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What Do You Have to Offer?

• Steve Wiens

We often define ourselves according to what we have to offer this world. But what happens when what we have to offer isn’t enough? In this sermon, Steve Wiens shows us how our wounds and inability to offer something can actually be used by God in glorious ways.

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In America, what we have to offer is our value. So, when we sit down for a job interview, one of the questions that we have to answer is “What do you have to offer?” And we often describe ourselves according to what we do. When someone asks us about our life, we often list our job, experiences, and hobbies as our life. But what happens when we have nothing left to give or what happens when we realize that what we have to give can’t solve a problem?

In the story, Peter and John offer a broken man not what they have but what God had given them. The broken beggar spent everyday in front of the temple begging for food or money. This was how this man survived. He had nothing to offer anyone. And Peter and John had no money to offer this man either. But they did have something greater than money to offer this man. They told him, in the name of Jesus, to get up and walk. They healed the man.

When we are emptied of the things that we have to offer, then we begin to be filled by what God has to offer. So much of our lives are spent running around and trying to be useful. We gain skills and try to make the mark of being successful. And the Church functions in a similar way. We try to provide for everyone that is in need and bring healing and comfort to all. We start programs and ministries to accomplish these things. And that’s good, as long as we are depending on God to fill us with what he has to offer instead of trying to accomplish these things on our own.

In the Naked Anabaptist book, Stuart Murray says that when the Christendom model is finished that it is actually a gift to the Church. The fusion of Church and State that has been happening since the 4th century has granted the Church some unique benefits. It has allowed the Church to control the population through force. It has allowed the Church to have a membership that looks like a State more than a group of committed believers. It has also distracted the Church from fulfilling its mission. Stuart Murray thinks that when the Church and State are finally separated, it will be a good thing for the Church.

Jesus was a wounded healer, and we are called to be wounded healers as well. When we are able to do and accomplish everything through our own power, we don’t investigate and look into our own wounds. When our woundedness and God’s fullness come together, that is when we begin to do great things in the Kingdom.

God is a God who gives abundantly and recklessly. The psalms and everything that we learn about God is that he has and continues to give recklessly to his people. He fed and clothed his people 40 years in the desert. He provided protection when they were a nation. He sent them his only son to die for them. And he continues to work in our lives today, giving us everything we need to do the work of the Kingdom.

The Anabaptists believe that we are called to look like Jesus. A wounded healer, a God who gives abundantly. This is not an easy task, because it asks us to look inside of ourselves and seek out our own woundedness and iniquity. But, if we are able to do this and trust in God’s abundant giving, we will begin to see God acting through our wounds to do amazing things.

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Topics: Anabaptism, Hope, Identity in Christ, Power

Sermon Series: Kindred

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Focus Scripture:

  • Acts 3:1-8

    3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

    6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

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10 thoughts on “What Do You Have to Offer?

  1. Peter says:

    Thanks Steve for your message. In one sense we come into this world with nothing and leave it similarly, everything in between involves us either giving or receiving…and, unfortunately, accumulating.

    From a framing perspective, the Kindred series has been challenging and while Stuart Murray’s book does provide an Anabaptist insight, the analysis is very much limited to a narrower section of church history. While in this instance, it is appropriate, but others may wish to go further and see the bigger picture of church development to further appreciate the role of the Anabaptists.

    While there are numerous books written on church history which would make excellent door stops, I came across a somewhat slimmer volume yet totally appropriate for the situation at hand.

    The book was only published last year and is titled “RetroChristianity Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith” by Michael Svigel. Interestingly, Michael grew up in Minnesota…so I don’t know if it is something in the water, but as you read this book you can see some of Greg in its structure/illustrations. While the book is a fantastic and serious read (as also reflected in the Amazon reviews), who else would use a “Benjamin Button Syndrome” illustration of turning back the clock or using Bryan Singer’s film “Superman Returns” and his approach in relation to the previous Superman films as an illustration that RetroChristianity is not in favor of literally returning to past forms of Christianity (albeit earlier Christopher Reeve’s Superman films), and several others…..I am secretly waiting for Greg to show an exert from “Back to the Future” to further illustrate his Kindred point.

    Michael also concludes his book with a chapter aptly titled “Boldly Go Where Countless Others Have Gone Before!” and particularly, “Instead of courageously blazing a trail into unknown territory, let’s take on a much greater challenge: to boldly go where countless others have gone before. When something vital is missing from our church, we need to reclaim that lost treasure from the past and place it in the present.”

    Although the book has an obvious evangelical flavor, it does not (to me), stifle the argument Michael makes, but he shows on several levels how the church has wandered from its early beginnings and the steps to reclaim the past without literally going back to them and not making the mistakes others have along the way.

  2. Dave Pritchard says:

    An absolutely fantastic message from Steve!

