by Warren Hunsberger
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully.” (1 Corinthians 9:6, ESV)
The pressures of ministry can paint us into a corner. When we’re being attacked on all sides, it’s hard to think beyond our hastily erected defenses.
Let’s get real: when we’re having a hard time meeting payroll and paying the light bill from three months ago, it’s tough to consider generous giving. When we’re dealing with problems we think, “Giving feels like a loss. I used to have something, I gave it away, and now I don’t have it.”
But, Paul tells the church in Corinth the key to a bountiful harvest is liberal sowing/giving. Paul wasn’t talking to people who were trying to get rich. He wasn’t trying to get their money. He already had it. He wants us to go beyond our fear of giving and cross the line to generosity. The more we give, the more we receive. Best of all, the greatest return we receive from Him is LIFE in the Holy Spirit.
God wants us to know it is safe to obey God and give. This is good news for people like us who have a problem with giving.
Here the Bible puts it is a different light, a way that we should think about giving. It’s saying if we give to God’s work, we aren’t giving something away, but sowing a seed. It’s not a loss, but an investment that will bring returns. The farmer doesn’t lose seed when he plants it in the ground, he gains a crop.
Is Our Seed Still In the Barn?
A rational farmer would say, “I can’t sow my seed that I have in my barn, because then I wouldn’t have any seed any more. What would happen if I needed this seed?”
Any farmer or gardener knows that if they want a crop, they have to sow their seed. It doesn’t benefit the farmer to stuff his pockets full, and it doesn’t do any good to pray, “Oh God, please give me a crop. I’m not sure I can sow any seed, but God I’m trusting you to get involved. I’m believing you to give me a crop, but I need to hold on to my seed.”
The logical, wise thing to do is to sow seed in giving to the work of the Lord.
In the middle of the pressure we all face, we need renewed hope, renewed faith in the God who called us to give our lives in service. When we gave our life to Him, we RECEIVED new life in Christ! When we surrendered to His call to preach the Gospel, we didn’t lose anything – we’ve been GIVEN the privilege of engaging in work that produces an eternal harvest! When we give to the Lord, Paul promises us it will be just like sowing seed in a farm – we’ll reap if we sow.
Do we need to be renewed? Has our faith dipped to a dangerously low level? Paul tells us to give: sow our personal finances, sow the finances of our churches. Give ourselves to God more than ever before. Give ourselves to those we serve. Sow the seed God supplies, and we’ll reap a bountiful harvest.
Don’t leave our seed in the barn!
Recently Pastor Warren was appointed to the Governor’s Drug Policy Advisory Council, where he will take part in making policy recommendations concerning the administration, development and coordination of programs related to substance abuse education, prevention, treatment and enforcement.
by Lori Jacobs
I grew up on a farm, blessed with a very happy and simple childhood. My younger sister and I loved waking up in the morning to go exploring. Some days we chose to run in the wide open spaces where the cattle were grazing. On other days we stayed closer to home, playing in the orchard, surrounded by beautiful trees flourishing with juicy, red apples or sweet, ripe cherries. For a special treat, my mother would pack a surprise lunch for us and we would find our favorite secret spot to be together, just the two of us, sharing secrets, laughing, and dreaming. I cherish those memories.
Today I live in the city, many miles away from the orchards and the wide open spaces shared with my sister. But even here, just minutes away from malls and busy streets, I have a found a favorite getaway spot in my own backyard.
A highlight of our week is attending a small group with amazing people who are wise in the word, seasoned in ministry, and gifted in a variety of areas. Last night our group leader asked the question, “What do you do in your everyday life to stay grounded?” When it was her turn to answer the question, a friend immediately responded, “I go outside and enjoy nature. Life is chaos, but there is order in God’s creation.”
My friend spoke what was in my heart. There is something about being close to nature–a walk, a beautiful sunset, a vividly bright blue sky, a garden of colorful flowers or vibrant hues of autumn leaves–that causes me to grasp the reality of God’s presence like nothing else.
The theme for this month is “Renew.” Make it a priority to discover–or rediscover–that spot where your heart is renewed. Find the place you hear His still, small voice most clearly and allow Him to bring order out of the chaos in your life. Find a place to connect with the One who is your best friend, and dream with the One who can shape those dreams and make them into realities. Transformation happens by renewing our mind. (Romans 12:2). Make a little time to get away today and become grounded.
“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” Psalm 36:5
by Matt Loomis
I have recently decided that I need to return to regular exercise and to paying attention to what I eat. In that process I am learning that just because I used to be in the habit, it isn’t making it any easier to return to that. I won’t profess to know the physiological changes that must take place in the body to return it to a place of strength and health. But I can profess with some knowledge, that it isn’t easy. In fact, it is taking time, effort and some pain on my part.
Imagine what must take place in the human body to accomplish this feat! Not just physical changes, but the mental and emotional changes associated with making new habits. Actually as I consider all this I am starting to wonder if I can pull it off!
One thing I am grateful of : Jesus makes all things new.
There is a moment in history that has yet to occur, but that has been recorded, when the Creator will make me completely new again. No sore muscles, no miscellaneous aches and pains, and no more thoughts of, I think I’m getting old…
Instead, in an instant, He will do what only a Creator can, totally and finally renew me! How easy it is for Him! He simply speaks it and it is done.
But beyond the physical body, what I am most excited about is that my heart will be new, freed to love Him in a way beyond what I can imagine. Loosed from the fetters of sin and the issues that so easily cause me to stumble. I will be able to love Him beyond measure! I can’t wait for that day, when I understand and truly become all that God has intended for me!
Don’t forget that as you walk the journey with Him, He has a moment in time selected when it’s all made new. No more business of church, no more struggle to fit it all in, no worries of competence or balancing family and ministry. Just a completed you with your proud Dad!
by Ashley Knepper
The theme for Iowa Ministry Network in October is renewal. For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about renewal from a variety of angles and we look forward to the conversations this month’s theme might inspire.
In one of my first psychology classes at Evangel University, the professor read Romans 12:1, 2 (NIV) “1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
He challenged that one of our primary tasks as believers is continually submitting ourselves to renewing our minds and one of the central functions for us as we counsel others is to assist them in this process.
Prioritizing our own mental health is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to our friends, family and church bodies. This practice can keep us from burnout, help us to stay physically healthier, enable us to be more effective leaders and simply make us more pleasant to be around. When we prioritize our personal mental health, it leads to a healthier church body.
Allowing God to renew our minds can happen through rest, reading, meditating on His Word, talking with wise friends, engaging in counseling, prayer and self-awareness. So, take some time this month to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
If you’re interested in a more focused look at your own mental and emotional health (and how it impacts your church), check out The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero.