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2021 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Be Rich 2021

Andy Stanley - Be Rich 2021

Andy Stanley - Be Rich 2021

So I wanna welcome all of our churches around the country on the City Decatur Church. Thanks for tuning in today and for those of you who are watching from wherever you're watching from we're so excited about this season. About, I don't know, 25 or so years ago, Sandra and I were young parents, had two kids at the time, and when you're a parent and you've got babies, you don't know what you're doing. You know you don't know what you're doing, you pretend you know what you're doing. You figure it out. By the time you figured out, they're in middle school, then you got to figure that out, and it's impossible to figure that out.

But anyway, so we're at home. We live in Dunwoody at the time and we hear this terrible hacking kind of cough from upstairs, so we run upstairs to figure out which baby monitor it is. And Garrett, our youngest at the time, was about 18 months old, and he had this horrible cough, just kept going. So we pick him out and walk around and do all the normal stuff and it's getting worse. And we can tell it's like, he's coughing so much, he's having a hard time breathing. He's trying to sort of gasp between, so we start panicking. And anyway, we call 911, which is what you're supposed to do. And so I'm holding him, we're waiting. And I know there's a reason for this, so you don't need to explain it to me, but it is kind of odd the first time this happens: you call 911 for a medical emergency and a giant firetruck pulls up. It's like, "oh no, there's no fire. That's not what we need", but anyway that's what they do. I get it.

So anyway, eventually the EMTs get there. They come in, I'm holding him and Sandra lets them in and they've got all the stuff and there's a women and a man and they got all their gear and she comes over to take Garrett. And I immediately kind of pull back because, and you know where this is going. I mean, I got to know before I just hand you my child, are you a Republican or you Democrat? I know! I mean, you're not just gonna hand your child, your baby to some person if you don't know how they voted right? No! I didn't care about their politics. I cared about their competency because this was an emergency. And when there's an emergency, you don't care about that stuff, right?

So as we launched this season of Be Rich, it appears to me, it seems to me and to many of us that our whole nation is having an emergency, it's having a breakdown. Everything's politicized. Everything's so divided. Climate, COVID, the vaccines, two doses, three doses, no doses, who knowes, right? In fact, your family is divided over this. Mask, no mask, CRT, it goes on and on and on. Churches are divided. I hear from pastors all the time. We've struggled in terms of unity, even among in here in the city of Atlanta with our churches 'cause everybody's got an opinion about everything, including me, I'm not pointing fingers. Sandra's told me that. I told you this. She says, every once in a while, "You don't have to have an opinion about everything". I'm like, "Doesn't everybody"? She's like, "No, not everybody has to have an opinion".

So I was having a conversation a few weeks ago with a woman who's been at our church forever, and she's so frustrated with me. And, in fact, my assistant, Diane, her new thing is I wish we could get the people on each side of all these issues to meet because everybody on one end thinks I'm on the other end, and everybody on the other end is sure I'm on this end. So I get, and we get attacked all the time from both sides. And I'm not asking for sympathy. It's just goes with the job. But Diane's like, "You know, if we could get all these people together, they would be like, 'Oh, I thought he was on your side.' 'Well, I thought he was on your side.' Because I keep telling everybody, 'No, we're trying to be on Jesus' side.'" No applause. We're gonna get there in just a minute. And that's not an excuse, okay? 'Cause I hear, "You're just trying to make excuses". No, we're not. We'll see that in a minute.

But anyway, so I keep hearing and we all hear, "It's so bad, the country". This is my favorite. And I'm not knocking you, okay. And you may have information I don't. So just extend a little grace. "It's never been so bad". I'm like, "We had a civil war. Does anyone remember the Civil War"? 800,000 men primarily died, not to mention all the disease and illness, and anyway. so it may never have been this bad. I'll give you credit. Listen, you may know something I don't. It's never been this bad. And then, of course, if you've been a Christian a long time, and if you grew up in certain kinds of traditions, there's a tendency to spiritualize all this to say, "What is God doing? Is God trying to teach the nation something? Is God judging America"? So, all that comes pouring in. And you have an opinion about all that, and so do I. We've covered that.

