Eugene Cho

faith and money [1]: where is your treasure?

I made a decision on Saturday to put the study through the book of Acts on hold and devote a few weeks teaching about Faith & Money. I’ll continue this series for the next two Sundays. I’ll also be chatting about Faith & Politics on Sunday, Nov 2 for obvious reasons.  While this series of posts [over the next two weeks] are broadly entitled “Faith & Money,” my hope is that it will resonate with a broader audience so feel free to forward this onto other folks.  I’m not an economist, a financial planner, or someone who has it all together…I’m writing simply as one person bumbling and stumbling my way as a follower of Christ and a person that wants to help change the world – while constantly being changed.

If last Sunday was any indication, I’d encourage you to make it out to Quest the next two Sundays or listen to the podcast if you’re able.  The response from last Sunday for Part I on Faith & Money was probably amongst the highest.  Why?

People are freaked out, or at least, very concerned.

The last few weeks – locally and globally – have certainly been like a bad roller coaster ride that leaves one disoriented and vomitaceous.  And unless you’re completely detached from the money machine, you’re likely impacted on some personal level and feeling pretty anxious.   Why?  Here are some real examples from our church community:

  • Just last week, five more people got laid off or received notices.  Several more have been unemployed for couple months. 
  • 401k[s], retirement funds, and life savings have taken a big hit for folks who are invested in the market.  I know of two people whose savings were completely wiped out because they held stock in companies that no longer exist.  Painful.  We have numerous senior citizens who are worried for obvious reasons.
  • Mortgages and foreclosures?  Yes.
  • Students worried if their student loans will be impacted. 
  • Small business owners who aren’t able to get loans to help build and sustain their businesses. 
  • People becoming homeless.  We haven’t had any folks at Quest…yet…but 10 folks from Nickelsville came by Quest last week and asked to use our parking space for their encampment.  The Elder Board was seriously praying about their request but thankfully for them, they found a larger church with a larger parking space.  But the stories we heard are not unlike the situations of people at our church. 

Another reason why I’m talking about Money?  Because, in short, it is the prevailing idolatry in our world.  It’s subtle but it is seductive and power.  More on this during the next post.

Another reason why I’m teaching and writing about this?  Because I need it.

I had a personal bout of anxiety, faith, and trust.  About two weeks ago, I literally froze with fear and anxiety.  I’m typically pretty even headed but I just lost it.  Six months ago, Minhee and I [and our children] finally decided to forge forward in starting our vision for the global poverty organization but we couldn’t have conceived the current financial climate.  As some of you know, we’ve covenanted 100K to the project; We’re trying to sell our rental home in this market to make the donation and it has been brutal.  Had to invest lots of money to get the home ready, lower the prices, and still waiting; Minhee returned back to grad school and thus, we had to apply for school loans; we have mortgage payments, blah blah blah.  Suddenly, in a span of few months, we went from living quarter to quarter to month to month.  And I just panicked.

But I sensed God reassuring me.  Huh?  Let me explain. 

No reassurances that my portfolio will rebound.  No reassurances that my home will sell. No reassurances that we’ll come up with the money to honor our current obligations and bills.  No reassurances that we’ll be able to fork over the 100K to start the poverty org in the next three months.  None of that.

What reassurance, then?  His presence as I sensed a strong rebuke and conviction: 

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21 [NLT]

That scripture and words of wisdom reminded me of a meeting my wife and I had a meeting with a friend in Korea this past summer.  She’s a “foreigner” living in Korea as a missionary and simply, a follower of Christ.  She’s learned the Korean language and asides from being “white,” she’s pretty much “Korean.”  She’s adopted the customs and cultures and grown a love for the people of Korea and beyond. 

She and her husband have also adopted a lifestyle of simplicity.  This is different from a life of poverty.  They’ve simply chosen to live as simply as possible…free from the stuff we often find ourselves loving, lusting, and labeling.

