Special guest speaker Randy Alcorn joins Todd Wagner to discuss a biblical view of money, giving, and trusting God with our finances. Highlighting the six principles from Alcorn's book The Treasure Principle, they answer the question, "What should I do with my money?" Listen in to gain a Biblical perspective of stewardship - and enjoying the provision God gives.
At Home Worship
Christmas Eve 2015
The Greatest Invitation
Making Room, Making Disciples
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Your Trial In Heaven
Fort Worth, Here Is What We Think of You
What the Church Who Believes Is and Does
The USA: United States of Anxiety
From Intimacy to Idols
The Standard: Old Testament, Jesus and Believers
The Path to the Good Life
Nothing Short of Miraculous
Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle With Gluttony
How We Come To God
Dealing with Disappointment
The Story That Never Gets Old the God Who Is Always Behind It and the Way We Are Told to Remember It
The "One Thing"
Baptism Celebration 2015
Believing That Leads to Life
What Should I Do With My Money?
Good morning. It's great to be with you all. Good morning, Fort Worth. Good morning, Plano. I had a great time being with the men in Plano Thursday of this week as they kicked off their Summit Bible study, synced up with the one we're doing in Dallas. Fort Worth men, I know you all have that study also starting this week, as we do here in Dallas. Fort Worth folks, we are looking forward to being with you and all of your leaders, several hundred of them.
Just so you Dallas folks know, we're getting together like we did in the early days of Watermark here and just pulling away all of the folks over there who are leaders and members, who are the foundational group of that community. So we're looking forward to hanging out with you all this coming weekend, and we're looking forward to what we get to do as we spend some time together this morning.
It is a little bit of a different morning. We're thrilled to get to share with you probably the guy whose writings and books and teaching have influenced the leadership of this church more than any other author, living and dead, and that's just a reality. This man has written more books than most of you have read, which is the sad reality…for him and you both. Anyway, I will tell you that if you want to grow spiritually, equip yourself. Read God's Word. Jump in on The Journey.
If you want to understand how God's Word applies to topics you are passionate to understand more about, Randy, in my humble opinion (and I'm not just saying this because he's here; I've said it behind his back numerous times), has written the definitive work on heaven. If you want to read a book that explains to you a biblical worldview of heaven, what's going to happen there, what's not…
In fact, Randy and I just did a Real Truth. Real Quick. we shot together this week…Will We Have Sex in Heaven? You can look forward to that answer coming. It's coming. You can watch the one about Fifty Shades of Grey so you know you probably shouldn't watch people have sex that way here on earth, but that's another topic.
What I would share with you this morning is that Randy has written the greatest book I know on heaven to help you understand that, the greatest book I know on money and possessions and eternity. He has written the best book, or I would say this one is just in the class of good books…If God is Good. It's fantastic. There are other really excellent books that deal with the issue of the problem of evil and God, but Randy's is amazing.
He has written, I think, the best book… If you've ever wanted to understand Calvinism, Arminianism, the sovereignty of God, and human responsibility, he just came out with one called Hand in Hand. These books will equip you and teach you. I love them because they're thick with Scripture. Randy and I were together this weekend speaking at a conference, and we had a chance to sync up where he could be here with you this morning.
Because he's writing so much and speaking so much, he said, "Todd, let's do this. Would you just interact with me on some topics?" So that's what we're going to do. I'm not here to protect you from Randy. I would love to turn him loose, but the way we're going to do that is with just a conversation about God's Word and things that I trust him explicitly on.
One of the things we do whenever we have a friend like Randy here (which isn't very often) and they have resources we know you're going to want, we ask them to bring those books, and then just for today they're available for you to pick up, I'm sure cheaper than you can get them other places. So afterwards, if you want to visit with Randy, he'll be out there with that material, all of those books I've mentioned and many others, on sexual temptation, on just many practical areas you will wrestle with.
Eternal Perspective Ministries, epm.org is his website. I would encourage you to live there. I would encourage you to get his daily blog and update. It's fantastic. It will equip you so that you can be effective. If you're not in Dallas, we've built a website so you can get his books. It's amazon.com. I don't know how long we're going to have that up, but Plano and Fort Worth, that's where you can get Randy's books. All of us now, let me pray, and, Randy, you come on up here.
Father, I thank you for this morning and a chance to interact with a friend who loves you, who loves your Word. My friends here hear me say all the time I don't want to share with them what I think. I want to be a steward of the mysteries of God. I thank you that that's what Randy is. He is a man who has disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness. He's a man who doesn't just write things that are true; he lives it.