So I don't know, and I would be crazy to try to guess and tell you what I think God is up to. I don't know about that part, but here's what I do know. Here's what I'm absolutely confident about. And this is what we come back to over and over and over. I don't know what God is up to in terms of if he's trying to teach America something or judge America, I don't know. But here's what I know. We have a responsibility, and by we I mean the Democrat Jesus followers and yes, Republicans. There are Democrat Jesus followers, I know! And all the Republican Jesus followers and yes, Democrats, there are actually Jesus followers on the Republican side. The Democrat Jesus followers, the Republican Jesus followers, we have a responsibility, Black, Brown and White. Everybody's precious in His sight, Jesus followers. We collectively, whether we can agree on a whole lot of other things or not, we have a responsibility and we don't have to figure out what God is up to in the world and we don't have to figure out what God is up to in the United States of America.

Although Jesus gave us some hints and some clues, and we don't have to figure out how to solve the world's problems. In fact, I doubt we would ever all agree on how to solve the world's problems or even our community's problems. And I hate to bring this up, but since we're in church, some of us can't solve our own problems, right? I mean, you're sure what you would do if you were the president. Right guys? It's like, "Ah, I know what I would do". Hey, you can't even control your nine-year-old. So we wanna put you in charge of the country? I mean, right. So we were all confident. We'll get to that in a minute. We know what we would do and what needs to be done. But at the same time, we're not even sure how to live our own lives, right? And it's easy. And again, I think we're all tempted to do this on some level. It's easy just to do nothing and just complain about everything, right?

But here's the thing. And I wanna be so clear. If you're not a Christian, you're not a religious person, you're here 'cause somebody dragged you here or they told you what we're gonna do. And you thought, oh, that sounds interesting. Or maybe you gave up on faith a long time ago. I'm not even trying to suggest you do anything or believe anything. You can just cross your arms and just, take it or leave it, okay? And if you're a Christian, who's one of those Christians that just decided my Christianity stops with what I believe. I just believe all the right stuff. I believe Jesus died for my sins and I got baptized. I'm going to heaven. That's it for me. I'm just gonna believe all the right stuff. Then I don't know what you're gonna do with this either.

But if you're a Jesus follower. That is you wake up in the morning and you've decided like the song says, I'm not just going to believe things, I want to follow Jesus. I want to live my life in such a way that I reflect the kingdom of God that Jesus brought to earth. If you're that person, you do not have this option. And as a network of churches, we have rejected this option. And, again, I hope you have as well. But it's tempting. It's tempting. And it's tempting because of this word, awareness. Awareness.

And some of you have lived long enough to where you can kind of relate to this. None of us have lived long enough to relate to it fully. Once upon a time, people were only aware of what they experienced. They were only aware of the heartache and heartbreak and the death and destruction. Even wars that they experienced or were in their vicinity or their region of the world. They had no idea what's going on everywhere else, right? They were only aware of the poverty they saw or the poverty of the people they knew, or the poverty of the people who they knew that knew someone, they were only aware of the illness that they experienced or that the people around them experienced. We, on the other hand, we're aware of everything everywhere and it's overwhelming.

And again, it's partly our fault and it's partly our fault because every news agency understands this and you shouldn't be so critical of them because they're playing off of something that you let them play off of. We just aren't that interested in good news. You cannot make a living off of good news. People have tried. It's impossible. People say, "Oh we need more good news". Well, good luck with that. Just try to leverage, try to monetize good news. It can't be done. In fact, I was a journalism major Georgia State University and Dr. Evans, he would constantly tell us over and over and over. He would say, "Look, students, nobody cares about how many Amtrak trains arrive safely at the station. They only care about the one that didn't".

This is news. This is broadcast. This is how you monetize what's happening in the world. We're just not that interested in good news. We hyper focus on the negative. We hyper focus on the exception. We hyper focus on when the other side or the other party kinda gets what's coming to them according to the way we think gets what's coming to them is, and then we share it with all of our friends. Like it's bad for them, but I'm kind of happy on the inside. And I'm kind of embarrassed that I'm so happy about all the bad things. So we just hyper-focused on the disruptions and on the exceptions and all the negative things that happen because it's just human nature. So what some of you have done, and I don't blame you for this. In fact, I think every once in a while, we should all have a season of this. Some of you have just tuned it all out. You just don't listen to the news anymore. You don't watch anymore.

