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Choose this Day Who You will Serve

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Pathologically Generous

In September 2013, a man in Brazil developed what doctors called "pathological generosity." In an article published in the journal Neuroscience, doctors described the strange case of a 49-year-old man identified as "Mr. A" who had a remarkable personality change after suffering a stroke. His physicians said that after the stroke affected the subcortical regions of the man's brain he suddenly had an "excessive and persistent" urge to help others. He wouldn't stop giving money and gifts to people he barely knew. According to his wife, he would buy candy, soda, and food for kids he met on the street. He was also quit his job as a manager of a large corporation. Dr. Larry Goldstein, a neurologist at Duke University said, "Although the observation of personality change is not that unusual, this particular one is apparently novel."
When asked by researchers if he wanted to return to his job, Mr. A. claimed that he "saw death from close up" and he wanted to "be in high spirits" for the rest of his life. Mr. A. was put on medication for depression, which he said cured his depression but his "pathological generosity" remained unchanged.
Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Conversion; New Man—Apparently Mr. A. couldn't help his "pathological generosity" (although we can't be sure of that), but isn't there something akin to conversion in this story? We become different people from a power outside ourselves and we are forever marked by "pathological" goodness and love. (2) Generosity; Money—The same can be said for what happens to Christians who are called to give cheerfully.
John Erickson, "Brazilian Man Can't Stop Giving Gifts, Money After Stroke Induces 'Pathological Generosity,'" Medical Daily (9-8-13)
Jesus wants to redeem all of our being. For Christ-followers this means becoming Pathologically Different in how we handle money.

The Bible has more to say about money than just giving!

Consider passages like:
The Parable of the Talents-
Jesus’ warning about greed-
Teaching on inheritance-
Paul’s teaching on work-

For Christians, money and possessions are intertwined in our faith.

Jesus talked about the masters of God and Money in
Jesus places money and God on opposite ends of the spectrum, and elevates money to false god status. We know that since idol worship has been a big deal for people of faith.
The word “mammon” that is used carries a deeper understanding of not just money, but materialism.
This does not mean that we cannot have things, or that we need to renounce all material goods in the world; it means that these things do not get our allegiance. It is okay to want and have a nice house, or a nice car- it is okay to buy a new purse, or a new fishing rod, there is nothing wrong with these things, as long as they remain in a proper perspective. So, in the next four weeks we are going to examine how we, as people of faith, can interact in the most holistic way with material goods.

How do we keep this perspective on #STUFF?

Remember where the #STUFF comes from-
It is impossibly hard to make stuff your god when you remember that stuff is not self perpetuating. But we trick ourselves when we get mislead because so many times we do not see where the stuff or the money actually comes from- it is just there!
It reminds me of the story of the scientist who challenged God and said that he could make a human being with no help or assistance from God- so God said go ahead and try. The scientist reached down and grabbed a handful of dirt, and God said-Um, that’s my dirt...
Take for example one of my favorite pieces of stuff…my guitar. In order for this to be made God needed to provide wood, people....etc...
Remember, you can save money, but money cannot save you-
You can save money, and you can save stuff- in fact you can save both of these to an unhealthy level- if you save too much money we call you stingy and if you save too much stuff we call you a hoarder! You can save stuff, but stuff cannot save you. You cannot rely on things to give you happiness or eternal salvation. You heart, your soul, your spirit- these are not limitless things- as humans we have a limited amount of space in our lives. Unfortunately, too many advertisements, teachers, and self help people are trying to convince us that we can just grow and grow and grow the the amount of time and energy in our lives- but the reality is we have a limited compacity for things. At some point we can become so obsessed with the things of this world that we begin to let our soul- our very lives slip away.
If we had people that put the time and energy into being followers of Jesus as they do some of the things in this world- imagine how different things could be.
I just went to a sportsmen’s banquet last night, and the speaker asked the men in the room- how come if I told you that a 12 point buck passed by a particular place every morning at 7:12 and I gave you the exact location, ever hunter in this room would be in a race to get there, and probably would fight for it. But, we I tell you all you need to do for peace, joy, and eternal salvation is follow Jesus and worship Him, you would struggle to get out of bed to come to church?
Its a perspective change-hunting it good, sports are good, money is good, and possessions are good- but none of these can save you. When you sacrifice your integrity, when you do not have time for worship, Bible Study, or prayer because of things- that’s when it is out of control.
I just asked a friend of mine the other day- why is it you will take every moment of overtime you can get at work because you “gotta have that money” but you refuse to be involved in Bible study at church because “I don’t have the time?”
Embrace the ministry of #STUFF-1
A few years ago I presented in a sermon that we are sometimes only bridges of blessing. In other words, sometimes God gives us stuff for the sole purpose of giving that stuff away. God says “I cant just rain dollar bills down from the sky, but I can give some extra dollar bills to that person and ask them to distribute them for me...” Problem is sometimes we don’t pay attention to that second part...
The ministry of stuff reminds us that sometimes God does not give us stuff for us, but for others. Example- you get some extra money- you work an extra shift, or get an unexpected bonus- and if your life me, you think of ways to use the money. Well, sometimes we get so focused on how we are going to use that extra money that we become deaf to the person who just lost their home to a fire, or the family who’s behind on medical bills. What if the entire reason you got that extra was to help someone else?
I heard a pastor ask a question a few months ago, and I have wrestled with what he said ever since. A young man was complaining about street beggars- saying the common “they’re just going to use my money on booze, so I am not giving it to them” and the pastor asked “So, if you knew that they were going to use it on a necessity you would give it to them? But not on something they did not need?” and the man replied of course, they need to use the money the get on things they need. I am not throwing my money away for them to get booze they don’t need.” and the pastor replied “But it is okay for you to use that same $5 on a cup of Starbucks?” “Of course it is! I worked for that money, it is mine” and the pastor said “But isn’t Christian stewardship based on the belief that it is not yours, it is God’s? So who are you to judge, you have no idea what that man was going to use the money for. “And he read Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” And he challenged all those listening to consider how many times we miss the greatest rewards God has to offer because we only see it is “Our money we worked for”

Dig A Little Deeper

What is one way I/We are serving God with our stuff?
What God asks me/us to give, especially more than our regular tithe/offering, how do we/I respond?
What is one thing we have that we can use in the ministry of stuff?
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