Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Most analysts say that even in a volatile market you should still invest for the long term. Randy Alcorn reminds us that concept is true for the very long term as well.

Randy Alcorn: Every time we give of ourselves to other people in the name of Christ and for the glory of God we are investing treasure in heaven.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 26.

Over the last year hundreds of thousands of people have felt the sting of losing a job. Today’s guest knows what that’s like. He gave up his salary several years ago and chose to make minimum wage. We’ll hear that story and find out what he learned about long-term investment. It’s a continuation of the conversation we began yesterday, available at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re talking this week about one of my very favorite subjects, and one that Jesus talked about a lot. In fact, He talked about this subject more than He talked about heaven and hell combined, so it should be important to us as well.

It’s the subject of giving. Our guest this week is author and speaker Randy Alcorn, who’s written a wonderful little book called The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving.

Randy, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Randy Alcorn: Thanks, Nancy; it’s great to be with you.

Nancy: Thank you for writing about this subject without apology and calling us to evaluate what really matters to us—what we love, what we treasure, where our hearts are. I find that I consistently need checkups in this area of my life because my heart is so prone to go toward things that are temporal and seen and visible and to start to put down roots here on this earth. But you challenge us in this book to remember that our home isn’t here on earth.

Randy: That’s right. Our home is in heaven, and that’s really the third key to the treasure principle. Heaven—not earth—is my home. The treasure principle itself is we can’t take it with us but we can send it on ahead. And Jesus told us in Matthew 6, verse 20 that we could actually lay up treasures in heaven.

And we do that—we lay up treasures in heaven—not only by giving (and that’s certainly the primary way that He was speaking of), but we give in other ways.

  • We give in our time.
  • We give of our talents, our giftings.
  • We invest ourselves in our children, in our aging parents, in our friends who have needs—someone’s gone through a divorce or someone has been abandoned, someone is struggling with cancer.

Every time we give of ourselves to other people in the name of Christ and for the glory of God, we are investing in treasure in heaven.

Nancy: Yet that’s not natural for us to do. Our natural bent is to lay up treasures here on earth, to go for the things that we can see. I mean, think about what comprises just an average day for those of us who are average people. We’re having to deal with jobs and expenses and bills and shopping, and many of our listeners as wives and moms—getting their homes cared for and getting their children clothed and fed. It’s not that these things don’t have any value, but it’s so easy to start to focus on those things as if that’s all there were.

Randy: That’s right. And we begin to live under the illusion that this earth is our home, when in fact Scripture tells us specifically our home is in another place. The Carpenter from Nazareth says, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3, paraphrased). “I’m going to get you. I’m going to take you to that place.” Whether by His second coming or by our death, we will come into the presence of God. We will spend eternity in heaven.

That’s hard for us to grasp onto because our true home is a place we have never been, which is a paradox. But it really is the way that we need to think and live, to live in light of eternity. In Colossians 3 we’re told, “Set your minds on things above” (verse 2, NIV), where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. In other words, set your mind on heaven.

There’s that old saying, “This person is so heavenly minded he’s of no earthly good.” Well, that is so far from the truth. The truth is we’re so earthly minded we’re of no heavenly good. And sometimes we’re so earthly minded that we’re of no earthly good.

The person who is truly heavenly minded is ultimately of the greatest earthly good. The Bible says we’re pilgrims, we’re strangers, we’re aliens. It says that in Hebrews 11, verse 13. We’re ambassadors representing our true King and our true country. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Philippians 3:20 says. We’re citizens of a better country, a heavenly one.

Scripture goes on and on and makes these references just to remind us of who we really are and whose we really are, and therefore what kingdom we should be living in light of.

Nancy: You give a great illustration about if you were living in one country but your home was really in another country.

Randy: Yes, supposing your home was in France and you’re living in America for three months and you’re living in a hotel. And you’re told, “Here are the ground rules. You can’t bring anything back to France on your flight home, but you can earn money, and you can mail deposits to your bank in France.”

So would you fill your hotel room with expensive furniture and wall hangings? Well, no. You’d send your money where your home is. You’d only spend what you needed on the temporary residence. Maybe you’d have a few aesthetic things to help you in that ninety days that you’re there, but you’re certainly not going to fill the room with all these expensive items because you can’t take it with you.