In fact, I have friends I'll say, "Hey, did you hear about"? "Nope" I'm like, "Really"? I'm like, "Are you living in a cave"? "Nope, I just quit watching the news. Quit listening to the news". I'm like, "Oh, well, you know the Doobie Brothers broke up". They're like, "Well, not that long ago". So anyway. I know how old everybody is here. Anyway, so that's one option, right? You just tune it out because unawareness is bliss. But as a Jesus follower, unawareness is a swing and a miss because I'm not bothered by, I'm not moved by, I'm not inspired to get involved in human suffering that I don't know about, and neither are you. So we can't shut it all out, but neither should we try to take it all on. And we can't do nothing and just sit around and complain about everything, and here's why. It's not because we're good citizens. Hope you're a good citizen. It's not because we're good people. I know you're good people. It's because our response to suffering and our response to what's happening in our world has been prescribed to us and modeled for us. We don't get to choose.

Now, if you're not a religious person, not a Christian, you get to choose. You are on your own. I have no right in the world. I'm not even trying to tell you what to do or try to guilt you into something. I'm not even trying to inspire you into something. And if your Christianity is, I just believe all the right things and go about my business and mind my own business. Well then, have a nice day. That's not even real Christianity, but I understand you were raised to think that way. So I won't be too critical. But if you are an active Jesus follower, we don't get to pick and choose our response to human suffering around us and to what's going on in society.

In fact, if you follow Jesus through the gospels and you may have never noticed this, and it's kind of an odd thing to even point out, when you follow Jesus in the gospels, you bump into this strange, for some people it's actually a disturbing pattern with Jesus. And here's what I mean, Jesus would was constantly meeting the immediate needs of people. People would walk up to Jesus. "My servant is sick". And Jesus was like, "Hey guys, I'll be with you in a minute". Follow this stranger to his home and heal the servant. Or "Jesus, my son keeps falling in the fire. I think there's something wrong with him". "Hey guys, I'll be right with you". Jesus is in a crowd going somewhere really important. Somebody touches him, He stops looks around. There's a woman. You've heard of this story, and she's been sick mostly her whole adult life. She has spent all of her money on doctors. They've helped her not a bit. And she explains this to Jesus and He just, He heals her.

So Jesus was constantly responding to the immediate needs of people. He would respond to emergencies. He would meet physical needs of people, fed people. But, and here's the odd thing and maybe the disturbing thing, maybe this will disturb you so much you'll read the gospels. Do you know what He didn't do? Jesus did not permanently solve any of society's problems. Not one. In fact, read the gospels. He refused to be dragged into debates about how to deal with the system and fix the system and change the system. He refused even, this is amazing, to be dragged into debates about how do we get rid of the occupiers? How do we get rid of Rome? How do we defund Rome? How do we create a messianic movement that expels the occupiers.

All of the things that were systematic, all of the things that were governmental, all of the things that were built in to kind of solve aggressively and humanly speaking to problems of that particular society, He had virtually nothing to say. And He never even, it seems, attempted to address those things, much less change those things. And yet He was so concerned about the human condition and He was so concerned about the immediate needs. And He was so willing to jump in and address an emergency. But what He did address and what all of that points to is that Jesus came to address, point out and underscore the root cause of the human condition.

Here's one incident or here's one expression of that, or one way that He said that. He said, "For out of the heart, for out of the human heart comes evil thoughts". That becomes evil intentions. That becomes evil activities. "Out of the heart comes murder". The taking of a life, the anger that spirals to the point of taking a life, the anger that spirals to the point where somebody physically does something to another person and they regret it later, but it just got away from them. He says that comes from the heart. "Out of the heart comes adultery". Where kids don't get to grow up with a mom or dad in the home and they ping-pong back and forth. The adults through this is stringing lie after lie, after lie, after lie, and finally somebody has found out and they have all the reasons in the world why, and make excuses, but at the end of the day, Jesus says this just emanated from somebody's heart and yeah there's a backstory, and yeah when you hear somebody backstory, you have empathy. But Jesus says the destruction, the aftermath, that came from the human heart.

