treasure hunting

I'm Ready to be Generous...Now What?

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In the final sermon of our Treasure Hunting series, Adam talked about how the purpose of our money is to help people see Jesus. In addition, throughout the series, we've been praying together as a church that Jesus would help us to be wise and generous as we give more of our riches away.

We've already heard some great stories about how Jesus has used the series to challenge people to more generosity. But in addition, there may be some of us who are thinking: "okay, I'm ready to be generous...who do I give to?"

To help, we wanted to compile a list of organizations (both international and local) that are doing incredible work. This, of course, is nowhere close to a comprehensive list--just some organizations we know about and love.


The following are organizations in and around Columbia:


The following are organizations around the globe:

Money Health Diagnostic

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what's the difference between the chicken and the pig?

The chicken is involved, but the pig is really committed.

To help you really commit and faithfully take next steps in light of what Jesus has been teaching us throughout this series, we are giving you a money health diagnostic tool. The goal with this tool is to use it as a personal inventory of your heart when it comes to money.

For most people in our culture, money is often seen as a massively private issue.  The problem with that is that left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, money problems do not tend to fix themselves. Similarly, left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, our hearts do not tend to fix themselves or repent very well.

So when Jesus calls us to walk in the light because He has made us children of the light (Ephesians 5:8-14), He’s not cursing us. He’s inviting us into His blessing. He’s inviting us into His freedom and His peace. The best, most biblically faithful way for real spiritual growth to happen in the area of our finances is for us to honestly deal with our finances in the context of community.

So use the Money Health Diagnostic as a personal tool and use it as a discussion guide to help talk about your finances in your LifeGroup. Use it as a tool to help keep your cash clear and help you grow in being rich towards God.

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This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

A Little Help From Our Friends

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

Each of the following men have been influential in helping our staff honor Jesus in our financial management and grow in generosity to send our wealth ahead by investing in Jesus’ kingdom and mission. Check out their resources for further study, or give them some love for helping us lead and teach you.

Dave Ramsey @DaveRamsey It’s been funny throughout this series how many people have come up to me and asked me, “Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?! He teaches a lot of the same stuff y'all are teaching in this series!” The simple answer is yes. Although I haven’t been actively listening to or learning a lot from Dave, he was absolutely instrumental in helping me learn a lot of basics of personal finance when I was in college. From nationally syndicated radio shows, to regional classes and online tools, Dave is a great resource to help you start living on a budget and be more wise and generous in giving more of your riches away.

Ronald Blue @KingdomAdvisors Ronald Blue provides clients with biblically sound wisdom on planning, investing and maximizing generosity (i.e. the longest term investment). He has worked for and started multiple successful financial businesses, including Ronald Blue & Co. (personal financial advisors) and Kingdom Advisors (training for biblical financially-minded people to assist others). He also provided the bucket illustration that we gladly stole and adapted for our sermon Wise, Wicked or Lazy. Thanks Ron!

Randy Alcorn @RandyAlcorn Randy is an author who has written many books including two that were particularly helpful for our treasure hunting series. If you’d like to read more to continue growing in your faithful, biblical financial management in light of eternity, read his book Money, Possessions & Eternity, or if you have less time to spare, the shorter version Treasure Principle.

Steve Von Fange Steve is a relatively new missionary member to the Midtown family, and his gracious generosity and wisdom have already been very helpful.  He is about to start leading a LifeGroup, provided a free day of financial training for our staff, is father to one of our resident interns and graciously offered to teach a Personal Finance Seminar for our church family in conjunction with our Treasure Hunting Series. Steve, thanks for graciously giving yourself to our family and being in on Jesus’ mission for our city!

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Next Steps for Faithful Money Management

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

This past Sunday we looked at practical, biblical, faithful ways to manage the money that Jesus has entrusted to us. Different people are in different situations when it comes to financial management; therefore, faithful repentance and growth looks different for each of us. The question to ask is: what is the next step that I need to take to faithfully manage Jesus’ money?

Step #1: Make a budget. If you currently have no budget, start here. Tell your money where to go. If you don’t tell your money where to go, you will wonder where it went. If you don’t tell your money where to go, too much of your money will always drift towards your lifestyle. Without a plan, it is highly unlikely that you will accidentally invest your money in Jesus’ kingdom and mission.

If this is you and you would like some help, talk to your LifeGroup and sign up for our Personal Finance Seminar.

