Giving: Obligation or Opportunity?

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I don’t like talking about money. Most the time, I don’t even like thinking about it. And I really don’t like asking for it. I mean—who actually enjoys asking or being asked for money? (Spoiler alert, that’s what I’m going to do in this article.) However, the only way I’m able to do this–and in fact enjoy writing this–is because I now have come to realize I’m not trying to make anyone feel obliged to give. Rather, I get to present an opportunity for giving.

Sowing and Reaping

Sometimes I’m surprised at how much the Bible talks about money and giving. The apostle Paul is not shy regarding talking about or asking for money. In fact, there are two chapters in one of his letters that are basically a lengthy request for money. Paul makes this long appeal in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 about giving to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem. Usually only 2 Cor. 9:6-7 are quoted, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” However, there is a lot more to unpack in this passage.

Too often I’ve heard the “sowing and reaping” language being hijacked by proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel.” (Which I am really not a fan of…) Reading more of the surrounding context, this passage is not at all about how the givers can be rewarded for giving. Their reward was not to just “be blessed” in return or get some material dividends on this spiritual investment. Their reward is bringing about thanksgiving to God, as it says in verse 12, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” Ultimately, then, God’s glory is the reward. Paul was inviting the Corinthians into this opportunity to be part of what God was doing and more fully worship and experience God’s goodness in their giving.

Burdens Or Blessings

This idea of opportunity versus obligation isn’t unique to giving. Unfortunately, we Christians do a great job of making burdens out of what should be blessings. For example, some people make their calling to ministry sound like such a burden! I get so frustrated when I hear others compare themselves to Jonah and talk about “running away from their call.” Like giving, ministry is a privilege not a compulsion!

Some of the best advice I’ve had through the years in considering my own call to ministry is (1) God doesn’t need you and (2) God will love you the same whether you follow your call or not. After all, God’s mission and purpose will not be foiled by my lack of obedience. My call to ministry, with all the suffering, pain, affliction, loneliness, ups, downs, in-betweens, and general craziness, is a gift and a privilege. I get to partner with God! If that’s all I get from ministry—i.e. my only reward is His being glorified—then I’m more than blessed. Likewise, when I give, my reward is God being glorified.

An Invitation to Give

I say all this to now extend an invitation for you to partner with us in what God is doing here at Outpost. Some of you are maybe feeling the Holy Spirit nudge you to give, and that’s great. Some of you maybe don’t feel any specific conviction yet simply want to give. That’s great too! If you can’t give, we understand and are not worried about it.

  • Do we need the money? Of course. Like many other ministries and nonprofits, giving has been less this year.
  • Do we need the support? Absolutely. This ministry for the sexually and relationally broken is one that faces attacks from many sides.
  • Do we need you to feel guilt so that you give? No. God is our ultimate provider. While your giving does help further our mission and ministry, ultimately it’s all about the result of thanksgiving and glory to God. Please do consider this opportunity to cheerfully partner with us toward the glory of God!

Give to the Max Day is Minnesota’s annual Giving Holiday. This year, it falls on November 19. Our goal is to raise $10,000. The giving opportunity opens at givemn.org/organization/TCJHOP on November 1 and goes through 11:59pm November 19. Each organization receiving a gift on any of those dates gets entered into a daily raffle for additional grants and prizes. There will also be special power hours on November 19 where additional prizes will be given. By giving at givemn.org/organization/TCJHOP, you help us to be eligible for these extra opportunities. Give to the Max is over for 2020, but you can always give on our website.

Generosity + Joy: A Reflection on Matthew 6

Young group of smiling adults walk at sunset under a bridge

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

Matthew 6:1-4

Several years ago, I was in New York City doing short-term missions work. It was this time of year – cold, crisp, and full of the expectation of Thanksgiving. During the grueling 14-day trip facilitating worship, outreach, and ministry to the homeless, I had one 10-hour break to enjoy the city. A few subway stops later, I was strolling through Central Park with a friend, on our way to gawk at 5th avenue and the finest that New York had to offer. Everything was full of lights and color, and overwhelmingly decadent. We strolled, carefree, and I’ll admit I was a little taken in by it all.

Ahead of us, a light turned red, and we stopped.

Beneath the cold street sign that boldly proclaimed “5th Avenue” was a homeless woman. She was lying on the sidewalk, wrapped in a dirty, gray cotton sheet. Her dark hair was matted into dreadlocks; her lips were crusted yellow with dehydration. Tears flowed freely across her beautiful cheeks as she stared at the ground in desolation. The glamour of 5th Avenue disappeared with a sort of violence, and my heart broke in two.

Her shoulders were shaking in agony as she wept. I placed a dollar in her plastic solo cup full of pennies and nickels. My friend knelt down and tenderly asked if she could pray for her. The woman nodded. We prayed.

Hundreds of people were passing by without a second glance, and who could blame them? Sometimes the need is so great that it is too much for our hearts to feel. We have to shut it out just to avoid despair, but I think we all can relate to getting it wrong sometimes. In that moment I was repenting for forgetting compassion. 

As my friend prayed, the woman raised her eyes. Slowly, afraid of what she might see, she looked up into my face. Surprise registered as she saw that I was crying too. She held my gaze for a long time, like a thirsty man drinking water. She tentatively held my hand with two of her bony fingers. There was not enough space in my heart to contain what I felt in that moment.

Suddenly another woman, in cashmere and leather, aggressively came marching up from a restaurant a few feet away and angrily spat at me, “I just want you to know, we decided to buy her dinner, and they’ll bring it out to her.”