"For out of the heart comes sexual immorality". Sexual addiction, sexual abuse, sexual scars as a result of decisions, sometimes people knew better than, sometimes they didn't. He says all of that emanates from the heart. "Out of the heart comes theft". White collar, blue collar, physical things, ideas, credit. For some of you they stole your childhood because of how they treated you. And they can't ever give it back. He said all of that emanates from the human heart. "For out of the heart comes false testimony and slander". Or for short, you know, you could just say Twitter. Because Jesus knew, here's the thing, Jesus knew, and we know this when we stop and think about it. I mean, you just look at your children, just look in the mirror. We forget that our problem, society's problems, your problems, my problems, our collective problems, they stem from our sinful selfish, at times self-centered, appetite driven condition of our hearts and no system, no political platform, can solve that.

In fact, this is kind of discouraging, but hey, this may, I've said other, more discouraging things, but this is true. There are no perfect solutions. There are no perfect solutions that involve people because people are involved in both the problems and the solutions. And this doesn't mean we don't work for solutions. And this doesn't mean we don't vote for people who we think have the best solutions. It's just at the end of the day, we're kind of rearranging chairs on the Titanic just a little bit because the root problem, this is what was so brilliant about Jesus, it's why, if you're not a Christian, you should at least, you don't have to believe the whole Bible, just read the gospels, just read the Sermon on the Mount and ask yourself, wouldn't the world be better if everybody embraced Jesus's ethic that He summarizes at the end of His ministry that we'll get to in just a minute because at the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. And Jesus is like, "Look your system of government, whatever the occupiers, one day the Romans win". Jesus says, "One day there's not even gonna be Romans". Like really? Yeah.

There's a deeper, more fundamental issue. It's the condition of your heart. And government? Government was given by God. You know what government was given by God to do? To basically answer the question, how low can you go? How low can you go and get to go on your own and be on your own. If you go too low, you don't get to go anywhere else. And this is the role of government, it's the unenviable role of government. Here's how low you can go. I'm going to put guardrails on your selfishness, but the government can't make you be a wonderful person. The government can't make you generous. We talk about this all the time. The things that Jesus modeled and attempted to inspire His followers to it's only those who follow Jesus or at least embrace His ethic and His worldview and the way He asked people to live and what He modeled. He knew this is the only way forward, regardless of whatever system of government, regardless of who you elect, regardless of which side of any aisle or which side of any issue you find yourself on.

And so Jesus came to introduce a different way of living, an upside down way, a backwards way, a race to the back of a line. An others first oriented living. Marriages that are submission competitions. You just try to out submit each other. Again, a race to the back of the line. Asking the question, what do I do with my power and my resources? A way of living that understands that we should never feel guilty about what we have. We should feel responsible because it's not ours anyway. The people who manage your money, they do not feel guilty. They feel responsible. And so Jesus would say, "Hey, everything that you have, your opportunities, the physical things you have, your possessions, your talent, all of it is on loan from God. And you should never feel guilty, you should feel responsible. And when you embrace my kingdom way of thinking, and when you embrace my kingdom way of living, you will make your resources and your talent and your ability and your opportunities and your connections, you will make them available for the benefit of other people like I came into this world to do for you".

And this way, this new way of living, this new way of thinking this backwards way of thinking, this kingdom, that was all upside down with the king, who came to sacrifice His life for His followers instead of asking His followers to sacrifice their lives for Him. It was called in the first century, it was called The Way. It wasn't call Christianity, it wasn't called the church. It was called The Way. Because Jesus said, "I'm the way". "What does it look like"? Jesus said, "It looks like me". "But what does it act like"? "It acts like me. I've come to reveal what the Father is like. Feel it, if you've seen me, you've seen the Father". "Show us what God's like". And Jesus is like, "Okay, that's too big of a question fella. Here's the best thing. Just look at me. You wanna know what God's like? You know what God acts like? How God responds. You follow what's called The Way".