I thank you that he has read your Word through, he has prayed it in, he is living it out, and would you now allow him to pass it on in a way that would stir our hearts? Thank you for my friend who I love and I learn from, for the way he is faithfully serving you up there in Oregon and the way you've used his writings to equip the church all around the world. Would you equip this church right here, right now, for your glory and our good? I pray in Jesus' name, amen.
All right, Randy Alcorn. Welcome, Randy. We're going to dive right in. Randy, one of the books you've written is called The Treasure Principle, and I'm going to do this, and then we're going to come back and talk about how this principle has worked its way out in your life. Now listen. I need to tell you they're going to already have heard most of this stuff because I read it and taught it like it was mine. (I really didn't, actually.)
Just so you guys know, we bought a copy of this book for everybody in Watermark in the early days of our church and asked everybody to read it, because we felt like the truths in there were so foundationally life-giving that if we really loved them we would put this book in their hands. We talked about those things. We did a number of messages and series around that topic.
But tell them what the six Treasure Principles are that you put in this great little book, which is easy to read. It's the only one I brought up here, just so these people who have not read as many books as you have written wouldn't be intimidated. This is one of the books. So you can knock this one off, people, if you start now, before you retire, if you take a speed-reading class. It's fantastic. Randy, what are the six Treasure Principles you put in that book?
Randy Alcorn: First of all, it's just a privilege to be here at Watermark. It truly is. I've been aware of your church through my relationship with Todd for a long time, and at the conference we were at this weekend a number of you from Watermark were there. Just to be able to talk with you and meet you and hear your love for our Savior and your love for the church… In a day where a lot of people aren't really excited about church, for people to be excited about church is a wonderful thing.
1._ God owns everything, and I'm his money manager. There are many passages of Scripture about God owning everything. For instance, Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it…" **Which really covers a lot of ground."…the world, and all who live in it…"**Everything_ and all. Comprehensive. It all belongs to God. God owns everything; I'm his money manager.
What that means is if God has entrusted this to my care, it isn't that I own it. He owns it. I'm his money manager. Well, if you had a money manager (and some of you do) and you said, "Okay, I entrusted this money to your care. What did you do with it?" and the money manager says, "Well, I don't know. One day it was there, and the next day it was there, there, and there. I don't know. I just sort of lost track of it," you would not be impressed.
We're God's money managers, so we'd better ask him, for one thing, what he wants us to do with what belongs to him. It's completely different. See, if it's all mine you could argue, "Well, if it's all yours it's nobody else's. Do whatever you want to." But if it belongs to God, that's a paradigm shifter right there, because if it's his I'd better ask him what he wants me to do with it. Scripture gives us some great answers.
Todd: I like the way you don't say "all the money God has given me," and you've said it twice. It's all the money God has entrusted me. Every one of us is a steward. Would you say that? Believers as well as nonbelievers?
Randy: Yes, absolutely, because he is the Creator, whether we recognize him as that or not. The universe belongs to him. Everything belongs to him. Our lives belong to him. Our time belongs to him. The gifts he has entrusted to us are from his hand. He gets the glory and the credit for them. We'd better ask him what he wants us to do with our time as well.
2._ My heart always goes where I put God's money_. Matthew, chapter 6, where Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…" Why should you not store up for yourselves treasures on earth? Well, moths and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal. In other words, not just that it's wrong to store up treasures on earth. It's stupid, because they're not going to last. God values treasures that will last.
Jesus turns right around and says, "Do store up for yourselves…" Wow, that's surprising. For ourselves? In other words, it's not only for God's glory; it's for our good. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…" Why? Because it's the right thing to do? Well, it is the right thing to do, but because it's the smart thing to do, because they're going to last forever. So my heart always goes where I put God's money. That's where he then says that when you store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Where your treasures are, there your heart will be also.
If you want a heart for the things of God, give to the things of God. If you want a heart for missions, give to missions. If you want a heart for your local church… "Oh, I feel really disconnected. I don't really feel a part of things." Invest. Give to your local church, and then where your treasure is, there your heart will be. If all your treasures are in the stock market and in real estate and in this house, then that's where your heart is going to be.
3._ Heaven, not earth, is my home. I would write that a little differently now than I did when I wrote _The Treasure Principle. "Heaven, not the present earth as it now is, is my home." One day, the new earth will be our home. That's where we will live forever, but meanwhile, I am a citizen of another country, and Scripture says my citizenship is in heaven. So heaven, not earth, is my home.