Step #1b: Get out of consumer debt. This step is so important that I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I call it step 2. If you are racked with debt, the scriptures say that you are in slavery. Proverbs says that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” It doesn’t say that you are dumb, wicked, immoral or wasteful. It says you’re stuck. Chained and enslaved. Unable to freely send your money where you want it to go.

If this is you and you would like some help, talk to your LifeGroup and sign up for our Personal Finance Seminar. We have been praying for you. Our hope for you is that you'd take the first steps in walking out of slavery and into financial freedom.

Step #3: Enjoy some, save some and invest some. Enjoy some: According to 1 Timothy 6:17, “[God] richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” God loves His kids; His financial account managers. It is not wrong or immoral to enjoy some of all that God has given to you. Order the steak sometimes. Thank Jesus for His gracious provision in your life. Celebrate Him.

Save some: According to Proverbs 21:20, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
 but a foolish man devours it.” It’s wise to save some for a rainy day. We save with an open hand where we are ready to protect ourselves and our family when an emergency comes AND we are ready to protect someone else when their emergency comes.

Invest some: According to the entire parable in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus expects us to make His money grow. Different people have different biblical convictions about investing, but here are some overall basics. Don’t be a gambler. Don’t go for get rich quick schemes. Don’t be a cheater. Don’t take advantage of others. But do take some reasonable risks in order to invest some of your savings wisely. Investing allows your money to grow which helps you...

Step #4: Maximize your giving. Overwhelmingly, the Bible speaks the loudest about giving and generosity when it talks about money. It’s because our hearts were designed to give. We look like Jesus when we are giving our stuff away to serve others. We reflect His generosity. We send our treasure ahead to heaven. We get personally invested in what He’s doing here on planet earth. When Jesus comes to settle accounts we will never regret a single dime we gave toward His kingdom and mission.

Depending on your current financial situation, any or all of these steps may be the right next step for you, but the key is to take the next faithful step that Jesus is calling you to take right now.

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Fear & Money

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

This past Sunday we hit on four major money management principles. But we also tagged a fifth money management principle that I wanted to address here on the blog.

Fear is a massively pervasive response to money and money management in our culture. Many of us are crippled by a mentality that sounds something like this: “I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m scared that I’m going to mess it up.”

Honestly, for much of my life I was paralyzed by fear when it came to money. I had seen family members chase after money but never gain any real happiness.  I had seen other family members get into serious trouble with debt. I didn’t want that! I didn’t want to mess it up. So I did nothing. I didn’t look at it. I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t study or try to learn how to grow in managing money.

In other words, I grabbed a shovel and buried my money in the ground.

Because you know, if you can’t see a problem…then it’s not there anymore!  (Warning: the previous statement is chalk full of self-deprecating sarcasm.)

And then slowly, faithfully, and graciously Jesus started changing my heart. And now after a number of years of seeing His faithfulness and His ability to grow me in this area, this is what I’ve come to understand:

Money Management Principle #5: If I fear money, it’s because I don’t understand how much God loves me. (Matthew 25:25, 1 John 4:18, Luke 12:32, Romans 8:15) Fear reveals ways that my heart still doesn’t understand the gospel. God of the universe loves me so much that He sent His son Jesus to die in the cross for me so I could be set free from sin and shame and guilt and condemnation and punishment and judgment and FEAR! And anywhere that I allow my fear to cripple or paralyze me, is a place that I’m not resting in the gospel.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The good news of the gospel is that in Jesus we don’t need to be crippled by fear.  We can faithfully step out, take a risk, get some help and trust that our Father is pleased to help us grow.  Let Jesus’ perfect love cast fear out of your heart and you will show dividends in your bank account, in your ability to save, and in your freedom to give.

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Money Management Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In Sunday's sermon, we looked at four money management principles taken from a parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:14-30 (he tells another version of this parable in Luke 19:11-27). These four money management principles are a tiny portion of the hundreds of biblical wisdom principles for how we handle our finances. But they are also some of the most foundational principles to help us view our money in light eternity and in light of who God is.

Money Management Principle #1: It’s all God’s. (Matthew 25:14-15, Psalm 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8) Everything in all of creation is God’s. There’s nothing He doesn’t rightly look at say, “Mine!” In Psalm 50, He goes as far as to say that if He was hungry (for a delicious steak wrapped in bacon hypothetically), He wouldn’t ask us for food. He has plenty.  The fact that God owns everything means He doesn’t need our money. But it also means, we need to understand that He owns it or we will never learn how to handle it correctly.