And it ran contrary to my nature. And it ran contrary to your nature. And as we talk about all the time, this new way, this new way of thinking this new way of living, it was fueled by a single command, not 10, just one. A single command that is forever relevant, forever catalytic, forever life-changing. a single command that has the potential to change everything in spite of how things change. At the end, He knows with His apostles. He says, "Okay, here it is your one commandment. I just want you to love other people you have loved you and you'll work out the details later. But this is what you do. This is what it looks like". Simple, brilliant. And you know what else it is and why it's so relevant for us as we kick off, Be Rich? This single command, this New Testament ethic to love others as God through Christ loved us. This is the bridge between our differences. It is the bridge between our dissimilar backgrounds and our dissimilar life experiences. It is the bridge between our disagreement around how problems should be solved and issues should be addressed, to put others first, to bear one another's burdens.

You and I don't see the world politically the same way, but I wanna shoulder your burden. You don't see the world the way I see it, but you're gonna shoulder my burden. I don't live the way you live and I don't experience what you experienced and you didn't experience what I experienced growing up, but you know what, how can I bear your burden? How can I put you first? We may never agree, may never vote alike, but you know what, how can I put you first? How can I get in the back of your line? I love the fact that Jesus's last, think about this, His last act of service before He was arrested and crucified. The last act, the last thing He did for other people was He washed His disciples' feet. And in this moment, they had just had Passover. It takes a long time to wash 12 pairs of feet and they were humiliated. They were so humiliated because they were supposed to hire a servant. Servant didn't show up or they didn't hire the servant. They knew that any one of them should have done it, but they are not about to wash one another's feet.

I'm not washing Peter's feet, uh-huh. He's my brother, uh-huh. I'm not going to wash Andrew's feet. Simon, no, I'm not gonna wash. Simon the zealot, I'm not gonna wash his feet. They're not gonna watch each other's feet. Before they get to this Passover, They're arguing about who's gonna be number two and three in Jesus' kingdom. They still haven't gotten it. And then Jesus, the king, Jesus who took these same hands and did things that were extraordinary, gets on His hands and knees and He washes their feet. And here's the point of that night, I think. He washed their feet, even though they were about to get dirty again, maybe within the hour, which was His point. And you can just hear the drip, drip, drip. They're not saying a word till they get to Peter.

And Peter has to open his mouth. "You're not gonna wash my feet". Jesus is like, "Peter, okay, wash my feet". But it was so humiliating. Then He finishes and He put His rabbinical robe back on, He sits back down in His place at the table. And He says this, "Now. Now that I, your Lord". That's who I am. "And your teacher, your rabbi". In other words, I got all the power. I'm holding all the cards. I'm the most powerful person in the room. I'm the guy. "Now that I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet". Even though they're going to get dirty again. "I have set for you," he says. "I have set for you an example". And in this moment He sets for me an example. And in this moment, anybody who claims to be a Jesus follower, He has set for you. For you an example. That you should believe? No. That you should consider? No. "That you should do as I have done for you". These are our marching orders. This is just a simple application of what He said that same night when He said, "As I have loved you, so you are to love one another".

What does that look like? Well, let's start with this. As I have washed your feet. Let's take it to the most base element, the most base illustration. Let's take it all the way to the bottom. Let's take it to the cheapest, most inexpensive servant you could have hired for this night. As I have washed your feet, you are to wash each other's feet. In other words, there's nothing that's too low for you to do to do too menial for you to do. There's nothing that's beneath you because I, your Lord and your master, have washed your feet. And so He says you're to wash one another's feet. Here's what I think hung in that moment that they took away. We know they got the point. Washing their feet did not solve their problem. Washing their feet addressed their current need. This is so important. Commanding them to wash one another's feet ensured their differences would not divide them because, look up here, you can't wash feet from a distance. You can't wash feet from a distance.

I've told you this before. This is so important. Especially in a season like this. The further you are away from a problem, the simpler the solution appears to be. But when you get close, you have to address the complexity. And when you address the complexity of somebody else's problem, somebody else's challenge, somebody else's issue, somebody else's grown up stuff, Somebody else's grown up baggage. When you get close and you are suddenly exposed to what's happening, not what it looks like from afar, you have that moment we talk about every once in a while, you have that, oh moment like, "Oh, oh, all this time I thought, all this time I thought, You know what? Wow, I had no idea 'cause I'm four miles apart and I'm just looking at your situation going, well, if I were you and you hadn't and if I hadn't, but now that we're close, oh, this whole time I've assumed, this whole time I assumed people like you, this whole time I assumed that people in circumstances like yours, but now I'm close, and now your circumstances, and now your background is inescapable to me. And now I have to factor that in".