But since you can send the money that you’ve earned on ahead so it’ll be waiting for you when you get back home, that’s what you do. You send it back to your true country. Then when you arrive back in your true country, there it is waiting for you.

That’s very much what Jesus is saying. You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead to your true home where you’re going to be spending eternity.

Second Peter 3, verse 10 says the earth and everything in it will be burned by fire. It’s not going to last. But we can invest in eternity in a place where these things will last forever.

Nancy: Yet most of us are like that person living in one country and acting as if we were going to be there forever—spending our time, our resources, our efforts, our focus on something that is . . . well, you said ninety days. We might not have that many days . . .

Randy: That’s right.

Nancy: . . . in this home. It’s not our home.

Randy, I traveled—as many of our listeners have heard—living on the road serving the ministry for many years throughout my twenties and into my mid-thirties and didn’t have a home that was a permanent place. There were days when that was hard and challenging, but the Lord used to continually remind me, “This isn’t your home. You’re moving toward a permanent home.”

Then in my mid-thirties the Lord gave me the blessing and the privilege of having a home. I remember as I was praying through that decision . . . and I did sense the Lord was leading in that way and giving me the freedom to take that step. It was a different season of ministry at that time. I wasn’t going to be traveling as much.

But I remember having this little bit of reluctance because God had given me such a sense of freedom about not owning things, about being detached from the pressures and responsibilities and focus of home ownership.

I remember saying to the Lord, “If it’s Your will for me to have an earthly house—a home—first of all I want to make sure to always remember it’s not mine. It’s Yours, and it’s to be used for Your glory and Your kingdom and Your purposes.” But I also asked the Lord, “Would You protect my heart? Would You help me to keep a pilgrim mindset and not to put down roots in this earth’s system?”

Now my heart was sincere. I meant that with all my heart. But I have to tell you that since getting a home it’s been a lot harder, and I have to work at it constantly to make sure that my heart doesn’t get attached to things down here on earth.

Randy: Exactly. Think of those words in John 14. It’s the greatest love story ever. It is like the prototype romance, and it’s true romance. It’s the Carpenter from Nazareth who has gone to His bride, His bride who He is about to die for. And He says, “I’m going to go build this place for you, and I’m going to come to take you back to live with me there forever” (paraphrased).

So think—how often would this bride anticipate her beloved bridegroom and being with Him in this home that He is making for her to live with Him forever? Would weeks at a time go by where she doesn’t think of Him and her home in heaven? No, of course not. Would days go by where she doesn’t? No, probably not an hour would go by. Not even minutes would go by without her thinking of her beloved, her bridegroom. She’s going to be at this wedding feast with Him, and He has prepared a place for her.

All of a sudden everything else pales in comparison when we think in those terms and the importance of accumulating more and more and more things here. Suddenly we realize that that’s not what it’s about. If we have an opportunity to, so to speak, send building materials on ahead through the treasures in heaven that are going up to our Lord, more stuff that He can use in the building project, think of what heaven is going to be like.

I mean, this is going to be a great place beyond our wildest dreams, and our wildest dreams are pretty substantial. What a thing to look forward to!

But when you think in those terms, the way that we think determines the way that we live. And so if we just do what Colossians 3 says—to set our minds above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God . . . to think more about heaven and our home in heaven—it will affect the way we live on earth.

Nancy: I have found in my own life that my natural instinct is to keep getting drawn down earthward, to focus more on earthly things. I mean, those things just creep in. Jesus said that cares and riches and pleasures of this life are like thorns that grow up and they choke out the seed of the Word in our lives, and they cause us to become unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

I have found that giving joyously, generously, regularly, and wholeheartedly is the greatest antidote to materialism. If I want to keep my heart focused on heaven and I want to keep my stock there—if I want to keep my relationship with Jesus Christ as the primary focus in my life—that giving helps me do that.

As I’m parting with my earthly treasures, as I become more detached from things of this earth, what happens is that then my heart becomes more attached to the things of heaven and the things of eternity.

Randy: That’s exactly right. I think if we experience God’s grace, we become givers because God is the ultimate giver. If we give, we experience God’s grace because, again, we’re doing a Christlike thing. So giving flows out of a knowledge of God and flows right back into a knowledge and experience of God.

