Stuff, Struggles & God’s Offer

By Karen Polich

You can’t have everything. Seriously, where would you put it? – Steven Wright

Take a good look into your life. Many of us have full closets but empty hearts. Pastor Michael Cook wrapped up his Stuff sermon series with what God says in the midst of our struggles with stuff.

Revelation 3:17-20 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Are we in a place where we have more stuff than ever before but are enjoying less? Homes are three times larger than fifty years ago and lack nothing to fill them. The abundance of stuff can distract our faith. God reminds us we are refined through His fire and clothed through His purification.

God is here, calling us. We tend to focus on the stuff more than Him. He wants to share our lives. The wealth of a Christ follower comes not with stuff, but in Christ. How do we handle our stuff? Over the last few weeks, Pastor Michael Cook has taught us the importance of shifting our focus from stuff to Christ, leading to a truly generous life.

Ready for the next step? Christ whispers into our hearts with endless places to start.

Here are just four possibilities of first steps as we move out of the struggle of stuff.

Edit your life. Start with one area and begin to edit things out. We don’t have to start big. One thing after another, week after week and our lives will be changed.

Begin a gratitude journal. Write down one thing you are grateful for each day. Gratitude trains our heart, combating comparison and the desire for something “better”.

Serve consistently. As God blesses us with stuff, our heart naturally turns inward. Serving others takes our heart back. Serving grows gratitude.

Give faithfully. Don’t wait! It will never get easier to give. Abundance doesn’t lead to giving, intentional generosity does. Whatever you have, be generous now. Developing a spending plan is a great place to start.

Our needs and wants can crossover, but God is ready to do something great in our lives regarding stuff. He stands, He calls, He knocks…

Challenge: Ending the struggle over stuff can begin today. We can choose to seek Christ first, living generously and being who God created each of us to be. Want change in life? Take a new step today.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. Learn about the Hope Effort at



Enjoying Our Stuff

By Karen Polich

What are the things in your life you really enjoy? The Creator is whispering to all of us, “Enjoy…”

Pastor Michael Cook concluded his Stuff sermon series with a deeper look at enjoying what we have. Wealth is not always a friend of faith. At times we can become so enamored or distracted by what we have that we miss the One who blessed us with all of it.

Often the more we have, the more we experience spiritual drifting. We focus on what we have and what we can do because of what we have. Life begins to operate around the personal. We focus on our kids’ activities, the travel we can easily do, or just the task of caring for the possessions we’ve surrounded ourselves with. How do we keep our hearts moving toward God with gratitude?

1 Timothy 6:17-18  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Serving and sharing will keep our hearts where they need to be. Spiritual growth should never suffer because of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Our greatest challenge may not be that we are rich, but that we don’t feel rich. When we don’t know and don’t understand how rich we truly are we fall short when it comes to generosity.

He says, “Enjoy…just don’t forget about Me!”

Doing anything for others is better than offering everything “if they need it”! When we become doing people instead of offering people we are truly investing in others. This rescues us from self-focus. When our focus is on others, we can fully enjoy everything God has given us. Our stuff should be a tool that brings glory to God through our generosity. We can all live generously. God has blessed us beyond measure.

Are you a giving, sharing person? Enjoy your stuff, but keep your focus on Him.

Project for the week:

  1. Serve someone in a place that is out of the ordinary for you.
  2. Find out how much you are giving away. What is the percentage? (You just did your taxes.) Knowing how much of your life you are giving away is critical.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give –Winston Churchill

Visit for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Giving Stuff Away – 4 Reflections Concerning Generosity

By Karen Polich

If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life. – Billy Graham

We can do three things with our money. We can spend it, save it or give it away. Pastor Michael Cook continued his Stuff sermon series with a look at what it means to be generous.

Often we want to give. We really do. Our hearts feel the tug to be generous and help others. We’re ready until we encounter the struggle of giving versus ensuring having enough left for what we need.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Michael Cook shared four reflections concerning generosity.

1. Planting and harvesting. God moves in tangible and intangible ways. The Bible clearly teaches that those who organize their lives around generosity receive God’s blessing.