And suddenly where I thought there was so much division and so much distance, there's not as much as I thought there was. And you know what? We still disagree, but oh, can I carry your burden? This is what was so brilliant about that night, the closer we get, the more we understand each other's current reality. And when you understand somebody's current reality, you are less critical, you are less cynical, you are less intelligent because you had it all figured out. I had it all figured out, sitting there on my couch watching television. If I were the president, if I was a senator, if I was him, if I was her. The further away the problem is, the less complicated it appears to be. Jesus in His brilliance says to the men that are gonna be the stewards of the gospel for that generation. He says, "Guys, you're gonna disagree. You're not gonna get along, but you wash each other's feet because that's gonna keep you close and that's gonna keep you from becoming divided".

And they got the message. History tells us Greeks, Romans, eventually the entire empire begins to embrace this new way of thinking, this new way of living. And heart, not systems. Rome never went away. Hearts were changed and the empire responsible for crucifying our Lord embraces Him as Lord because hearts were changed. Culture began to change. The world became a safer place for women and for children and for slaves, and for the poor. This is what we've been called to do. This is what the church does. This is what the church accomplishes when we get it right, when we refuse to be divided by our distance. But we get out of our bubbles and go out of our ways to close the gap. Not so that we will all agree, but so that there will be unity among the followers. And then problems are more easily solved because all the information, all the cards are on the table, all the experiences come together and we actually know what we're talking about because we know who we're talking to.

So, let's not shut it all out. It's tempting. And let's not take it all on. That's impossible. Jesus did not lead us into either ditch. Let's do for others to the best of our ability and within our context, what He did for us individually and collectively. In other words, let's do what we can do and let's do what we can do now, and let's do what we can do together. And this is why we do Be Rich. Now, if you're new, every year here's what we do. We come together and combine our resources in this season to do for others what they can't do for themselves. And we're gonna do corporately what, hopefully, you're all doing individually throughout the year anyway. And what that is is simply we're gonna give and we're gonna serve, and we're gonna love in Jesus' name.

This is our opportunity to collectively say to our communities that everybody matters to God whether God matters to them or not. And the reason we call it Be Rich is based on something the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, a young man that he was bringing along that he knew that may someday take his place as an apostle and a missionary to the Roman world. And he wrote to Timothy. He said, "Timothy, when you're at these churches with all these Gentile believers, I want you to make sure that you command them, not suggest to them, command those who are rich in this present world to do good". And here's our phrase. "And to be rich". Teach the rich people how to be rich, tell the rich people "to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share".

And the truth is, most of us are rich in this present world. You may not feel rich in your present neighborhood. You may not feel rich in your current job, but in light of what's happening all over the world and we'd just gotten an upfront and close glimpse as we've looked at what's happening at the borders, different parts of our country, different parts of the world. We are reminded of how much we have, how blessed we are, how hard you've worked and you never feel guilty. You just feel responsible. And rich people bless people in this present world feel responsible. And Paul says to Timothy, "You tell them they are to be rich". They gotta be good at being rich. They've gotta be rich in generosity and in their willingness to share with others. So we should be generous and we should be willing to share. And you are all year long, but this is the season we come together and we do it collectively. And that's what we're about to do.

Now, if you're new, just to let you know how this works. We have a network of churches all over the country, and many of them participate in Be Rich during the Be Rich season. In fact, if you're part of one of those network churches or you're in a church as part of our network that's participating this year, your lead pastor is gonna come at this time and tell you what your church has in store for your community. So welcome them to the platform. Okay? Back to us now, sorry, we have a bunch of churches that are gonna do their own thing. So we've been doing this. This is our 15th year of Be Rich. And for the past 14 years, just a little update on what you've done. And again, if this is your first time at our church or one of the first times, this should be amazing. These are the kinds of folks that you're surrounded by. You have served at our nonprofit partners around the city. You have served, this is hard to believe, over 500,000 hours of community service. Not because you're working off something because you actually love.