4._ I should live not for the dot but for the line. Our life here is a dot. It's just tiny. It starts and it ends right there, but from that dot extends a line that goes out for eternity. So if we're wise… We live _in the dot. That's the only place we can live right now, but we're not going to live for the dot, just for this present life. We're going to live for the life that goes on forever. We're going to live not for the dot but for the line that goes out to the glory of God forever.
5._ Giving is the only antidote to materialism._ How do you break the back of the false idol of materialism, the false god we're so susceptible to? I don't know how else you do it but by giving, because when you give it away, then you're recognizing "This isn't my god." I still have God. I don't give away God when I give away money. I give away money and invest it joyfully in God's kingdom and to help people in need and to feed the hungry and to translate the Bible in all of these languages, all of these things, and I get great joy in that. That breaks the back of materialism.
Todd: I love what you said. It was subtle, but it was an amazing insight. The reason a lot of people have a hard time giving is that when you have a god, when you have an idol that is your life-giving source, the last thing you want to do is separate yourself from it. For me, if money is my god and comfort I get through money is my god, why would I want to give that away? It's why people don't give, which is why, as you've already observed, Jesus said money is the number-one indicator that we can often see about what somebody's heart really is all about.
That was just a little subtle thing Randy put in there, but it's a great way to check yourself. If you're not sharing and giving and having great joy in giving, sharing the abundance of God's provision for you that he has entrusted you with to bless others, which is so consistent with the nature and character of the God of our Scriptures, it's maybe a good little tell that you're holding on to your god and not necessarily living in relationship with the God you think you have.
Randy: The last principle is…
6._ God prospers me not to raise my standard of living but to raise my standard of giving_. I think we have a really erroneous assumption that we who live in one of the most affluent societies in human history… Even middle class, even upper lower class in our culture is actually way beyond the standard of living that most cultures in all of human history and in the world today have ever experienced.
I don't mean there's no poverty in America. I'm not saying anything like that. I'm just saying that for most of us, the vast majority of us here today, we are wealthy people. You might be in the ninety-seventh or ninety-eighth percentile of wealth in the world and not in the ninety-ninth percentile, but you still have a lot. So our assumption sometimes is when more money comes our way… "Oh, what am I going to do with it? I have to spend it on myself." Right? That's why it comes this way.
One of the analogies I use in a couple of my books, I think Money, Possessions, and Eternity and Managing God's Money, maybe The Treasure Principle too… I think of it this way. I'm a writer, so I have certain manuscripts that come and go and other things with FedEx, so I get a fair number of FedEx deliveries. (If you work for UPS, I'm all for UPS too. United States Postal Service… We'll cover the ground here.)
Anyway, the point is the guy comes to the door and brings a package, maybe picks up a package and takes it. Well, what would my response be if I found out that for the last six months, when the FedEx guy has come to my door and taken those packages, he has been taking them home and opening them up and keeping them? What would I do? I would confront the FedEx guy. I would say, "Wait a minute. Why did you take those home and keep them instead of taking them on to have them delivered to the person for whom it was intended?"
Well, what if they looked at me and said, "Well, if you didn't want me to keep that, why did you give it to me in the first place?" To which I would respond, "You're the FedEx guy! It's your job to take what is entrusted to you and then to give it where the person who was sending it wants it to get." So what makes us think that just because God has given us so much he wants us to hang on to it?
Todd: That's great. I actually have a friend whose business used one of these providers (I won't say which one, because I'm sure it happens to every one of them), and that guy was doing just that. It wasn't going where he wanted it to go, and that guy now has a new home, and you can go visit him. He's always there in case you want to visit him. What it's a good sign of is there's judgment…
Randy: Prison, not earth, is his home.
Todd: Yeah. But there is judgment that comes from not being faithful. There's a great verse in Deuteronomy I want to read. It's a verse that talks about God gave it to the nation, and not everybody in the nation he gave it to, in Israel, was a believer. In fact, he was warning them, "If you don't understand whether you want to work for FedEx or not, whether you want to think you're my steward or not, you are responsible."
Deuteronomy 8:17-19, a passage I know you've used much in your books. It says, "Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.'" In other words, "It's my industry." Just before that, in verse 16, it's talking about, "That's why I fed you in the desert, that you might learn that where you are is not because you're better and more brilliant than somebody else. You're there because I did this for you so you wouldn't get prideful."
