Where is Your Treasure?

I write this with a heavy heart because a good friend of my wife and I, Chris, was in a bad motorcycle accident last night.  The doctors operated in an attempt to save his life, but they were unable to do so and he died, leaving behind a wife and five children.  Chris was 40.  I travelled with Chris on 5 short-term mission trips, and we had many discussions about life, evangelism, children, giving, sports, and on and on.  I will miss that, as Chris was like another son to me and my wife.

Why do I begin with that story?  Chris and I had our treasure in ourselves when we were younger (Chris in the army and me in college). We weren’t walking with God but with our own desires and pleasures—to please us.  We suffered because of that in numerous ways—headaches, not being aware of what we said or did, and others I can’t mention in this article.  Where your treasure is guides your thoughts, actions, speech, and motives.  When our treasure is within us, those items are skewed toward the world.

It was only when our hearts turned toward God that our treasure became aligned with God.  In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, treasure is defined as wealth, something of great worth or value.  Luke 12:34 states, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Treasure in this verse is the Greek word thesaurus, which means the things laid up in a treasury, collected treasures.  What have you laid up in your heart?  Treasures of the world or of God?  Don’t be like Chris and me with treasures of the world.  Lay up the treasures of God.

Until next time.

Abiding in God

I ended the last time by stating in order to be a faithful steward, we need to be aligned with God.  To be aligned with God is to “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), which has the meaning of living in the Spirit or being controlled by the Spirit.  John 15:4 states, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  “Abide” in Greek means “to be kept or remain.”  I don’t know about you, but I have struggled with this for some time.

 

Sometimes my flesh just takes over, and I do what I want to do.  Whenever that occurs, how do you respond?  Do you continue, or does the Holy Spirit prompt you with that nagging thought, “How are you going to make this right with God and, at times, a person you may have offended?”  What does I John 1:9 say? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  “Confess” means to agree with or say the same thing as God.  God hates sin, and we need to seek his forgiveness—to make our heart right with his.

 

In Mark 12:30 Jesus talks about the first commandment: “. . . And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.”  In Luke 12, after Christ tells a parable to the crowd about the rich fool, he talks to his disciples about not worrying.  In verse 34 he ends by telling his disciples, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Looking forward to continuing this discussion next week.

Where is Center?

The journey began with placing my faith in Jesus Christ.  Has it always been a smooth walk with my Heavenly Father?  No, and I’m confident most, if not all of you, can identify with that.  I strayed from the Lord when I was in college and continued to do so for a few years after college.  It wasn’t until I was married and we started having children that I realized I needed to be the spiritual leader in the home.  There were times when I had a strong Christian walk, but many times it was more about ME than my wife and children.  Me-centered, not God-centered.

 

The ME-centeredness started becoming less and less when I was challenged in my prayer life in 2009, during a short-term mission trip. I was part of a group from our church that developed and presented a program to the youth and children of missionaries during a European missions’ conference.  The parents were free to attend the conference while our group worked with their children.  I was able to attend several of the general sessions, and the speaker, Dr. John Talley, challenged me through his speaking about prayer.

 

I didn’t like what I saw when I viewed my prayer life.  I didn’t spend quantity time with God, and the quality was also lacking.  Along with prayer, one should read the Word of God.  How could I know to be a good steward of what God has given me if I didn’t talk to Him and read what He has to say to me?  When I start my prayer time, I ask God to inspect my life (I Cor. 3:11-17, II Cor. 5:9-11).  Am I hiding something from Him or haven’t I made proper confession of sin I have committed?  “Reveal that to me and continue to inspect my life today that I may be honoring to You, Father.”  In order to be a faithful steward, we need to be aligned with God.  More next week as we start examining scripture.

I’m Merv Wagner

As I start this new chapter, as Director of Development for CBC & TS, in the life of my wife and I, we have been on a journey since the summer of 2009.  It began with conviction about the time spent in prayer and the manner of praying.  In the past several years, it was stewardship of what God has given to us.  How are we using what God has given to us?  We have a house, transportation, clothes, food, and so forth through jobs we have that God has given us the ability to execute.  We are very thankful for the provision of these items.