Nancy: Giving flies in the face of my natural bent, which is to hold onto things of this earth. I don’t like to think of myself as a greedy person or a covetous person and probably most people who know me would not say, “She’s a greedy person or a covetous person.”

But I’ll just be honest and say covetousness in the New Testament means just the desire for more. If you define it that way I have to say I have naturally a covetous heart. It’s so easy to become discontent, dissatisfied with what I have.

I’ve said before that I think the wardrobe I have is fine until I start leafing through catalogues or I start walking through a mall and see all the things I don’t have—all the new styles and fashions. And we start comparing with what others have.

Those seeds, those roots of discontentment, start so subtly to take root in our hearts. And before we know it we don’t have the love for Jesus, the tender heart toward Him, the love for eternal, of the spiritual matters. We’re tied up and tied down with things of this earth. I find that what flies in the face of that, what helps me to deal with it, is the whole matter of giving.

Randy: Scripture says covetousness is idolatry. Things have mass and mass has gravity and gravity holds us in orbit around it. So we tend to accumulate more and more things and then we start revolving around those things.

So giving is, in essence, a Copernican revolution of the Christian life because Copernicus realized that the sun does not revolve around the earth; the earth revolves around the sun. We need to realize God and the spiritual world and everything else does not revolve around us; we revolve around God. By giving to God we are laying up treasures in heaven, and we’re shifting the center of gravity from earth to heaven. We’re held in orbit around the things of heaven.

Now in our own particular lives, my wife and I and our daughters experienced back in 1990 kind of a wakeup call to where our citizenship really is. I’d been a pastor for a number of years, and if you would have asked me, “What are you going to be doing ten years from now? Twenty years from now?” I would have said, “Well I assume I’ll still be a pastor.” I loved it.

But because we had had a heart for children dying from abortion and for women being exploited by abortion, God laid it on our hearts to be involved in rescuing and civil disobedience for the unborn. In the late 80s and the first part of 1990, a number of times we went out to clinics completely peacefully, non-violently, just offering women alternatives, giving them literature and standing in front of the doors of the clinic and trying to do what we thought was right in light of what Proverbs says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8, NIV).

Well, as a result of this, we had lawsuits brought against us. Suddenly I had to resign as a pastor from my church because they were coming to the church to garnish my wages. I said to a judge that I would pay people anything that I owed them but I would not write out a check to an abortion clinic because they will use it to kill children and that’s a violation of conscience and obviously it’s the wrong thing to do. So they came to the church to take it out of my wages.

Suddenly we were no longer doing what we had been doing. I could not make more than minimum wage because an abortion clinic will garnish any more than minimum wage. All of a sudden I could not legally own anything.

Now, in fact, I have access to all the things that my wife owns. But what we learned about God’s ownership and God’s provision over the years is just something . . . if we could turn back the clock and make that to have never happened . . . we wouldn’t do it. They intended it for evil but as Joseph said of his brothers’ betrayal, “God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).

Nancy: So did this result in some practical lifestyle changes for your family?

Randy: Well in a way it did, but fortunately by God’s grace we had already learned to live on much less than what our income was.

 Nancy: Can you say that again? That’s almost unthinkable in this culture.

Randy: Well, we had learned some things about giving. I had written a book called Money, Possessions, and Eternity and had really studied through what Scripture says in this area. We were really trying to put it into practice.

So we realized that I was paid generously as a pastor. I had a little bit of side income from the book royalties and speaking and that sort of thing. It was just way more than what we needed, and so we were giving away a significant portion of what God had provided for us. We were experiencing the joy of giving. We also had paid off our house early. So we had a 30-year mortgage but we paid it off in 15 years. We actually made our last house payment two months before this whole thing happened where I suddenly could only make minimum wage.

So with the house paid off, no house payment, with numbers of other ways that God provided for us, we did fine. But we learned so much about trusting in God for His provision simply because our income was dramatically reduced.

A lot of people live under the myth that somehow income is always going to go up the rest of their lives. There are women out there who have experienced cutbacks themselves in their own job situations and their husband’s job situations where they are having to live now on significantly less than what they did at one time in their lives.

Nancy: And it’s easy to feel, and I think that many would think, “With my limited income or my reduced income there’s no way I can really be a giver.”

