How to be a Wall Socket

by Erin Bird

Have you ever considered the existence of the electrical outlet before? There he is, stuck in a perpetual wall-sit as if being punished for some unspeakable crime. And perhaps he did commit a crime, because he has a bad temper. Turns out if you poke his eyes with scissors, he gets very angry, spitting electrical sparks at you. (Not that I would know from 6th grade study hall or anything…).

Dressed in only a modest cover, there he sits, all alone against the wall. But to leave him alone renders him completely useless.  Mr. Wall Socket was not created simply to be. (He makes a rather uninspiring wall decoration.) His purpose in life is to provide electricity for some man-made contraption. In other words, he exists to serve something (or someone) else.

wall socket2 350x196 - How to be a Wall SocketGuess what? You are an electrical outlet. Whether you realize it or not, you were made to live for more than just you. You were not designed to remain alone, or just be another pretty face among the crowd. You were put on earth to interact with some God-made contraptions called humans.

Years ago, when I was ministering as the Young Adult Pastor at a church in Cedar Rapids, I remember reading the spiritual journey of one of the young adults in my church family. She shared a very clear story of how she found Jesus and how God had used pivotal moments in her life to shape her more into the image of Jesus.

But what struck me most in her writing was this quote:

“Up to this point [in my life], I’ve really been focused on growing myself spiritually. But now, I think I need to start focusing on what I can give to others.”

She was right. We can so often get focused on our own lives, including our own spiritual growth, that we forget that a big part of following Jesus is serving others like Jesus served others. After all, if we are going to live like Jesus lived, then we should emulate his mission statement:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:45)

To put it another way, we aren’t to just sit on the wall. Instead, we should “plug in” and serve others. Here are two places you can “plug in”:

#1. Serve the Riverwood Family

Many of those within the Riverwood family are already serving one another. It’s so fun watching them greet at the door, or serve the kids in Kids Creek, or help clean-up after the Worship Gathering. But if you are part of Riverwood aren’t actively serving our church family, why not give it a try? We won’t arm twist you into doing something, but we’d love for you to take the gifts and energies God has placed in you and plug them into the life of Riverwood. Simply contact us about an area you’d love to help with (even if you think it’s an area that’s already “covered”) and we’ll do what we can to help you give some of your time and skills to making Riverwood an even better church family.

#2. Serve Where You’re At

Just like an electrician put the electrical outlet in a certain spot on the wall, God has put you in a certain spot. So how can you serve those in your neighborhood, or in your class, or in your job, or at the gym, or at the coffeeshop you go to three times per week? Find ways to give life and energy to those around you by serving them through the love God has shown you through the cross.

To sum this all up: Don’t just sit there; connect with those around you by serving them. You just might find the results a bit electrifying to your spiritual life!

Give More

by Erin Bird

In last week’s post, I talked about Spend Less, one of the four tenets of the Advent Conspiracy movement. This week, I want to touch on another tenet: Give More.

At first glance, these two tenets (Spend Less vs. Give More) seem to be contradictory. If you are going to give more, don’t you have to spend more?

hand playing piano

Let me use an illustration from musicto explain. I was a piano major in college, so I used that knowledge to give each of my children piano lessons at home. When each of my kids were learning the difference between playing loud and playing soft, they naturally would want to speed up when the song got louder or slow down when a song got quieter. But it is quite possible to play a song loud and slow (like a national anthem), or quickly and quietly (like a movie soundtrack adding suspense to an intense scene).

Likewise, it is VERY possible for you to Give More while simultaneously Spending Less. For instance, you can give more of your time by making presents this year or by volunteering someplace. You could give someone “coupons” for things like “shovel your drive,” “do your laundry,” “go on a date,” or “wash your car.” All it takes is a little creative thinking. And oftentimes you’ll find presents like these actually mean more to the recipient.

give more2 350x196 - Give More

Along with this idea to Give More, I want to challenge you to consider how you can give more financially outside your family. Whether it be to Riverwood’s Impact Gift (which we will collect on Dec 16 for Eight Days of Hope), or a great Christ-centered organization like Compassion or International Justice Mission, giving helps relieve the tension that so often grips our hearts. Giving financially to others frees us up so that our hearts aren’t wrapped up in money but free to enjoy God and truly live life. Giving to others actually gives us joy.

This is why several years ago our family changed how we did our three gifts to each of our kids. Remember last week, I mentioned how we give each of our children three gifts based on the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child. The “myrrh” gift we give as a “practical” gift.

But it dawned on us. Whenever we need to get our kids something practical, like socks or jeans or winter boots, we just go out and buy it without much thought. Once we realized this, we made a decision with our kids to  give away their myrrh giftsThey get to choose giving something like clean water or food or mosquito nets or something else really practical that those in less fortunate circumstances need. The first year we did this, I remember one of our kids saying, “I’m really glad we’re doing this!”

Giving More to others gives more joy to you. And it frees you up to enjoy Christmas more. So I encourage you to Spend Less so you can Give More. If God can Give More by giving us Jesus, and Jesus can Give More by giving up his life for us, we can follow His example and Give More of our self this Christmas.

Give More this Christmas

by Erin Bird

In last week’s post, I talked about Spend Less, one of the four tenets of the Advent Conspiracy movement. This week, I want to touch on another tenet: Give More.

At first glance, these two tenets (Spend Less vs. Give More) seem to be contradictory. If you are going to give more, don’t you have to spend more?

It’s like playing the piano. I was a piano major in college. Since I didn’t become a professional pianist, I ended up using my degree to give each of my children piano lessons at home. When each of my kids were learning the difference between playing loud and playing soft, they naturally would want to speed up when the song got louder or slow down when a song got quieter. But it is quite possible to play a song loud and slow (like a national anthem), or quickly and quietly (like a movie soundtrack adding suspense to an intense scene).

Likewise, it is VERY possible for you to Give More while simultaneously Spending Less. For instance, you can give more of your time by making presents this year or by volunteering someplace. You could give someone “coupons” for things like “shovel your drive,” “do your laundry,” “go on a date,” or “wash your car.” All it takes is a little creative thinking. And oftentimes you’ll find presents like these actually mean more to the recipient than a store-purchased gift.

Along with this idea to Give More, I want to challenge you to consider how you can give more financially outside your family and close friends. Whether it be to Riverwood’s Impact Gift (which we will collect on Dec 17 and given to the Waverly Benevolence Fund), or a great Christ-centered organization like Compassion or International Justice Mission, giving helps relieve the tension that so often grips our hearts. Giving financially to others frees us up so our hearts aren’t wrapped up in money. Then we are free to enjoy God and truly live life. Giving to others actually gives us joy.

This is why several years ago our family changed how we did our three gifts to each of our kids. Remember last week, I mentioned how we give each of our children three gifts based on the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child. The “myrrh” gift we give as a “practical” gift.

But it dawned on us: whenever we need to get our kids something practical, like socks or jeans or winter boots, we just go out and buy it without much thought. Once we realized this, we made a decision with our kids to  give away their myrrh giftsThey get to choose giving something like clean water or food or mosquito nets or something else really practical to those in greater need. The first year we did this, I remember one of our kids saying, “I’m really glad we’re doing this!”

Giving More to others gives more joy to you. And it frees you up to enjoy Christmas more. So I encourage you to Spend Less so you can Give More. If God can Give More by giving us Jesus, and Jesus can Give More by giving up his life for us, we can follow His example and Give More of our self this Christmas.

Gospel-Fueled Giving

by Erin Bird 

gospel giving image 300x168 - Gospel-Fueled GivingIf 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.)