 

Most, if not all the time, when we hear of stewardship we think of money.  That is true because without money we would not be able to purchase the above items.  The question I have asked and continue to do so is do we give God what is left over or as Proverbs 3:9 states, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase”?  I didn’t like asking this question of my wife and I. I must say my wife was more generous than I and in years past, at times, that would bother me.  After all, it is mine.

 

My wife, Trudy, would like to write a book sometime and title it, Take it Lord, It’s Mine.  More on that in later writings.  I will be posting on this blog on a weekly basis.  I would like to share with you, the journey we have been taking; the smooth road, but many times the potholes we have experienced.  I would like for you to take this journey with me as I share how our stewardship has become more God focused instead of me focused.  I trust you will be encouraged in ways you can’t imagine.

Let Go and Let God

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Americans use more than 78 square miles for storage of excess belongings. That’s enough to fill 45,302 football stadiums to overflowing, and we spend $22 billion per year storing this stuff. We don’t own it – it owns us. How many times have we said to each other, “We need to simplify?” Often the time, cost, and hassle of ridding our lives of accumulated property makes it one of those things we never get around to doing.

We have a great answer! Calvary now has a process by which you can go online and list items that you no longer need and are just taking up space. Through our iDonate partnership, the items are sold and shipped or picked up. 70% of the cash is donated to the work of Calvary, and you get the tax deduction and the extra square footage. There is something refreshing and cleansing about releasing the tight grasp we have on our excesses – and letting God bless and direct the flow of cash that is freed up.

Through our iDonate service, you can give furniture, real estate, business inventory, electronics, boats and vehicles. If you have something different in mind, enter the information for us to consider. Donations are screened to ensure all will benefit from the gift. Visit our official iDonate page to learn more and get started.

Thoughts on Fundraising

I often say that the work of fundraising could better be termed friend-raising. Credit for that expression goes to others, but no matter how defined, the field of development is indeed driven by a genuine love and interest in people. It is also a profound and personal demonstration of faith in God, an open display of trust in His direct invitation to “Test Me in this…”

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

The oldest recorded fundraising appeal was written by the Apostle Paul around A.D. 55. It’s an appeal to a group of church members in Greece to help impoverished church members in Jerusalem. The appeal is a masterpiece of donor-centered fundraising, dedicating most of its content to describing the benefits of giving.

When we give to purposes revealed or ratified in our times of honest prayer, some amazing things happen. People are blessed. Prayers are answered. Faith is strengthened, as the seemingly impossible unfolds in a process that is astonishing in its timing and elegance. Even non-participants’ and non-believers’ hearts are pulled in – following the path illuminated by their curiosity.

Acts 20:35 captures it perfectly in a simple and understated axiom, “It is better to give than to receive.” This is Truth, with a capital “T.”

God created such a simple and elegant formula for participation. There is only one thing we can give Him that He does not already own – our hearts. Our true commitments and priorities are evidenced by where we boldly pledge our treasure.

Your contribution to Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary demonstrates your commitment to global ministry and moves us forward from blessing to blessing along a pathway God has clearly prepared for us. Please travel with me on this amazing journey by investing in the lives of our students, their ministries, and our mission.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and support!

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

Planning for the Future

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The inflow of donations from honored alumni, faithful supporters, and partner churches is a constant blessing. Often, these arrive unannounced, engendering gratitude, surprise, and awe at how God orchestrates his creation and sustains causes that His praying children lift up to Him. 

From time to time, Calvary has been the recipient of bequests – legacy gifts that are a continuation and a demonstration of a thoughtful and generous life. One particular planned giving gift of several years ago was a great surprise – and perfectly timed to impact our growth in important ways. More recently, Calvary Bible College was the recipient of over 40 memorial gifts honoring the life of a person we did not know personally – but she knew CBC!

Planned giving is deeply transformational, because it implicitly begins with receiving. It acknowledges and demonstrates in unequivocal ways that God’s gifts over a lifetime are not intended to flow to us, but through us.