Money Management Principle #2: I have a job to do. (Matthew 25:14-15, Proverbs 27:23-24, Proverbs 6:6-11) Because everything is God’s, whatever He has given us is a trust that we are called to manage faithfully. What God has given us includes every opportunity, every relationship, every talent, every bit of leadership ability...and it also includes every dollar. We are Jesus’ account managers charged with the task of bringing a return on his investment in our lives.

Money Management Principle #3: It’s not about how much I get; it’s about being faithful. (Matthew 25:15-18, 1 Corinthians 4:2) People get different amounts; different amounts of intellect, different amounts of opportunity, different amounts of ability, different amounts and quality of parenting. And people get different amounts of money. The question isn’t 'how much did you get?' The question isn’t 'why didn’t you get more or why did so-and-so get so much?' The question is 'were you faithful with what you were given?'

Stop believing that if you got more, then you would start working hard, planning well and giving sacrificially and faithfully. Money is a heart issue, not a salary issue. If you won’t give now, if you won’t be faithful now with a little, then getting more money will not magically change your heart to want to work hard, be faithful or give more.

Money Management Principle #4: My money reveals my heart. (Matthew 25:19-30, Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34) Every financial decision I make is a spiritual decision. Every financial decision I make reveals my heart. Every financial decision reveals what I value on planet earth. If I don’t value God’s kingdom, then my money will not flow towards God’s kingdom. Money is an objective truth teller that reveals what my heart truly treasures.

So what is your money saying about your heart? Are you listening to what your wallet is preaching about you?  How loudly is your money proclaiming to the world that Jesus is what you treasure most?

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

10 Money Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

To help you in your biblical understanding of money and possessions, we've outlined 10 money principles (that are more about your heart than your money). Each principle comes complete with scripture references to study.

  1. Jesus gives status, comfort, and security--money does not. Money is fool's gold that utterly fails to meet those deepest needs. (Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matt. 6:25; Luke 12:15)
  2. Nothing I have is truly mine. Everything belongs to God. Everything I possess has been given to me by God for me to manage. When I use God's resources inappropriately, I am embezzling (1 Chron. 29:11-12, 16; Deut. 8:17-18; Psalm 89:11)
  3. My money reveals what my heart loves. My budget is a fool-proof sign for what I value most in life. (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:33-34)
  4. I can’t take it with me. Neither money nor possessions will matter after death--I am just traveling through earth on my way to heaven. (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:13-21)
  5. My budget starts with being rich towards God. That is my first expense, before I determine what else I will do. (Prov. 3:9-10; Neh. 10:35; Matt. 6:33)
  6. Tithing & generosity are natural responses to grace. Though tithing is not a specific New Testament command (other than a reference by Jesus), God's people after Jesus should be more generous than God's people before Jesus. 10% is the minimum generosity level for a New Testament believer (apart from special circumstances). Midtown members commit to supporting God's mission in our church family through tithing. (Psalm 112:5; Mal. 3:8-10; Matt. 23:23; 1 John 3:17)
  7. If I am unable to be generous without going into debt, I need to rearrange my life and budget. Except for seasons of unusual need, generosity should be incorporated into my normal budget (Prov. 11:24; Prov. 21:26; Luke 6:38; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  8. God wants me to enjoy the gifts He gives me. Like a good father, He is pleased when I enjoy His gifts and worship Him as the giver. (Matt. 7:11; Rom 1:21; 1 Tim. 6:17; James 1:17)
  9. It is wise to save for expenses that will come up later. Thinking ahead and saving for purchases is wiser than going into debt for purchases. (Gen. 21:25-27; Prov. 6:6-8; Prov. 13:16; Prov. 21:20; Prov. 22:7; Psalm 37:21)
  10. In Christ I have all the riches I'll ever need. Contentment is what Jesus produces in me--not the desire for more. (Phil. 4:11-13; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:9-11; Matt. 6:25-34; 1 Tim. 6:8)

A Fix-a-Flat for our Broken Finances

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series



On one of the worst days of my life, I made a terrible error by seeking relief at a doc-in-the-box for a nasty ingrown big toenail.  Problem #1: The well-trained doctor didn’t shoot up my toe with enough lidocaine so I could still feel it when he started to surgically remove rip out part of my toe. Problem #2: I had a nauseas reaction to the pain and the extra lidocaine he was shooting into my toe almost causing me to pass out. Problem #3: After listening to a nasty storm rage throughout the entire awful procedure, I walked outside to the parking lot to find out my car had a flat tire. . . which I had to change. . . in the rain. . . standing in a puddle . . . feeling nauseas. . . with half of my big toenail missing.

