost knocked down by my cousin Doug (who was probably a whole 45 pounds soaking wet at the age of 7 or 8, and let’s just say I put the “H” in Husky pants by comparison).  He was acting like he had just gotten his fistful of quarters.  Could it be?  How did he even have the willpower not to blow all his money on games at the same rate as me?  In my mind, all I could think of was “How is that even possible?”
Then I turned the corner to see my cousin Jennifer standing next to my grandfather as he opened up another roll of quarters. My sadness turned to joy, and my sloth-like meander turned into an Olympic quality sprint as I dashed over with the hopes of grabbing a few more quarters.  He quickly told me to “hold on,” as he emptied that roll into Jennifer’s hands and then proceeded to send her on her way as he reached into his pocket.  He pulled out another roll, opened it up and poured it into my hands.  The sound of clanging metal and tumbling quarters never sounded so good to the ears of an eight-year old boy!
I don’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure we all did that at least one more time with my grandfather that day, and I still remember it as one of the best arcade experiences I had ever had. In hindsight, I think we must have blown about $100 in quarters that day in the arcade. I know, I know –that’s absolutely INSANE, right?
But is God any different?  As I read through the essay from Mark Moore this week about money I was reminded of our short sermon series from early January when we talked about stewardship – both of our time/efforts and our money.  We talked about being a “liver, not a faker” (not the organ, but one who lives!) in regards to fully living in Christ by practicing stewardship. We also talked about giving until in hurts is when you realize it doesn’t really hurt to give.
Mark Moore made a comment about giving that I think is worth repeating, as it helps us to understand God’s view of money, our stewardship and its role in HIS kingdom.  Moore says,
 “Typically, we focus on generosity as a blessing to those who receive it.  God focuses on the blessing that generosity offers to those who provide it. … Not only does giving bless you, but it also opens the floodgates of God’s blessing on your life.  It’s as if God gives us wealth for redistribution and eagerly awaits our emptied hands to pour out more. The more we reallocate God’s resources to build God’s kingdom, the more He funnels our direction.”
Kind of reminds me of my grandfather as he gave out quarters like it was going out of style that day.  I think God is waiting to bless us in great ways, but before He does that, He’s waiting to see how quickly we can reinvest and redistribute it in an honoring way in the Kingdom of God.  (Now I’m not saying if you empty your bank accounts tomorrow and give it to the church you’re going to win the Powerball on Friday night – that’s another topic for another day).  Let’s be sure we prioritize our managerial skills when it comes to our finances and God’s Kingdom as we return the tithe to the Lord and offer even more for the glory and advancement of His Name and His Kingdom. When we do that, in a genuine and honest God-pleasing way, He will bless us and fill our empty hands again – not because He wants to give us more, but because He knows we’ll give it all away and come back again for more.
Bring your empty hands to God with a heart set on stewardship, and He will bless you so that you can bless those around you.

- Pete Ramsey