I encourage you to become a part of Calvary’s enduring history through Planned Giving. Contact me personally at (816) 322-0110 or visit calvary.edu/giving for more details and guidance on how to participate. 

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

How Shall We Decorate This Wall?

ImageThe north side of the newly named Liberty Chapel is a long expanse of wall space. If you’ve been in this wonderful room for a recent conference, musical, chapel service or other student activity, you may have noticed that this wall is beginning to be populated with the names of organizations with which we partner in a shared mission – to bring Christ to the world and to bring the world to Christ.

We have reserved the main wall in our Liberty Chapel as a space where we can honor mission partner organizations. This chapel space is the primary meeting space for services, conferences, and performances. Mission partner names chronicled here gain exposure to countless students, faculty, and visiting guests throughout the year.

A $1,000 contribution enables us to permanently and prominently inscribe the name of a mission organization wishing to partner with Calvary in this prime location. In appreciation and as additional incentive we are also offering a 20% tuition discount to members and affiliates of mission partner organizations who wish to participate in seminary-level classes at Calvary.

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AVANT Ministries became the first to partner with us, and City Union Mission will be next on the wall. We are grateful to these two God- honoring ministries who work to expand the gospel on a daily basis. There may be mission agencies you are involved with that may benefit from this meaningful dedication opportunity.

Contact me personally, Sherry Hilleary, Director of Development, at (816) 322-0110 for more details and guidance on how to participate.

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

Staying on Target: Overarching Goals

Staying on Target

Recently, Dr. Clark previewed his five-year strategic plan for Calvary Bible College. Within this plan, he described the set of cornerstone objectives for the College, the focus and emphasis that underpins and pervades all that we do.

These Overarching Goals are intended to define and refine us. We are challenged to put them into daily practice, making them an integral part of our individual and collective institutional character.

Calvary’s Overarching Goals

  1. Prayer – integrate prayer throughout the campus under the direction of our prayer committee.
  2. Evangelism – create a climate of concern throughout the campus regarding the urgency of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in these last days.
  3. Discipleship – emphasize the making of disciples as part of the Great Commission in order to create a growing, healthy body of Christ.
  4. Outreach – intentionally promote the planting of new Bible-believing churches in communities within the United States and throughout the world.

Dr. Clark’s vision and planning clearly resonated with the audience in attendance, eliciting many comments and email messages of support and encouragement:

“Thank you for sharing your heart, and letting the students see a part of what God is doing through Calvary!”

“I want to thank you for being spiritually focused yourself and then bringing the school with you.”

“Thank you for your solid spiritual leadership and goals for the school. Praise the Lord who keeps us faithful and enables us to do the work!” 

I add my affirmation of these goals and also my thanks to everyone supporting CBC. God continues to bless Calvary through His people and our faithful leadership.

Read more about Dr. Clark’s overarching goals on our website.

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

In His Hands

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It’s 2013 and we are looking ahead to what this year will hold. Substantial modifications in tax codes and the national economy can seem daunting, especially for nonprofit organizations and for bible colleges. But I’m reminded of a song I used to hear on the radio: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. As a child this song evoked interesting pictures in my 8 year old mind. I remember envisioning huge hands descending from the beautiful, cloudy heavens.

Now, at the opening of another January, another year, it’s good to think upon the truth of that song. Scripture tells us that “He goes before us” (Deuteronomy 31:8) and that’s a reassuring thought as we reflect upon nations at war, difficult current events, and economic troubles. It’s all in His hands.

As we take a look back, we are grateful for every year-end gift we received. Thank you for being supporters of CBC and of our devoted students. Looking forward, we turn to Scripture again and are reminded that “He is making all things new” (Isaiah 43:19). Your gifts are examples of this.

The forecasting groups that we listen to mention that charitable giving was up in the last quarter of 2012 – higher than the previous year’s fourth quarter. We take heart and pray for this trend to continue. It’s all in His hands.

As we press on into this New Year, it’s important to remember that the hands that are holding us are all powerful, all knowing, and ever present …. “He’s got you and me brother, in His hands…” And, we’re grateful that He’s got Calvary too!

**If a video or advertisement appears below, it is not approved or sponsored by Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary.

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