We are well into 2019 and so thankful to see all that God continues to do through the Bold Faith Campaign!
It's been wonderful to see continued growth at Island ECC, with overflowing events like the Global Leadership Summit to inspire and encourage leaders at our church and around Hong Kong. We also held our first Renew Worship Night of the year at an external venue in North Point, which allowed us to host over 700 people comfortably for this inspiring evening!
Island ECC is pursuing a GIC site in North Point and arranging a meeting with the stakeholders of the building for a redevelopment opportunity. Please join us in prayer for God's guidance for the project.
Introducing Jeff Ryan
(Bold Faith Development Team member and former elder) shares his experience and examples of biblical stewardship:
"Why do I have so much?" is a question I regularly ask myself. Because I struggle with money, have feared that there won't be enough in the future, and to offset a scarcity mentality, this question serves to redirect my thinking and remind me of the abundance I have in my life.
Most of us at Island ECC, including my wife and I, are rich by the world's standards as earning HK$300,000 annually puts us all in the top 1% income earners in the world. Almost all of us have been able to generate a surplus to save and invest. Our worldly wealth has grown as global stock markets have climbed for a decade, and Hong Kong property we own is at its highest value ever.
In life, we can look at our abundance of money and possessions and ask one of two questions: "How much do I need for my life?" or "Why do I have so much?" There are two stories in the Gospels that show the consequence of choosing between these two questions:
In Luke 12:13-21 we learn about the rich farmer who after a good harvest decided to ask, "How much do I need for my life?" He decided to take all he had grown, build bigger storage barns and set it aside to enjoy a cushy lifestyle. He trusted in himself being the owner, provider and controller of all things in his life. Proverbs 28:26 tell us this is a recipe for trouble: "Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe." As a result, God decided he wasn't being the kind of steward He wanted and decided his time on earth was done. Jesus said that's what happens when you "store up treasures for yourself and are not rich toward God." He was unwise and ended up with no treasure in heaven and likely not in heaven itself. The rich farmer's treasure was laid up on earth for himself. He trusted in himself to prepare for his future, but didn't trust in God. Everything he thought he controlled, he really didn't and that also included his time on earth. He ended up in Scripture as an example of what not to do. Tragically, it was in a time of plenty when he could have had a tremendous impact for God, that he thought only about his own wants.
In a contrasting story in Mark 12:41-44, a poor widow took her only possessions in the world, two small coins, and put them in the temple treasury. She went all-in to worship God. She clearly trusted that God was the provider who would replace what she had given with what she needed to live. She recognized that He owned and controlled everything. Jesus praised her generosity. She seems to have asked herself: "Why do I have so much?" She also thought about the best way to use it and invest in the future-giving it to God for His purposes. She put her treasure where her heart was. By walking in wisdom, she grew rich toward God and stored up treasure in heaven, which would last forever. Jesus praised her and her story has been passed down to us an example in stewardship.
Pastor John Piper said, "To be rich toward God is to count God as your riches. If you are looking to be rich, focus on God. He is your great reward. He is your riches. Therefore, laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven would be living in such a way as to maximize God as your treasure."
Gretchen, my wife, and I complement each other in stewarding the resources God has given. She is spontaneous and wired to spend her time and our money on others. I am more wired to plan ahead in terms of who we give to and related details. In this season of life, we are looking not just at how we use our income but also our assets to honor God. Is there something we need to sacrifice?
If not for faithful stewards at Island ECC who were rich toward God over the past twenty years, many of us would not have had the opportunity to hear about Jesus, have our kids taught in Sunday School, been ministered to by Care Groups, or been able to participate in reaching others for Christ through missions.
We all need to ask: "Why has God given us so much?" and figure out what He wants us to do with the income and assets He has provided. If we invest our treasure in Him, future generations will have the same opportunities to hear the gospel message, have their needs met and spend eternity with Him.
As we near the Easter season, we are again reminded that the purpose of this initiative is to point more people to the good news of Jesus through His victory over the cross. Thank you for partnering with us in Bold Faith through your prayers and generosity!
Bold Faith Chairman