Randy: It’s interesting, because Philippians 4 in the context of giving he says, “I’m not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content” (verse 11, NIV). And that’s interesting. “I have learned to be content.” That means it didn’t come naturally, otherwise there’s no learning curve needed.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11–13, NIV).

He gives Christ the full credit for that. Then he ends up the chapter by saying, “Not that I am looking for a gift,”—he’s thanking them for the financial support that they’ve given him—“but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (verse 17, NIV). And these are all financial terms.

What he’s saying is, “God’s going to take care of me one way or another whether you send me a gift or not. But when you send a gift to invest in my life and my ministry, I want you to know that God has an account in heaven that He has opened and it is a deposit into that account when you give to God’s kingdom work. And that, to me, is a great concept. That is exactly what Jesus was talking about laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven to the glory of God.

Nancy: So you faced that time of your lives when your income was significantly reduced and you found yourself living on minimum wage. What happened from there?

Randy: Because I legally couldn’t own anything, we had transferred the royalties from all of my books to the ministry so that they couldn’t be attached to the abortion clinics. What we decided to do when the royalties came to the ministry was not to keep them but to give away the great majority of them, a minimum of 90 percent. For the last three or four years, we’ve given away 100 percent of the book royalties.

The reason we wanted to do that is because we just felt that this is the way God is providing not simply for us. We don’t need this, but we have the opportunity to invest in missions work and pro-life work and prison work and family ministries and all these different things.

So what happened was, as a result of that, we thought that in another ten years we would be able to have those royalties come back to us again. And the ministry said to us when the time was coming, the board said, “It’s time for you to go ahead and take those royalties back.”

Well, Nancy and I sat down and we talked about it. We prayed about it. And we said, “Wait a minute. Why would we take those royalties, because they’re being given away to God’s kingdom? We don’t need them. God has provided for us for ten years. We do fine on my minimum wage plus what the ministry is able to provide beyond that, so let’s not take them.” We made that decision, brought it back to the board. And they said, “Well okay, we’ll just continue that way and we’ll continue giving away the royalties.”

Then two or three months after we had made that decision, we received the information that the abortion clinic had managed to get another ten years added onto it. So had we taken those royalties back, we would have had to turn right around and give them back to the ministry.

And we thought, “How gracious of You, Lord, to give us the opportunity to make this decision to give this over to You instead of having made the other decision and then been forced to turn around and feel defeated about it.”

Leslie Basham: Randy Alcorn has been describing true worthwhile investment. We originally aired that interview several years ago but, Nancy, the conversation is resonating powerfully this week.

Nancy: It sure is, Leslie. This is a timeless message because it’s from God’s Word. But I believe it’s particularly timely as we’re walking through this dire economic situation. I’m so thankful for those who’ve responded to the needs of Revive Our Hearts and have received a copy of Randy’s book The Treasure Principle.

 At Revive Our Hearts we’re striving to invest in eternity by showing women what it means to devote their lives wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. You’re a part of this mission, and we could not exist without the prayer and financial support of our listeners.

So if God has used this ministry in some way in your life, would you ask Him how He would have you to stand with us as we’re facing a serious budget gap at this time? As we’ve been sharing with you in recent weeks, six months ago we cut our expenses by nearly 20 percent. Many stood with us at our year-end matching in December, for which we’re so grateful.

But because of falling levels of donations, we’re still faced with a deficit as we close our books on the fiscal year that ends this week. When you give a gift of any amount today, we’ll send you Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle as a way of saying thank you.

This book will show you how to invest safely and wisely in a way that no financial planner can help you. I love this book, and God has used it to help give me a passion for giving and for spending myself for an eternity of joy with God Himself.

As you read The Treasure Principle, I believe it’ll help you gain peace about the future and about your finances, especially in these troubling times.

Leslie: We’ll send you your copy when you donate any amount by calling 1-800-569-5959 or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Randy Alcorn will join us on the website tomorrow. He’ll be answering questions about eternal investments and finances on our blog. Post your question tomorrow on the blog located at the bottom of the transcript.

After hearing him today you may be wondering, “What about legitimate needs? When is it okay to spend rather than give? Randy Alcorn addresses that issue next time. Please be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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