Now many of you are thinking, “What a waste of time these blogs have been.  All this talk about giving when everything we needed to know was already in the printed BLURBS we read in our programs each week.”  And you know what?  You are right.  But familiarity breeds contempt.  Many of us haven’t read the offering blurb since 2005, and some people simply skip that section of the program thinking that it must be advertising.  But our whole philosophy of giving is articulated in these eight rotated blurbs.  If you’ve never read them, here they are in one fell swoop.  If you read them long ago, but have forgotten what they said, here they are in DDTS (Dolby Digital Theater Sound).  If you always read them (or read them once a year), you get to take today off!  You may pass go and collect two hundred “way to go’s.”  So here they are: the River’s Edge offering blurbs.

#1: Why do we have an offering?  One reason is because we want to be like our Father.  Consider this: “A Santa Claus God gives simply so we can have and enjoy things; the true God gives so we can become joyful givers and not just self-absorbed receivers.  God the giver has made us to be givers and obliges us therefore to give” (Miroslav Volf).  Whether to a church, a mission or a charity, we need to be involved in the grace of giving because our God is a God who continually gives, and he calls us all to be like him.  Our joy is to use what God has given us to make a difference in our world and, in so doing, reflect his glory to a world who longs for grace.

#2: Why do we have an offering?  For some it is a way to give thanks to God; for others it is a way to show that they are trusting God, even with their finances.  But there are also reasons not to give.  We often get confused and think that we can earn God’s love by doing good deeds (like giving money).  It’s easy to get confused about this; and so we ask if you are struggling with this idea, that you refrain from participating in today’s offering.  We want you to know that God’s love is not for sale.  You can’t buy it with money or good deeds; but it is given freely to all who ask, by a God of grace and love who invites all people into a relationship with him through Jesus, the Son.

 #3: Why do we have an offering?  Many people feel that churches are more interested in what people give than in who they are.  We never want that to be said about us.  You are far more important to us than your money.  But we do feel that giving is important; and so we urge you to give sacrificially out of your time, your talents and your treasure, and to do so joyfully.  As members, we give to contribute to this work both here and around the world to strengthen our ministries and expand our outreach.  If you are a visitor, we invite you to find a church, mission, or charity for which you feel a passion and in which you can invest yourself.  All of us are called to use that which God has given us to be involved in something far greater than ourselves: touching people’s lives with grace.  That’s what giving and living are all about.

#4: Why do we have an offering?  Because we need constant reminders that life is not all about us, that life is all about giving ourselves away.  We give ourselves to God in gratitude through worship and service.  We give of our resources to participate in the advancement of the kingdom.  We give ourselves away to others joyfully as part of our calling to love God and love our neighbors.  We give because we know that our hearts and our treasures are intertwined (Mt. 6:21), and we never want to develop a hard heart.  We give because we love and we know that “you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving” (Carmichael).

#5: Why do we have an offering?  The Fourth Commandment tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day.”  While others worked and fretted, God’s people rested, trusting that God would provide for all of their needs.  There’s something about surrendering, about stepping out in faith, about trusting God in the really big things of life.  Giving is an act of surrender, an act of faithful obedience where we declare to all that we will trust God even with our finances, that we will rest in him alone.  And while it is not easy to trust God with this area, it speaks volumes to our own hearts.  God can be trusted even in this.

#6: Why do we have an offering?  All of us need a time when we can be reminded of God’s goodness to us.  The offering is a time to do that, to give thanks to God for his grace and mercy and for all of the gifts we have received.  The fact is, the greatest offering is a thankful heart, a heart that knows how great a debtor it is and how great a God we worship.  Life is all about saying thanks to God—through our worship, by calling on his name, by walking in faithful obedience and by sharing his grace with others; and an offering allows us time in our busy weeks to pause, to reflect and to give thanks to him from whom all blessings flow.

#7: Why do we have an offering?  Because we want to make sure we don’t miss life!  Paul writes (1 Tim. 6:17-19): “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  Life is all about giving, doing good and loving our neighbors.  That’s the life that is truly life!

#8: Why do we have an offering?  When you read the gospels it is amazing to see how many times Jesus touched someone to bring healing to their body.  As a church we get to continue that ministry by touching others with his grace.  But being Jesus’ hands and feet takes a lot of resources.  When you give to River’s Edge, we want you to know that we will be trustworthy stewards of your resources so that you can be sure that your money is making a powerful difference in the world for the cause of Christ—so that you will know your gifts are truly touching lives.  That’s our sure promise to you.

Okay, I didn’t have to include these blurbs in this blog (blurbs in the blog – I love it!), but it seemed like it would be a loose end if I didn’t.  And since I recently read Zelda Fitzgerald’s wise words (“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”), I didn’t have the courage to leave the blurbs dangling out there all by themselves.  Now I can sleep well at night knowing that everything is tied up nice and tidy!