I thought I'd throw that in there. It's like really opportunity. There may be some of that. But anyway, we have served together over 500,000 hours in these organizations, these charities all over the city. You have given almost $60 million away, which is amazing. And this year, let's see, we got, I think, 76 churches participating over in 20 states, five countries, which is kind of cool. Which means this year, at Be Rich about 77,000 people are gonna participate in what we're doing together. So we have the opportunity to make a really big difference.

Now, again, if you're new, you need to know this. When we started our organization, we decided not to start food banks and clothes closets and all those wonderful things. We decided to find the charities or the nonprofits in our communities that were already doing it and doing a bang up job and saying to them, how can we help you do what you're already good at? You have the expertise. We've got the resources, let's partner. We're not gonna pilot some new thing that the community doesn't need anyway. So over the years in the Atlanta area, we've developed relationships with 29 nonprofits, faith based and non-faith based nonprofits, because we wanna work with the best of the best. There's 29 and we call these our intersect partners. And we work with them all year long.

And these are some of the organizations you'll have an opportunity to volunteer with. And we hope you fall in love with what they're doing and that you become a regular part of their volunteer staff. And these organizations address issues like food insecurity, foster care, medical care, housing, education among probably a dozen other things. Then in addition, we have 12 global partners that we work with through our church, in our division we call global(x). And so global(x) sits within our organization, but it distributes and collects the needs of these organizations all around the world. And we have intersect partners all around the world as well.

So here's how it works. Over the past few months, our intersect staff has gone to these fabulous nonprofits. These nonprofits don't come to us asking for money. We find the best ones and we go to them and we ask them two questions. Number one, what would make a big difference for you? Just tell us, give us your wishlist. That's what we say. What's your wishlist? And they're like, "Oh my goodness, nobody ever asked this". And secondly, what would help you make a big difference with the people that you're serving in the community? And then we get all these projects together. We'd look real closely and we vet about about two and a half, actually we vet about several million dollars' worth of projects, but here's the thing, and this is what I love about Be Rich. With Be Rich, we never set a dollar amount in terms of a goal. Our goal is very, very simple. Our goal is a participation goal. We want 100% of everybody watching who's in any of our buildings, we want 100% of the people who are a part of this, or could potentially be a part of this, to participate.

So we're asking 100% of you to give something. And then we're going to give 100% of it away. There's no shipping, there's no handling, there's no administration fees. And here's why, this is what's amazing. The reason we're able to give away millions and millions of dollars every year is because so many of you are percentage givers and priority givers to our local churches, because you are so consistently generous to all the stuff that people don't love to give to when it comes to a local church. You have given on the app, you give online, you give all kinds of ways. Because of your consistent generosity to our local churches we are able to give big time to our local communities. And here's the best news of all. Well, maybe the best news of all. After 14 years of doing this, there is still no price increase. There's not even an adjustment for inflation. We are asking everyone to give a one-time gift of let's just say to all together of. That's it, a one-time gift of 39.95.

Now, yesterday, Sandra and I were driving home from something and her phone rings. And it's our friend Tan. A lot of you know Tan. Tan's one of our fabulous worship leaders. And I didn't tell her I was gonna share this and Tan's on the phone. She saying, "I'm out of town. I'm with my mom this weekend, but I know it's Be Rich. I wanna go ahead and do my Be Rich giving. Is it still 39.95"? And I was so tempted to say, "Well, Tan, for you"... Anyway, so I said, "Yeah, absolutely, it's 39,95". And if everybody watching from wherever you're watching from, and everybody at our Atlanta area churches gives 39.95. Then today we will collect about $2.3 million. Wouldn't that be fun? This will cover about 49 really big projects for these. Yeah, that would be great, yeah. And don't be intimidated by the decimal. It can move either way, either way, either way.

