Give More this Christmas

Welcome to December! On what feels like the 5th anniversary of 2020 (aka the year that never ends), we want to close out this calendar year by helping you get the most out of this Advent season. That’s why we are back with Part 2 of our Advent Conspiracy series, looking at the tenet of “Give More.” And to help us contemplate how we can do just that, here is the team from Advent Conspiracy with some thoughts*:

We’ve talked about rebelling against consumerism by Spending Less, but now we’re encouraging you to Give More… Is that a contradiction? Nope! Giving More isn’t about giving more toys, more gadgets, more clothes, more gift cards, more stuff.

God is calling us to Give More intentionally and relationally. That means giving more of our time, our energy, our memories, our talents, our presence. It’s a both/and. Spend less money and give more of yourself to the ones you love.

We believe that the best gifts celebrate a relationship. Think back on the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received. Chances are there is a story and a relationship that was connected to that gift. Now try and remember all of the gifts you were given last year…For most of us, that’s hard to do.

It sounds obvious, yet we seem to have drifted away from this liberating, straightforward truth: The Father gave his one and only Son (John 1:14, 3:16). God’s answer for the world’s problems has never been material things. God did not give us more stuff – even good stuff like work, food, or health. He gave us himself. The most priceless and personal gift of all!

Relational giving means we think about the other person–who they are and what they care about. We focus more on giving our undivided presence and less on a pile of presents under the tree. This takes time and effort on our part. These kinds of gifts often require planning, but you’ll hardly be able to wait until Christmas to give such a gift!

When we give relationally during the Advent season, this is what we remember: it’s an opportunity to worship as we remind each other of the gift that was given for our sake. If we can resist the trap of giving easy gifts, and reject the assumption that giving expensive gifts is the best way to express love, something else might begin to happen. Our kids, family, neighbors, and coworkers will watch us celebrate Christmas differently, and through our actions, they will hear the good news of the Gospel.

Some ideas to help you Give More:

  • Check out this list of relational gift ideas.
  • If you’re overwhelmed, start small. Choose one person on your list to give a relational gift to.
  • On Christmas morning, turn off your cell phone. Take a couple of hours to be present with your family and focus on the people God has put in your life.
  • Invest in experiences you can share: Sign up for dance lessons, go camping, plan a vacation, take cooking classes.
  • Pass down memories: Make a recipe book or photo album to give to your family.
  • Get a blank journal and write notes and prayers to your kids or a close friend.
  • Give a copy of your favorite book to a friend and then meet up for coffee and discuss it. Then switch and read their favorite book.
  • Buy someone a gift that relieves a burden: babysitting money, help out with yard work, make a meal. Or give them a set of “coupons” that does a similar thing. (Download some coupon ideas here.)
  • Give the gift of hospitality: Invite a new family over for dinner and games.
  • Do an activity with your kids: puzzles, jewelry making, baking, hiking, fishing, sports. Be present.
  • Set out a “giving jar” at home or at work. Any monies put in the jar within a certain time span (like from now until Dec 24) will be given to a charity, family, or project of your choice.

In light of this week’s topic of Give More, don’t forget: we are collecting our annual Impact Gift on Sunday, Dec 20, to be given to Northside Neighborhood Church to help them do neighborhood revitalization of homes and property destroyed by gang violence or drunk drivers. If you won’t be able to join us on the 20th, or would prefer to give online, you may do so here; just be sure to select “Christmas Impact Fund” in the drop-down menu.


*originally published at

Gospel-Fueled Giving

by Erin Bird 

If you were with us this past Sunday for our third birthday celebration, thanks for celebrating with us what God has done! Here’s to not just three more years of Jesus changing lives through His gospel, but countless years of seeing hundreds and thousands find Jesus and follow Him. (Glad you are on this journey with us!)

Giving Conclusion

Today on the blog, we conclude our short series on the topic of generosity. We’ve been walking through 2 Corinthians 9. And this week, we also finish with the last three verses (verses 13-15), which say…

“By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

Let me help you get your bearings since we are jumping into the middle of one of Paul’s thoughts.

  • When he says “by their approval,” he is talking about the happiness of those who received the financial giving of the Corinthian Jesus-followers.
  • And the “service” he is referring to is the actual act of financial giving.

But I want you to see one thing, found in two places in these last three verses.

The first instance is in verse 13 when Paul says, “they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ.”

Those who receive the financial gift of your giving will glorify God. But notice what the motivation is behind the gift. It isn’t simply to make them happy. It isn’t to make them impressed. Your gift was given because of your obedience, your submission to God which flows from your identity in the gospel.

This means your giving isn’t a duty – it’s worship. It is to be a response to the person and work of Jesus.

