Thursday, November 16

Purpose-Driven to the Poor

I spent most of my birthday week in Santa Barbara, California. Saturday night, after eating one of the most lavish meals of my life at a dear friend's wedding, I met a homeless man named Wyatt. He told me his story. A fire in his apartment sent him to the streets. I was dressed to the nines for a black-tie wedding, and he was in rags. I felt sick inside over the polarity of our worlds. I did what little I could to get him some groceries, and prayed with him. He'd wanted to give me the $2.50 he had in his pockets in exchange for the food. And he said he'd pray for me, too.

I wept a lot that night. And I asked God to help me live a life that really values the poor like Jesus does. Not just one that throws money at them to make me feel better.

The following is an excerpt from Joel News International. I was pretty amazed by Rick Warren's thoughts. I read his best-seller and wondered what all the hype was about. And I judged him. I made gross assumptions about him and his exceedingly massive church. Now I'm learning from him and asking Jesus for forgiveness for my plank-eye.

How to Steward Influence and Affluence?

If you would be entrusted national influence in your nation, as well as millions of dollars, how would you steward it? How would you prevent getting corrupted by power or money? Rick Warren's book 'The Purpose-Driven Life' sold 17 million copies in the first one-and-a-half year, and brought him a lot of influence and income. "I don't think God gives you either money or fame for your own ego," says Warren. "So my wife and I made four decisions:

1. We would not change our lifestyle one bit, no matter how much money would come in. So I didn't buy a bigger house or a yacht, and still drive a four-year old Ford.

2. I stopped taking a salary from the church, based on 1 Cor. 9. where Paul says he wants to serve the gospel for free. I also added up all the church had paid me in the previous years and gave it back, because I didn't want anybody to think that I would be in this for money.

3. We set up three different foundations, that we use to train pastors in third-world countries, help those infected with AIDS, and support the global PEACE plan.

4. We became reverse tithers. When Kay and I got married 30 years ago, we began giving 10 percent of our income to charity. And each year we would raise it a percentage, because every time you give, you break the grip of materialism in your life. And so the second year of our marriage we started giving 11 percent to charity, then 12 percent, then 13 percent. Every time I give it makes my heart bigger and it makes me more like Jesus. And so, today, 30 years later, my wife and I are reverse tithers. We give away 90 percent and we live on 10."

I missed 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about the poor

"The hard part was, what are we going to do with the fame?" says Warren. "God spoke to me from Psalm 72, where Solomon prays for more influence, so that he may support the widows and orphans, care for the oppressed, defend the defenseless, speak up for the prisoner, and help the immigrant. He basically talks about all the marginalized of society. And that was a turning point in my life two-and-a-half years ago, where God basically said: 'The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence.' I had to repent because I live in a very affluent Southern California neighborhood, and couldn't think of the last time I had cared about the homeless. When reading Scripture afresh, it was like the blinders came off. Now, I've got three advanced degrees and four years in Greek and Hebrew. How did I miss 2,000 verses in the Bible where it talks about the poor? How did I miss that?"

Source: Rick Warren at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A full 31 page transcript of Rick Warren's extensive interview at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is available here:

Thanks to Marc and

1 comment:

cari base said...

Wow. Valuing and not just throwing money. Jesus, teach us to do that. I think sometimes, well a lot of times, I give or serve to feel better about myself, or to feel better than other people, or to feel like I'm really making a difference.
Jesus, teach us to value the homeless and marginalized because you do. I want to do things because I love you. May the reason for everything we do go back to loving you.
I miss you Nelly. Happy birthday. I wish I could have called; I don't have a number. Sarah and I just had a rad rad conversation. But yes, I am thinking of you.
peace and love and sweet sweet dreams