Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Open Hands (Stewardship Seminar)

August 02, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 9
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Open Hands (Stewardship Seminar)
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Open Hands (Stewardship Seminar)
Aug 02, 2020 Season 4 Episode 9
Pastor Dave Tucker

Join Dave as he explains the journey he took to understanding the spiritual practice of stewardship. 

Based on Romans 11:33-12:1. Originally presented August 2nd, 2020 at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford Texas. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Dave as he explains the journey he took to understanding the spiritual practice of stewardship. 

Based on Romans 11:33-12:1. Originally presented August 2nd, 2020 at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford Texas. 

OPEN HANDS
Romans 11:33-12:1

I must admit, this spiritual practice has been difficult for me over the past 50 years of my life. I have really wrestled with this most of my life and have only recently, within the past couple of years, come to terms with the practice I will be talking about… and my wife and I practice it regularly and faithfully and with joyful hearts. I promised you early on that I would never ask of my congregation anything I am not willing to do myself. And this is no exception. This is the last sermon in the sermon series, Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World and I have been honest with you that the principles I have laid out in this series is being presented in the order in which I came to an understanding of each practice. Today we will be talking about stewardship. I am going ask that you stick with me as I present my path to understanding this principle, in hopes to give you a better understanding of it as well. We’re even going to be doing some myth busting this morning which should be a fun exercise.

I’m going to be honest with you that in the past, when I thought of stewardship, I saw this as my obligation to God. I knew that God required 10% from my financial earnings and 10% is what I gave. I was lovingly taught this principle from an early age. Whenever I would make a little extra money for running errands for the neighbors or mowing their lawn, I would take that 10% right off the top and save it back to put in the offering plate once a week. If I made a dollar, ten cents went into the offering plate. If I made ten dollars, a dollar would be saved back to be put in the offering. It was my obligation… my commitment to God. It’s what I did to make God happy with me.

As I grew older and started to have to worry about bills, tithing became a little more difficult, then the kids came along and made things even tighter… Then, in the housing market collapse in 2009ish, and I lost a good paying job and eventually my home. My tithing came to a complete halt. I stopped giving! To be honest a lot of that can be attributed to me being angry at God. These tragedies aren’t supposed to happen to God’s faithful! I was a lay pastor at the time and traveling all over the state of Texas every week to preach for free. Losing my livelihood and my home was not supposed to happen. I had been paying my ten percent plus forking over the money to pay for my gas to preach all over Texas for free and I still lost my livelihood and home. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. I had a lot of time to think, sitting in that fifth wheel trailer on my parents land. Lots of time to re-read the bible. Lots of time to discover the heart of God. But this didn’t happen alone! Lucresia became a wonderful sounding board as I worked though our theology on life… particularly our theology of stewardship. 

These are the things that came up… These are the myths we busted. First, we were told, “You can’t out give God.” So, we tried………… We went a month without groceries. We quickly busted that myth… which, by the way, is not even biblical! The second theology we addressed was that passage in Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” There are a couple things Lucresia and I discussed about this passage. First, it reduces God to a transactional God. If you do this, I will bless you with something else. Also, if we look at this passage in context, this was directed at the priests of the Hebrew people and the tithes talked about were burnt offerings… not money. The second thing Lucresia and I discussed was the part of the passage where the LORD, (lit. YHWH) says bring your tithes that there may be meat in my house…” I have a question for you. Does God need our money? No! Myth Busted!

Can I take a bit of a detour here? I have been hearing a lot of talk from people about how churches should remain closed because they are not essential during this pandemic. And thing that really upsets me is the continued talk that the only reason churches want to open is so they can make money once again. I am here to tell you that with the increases in depression, substance abuse, suicide, and family violence, the church is more essential then it ever has been! And can I just say, it’s not about money. Over the course of most of my adult life, I have preached and provided pastoral care to hundreds of people for little to no money… ministry isn’t just a job and it’s not about money. Ministry is about being faithful to a call. (End of rant)

Then there is a passage that I clung so tightly to before I lost my home. It is found in Psalm 37:25, It is attributed to David “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” After claiming this passage over and over and still losing my home and having to get on food assistance programs to feed my family, this passage became a noose around my neck! “Apparently, I’m not righteous enough, or these things would not have happened the way they have.” I’m not sure where King David is coming from here, but if there is any question about righteous being forsaken and children begging for bread, I would invite you to come with me to Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth and see all the people living on the streets. Come with me to the Presbyterian Night Shelter and see how the shelter is overflowing! This is busted too.

So why give? I hear you saying right now, “Great job, Dave! You just gave me all the reasons not to give! I’m officially off the hook!” Not so fast. Stay with me just a little longer as I continue to flesh out my process of a healthy theology on tithing. Lucresia and I, based on advice from Judy Madden, care pastor of Pathway Church… the church that loved us and accepted us and brought us to healing… got us journaling daily gratitudes.  I wish I could say the journaling of daily gratitudes was my own idea, but it isn’t it comes from Judy Madden. We discovered, that even though we were living in poverty… even though we were in the midst of a crisis… even though it was often difficult to see God in the darkness of our situation, WE WERE STILL BEING BLESSED. We belong to God and according to our scripture reading for today, everything we are and everything we have belongs to God. We are to be LIVING sacrifices! (Can I hear an amen?!)

So here is my new theology on tithing… you ready? Understanding that we are already blessed will bring such gratitude from within, we will want to give our financial resources… and it will not matter the percentage! 2 Corinthians 9:7, 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 

ALSO, With an understanding that we are living sacrifices adds another layer to this idea of tithing… God wants our time and talents too. It is my prayer that you take this new understanding with you from this place. It is my prayer that God works on our hearts and our souls so we can come to this understanding of giving out of gratitude for what God has already done for us in our lives. May we approach God’s presence with open hands lifted to the heavens saying, “God, everything I am and everything I have I give to you! Use me, as a living sacrifice to bring the good news of God’s eternal kingdom to a broken, hurting, and traumatized world. You’re journal prompts are just between you and God. Write down what you are willing to commit financially to this church within the next six months. Also, between you and God, what talents and resources are you willing to give to this church within the next six months… Don’t write these things down out of obligation but out of gratitude for what God has already given you!

In conclusion, I would like to go back to the Presbyterian Night Shelter and share with you an experience Lucresia and I had serving at True Worth, a ministry of the Presbyterian Night Shelter… just down the street from the shelter. We used to assist with streaming church to True Worth so people can experience the benefits of church. Whenever we would read the prayer requests from the homeless clients who came to church, we were always moved to tears. The prayer requests were not for themselves, it was for their loved ones. And there were always gratitudes shared as well! You wouldn’t think a person living on the streets or in a shelter would have much to be grateful for but they did, and they shared. And the basket designed for the prayer requests almost always had money in it… the widow’s mite. For you see. It was from gratitude that these homeless people gave.