Then it says in the next verse, "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant…" God is a good God. He wants to bless you. "…his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day." Now watch this. This is the verse that applies to all of us. "And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish."
Now it doesn't mean they're going to be struck by lightning the day they do it. We know that's not true, because we see people today who are not acting as stewards who aren't falling over dead, but they are dying. You and I talk all the time to men and women of immense wealth who are rich in everything the world says, and they are dying. There's this sense of "There has to be something more." Randy, just comment on what you would say to somebody who goes, "Man, I'm happy. Money can't buy you happiness, but I'm going to die trying." What do you say to that person?
Randy: I would say just look at the studies, including secular studies. I've read many, many, many books on happiness in the last few years, doing research on what the Bible says about happiness, joy, delight, pleasure, gladness in God, all of those kinds of things. It has been a great study, but I wanted to see what was being said in the secular world. It's amazing that all of these studies confirm what I think most of us should intuitively know, but we don't live that way. That is, there is an almost total disconnect between money and happiness.
Now, there's a certain amount of basic "we need to live" type stuff, that you will be happier if you have enough money for food and clothing and shelter. That's basics. But beyond that, when you get into the more somebody makes, it's not the happier they become. Some studies indicate that the people who keep making more and more and more become more miserable. Part of the reason for that is the more you have, the more you have to worry about. It's just true. That's evident in Ecclesiastes and Proverbs and other passages.
The thing is, money does not buy you happiness. Studies of lottery winners… It's shocking the number who have ended in suicide, drug addiction, total misery; the number of people who say, "I wish to God I had never won that lottery." You say, "Whoa! So there are people who are spending their whole lives hoping to win the lottery, and then they win the lottery, and now they have no hope of happiness." Why? Because their hope of happiness before was to win the lottery. They won it. No happiness and no hope now.
Well, the happiness is in God. The happiness is in a relationship with God, in forgiveness and cleansing and knowing God. Jesus said in Acts 20:35… The only words of Jesus that are in the book of Acts that are not in any of the Gospels, and it's Paul quoting him, saying, "As our Lord Jesus said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" That word translated blessed is the Greek word makarios, which means happy-making.
Jesus was saying, "It will make you happier to give than to receive." Think of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge. What's a scrooge? A miser, somebody who hangs on to it. Miser relates to the word miserable. He was utterly miserable when he hung on to all his wealth. And then what happens? Essentially, a conversion through what happens with the different ghosts that are involved in that story.
He comes to a different way of thinking and walks through the streets of London and gives away generously, and his heart was full of joy. It ends up saying in A Christmas Carol no one knew how to celebrate Christmas, the coming of Christ, better than Ebenezer Scrooge. He became a joyful man through doing what Jesus said. "It is more happy-making to give than to receive."
Todd: I love what you said, and it's true in the Scripture. The number-one motivation God gives you to give in Scripture is he wants to bless you. We're going to get to this before we're done. I guess I may as well nail it right now. That is easily distorted. Sometimes guys, way too many, who represent themselves as God's pastors will tell people, "That's why you should give. God wants to bless you now. The way you win the lottery is you give your tickets away, and God will give you more."
It's commonly called the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. I have some opinions on that, and I know you do too. Randy, let's just talk about that, because there's this fine line. God does say you're going to be blessed, so how can we teach that appropriately and biblically and not just this poison that is this false doctrine of health, wealth, and prosperity?
Randy: It truly is a false doctrine. I am convinced, just to let you know where I stand, that it comes from the pit of hell.
Todd: Or just south of there. One of the two.
Randy: That's true. The reason is that, as you just said, Todd, it distorts what is true. You can get to verses that appear to support it, but it's outside of the full context of Scripture. And it's not just Old Testament. Here's what Jesus said in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use [or give] , it will be measured to you."
Todd: This is where we stop and have our first ever Watermark offering. You just read that verse from Jesus, so what we should do now… We've never taken an offering here. We've trained our people to give out of an overflow of the abundance of their hearts. But hey, that verse said if I love these people, Randy, I'm going to let them get more. So we're going to pass baskets, and this is your chance to cash in. Right?
Randy: Right. You would actually make a great health and wealth preacher. You have the right words.
Todd: That's why you do it. That's what happens in these churches. They'll read that verse… So explain that.