2. Decision and follow through. Intention is not decision. We can plan how we are going to give all we want but that does not make us generous. Acting on our decision is how we follow through with a real commitment to generosity. It is not how or what we give, it is that we give. Find a systematic approach that serves you well and implement it.

3. Attitude. God loves a cheerful giver. Why? Have we considered that God is a cheerful giver? His extravagance and generosity are beyond measure. Generosity brings more than we can imagine. Living generously pushes out the ungodliness in our lives.

4. Cycle of care. This goes back to wanting to give, but looking at our needs and not seeing enough. God is able. God will always take care of our needs. Do you believe God sees, loves generosity and will provide? YES! The question we must answer is, will we put our trust in Him? We give, God provides.

There is a certain beauty and value that comes with living a generous life.

Is your life being transformed through a heart of generosity?

Challenge: Commit to a yes or no. Be very careful about the lethal word LATER. There is never an easy, convenient time to give so waiting isn’t the answer. If you want to live a life of generosity, you must decide and act.

Project for the week:

1. Give away 7 items each day for the next 7 days. (If that seems too aggressive for you, give away 1 item each day for the next 7 days.)

2. Find one valuable item you own but don’t use. Give it to someone who needs it.

Visit for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

My Identity – My Stuff

By Karen Polich

The older I get, the more I come to believe that nothing I buy can take away my loneliness, fill my emptiness or heal my brokenness. – Fred Rogers

Our identity is something big. We do not get our identity in a position, a house, a car or anything else this world has to offer. We bring our identity to that job or home or whatever it is we may be chasing. Continuing his Stuff sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us into the importance of our identity.

Identity in our adoption. Your most defining moment was not in the one that dumped you but in the Father that rescued you! Ephesians 1:5

God chose you. You were selected by Him and nothing can change that. Nothing about your identity has been formed by something done to you, it is wrapped up in what Someone did for you.

Identity of our redemption. Redemption is being bought out of one position for another. Ephesians 1:7

Jesus did not pay for you in coinage, but with His very blood. Jesus really loves you, really.

Identity in our seal. Identity in Christ is reaching a deep understanding that we are marked by something far greater than a physical mark. We have the mark of the Holy Spirit on us. Ephesians 1:13

Salvation has nothing to do with you. You can’t strive for it or earn it. It is about what He did. Self-rescue is impossible. Your God will be your God when you succeed and when you fail. If you fall back into an old sin, God is still your God.

How many cheap substitutes will we seek? There are empty spaces of the heart and soul that God desires to fill with Himself. What if we cram so much “stuff” into those places that God Cannot occupy them?

Project of the Week: Spend one week fasting from any personal item you want to buy for yourself. (Work this out for you. It doesn’t mean miss meals or skip paying bills. It is about postponing something you think you need, focusing instead on our Creator.)

For more about the Hope Effort, visit Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

God’s Outlook on “Stuff”

By Karen Polich

I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy me love. – The Beatles

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we have? We all have stuff we need, stuff we want, stuff we would like to get rid of. Beginning a new sermon series, Stuff, Pastor Michael Cook took us into three moments where Jesus addressed our “stuff”.

There is a difference in my worth and my net worth. Read Luke 12:13-21.

A shout from the crowd puts a demand on Jesus. As Jesus responds, He speaks to every one of us.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15

What I have, or don’t, is not who I am.

Possessions can never deliver true happiness! Read Matthew 13:1-22.

When you live in “good soil”, you will be rooted and fruitful. Our hearts tend to seek stuff, but we are called to something very different.

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Could it be that we have an empty space in our hearts to fill that can’t be filled by the stuff?

Followers often become financially independent but spiritually bankrupt. Read Revelation 3:17-20.

We often push to create stability in our lives, protecting our future.

You say,’ I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

The “STUFF” series is about what we have, what we need, what we want and who we are.

This is the beginning of a potential life changer. Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking…

  1. What is it in my life that is defining who I am?
  2. What is it in my life that is preventing me from growing?

Project for the week: Count your shoes (every pair) and your shirts. Share what you find by leaving a reply on our blog.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. For more information about the Hope Effort, go to