During our conversation, she shared her enthusiasm for our vision to fight global poverty and her commitment to keep us in prayer.  That in itself was enough: deeply edifying and encouraging. She proceeded to share that she didn’t really have any money to donate at this time.  We explained that was not what we were asking for…her emotional and spiritual support meant a great deal.

What happened next…we will never forget.

She opened her shoulder bag and proceeded to take out 6 or 7 small boxes and explained:

“My husband and I have committed to a life of simplicity and we don’t have money to give.  I love and believe in what you guys are doing.  These boxes are my jewelry…my heirlooms.  I don’t need this.  I want to give this to your organization.  Please sell it and use it to help the poorest of the poor.”

God convicted me with this question: 

“Where is your treasure…Who is your treasure?”

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17 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    Cool post. My family and I have been living month to month for decades. God is faithful. We’ve got to get your missionary friend a job at a Christian foundation or two :^)

  2. chad says:

    i hear an enormous opportunity here for the Church to embody the love of Christ through providing physical blessings (food drives, temporary housing, transportation, the sky’s the limit!) to both members of the Church and the larger community.

  3. Wow. That last bit challenges me. I am struck by her gesture. We live simply, or a lot more simply than we used to. We are trying our best. We often have little to give to organizations or persons. I attach so much sentimental value to things, especially heirlooms. They are special. They have meaning. But in the end, they are just things. Where does my treasure lie? You’ve got me thinking. Thank you.

  4. Eddie says:

    Fabulous post, Eugene. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  5. […] [1] faith and money: where is your treasure? « beauty and depravity Posted by Geoff Filed in God Stuff, News Leave a Reply […]

  6. Aaron says:

    This past week I have been battling greed like crazy. I am not sure what spurred it on, but I have been overwhelmed. Im looking forward to the podcast!

  7. Tyler says:

    awesome eugene. how can anyone not love what you had to say? personal, authentic, challenging. well said.

  8. phyllisophy says:

    wow. thank you. this is really helpful.

  9. Wayne Park says:

    wow this really hits home for me.
    Thanx for your transparency PE – it is both challenging & encouraging at the same time…

  10. The Chiz says:

    Thanks again PE- I’ve been challenged with thinking beyond my salaried income value for a few months now- hopefully following a call to graduate school and a major career shift. It hasn’t been easy- in fact, it’s been pretty shattering in terms of the securities and pillars that I thought I truly wanted. And yet- God’s odd faithfulness has appeared in every turn, in unexpected ways, and with blessings beyond. I’m still in the throes of figuring things out, and still consistently faced with the challenge to trust in God and his faithfulness, but my insecurities are becoming fewer and farther between as I remember and savor the goodness and provision I’ve experienced recently.

  11. the debt slinger says:

    as a pastor/evangelist for the true american god (the $), i can say we evangelical christians are more faithful in building the kingdoms of Chase, Discover, Citibank, Wells Fargo and B of A than we are to the building of the kingdom of God. we aren’t judged by a heavenly credit report for making our tithe on a monthly basis, but we are judged by the earthly gods called FICO, which can make our lives a living hell when we miss a payment. i am a slave to my debts – my car, my house, the meals i ate months ago but charged to my visa, my technology addiction (video games/high def/mp3/stereo/computer/software) – and that is just how the true american god wants us to be – where your addiction is, there is your treasure. the true american god says, be impulsive, serve yourself first, you deserve it, you’ve worked hard for it, you’ve earned it, its priceless, sacrifice your future for the present, you’ll never have this opportunity again, you can pay for it later, what if i never have this chance again. if your heart is truly where your treasure is – we can see it in the high rise bank buildings downtown – the cathedrals of our time – all paid for w/the interest of money we borrow. the almighty dollar says “in god we trust” and we do.