That’s why Paul concludes this section with verse 15 (our second instance) – “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” God’s greatest gift was Jesus, who died on a cross for the payment of our sin. And when you realize how great His gift is, one of the ways you express your thanks is through giving. Because God gave so generously, we feel compelled to give generously.

This is why a Jesus-follower doesn’t just drop $10 in an offering plate on a Sunday morning as if he or she were paying for a movie and popcorn. Our giving (and I am talking about our FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time) not just money) is to be generous, extravagant, gospel-fueled, because of what God has done for us.

I want to see you experience this. I want Jesus to be Lord over your entire life, and that includes your finances.

This is why we are offering Financial Peace University. We want to help you get to a place where you can give freely, joyfully, and generously, and not be trapped in debt or unhealthy patterns. To sign-up for this nine-week class, simply email Jeff. It will be an investment you won’t regret. (Scholarships are available.)

Giving A Blessing

Today is officially Riverwood’s 3rd Birthday! It was on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 that Riverwood held its first public worship gathering at the W-SR Middle School. A lot has happened and changed since that day. But what hasn’t changed is Riverwood’s commitment to Jesus and His gospel.

That’s why this Sunday, April 23, I’m excited to celebrate these past three years with you by looking at the lives that have changed as a result of the gospel upon which Riverwood is founded. So do everything you can to be there this Sunday, 10:00 am, at the Waverly Area Veterans Post as we celebrate the work of Jesus!

Continuing with Giving

We are in a short series here in the News and Notes on the topic of Giving. We are walking through 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, and this week we come to verses 8-12, which say…

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”

These verses tie back to the topic of “a return to giving” found in verse 6 (which we talked about two weeks ago) as well as the idea that a joy can be found in giving (which we looked at last week). But there are two more ideas Paul brings up in these sentences that I want to focus on today.

1. Giving a Blessing

In verse 9, Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9. The psalmist declares the generosity of God, giving to the poor.

What a blessing to the poor! When God gives to them, they are blessed.

But let’s think about this in spiritual terms. Without Jesus, we were poor spiritually, yet God gave us, the spiritually impoverished, the spiritual wealth of the gospel. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has given us every spiritual blessing in heaven. What a blessing!

Likewise, when you give, you are blessing others. When you give to Riverwood, you a blessing the spiritually disconnected in our community, as well as those within the church family. Your giving isn’t simply an act of obedience to God. It is truly blessing others and changing lives.

2. Giving: A Blessing

Second, notice how Paul says that the very act of giving is a blessing to you.

At the tail end of verse 12, he says that when you give, you see God generously provide for you, and that leads you to “overflow in many thanksgivings to God.”

In other words, you can give generously, not hoarding what you have, because God can and will generously provide for your needs. And when you see Him do this, you will be blessed!

So giving to others doesn’t just bless them, it also blesses you!

Applying 2 Corinthians 9:8-12

In light of all this, I want to give you an opportunity to apply what God says to us through Paul in this passage.

This Sunday, at our Birthday Celebration, we are going to give you an opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International. For less than a monthly cell phone plan, you can truly change a child’s life, knowing your gift is going to not only provide some food, clothing, and education for an impoverished child, but your sponsored child will receive these blessings through a local church that will teach them about the love of God seen through Jesus.

And when you get letters from your sponsored child, you will not only realize just how much God has used you to bless them, but you will be blessed as well!

Joy Giving

by Erin Bird

There is a video trend currently happening on YouTube called “The Bad Joke Challenge .” Two people will sit across from each other, telling “bad” jokes (think “Dad” jokes, not “dirty” jokes). The “winner” of the challenge is the one who DOESN’T laugh. In other words, first to laugh loses.

While both contestants do their best to keep their laughs stifled, eventually one of them busts. But it’s interesting that as soon as one person laughs, the second person immediately laughs as well.

Because joy is contagious.

Joy in Giving

We are in a series here on the blog about Giving, walking through 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Last week, as we looked at verse 6, we saw there is a return to our giving . This week we move on to verse 7, and we discover that giving should contain joy.

When someone gives you a gift, whether for your birthday, or at Christmas, or just because, you feel honored. But if they gave the gift to you with a glum face, sulking about the amount of money they spent, you wouldn’t feel very honored, would you?

I think this is why God wrote through the Apostle Paul…

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Just like you don’t want a gift given reluctantly, God doesn’t want you giving out of duty or with a bad attitude. Your giving is part of your worship of what God has done for you through Jesus. He wants you to give with joy.

But something else happens when you give with joy than just the actual giving. Your joy will be contagious. It will help others to give. It will help others be in awe of God. And it will help others have joy as well.

So give. Give generously. Give sacrificially. But do it joyfully. Because you might just give joy to someone else.

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