I had to smile. As reluctant as that woman was, our choice to see this child of God in the street, had allowed her to see also. Our conviction begat more conviction. Our tiny, almost insignificant, generosity begat more generosity.


When I was a child (a very legalistic, perfectionist, pastor’s-kid of a child), I would read Matthew 6 with horror. How could I possibly keep every act of charity a secret? Would God be angry with me if someone else knew I was tithing from my $6 allowance? Once I even went so far as to sneak into the office after service with my dad’s key and add my tithe. It makes me laugh now; I imagine I may have caused the accountant some frustration over 60¢.

I didn’t understand the heart of it. I didn’t understand that it was about heart motivation, not a legalistic practice of physically hiding. I didn’t understand that generosity done for accolades receives its reward in the moment. It’s still generosity, it still has value to the one who receives it, but there is something higher to strive for. Generosity done out of care for the other, out of compassion, out of conviction, out of the love of Christ produces not only eternal rewards, but also produces joy.

In the famous soliloquy, Shakespeare penned Portia’s words:

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Like mercy, real generosity blesses “him that gives and him that takes.” Or more appropriately from scripture:

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work 
we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus
himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
Acts 20:35

One day we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our selfish deeds will burn away like chaff, and we will have to make an account for our actions. In Matthew 25, Christ admonishes us that whatever we do or don’t do for the least of these, we do unto Him. 

I like to imagine that I will be taken aback by the deeds that Christ honors in that hour: that woman who provided a dinner on the street in New York; a mother turning the other cheek as her son angrily rejects her; a man struggling against the temptation of pornography and choosing holiness; a husband quietly caring for his ailing wife without thanks or praise; an overcomer of sexual sin silently enduring slander from our culture and loving beyond the accusations and hatred. 

I like to imagine that as the Bride of Christ, we will have the opportunity to celebrate powerful acts of unseen love and generosity.

Culture, and so much of the Western Church, has turned its back on people who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and sexual brokenness. These are a people “thirsty” and “given nothing to drink.” Someday, all of the agendas, the rhetoric, and the arguments will fade away, and Christ will bring right judgments about the way that the Church has responded to this sexual crisis. You are part of a different company of people. You see the need, and you believe in healing and transformation. You have poured out incredible generosity to help us bring hope and healing. You have helped bring living water to those in need.

As we enter into Give to the Max 2019 and this season of generosity, would you consider giving a gift to Outpost to help us continue in ministry? Your generosity begets so much more generosity, and your generosity brings joy.

Thank you for standing with us.

Donations can be given online at GiveMN.org on the TCJHOP organizational page, which will be directed to the Outpost General fund.

What Changes? An Appeal for Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day. Nov 15, 2018 www.givemn.org/organization/tcjhop

I often encounter the same question when I share about the work we do at Outpost. The scene is always similar. We’re sitting down over coffee or those all-too-addictive Chick-Fil-A waffle fries.

“So what exactly does Outpost do?” they ask.

I give the quick pitch: Outpost is a ministry that helps people walk away from unwanted same-sex attractions and other sexual and relational brokenness. I talk about my love for Outpost and the way that it helps people find hope and healing. I talk about my friends who are walking in victory – who have moved beyond the overwhelming struggle and are now thriving in life-giving marriages, as parents, or in pursuing their life calling.

Surprise flits across the face of the person I’m meeting with. They hesitate, but finally ask, ”What changes?”

What changes? How do people live beyond a struggle with homosexuality or gender dysphoria? Is it some miraculous teaching at Outpost? A special program? Or that one book that definitively lays out the keys to healing? We have some great programming at Outpost, but it’s none of those things.

It’s the gospel. Jesus sets us free. He transforms us. The old man is dead and we are raised to life again in Christ. These aren’t just words. This is the core of what Outpost is about. If you want a front row seat to Christ transforming lives and making people new, this is a really good place to be.
There are two reasons I want to ask you to prayerfully consider giving to Outpost during Give to the Max. First, because the work we do is so vital and it brings so much fruit. Families are being restored. People are walking free. There is real hope and healing from pervasive and life-dominating brokenness.Give to the Max Day Testimonial: Outpost really saved my family

Second, because we want to see a day when surprise isn’t the reaction people have when they hear about Outpost. Many have never heard stories of people overcoming same-sex attraction or being transformed by Christ. We have powerful testimonies to share. When you support Outpost, you are giving us the ability to tell our stories at churches, college campuses, and conferences locally and nationally.

What changes? People experience the love of the Father. The pain and brokenness they’ve been holding onto for years begins to heal. They learn what it means to belong and to be safe. They encounter the power of the cross. As they are made holy, they are also made whole. Broken desires begin to shift. Their testimony becomes a powerful tool in the hands of the Lord to set others free and to bring hope.

You can be a part of ‘what changes’ by donating today.

Please note: we updated the giving link to www.givemn.org/organization/tcjhop.
We wanted to make things easier to type!

Looking for us on Give to the Max Day, November 17?

If you have been searching for Outpost Ministries to donate on GiveMN.org’s Give to the Max Day, you won’t find us!

easytithe.jpg

Donate to us through the EasyTithe app on your smart phone!

Because we are newly incorporated as Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer and have not yet applied for 501(c)3 status, we are not eligible this year to receive donations through GiveMN.org. Consider giving a donation directly to OutpostWe will actually pay LESS third party service fees when you do so. You can also download the EasyTithe app on your smart phone in your app store of choice. Search for “Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer” with the zip code “55422”. You can then give to Outpost Ministries or any person on staff.