  12. […] [1] faith and money: where is your treasure? « beauty and depravity Eugene Cho hits a home run. Spend 5 minutes and read this. What else can I say? (tags: faith christianity politics finance economy) Bookmark and ShareClose Bookmark and Share This Page Save to Browser Favorites / BookmarksAskbackflipblinklistBlogBookmarkBloglinesBlogMarksBlogsvineBuddyMarksBUMPzee!CiteULikeco.mmentsConnoteadel.icio.usDiggdiigoDotNetKicksDropJackdzoneFacebookFarkFavesFeed Me LinksFriendsitefolkd.comFurlGoogleHuggJamespotJeqqKaboodlekirtsylinkaGoGoLinksMarkerMa.gnoliaMister WongMixxMySpaceMyWebNetvouzNewsvineoneviewOnlyWirePlugIMPropellerRedditRojoSegnaloShoutwireSimpySlashdotSphereSphinnSpurlSquidooStumbleUponTechnoratiThisNextTwitterWebrideWindows LiveWorlds MoviesYahoo!Email This to a FriendCopy HTML:  If you like this then please subscribe to the RSS Feed.Powered by Bookmarkify™ More »Powered by Bookmarkify™ […]

  13. […] engage in Part 2 of the short three part series on Faith and Money.  This and next Sunday, I’ll be teaching from Matthew 25:14-30 and Matthew 6:19-21.  Money […]

  14. Dawn says:

    Such a great subject! This impacts every area of our lives including loving one another. Everything we have belongs ultimately to God. Along with your website that I check every day, I also check out a website/blog by a fellow Christian that has made a committment to whittle his possessions down to 100’things. Check it out.
    http://www.guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge.html

    Keep up the good work! I am part of an organization down in San Diego that is also working at combating extreme poverty. http://www.christiansendingpoverty.org

  15. […] This is Part 4 of the series on Faith and Money.  You can the previous entries here:  [1] Where is Your Treasure, [2] What is Money, and [3] Control or […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Still my baby son! This was 10 years ago. I dominated my son in wrestling and I know what you're thinking, "How could you employ a rear chokehold armbar kimura on your own son?" Hey, a competition is a competition.

I love you, son. The world is broken. This ia a sad truth. But the story of redemption is not yet finished. God is not yet done. This is the ultimate Truth. Have hope. Press on. Ten years ago, I witnessed one of those "God things" when a church called Interbay Covenant Church gave itself, its legacy, and a building property worth $7 million dollars to @seattlequest. We were then only 5 years old.

Quest is an urban, multiethnic churchplant that started in 2001. We rented the facilities at Interbay Covenant Church - a predominantly older, mostly Anglo congregation with a rich 65 years history. After some time, Pastor Ray Bartel (senior pastor, Interbay) approached me with a "crazy idea" of Interbay "dying to itself and giving itself to Quest" for the sake of the greater Kingdom and the coming generations.

This eventually led to three years of many conversations and prayers. On June 3, 2007, the two churches officially came together to become one church. In giving itself, Interbay also shared their leadership, legacy, and stories. They also gave all of their assets without any strings and without any debt.

Their radical generosity and courage is what enabled Quest to grow - not just numerically - but deeper in discipleship, and deeper in missions - to the city of Seattle and beyond. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of this merger, we created a short film (check my FB page to see the video) to tell the story - so that our church and the next generations may never forget and that the larger Church may be stirred and encouraged by a greater Kingdom vision.

Thank you, Interbay! The NBA season is over but the hustle and grind continues for my daughter. We argue sometimes but I love training my daughter. She's working hard for her senior year next year. Starting point guard. She's improved a lot. She's one of the quickest players on the floor and has a great midrange jumper. But trying to get her to keep working on her handles, using her off hand and shoulder to protect the ball,  staying and dribbling the ball lower to the ground, and playing aggressive and downhill while remaining in control. That's what we're working on this week. #hoopdreams #ChovarBall Reunited with my favorite elephant, Buh'loom. We bonded earlier this year and I'd like to think that she recognized my voice. Also, appreciate learning about ethical and sustainable eco-tourism.

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