In America, personal finances are rolling about as smooth as a square wheel.  Our financial tires are flat.  And to many of us, fixing the problems sound as fun as changing a tire while standing in the rain with half your big toenail ripped off.  Graciously, the Bible gives us a balanced wealth of insight to help us proceed. Understanding these biblical principles provides us with multiple spokes to help our tires role smooth.

  1. Give. Most of the teaching in the Bible about money involves glad and sacrificial giving because we are greedy and blind to our own greed. (Matthew 10:42, Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 8-9, 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  2. Earn. The Bible also talks a good bit about ethical and unethical ways to work and earn money. Are you lazy? Do you run a fair business? Are you prone to taking shortcuts or looking for get-rich-quick schemes?  (Proverbs 6:6-11, Proverbs 11:1, Ephesians 4:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  3. Enjoy. God created every good thing on earth and every gift He created is designed for us to enjoy while we turn our hearts toward Him in thanks. It is right and worshipful for some of our money to buy things God has provided for us to enjoy. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, 1 Timothy 6:17, James 1:17)
  4. Manage.  Along with his other gifts, God gives us wisdom to wisely manage His money and to save some up for a rainy day so that we can be a blessing to others.(Genesis 41:34-36, Proverbs 21:20, Proverbs 22:7, Luke 16:10-13)
  5. Multiply.  Because all money is Gods, wise investment and multiplication reflect a heart that understands the purpose of God’s money and wants to grow His money so it can be used effectively for His kingdom and mission.(Ecclesiastes 5:13-15, Ecclesiastes 11:2, Matthew 25:14-30)

If you only understand one or a couple of these, your tires will be perpetually flat, but all together these principles work in tandem to help free us for long lasting sustainable financial health.  Give. Earn. Enjoy. Manage. Multiply.

Being Rich Towards God

The following post is a follow-up from this last Sunday's sermon, "The Longest Term Investment." Listen to the sermon


, and find out more about our Treasure Hunting series



In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus doesn’t call the rich man who bought extra storage units built bigger barns wicked. Jesus calls him a fool. And Jesus diagnoses that his problem is that he wasn’t rich towards God.

Being rich towards God is not a moral act we do. It’s a way of being. It’s an attitude and a posture where our hearts see God, consider what He’s doing in the world, and gladly move our money, possessions and energy in His direction. Being rich towards God is being wise with our money so we aren’t constantly in financial chaos. Being rich towards God is guarding ourselves from the traps of selfishness, greed and materialism. Being rich towards God is generosity with our possessions to help others have their needs met. Being rich towards God is leveraging our money, homes and energy toward mission as we help others take next steps toward Jesus.

In all of these aspects, Jesus is our perfect substitute and example.

None of us is clean when it comes to financial sin. I’m not. You’re not. We are a lot like the rich fool in Luke 12. We are excessively rich toward ourselves. We spend on our needs and wants without hesitation; on both basic necessities and on lavish luxuries. We are greedy. We take and accumulate for ourselves with little concern for other’s needs. We consistently fall into the trap that money and possessions can deliver the good life to us, and so we constantly hunger for more. But in the cross, Jesus became our greed. He became our selfishness. He became our materialism and our money idolatry in the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus paid our financial sin debt so that we could be free from the punishment we deserve for our stinginess.

Jesus succeeded in every way the rich man (and we) failed.

Rather than store up all of His wealth for Himself, Jesus gave it away. Rather than be rich towards Himself, Jesus was incredibly rich toward God. In all of history, He is the single richest-toward-God human being who has ever lived. Jesus never failed to see God or consider what God’s doing in the world. In His every waking moment, Jesus turned His life in the direction of God’s mission. He sacrificed His health, His riches in heaven, His material comfort, His high status, His power and position and He literally gave Himself up for us.

By Jesus’ richness toward God, we are saved. By His richness toward God, we are forgiven. By His richness toward God, we are washed clean. By His richness toward God, we are healed. By His richness toward God, we are set free. By His singular act of generosity in the cross, we are credited with His perfect generosity. By His poverty, we have been made spiritually rich. (2 Cor. 8:9)

And now in Jesus, we can become rich toward God like He is. We can live sacrificial and generous lives like He did. We can grow to become God’s kids who look like He does.

Jesus, help us to be wise and generous as we give more of our riches away. Amen.

Instagram Quote #1 TH
Instagram Quote #1 TH