Randy: What we have to understand is the larger context. How did Jesus live? Every time I hear a prosperity theology proponent say, "Live like a king's kid…" I heard one say on the radio, "God doesn't want his people driving Volkswagens; he wants them driving Cadillacs." Well, fill in the blank what you think would be a car you'd want to drive. The point is… Live like a king's kid? Well, Jesus is the ultimate King's kid. He's the Son of God. He's the heir of the universe. He is the King of Kings. How did he live?
The very Jesus who spoke these words lived a life that did not model health and wealth gospel, prosperity theology. He called upon people to give. So, yes, it will spill into your lap as you give generously, and once it's in your lap, what do you do? Hang on to it all? Hey, give it. Share it with other people and find the joy in that. In other words, when God provides for us, the half-truth is God does honor giving. Now not always in a formula-type way at all. Like if somebody makes great sacrifices, they're going to get the same back in kind, the hundredfold blessing.
Again, Scripture out of context. Yeah, a hundredfold in this life and the life to come. You'll get it back, but you'll get it back in other ways and other forms, not just prosperity. But even when God does entrust it back to you, you give it away. R.G. LeTourneau, inventor of earth-moving machines, gave away over 90 percent of what came in to him. He said, "I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel." "It keeps coming, and I keep giving." I think that's what God calls us to.
Todd: At the same time, there is some aspect of you're going to live a healthier life if whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, you do all to the glory of God. You're likely going to live a more prosperous life if you're diligent and you're not a sluggard and you discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. There are certain fundamentals that when you do these things it does lead to a better way.
Again, a verse I've quoted a thousand times in the last year it seems, where God again and again in the law says, "I want you to do this so that it might go well with you," but that's what makes this doctrine so dangerous. In every great lie there's a shred of truth. They take Luke 6, they take those verses in Deuteronomy 4, and other places, and they go, "Well, see? God wants to bless you, and blessing is always bigger, better, and nicer."
Randy: Think about this. Even when we're called to sacrifice, the sacrifice we're called to will ultimately be in our self-interest, because what is to God's glory is also for our good. For instance, Jesus says, "He who tries to save his life and hang on to his life shall lose it." Then he says, "If you lose your life, give your life away for my sake, you will find it. You'll end up with a better life than the life you were trying to cling to that you're going to lose if you lose it to me. Give it to me, and then you're going to find life."
Todd: This is why I love Randy. In fact, yesterday I tweeted out… Every now and then the thought hits me. I think maybe even when you were teaching. I said, "Don't buy the lie. Don't ever let yourself pit God's glory against your goodness." Not only are those two things not mutually exclusive; they are directly related.
God is glorified in your listening to him, so it can lead to your goodness, but that doesn't mean it won't lead to cancer, it won't lead to treachery around your life. It doesn't mean that drunk driver won't swerve across the solid yellow line and hit you. It doesn't mean your investments are going to work out. It means you don't need your investments to work out or your health to work out and that there is a hope and an abiding sense of, "Hey, my God is sovereign, he is good, and he'll be glorified even in my death."
Anyway, gang, Luke 6 is there, other verses that seem to say that are there, but please don't let somebody fleece you by telling you, "The reason you give is so you can get." The reason you give is to be blessed, to be like your Father, who is the Glorious One who is to be worshiped from the end of the earth until the eternal heavens are done. God wants that glory to be on you, that glory of selflessness and joy that is consistent with his character and nature. All right. This is all well and good, but how many books have you written?
Randy: Forty-six, maybe.
Todd: Just so people know, if you love fiction… I talk a lot about his nonfiction books, which have equipped me, but you're a very accomplished fiction writer, and they're great. If you love good fiction, I would encourage you to pick up some of Randy's fiction works. They're outstanding, and biblical truth runs all the way through them.
So, forty-some-odd books. Some of them have been New York Times Best Sellers. Right? So you're not just some little shoddy artist firing stuff out self-published. You've done well. So you're loaded. In fact, I think you landed your G5 over there at Love Field to come speak this weekend. You have all of these principles, but you have to be… I mean, 40 books, bro. You have to be loaded. Tell them your story, Randy.
Randy: Okay. I was a pastor years ago before I went on to get a real job. No, being a pastor was a great thing, and I wanted to be a pastor the rest of my life. I love pastoral ministry, but my wife and I were really convicted from the Lord that we wanted to advocate on behalf of unborn children, and we opened our home to a girl who was pregnant outside of marriage.
We had the joy of seeing her come to Christ while she was with us, helped her place her child for adoption. We just recently, 33 years later, had a reunion of the gal who lived with us, this woman, and her child, and we were there present for it. It was a powerful thing. But God brought great things, not only her salvation and her child into the world, saved from the horrors of abortion and all that, but God continued to work in our hearts as I was a pastor.