Okay. But we went ahead and vetted another $2.5 million worth of projects because every year you go crazy, but I've just insisted. We're not setting a dollar amount. I want everybody to do a little bit of something so that we can do something amazing collect this. So these fabulous organizations we work with. Here are the kinds of things that they're doing. And then we'll get you out of here. They're providing foster family support, resources for families who have children with cancer. A lot of you have gone to Lighthouse retreats. We're gonna help with Lighthouse.

Now emergency assistance for the homeless, several organizations doing that. Border station rescue to rescue girls from trafficking. An organization we worked with for years. We can't even tell you what country it's in. Medical care for low income families, several organizations doing that, several organizations doing job training and then supplies and staff for underfunded schools. There are several underfunded schools. You would be surprised where they're located, different counties around the state of Georgia that we get involved in. Sustainability projects. This is one of the coolest things we do. The nonprofits we work with are so great. They're constantly looking for ways to raise their own money by creating industry or a small business within their non-profit.

But if any of you have started a small business, you know it takes capital to start a business. So what we do is we say, "Hey, you've got a great income producing idea. Let us be your angel investor. We will invest. We'll just give you the money to get it started so that you become self-supporting or self-sustaining or more self-sustaining in the years to come".

Also, we love to cover operating costs for nonprofits because when people give money to a charity or nonprofit, they want their money to go directly to the people being served, but we all know it takes money to run an organization. So we love funding operating costs, which means helping them hire additional staff and help them with technology solutions. Technology solutions are expensive, but they are critical. They're vital to success in any organization. So we come in and we kind of do the stuff that's not a whole lot of fun for them to talk about to donors, but we understand that this stuff has to be done. And that's the role you play with some of these fabulous, fabulous organizations. These are all game changers for these organizations and they are life changers for the people and the families that they serve.

Now, circling back around, we'll wrap this up. Jesus, again, was so clear about this. We talked about it a lot last week. That last time we were together. So clear about this, that devotion to God is best demonstrated not in our church attendance and not in the prayers that we pray and not even in what we believe about God. He's so clear about this. That devotion to God is best demonstrated and authenticated through love for other people and extravagant generosity. Our extravagant generosity for others is actually the most appropriate response to God's extravagant generosity to us. I mean, when you sing the songs like we sang today, Jesus paid it all. And you think about it, if you're a Jesus follower, you're a Christian and you're just so grateful for what God did for you.

Those feelings of gratitude need to be translated in service for others. That's what it looks like to express your gratitude to God. You don't hold onto it. You don't just feel it in the moment, you do something for others, as God through Christ has done something for you. And I wish we had time to talk about this. This no strings attached generosity, because in the 1st century all generosity had strings attached. You did things for people who could do things for you. That was the way it was. But this no strings attached generosity that Christians kind of began to eke out and begin to seep into Greek and Roman culture. It had an incredible effect.

In fact, it eventually toppled or embraced or saturated an empire. It is pretty much saturated our world people all over the world think people should be generous. That is not human nature. That is a leftover, that's a shadow. Those are the footprints of Jesus in the world today. And I'm hoping that as we continue to model this talk and connect it to Jesus, that we will have a impact in our community. So once again, let's show the world that our churches are not just about sermons and songs, that our faith is more than sermons and songs, that our faith is about doing and not simply believing. And we've made it easier than ever.

On your way out today, you'll see some green balloons, red balloons. If you see a green balloon, that's cash and checks. If you see a red balloon, we're going to put this all up on the screen in just a minute, that's credit and debit. Or if you get your phone out and we're gonna put QR codes up here on the screen. The QR codes are all over the building. And just a reminder of when you get your phone out, go to the camera app, hold it up to the QR code, but you don't take a what? A picture, yes. We all have pictures of QR codes in our phone. And why doesn't this work? Because that's not how it works. So you get your phone out, you just hold it up to the QR code. It's gonna send you to our Be Rich website and you can give from there.

So having said all that, on your mark, get, oh yeah, I forgot one thing. So it turned out Garrett, our 18-month-old, just had a really bad case of croup. Yeah. 'Cause I know you're sitting here going, what happened to your son? You kind of left us hanging, right? He's older and married and doing great. So anyway, on your mark, get set, let's be rich in good deeds, generous and let's be willing to share, and I will see you next time. You're dismissed.
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