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85 Beautiful Cents

Erik Cooper —  August 13, 2009 — 4 Comments

Our amazing volunteer bookkeeper came by the office today and told me what may perhaps become my favorite story since the launch of City Community Church (and that’s saying something).  This past weekend as the team was counting the offering, she found a dirty little plastic bag with 85 cents in it.  Not three shiny quarters and a new nickel, but lots of filthy pennies, nickles, and dimes.  The coins were so dirty she had to soak them in Pepsi to try and clean them off before adding them to the weekly deposit.

Now there’s no way to know who put those in there (if you’re reading this and it’s you, and I totally have it wrong, my apologies).  But one of the things I’ve loved so much about this church right in the heart of downtown Indy is that we literally have homeless guys sitting next to millionaires each week.  I just have this picture of one of our homeless friends spending days collecting those coins from storm grates, sidewalks, and gutters around the downtown streets, wrapping them carefully in a recycled plastic bag, and eagerly bringing them to church this past Sunday.  Who knows?

But I do know that every penny matters to God because it’s never about the money, it’s about what the money represents in our lives.  And just like Jesus’ encounter with the poor widow who put her last pennies in the Temple box (Mark 12:41-43), these 85 beautiful cents mean as much to Him as if it were a million dollar gift.  That’s cool.

Only In You

Erik Cooper —  February 2, 2009 — Leave a comment

“I have no interest in what you have – only in you.” (2 Cor. 12:15 MSG)

How do we get our lives to this point?  In a world of social networking where all relationships seem to be leveraged for some personal purpose, how do we build lives, how do we build churches, that are led void of self-gain?  We all need each other (it’s part of God’s design), but even in a place of spiritual leadership I notice how easy it is to become engulfed in what I need others to bring to the organization or movement I’m leading.  Musical talent.  Artistry.  Organizational skills.  Money (hey, let’s be honest).  People can easily become commodities, and if we’re not careful, we begin to lead out of what we need from people, rather than what we can do for people.

Leveraging people’s gifts, talents, and resources for God’s purposes is part of the reality and the beauty of the church.  But if we only build into relationships for what we will get in return, it doesn’t take long for that emptiness to show itself.  The apostle Paul (who penned the opening words of this post) wasn’t driven by what he needed from people.  He didn’t coddle them to keep them happy.  He didn’t use their gifts for his personal gain.  He led out of conviction, passion, and obedience, and the results have shown themselves in generation after generation for the last 2,000 years.

Just food for thought…how do you see people?