Then when it came to 1989 and some people in some parts of the country were involved in peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience, God laid it on my heart (and Nanci was in concurrence with this) to go stand in front of abortion clinics and offer alternatives and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
I was arrested for that a number of times and went to jail for brief periods of time. It changed our lives in many ways. Of course, it was not a popular thing. Let's just put it this way. It probably wasn't a popular thing in this part of the country. I live in the Portland, Oregon, area. It was exceedingly unpopular. Front page of the newspapers, slanderous, false things being said about those of us who were doing this. Just incredible false accusation-type things.
There were lawsuits that came against us even though it was peaceful, nonviolent, completely compassionate, giving people alternatives. "Go to a crisis pregnancy center. We have all of these alternatives. We'll help you provide financially for your child, provide childcare." All of these kinds of things. Nonetheless, it was controversial, to say the least.
Well, then these lawsuits came, and they came to garnish my wages as a pastor from my church. At that point, I had to resign as a pastor, because they were going to take 25 percent of the money the church paid me to go to abortion clinics, which they would use to further the killing of children. As a matter of conscience, I couldn't do that. As a matter of conscience, I couldn't put my church through that.
If you would have asked me, "What are you going to be the rest of your life?" I would have said, "A pastor. Probably a pastor at this church. I love this church." There was a church I came to Christ at, and then there was this church that we founded, that we started, myself and a small group of people in 1977, and it had grown in great and wonderful ways, but suddenly I wasn't a pastor anymore, and suddenly I couldn't make more than minimum wage without it being garnished by an abortion clinic.
The bottom line is I made minimum wage for the next 20 years, which was until a few years ago. Now our ministry provided the cars for us to drive and that sort of thing. We weren't in poverty by any stretch, but we made the commitment very early on when we saw this coming, "Okay, we're going to take 100 percent of the royalties of my book, and they're going to be given away to God's kingdom. We're not going to keep any of it. We're not just going to use it to fund our ministry but to fund other ministries and Bible translation and to feed the hungry, famine relief, development all over the world."
We made that decision, and an interesting thing happened. This would relate almost to what some would view as prosperity theology, but not at all. My books had sold I would say relatively well, and just after we made the decision that 100 percent of all of the royalties from the books were going to go to God's kingdom, suddenly my books started showing up on the Best Sellers list.
I thought, "This isn't God saying, 'Oh, Randy, your books are so great.' This is God saying, 'I'm going to honor your decision to give it all to me, and I'm going to bless these books all the more.'" At the time, we did it as kind of a defensive thing, that we didn't want it to get to abortion clinics and we wanted it to go to God's kingdom instead, but then later, when we had the opportunity to receive the royalties again because they were safe from garnishment and our board said, "Hey, you wrote all of these books; you should get the royalties from them…"
By then we had given away… Now I think it's something like $8 million of royalties that have gone out there in the world. We said, "Are you kidding? Why would we take this money? God has provided for us all along. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We have the joy of reaching people all over the world and making a difference."
One day, I was on a bike ride with my youngest daughter Angela when she was in high school, and we went by this house that was this gorgeous house. In our part of the country, especially back then (it was a number of years ago now), there weren't many houses that sold for half a million dollars. The average one was maybe $100,000 or something like that. This was a gorgeous house.
My daughter and I were looking at it and admiring it. "Look at that. Is this not beautiful?" All of a sudden, it occurred to me… I looked at the price tag, and I said, "Angie, did you know that if we would have taken the royalties that came in just last year we could have paid cash for this house?" She says, "Oh, really? Is it that much?" I said, "Yeah. We've been able to give them all away." I looked at her and said, "Do you wish we would have done that so we could have this house?" She looked at me and laughed, and she said, "Dad, it's just a house."
I thought, "Thank you, Lord, for what you did for my children through this." They're godly girls today, married to godly husbands, who are also spending their lives investing in eternity. So don't think about selling your kids short if you don't give them all this stuff financially. You know what? You model giving and kingdom-centered, Jesus-centered life, and that's the heritage you'll give them, and that heritage will outweigh any inheritance.
Todd: I do want you guys to know that. If you go on Amazon today and get some of these books, 100 percent of that money is going to support EPM, but 50 percent of it…
Randy: We keep 10 percent, and 90 percent we give to the other ministries.
