Eugene Cho

blessed to bless others

time magazine’s front cover recently read, ‘does God want you to be rich? (yes, say some megachurches.  others call it heresy.  the debate over the new gospel of wealth).  that debate will be ongoing so i thought i’d chime in a couple thoughts…

+ i do believe that God wants his creation to prosper.  if he wants his creation to prosper, i believe, he’d want the jewel of his creation, humanity, to prosper as well.  so, then, the issue becomes, ‘how do we define prosperous or prosperity?’  why are we so infatuated with prosperous equating monetary wealth or financial affluence?  can’t it equate to peace?  joy? contentment? especially here it the western world, i’m alarmed at the infatuation with financial wealth?  money:  it is what it is.  it’s a TOOL.  a tool to a) enjoy stuff, b) take care of family and loved ones, and c) give away to help others and build the work of God.  but when we start loving money rather than seeing and using it as a tool…the apostle paul in his letter to the timothy addresses the grave repercussions.

+ there’s still poverty and economic injustice here in the US, but on the most part, we are wealthy.  in fact, we’re a filthy wealthy nation.  on a personal level, i make approximately $60-65K/year (church salary + writing + speaking).  minhee and i strive to give away a minimum of 20% of our salary.  i share this not to boast but to serve as ‘mentors’ to those at quest who look to us as ‘one voice’ for guidance and direction.  we’re able to give more (and seek to give more than we keep) because our parents have allowed us with their legacy for us to be generous and transfer a legacy for our children.  we calculated that if we worked another 30 years (on one income), that would come out to $1.95 million dollars.  if we gave 20% over the next 30 year=$390K.  our goal is to give away $500K beyond ourselves/family.  we dream: “what if 100 other folks/families share that same principle?”  that would equal $50million dollars over 30 years!  that’s a substantial foundation!

this past week, one of our other pastors, leah mccann, preached from matthew 25.  she and eight others just returned from thailand/burma.  she shared a solid ‘heart’ message about what it means to be blessed.  we are blessed in order to bless others.  we do so well in enjoying stuff and try to do well in loving our families but we honestly suck at blessing others and investing in the work of God.  at quest, we have appropriated 20% of all giving to the global presence and churchplanting fund.  another 10% is appropriated for the building (maintenance) fund.  within two years, we need to increase the GP/CP fund to 30% and within five years, hopefully, to 40%.  within five years, we hope to have the church communty give (minimum) an annual sum of $1 million.  potentially, $400,000 (40%) can be appropriated for churchplanting, justice and compassion causes, sending and supporting missionaries and visionaries, funding microbusinesses, etc.  over the course of thirty years, that amount would add up to $12 million.  the ministry of ‘redistribution’ is tangible for all churches.

according to the Global Rich List, i am the 53,205,017 richest person in the world.  i’m in the top .88% richest people in the world!  damn i’m rich.  we’re not called to save the world.  jesus has done that already.  but we are called to bless folks in the name of jesus.  i often struggle with the tension of how do i enjoy? how much is enough for my family? who do i give to? how do i give? and on and on.  my conclusion: i just need to live generously  for example, i discovered from some quest folks that $250 can help build a food shelter in the refugee camps by the border of thailand/burma and another $250 can help stock it=only $500.  $30 can buy a first aid kit for a village in haiti.  $73 can purchase a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in uganda.  $2400 would provide schooling for an entire generation of school children in an angolan village. 

tonight, i will go to my large home in ballard, enjoy a home cooked meal with my wife and kids, and sleep in my king sized bed.  in years past, i’ve struggled to ‘enjoy’ things but honestly, i will enjoy the home, the meal, the bed, and my family.  i no longer have regrets or reticence about enjoying god’s provision but i want to fully understand the blessings of his provision.  i am called and sent to bless others: ‘how can i bless you, Lord, and bless others?  give me vision, creativity, and courage.’

Filed under: christianity, emerging church, quest church

5 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    PE-

    Thanks for pointing out the Time article, thought it did a pretty fair job of explaining the issues with the prosperity gospel.

    On the subject of giving. The most recent Fortune magazine has Bill Clinton on the cover and a few months back it was Warren Buffett. Never before have I seen such enormous coverage and awareness of philanthropy – the rich and famous are all there – Gates, Buffett, Turner, Brokaw, Clinton, Bono, Branson, etc. Not only are they giving enormous sums of money, but they are applying business principals of efficiency, accountability, and sustainability to their giving. There are thousands of African AIDS patients that are saved daily by the negotiating of these foundations with drug companies to lower prices and buy ART’s in bulk. There are programs run by Robin Hood in NYC that focuses on the raising the income of the impoverished and utilizing outside economists to verify the impact. Many of these organizations are non-religious groups and individuals making a huge impact on global issues that has long-term ramifications for poverty and world security.

    For me, these stories are a real encouragement to me in three ways – it brings awareness to the issue of extreme poverty and human dignity, our ‘moral’ responsibility to get involved, and our dollars now can go a lot further with accountability and efficiency. We can make a big difference, not enough time or space here to discuss all the ways we can do it, but we can. I figure I have two levers to make the most of my giving – give more and make the dollars more efficient – there are just too many inefficient ways to give and if I can give to organizations or people who can make a larger impact than others I will. I’d love to meet with anyone to talk about different organizations and different people who are doing great work and see how we can best partner with them and learn from them to make a big impact for Jesus.

  2. elderj says:

    i saw the article also. I think there is a real struggle for the soul of the American church which has been very captivated with personal material prosperity which is an indication of its view of salvation as being mostly personal, and even then mostly about making a person comfortable in their own life

  3. nicole says:

    That’s a really good point (about the prosperity teachings putting the focus of salvation on primarily a personal level that aims to make a person comfortable in this life on earth). I’m reading a good book right now by John Eldridge which addresses our tendencies as human beings to get caught up in the life we have now, and lose sight of the ‘eternity’ part of the gospel, and of the kingdom of heaven. This is what we know, and sometimes we spend too much effort feathering our nests here, instead of using what God has given us, and learning how to fly, and glorify Him with what we were meant to do with the gifts He gave us.

  4. […] family and I are not wealthy by any means.  Yet, in the context of the larger world, we are filty rich.  We live off my one income of $60,000 as a pastor.  But we’ve made some sound financial […]

  5. Ella says:

    I do not have a sob story. I live in the US and the economy has beaten me up.
    In order to be blessed it will take $400,000.00.
    I need to be blessed, urgently. Thanks for listening. Ella

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One Day’s Wages

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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