Meditations

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Bruce Demarest outlines liberating principles and a prayer

“How does a Christian move from being possessed by one’s possessions to delight in God and generosity to others? Consider the following principles.

Acknowledge that God alone is your highest good.

Through prayer and fasting determine how worldly possessions may have a grip on your life.

Loosen your grip on material things by enlarging your love for Christ.

Surrender your resources to God.

Remember that disciples through the ages joyfully gave up everything to follow Jesus.

A Prayer: LORD, my natural human inclination is to set my heart on, and find my security in, material things. Grant me the grace to be possessed, not by my possessions, but by You, the Lover of my soul.”

Bruce Demarest in Soulguide: Following Jesus as Spiritual Director (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003) 101-102.

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Thomas Merton: Self-denial calls for heroic behavior in America

“The world we live in assails us on every side with useless appeals to emotion and to sense appetite. Radios, newspapers, movies, television, billboards, neon-signs surround us with a perpetual incitement to pour out our money and our vital energies in futile transitory satisfactions. The more we buy the more they urge us to buy. But the more they advertise the less we get. And yet, the more they advertise the more we buy. Eventually all will consist in the noise that is made and there will be no satisfaction left in the world except that of vain hopes and anticipations that can never be fulfilled.

I say this in order to show that very much of what we read in magazines or newspapers or see and hear in movies or elsewhere, is completely useless from every point of view. The first thing I must do if I want to practice meditation is to develop a strong resistence to the futile appeals which modern society makes to my five senses. Hence I will have to mortify my desires.

I do not speak here of extraordinary ascetic practices; merely of self-denial required to live by the standards of reason and of the Gospels. In present-day America, such self-denial is apt to require heroism. In practice it may mean giving up many or most of the luxuries which I have come to regard as necessities, at least until I have acquired sufficient self-control to use these things without being enslaved by them.”

Thomas Merton in Spiritual Direction and Meditation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1960) 78-79.

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Michael Durall: Creating congregations of generous people

“When I took on a stewardship role in my own congregation, I didn’t view myself as God’s messenger. I thought my job was to raise money for the church; i.e. fundraising. Once involved, however, I was surprised at how engrossed I became in the stewardship process, and the powerful sense of ownership that ensued. I felt my congregation wasn’t engaged sufficiently in the stewardship conversation–there was so much to discuss and learn. It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope it will be for you too.”

Michael Durall in Creating Congregations of Generous People (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1999) 9.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12

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John Ortberg: Being rich toward God

“Being rich toward God begins with giving to God that which we desires most of all. And what he desires most from you is you–your heart and devotion. Just as God can give us many gifts but the best gift is himself, so we can offer God our resources and acts of service, but the gift he desires most is us.” (cf. Luke 12:13-21).

John Ortberg in When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) 28.

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Henri J. M. Nouwen on Security and Trust

“What is our security base? God or Mammon? That is what Jesus would ask. He says that we cannot put our security in God and also in money. We have to make a choice. Jesus counsels: ‘Put your security in God.’ We have to make a choice where we want to belong, to the world or to God. Our trust, our basic trust, Jesus teaches, has to be in God. As long as our real trust is in money, we cannot be true members of the Kingdom. All those questions I asked were simply to help us consider whether we are, perhaps, still putting our security in money. ‘Those who trust in their riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like green leaves’ (Prov. 11:28) What is the true base of our security.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen in The Spirituality of Fundraising (www.henrinouwen.org) 2004, 15.

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Clare of Assisi: The Power of Money

“Perhaps the power of money lies in this, that more than most things, it reveals where we stand.”

Clare of Assisi in This Living Mirror: Reflections of Clare of Assisi, by Frances Teresa (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1995) 164.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also. Matthew 5:19-21

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Patrick Henry and the Measure of True Wealth

“Patrick Henry wrote into his will that if he had left nothing in terms of worldly riches but had given his heirs a faith in Jesus Christ, then they were of all people most wealthy. Conversely, he added that if he had left them all the wealth in the world but had not left them a faith in Jesus Christ, they would be of all people most destitute.”

Patrick Henry cited by Richard Foster in The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex and Power (Harper: San Francisco, 1985) 82.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever wants to lose his life for me and for the Gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8:35-36

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A Prayer of Francis of Assisi and a Promise from the Apostle Paul

“God, make me a steward of your bounty. Where there is need, let me see it; where there is abundance, let me share it; where there is time, let me spend it; and where there is treasure, let me use it to your glory.”

St. Francis of Assisi quoted in Michael O’Hurley-Pitts The Passionate Steward: Recovering Christian Stewardship from Secular Fundraising (St. Brigid: Toronto, 2001) 13.

And God is able to make all grace about to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

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Scott Rodin: The state of stewardship in the church

“Because of the lack of sound teaching on stewardship, the image of the steward offered by the church has become blurred. Perhaps the primary understanding today of the term steward is one who shares one’s own resources with others. Here the characteristic mark of the biblical steward—handling with integrity the resources of another—is completely lost. Being a godly steward has been reduced to nothing more than being a good investor or philanthropist or business owner. While these are all vestiges of what being a steward might look like, they miss the mark by staying in an “ownership frame” that is completely foreign to the biblical notion of steward. This is an image that will be hard to unseat in the church.”

R. Scott Rodin Stewards in the Kingdom: A Theology of Life in all its Fullness (IVP: Downers Grove, IL, 2000) 28.

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1

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Patrick McNamara echoes Peter on the use of our gifts

“Each of us is entrusted with a particular set of created gifts and good things we have been given in this life. Each of us is responsible for how these gifts are used; we will someday have to give our own account.”

Patrick H. McNamara in More than Money: Portraits of Transformative Stewardship.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10

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