Todd: So 90 percent goes to gifts around the world. Just so you know, I want to encourage you guys. We believe so much in Randy's ministry. A number of years ago, when we were between real capital needs and opportunities we had here, the way you had given during the year was more than we needed, so what we did was we looked at some strategic partners that were out there that had been blessings to our church or that we were partnering with around the world or in this city, and we took money we had, and we didn't bank it; we gave it away.
It was a very unusual time. I think it was the only time in your ministry, Randy, that we became aware of that you guys were at a pretty critical point, and it was a gift for you as a body… We shared this in year-end letters and things like that. I just want to tell you now your giving here when it's above and beyond… We're not just stocking it to do what we want later.
If we're not putting it to use right away or have a need, like we do right now with opportunities around our city, where we're waiting for God to bring resource to go to work on some things… That year we weren't, so we, Watermark, were able to bless Randy and EPM at a time that was an encouragement to their ministry in a way that their ministry has been an encouragement to us.
Randy: I can't tell you how much of an encouragement it was, and it's one of the reasons (not the only one) that Watermark has a very special place in our hearts. I want to commend your leadership. We didn't even plan to say this, and Todd might not even want me to say it, but tough. I'm up here.
Todd: I'm going to garnish your wages.
Randy: Yeah, there you go. If you're going to sue me, take a number. Exodus 36, verse 3 and following. This is where they had the tabernacle… There are some things in the kingdom of God that are always going to be needs. You're never going to run out of ways and missions and famine relief to spend money in the right places in the right ways. But this was a project that had a beginning and an end. This was the tabernacle.
"They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning." These weren't the tithes that were required of them. These were freewill offerings. Freewill offerings didn't start in the New Testament. They're throughout the Old Testament as well.
"So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, 'The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.' Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: 'No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.' And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work."
That is a beautiful thing, and it's in the Old Testament. Praise God for the integrity of a leadership team that would say, "We have enough. We have more than enough. We're going to give it away to other aspects of God's kingdom," instead of saying, "Hey, we got it. We have to hold on to it and find a way to spend it." Praise God for church leaders like that.
Todd: Thank God for generous people like this. I remember we read Exodus 36 to you at some point and said, "There's going to be a day when we can't give to this facility anymore, and you're going to miss out on that. We're going to say, 'Stop. It's more than enough.'" Now the ongoing work of the mission you generously give to, as God stirs your hearts to, because you see God at work here, and that thrills us.
We're at a place now where we have other opportunities that we think are hindering our ministry work, but it was a joy in those seasons (and we'll be in them again) to say, "Okay, this year we have more than enough. What do we do?" Randy and Eternal Perspective Ministries was one of the ministries, as we shared with you then, that we shared some of that abundance with.
There are two questions I want to cover now, and then we're going to close. We'll do these in a little bit more abbreviated fashion than we've done. First, we have built a building here, and I don't know if you noticed there are leather couches. There's a stinkin' fireplace. We have a coffee shop. We put really nice stone around it. How nice is too nice? Some people have bought houses like the one that you didn't. When do you know that house is too nice a house, that car is too nice a car? How would you answer that question?
Randy: It's a very difficult one, because there is a freedom that is given lifestyle-wise. There's no legalism here. In 1 Timothy 6, here's what it says to people who have a lot of wealth. We might be surprised what it says. It says, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be…" What? We would think maybe it would say not to be rich, not to have a lot, to give away everything. "Sell all that you have and give to the poor and come follow me," as he called some people to do.
No, what he says is, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant…" To think it's all about you, or, for that matter, any about you. "…nor to put their hope in wealth…" That's the caution. The more you have, the more you're tempted to worship what you have and center your life on it. Things have mass. Mass has gravity. It becomes the center of gravity for our lives. "…which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."
Aren't you glad that verse is there? I am. I do take my wife out to dinner. No, we don't choose expensive places, but by global standards we get to go out to dinner, and a lot of people in other parts of the world don't. We do that. We thank God for it. We don't feel guilty for it, but we do ask the Lord continuously, "Lord, how much is enough? How much is too much?"
Then he says, "Command them…" The rich in this world. That's really all of us. "…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
Todd: Amen. So you wouldn't say there's a square footage that above that is sin. There's a car that above that is sin. That if you own a lake house that's sin. It might be.
Randy: Right. Any of that could be, but it is not necessarily that. I say the nicer the stuff we have, the more we need to be careful that that doesn't become our center of gravity.
Todd: That's the key.
Randy: But use it for him. If God has entrusted something nice to you, use it for him and his glory. Sometimes you give it away. Other times you share it with others.
Todd: We can't sit here and say, "No one should ever own a private plane." You've flown in a private plane that someone had. My point is that it's not a deal… Typically, all of us are sure that whoever that guy is who's living a grade or two or three above us…that's the guy who has it coming. Listen. He might be, but so might we be. It's also possible… Materialism does not equal amount. Materialism is an attitude.
Randy: You can be poor and be a materialist.
Todd: But it is right that mass has gravitational pull. The more you have, the more likely it's indicative of something. Okay, last question I want to cover, and then we're going to just thank God that following him is our greatest reward and that God is allowing us to do that. Let's just thank the Lord for men who love his Word. Look at this Bible. That's why these books are worth reading, because he reads this Book. I want to thank you, Randy, for the way you've committed yourself to that.
The whole issue of giving and tithing is so misunderstood. I think 33 percent of born-again Christians say they give, and less than 7 percent even give by a tithe. But is tithing biblical? What is tithing? Talk about giving. Give me two minutes on that.
Randy: Tithing, Old Testament. A lot of people say the tithe is no longer for us today because we're in the New Testament. Well, I partly agree and partly disagree with that. In Malachi 3, a passage some of you may be familiar with… It says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you…"
What strikes me in this passage is it goes on to talk about other things, but it is not all about tithing. I believe tithing is the training wheels of giving. I believe tithing is a great place to start. It's a discipline, it's clear, and it allows you to build on and to move forward in freewill giving, but notice that it says, "You're robbing me by withholding tithes and offerings." Well, offerings were freewill.
So if you believe all we're under today is freewill offering…it's all grace giving, freewill giving…then so what? You can still rob God by withholding freewill giving. That's what it's talking about there. So you don't have to even worry about this question. Does God call you to give? Now my personal belief is that the New Testament raises the standard of giving. To be transformed by the Holy Spirit of God, to have the indwelling Spirit and the indwelling Christ…
Look at the early church (Acts 2, Acts 4). They gave generously, sold their possessions, and gave to the poor and to help people and all of that. I think it's a higher standard, but God enables us by his grace to live by that. I would leave you with 2 Corinthians 8-9 and the story of the Macedonian Christians who gave beyond what they were able to and God blessed them. The model of New Testament giving is higher, and the level of joy is greater in Christ.
Todd: So giving is not law driven; it's love driven. One of the things I would encourage you to do… I think this is even available on Randy's website, EPM. People ask, "Do I give to the local church? Does my tithe have to go to my local church, then give more other places?" Listen, gang. If you don't believe God is at work here, don't give here, and I would say don't go to church here. Your church is a mission, and if you don't see God mightily at work here, then get out from underneath that.
If you're at a church where you don't see God mightily at work, address it. Deal with it prophetically, lovingly with the leadership, and if it doesn't change, get out of there. Quit giving money irresponsibly. Randy has done an amazing job of when you're thinking about the way you give to other ministries having 19 questions so you can evaluate, "Should I give to this ministry?"
I do hope that you guys see God at work here. This is a ministry. This is a mission. We are his church, which is by definition missional people. I'm grateful for the way you guys are on mission. I'm grateful for those of you who are stewarding God's resources here, and I mean your life, your time, all of your talents, and your treasure. May we continually do it for God's glory and our good and the blessing of those who are yet to come. We have tremendous opportunities before us, and I can't wait to see what God is going to do. Randy, would you close us in prayer?
Lord, I'll start by praying thank you for this servant, and I pray that we would love your Word the way Randy does and that we'd apply it to our lives, that we wouldn't just read it and know it; we would do it and not delude ourselves. Thank you for my servant, my friend Randy, and bless him this day.
Randy: Father, I thank you for this church, for Watermark. What a great place. Not a perfect place. Sinners, of course, as all of us are. We live in a world that's under the fall and the curse, and yet, Lord, your redemptive power has transformed us and transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Lord, for everyone here who knows you, I just pray for your special blessing upon them, and for anyone who doesn't know you, that you would draw them to yourself and that you would do that through your gospel and also through the people here who love you with all their hearts.
Bless this church, Lord, and in praying that, I mean especially bless them with your presence, a closeness and intimacy with you, not that they won't have trials but that in their trials they're certain to have they will turn to you and grow closer to you, and that you will be honored and glorified through this people, through this church, through the families, through the other campuses that are listening. We just pray for your hand. In the name of Jesus, amen.