    However, once again, in reference to Stuart Murray’s Book, as I read it, I’m finding it difficult being in a Post-Modern society to fairly attribute most of the lamentable evils of Church history to the single edifice that supposedly was “Christendom” as he describes it in his book. The unholy marriage of Church and State has no doubt been “Mega-Ugly” and hugely responsible for inexcusable pain and suffering in some contexts, but historically as we all know, there have been plenty of other vicious mechanisms that have driven the cyclones of evil in our World –i.e. malevolent individuals, corrupt political ideologies, imbalanced economics, natural resource wars, etc. Some of these facilitated and fueled by “Christendom”, but others clearly not. He never states it out right, but I keep sensing that there is an undercurrent of anti-Catholic rhetoric that mostly floats just under the surface of the text. Sure, there’s a heck of a lot over the years not to like about them, but it’s almost as if he draws up an Anabaptist identity by pointing the finger and saying, “Look…., look how we’re not like them, those evil minions” – rather than solely constructing an historical Anabaptist identity that was based on the Personhood/Deity of Jesus. I’m also trying to square fairly in my heart and mind currently all of the Catholic and Anglican Relief Agencies that are out there feeding the poor – CRS: Catholic Relief Services, Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy, etc. Are they not direct products of “Christendom”? Remember, there are relational aspects to “Christendom” that also protect our rights to worship freely as we currently do!
    “Anabaptism is and can be an incredibly beautiful thing and as Greg has frequently pointed out, “If it doesn’t look like Jesus, then spiritually it t’aint worth a dang!” I would completely agree, but and as much as I love this book, Murray fails to mention the evils of “extreme Anabaptism” where you have genetic disorders such as MSUD – “Maple Syrup Urine Disease” brought about
    by the “Founders Effect ”. Not to mention higher teen suicide and runaway rates. I’m sorry if I sound a bit cynical and negative here for a moment but the flip side of the coin should possibly be examined as well here before jumping enthusiastically onto this particular train of faith.

  3. Peter says:

    The points you make are appropriate Dave and were partly the reason why I felt there was a need to see the bigger picture which I think Michael Svigel in RetroChristianity provides.

    Although we technically live in a post-Christendom period (albeit 1500 yrs later), Michael makes a good summary, “We definitely don’t want to return to medieval Christendom. We should have no desire to revive the vast gulf between the church hierarchy and laypeople that alienated Christians from mature faith and an informed piety. We don’t want to re-adopt a confusing sacramental system, complex liturgical calendar, and a worldview that places each of us in a teetering uncertainty between heaven and hell. And none of us relish the idea of returning to a relationship between church and state that sanctioned the execution of heretics and the slaughter of infidels under the banner of the cross. (Few of us would last long under that system!) Instead, we desire to learn from the excesses of the medieval period, not relive them.”

    It is definitely not the case that you can draw up a table of Christian faiths and doctrines and the one that ticks the most boxes is the one you should adopt.

    I don’t believe Greg and the leadership team want a congregation of Anabaptists but rather a congregation of Christians that hold to the strengths of the Anabaptist tradition.

    The problem here that Dave touches upon is where you draw the line when you align yourself with the beliefs of a particular group….if that is at all possible. Like the seven churches in Revelation each had something/s to commend them, but all except two failed to meet Christ’s standards.

  4. Dave Pritchard says:

    Peter –
    Genuine thanks for bringing a flavor of clarity to the discussion. Sorry if I sometimes tend to become over hyperbolic about things. Anyway, I’ll definitely be looking into reading Svigel’s book when I’m finished with Murray.
    God spede!!!

  5. Peter says:

    Dave (and others)….came across this link on the web with Michael Svigel and Darrell Bock talking on “Early Church: Christianity or Christianities” (video) recorded on Feb 28 this year, which presents some further complexity to the early church formation. If you scroll down on the link page you will also find a link to a RetroChristianity blog.


    If only Heaven had a website ;-).

  6. Denise says:

    Dave I agree whole-heartily with your comments, I too felt that there was “an undercurrent of anti-Catholic rhetoric that mostly floats just under the surface of the text…almost as if he draws up an Anabaptist identity by pointing the finger and saying, ‘Look…, look how we’re not like them, those evil minions.’” I don’t believe we should build ourselves up by pointing out the wrongs of others; instead we must take a ruthlessly honest look at ourselves and the groups that we are members of and humbly carry the wrongs we have committed to Jesus for healing and redemption. Which is why I found Murray’s statement when referring to the Munster and naked processions, obvious wrongs within the Anabaptist past although atypical, questionable. He states on page 33 that “…there is no longer any justification for marginalizing the movement or judging it on the basis of its worst moments”. He contends that historians either treated Anabaptists as marginal or presented them in a very negative light, while few of them investigated what Anabaptists wrote or said about themselves or how they actually lived. In other words he did not like the way in which Anabaptists were painted with a “broad brush stroke.” However, if we do not want to be judged exclusively on our worst moments we should not do this to others, we are all a mixed-up concoction of good and bad and it is unfair to judge us solely by our worst or best days.

    I also have a question concerning the Schleitheim Confession, which is the most representative statement of Anabapists principles. Under The Seven Articles, point IV, it states in part, “From all this we should learn that everything which has not been united with our God in Christ is nothing but an abomination which we should shun. By this are meant all popish and repopish works and idolatry, gatherings, church attendance, winehouses, guarantees and commitments of unbelief, and other things of the kind, which the world regards highly, and yet which are carnal or flatly counter to the command of God, after the pattern of all the iniquity which is in the world. From all this we shall be separated and have no part with such, for they are nothing but abominations, which cause us to be hated before our Christ Jesus, who has freed us from the servitude of the flesh and fitted us for the service of God and the Spirit whom He has given us.” Is this still the Anabaptist’s belief?

  7. Dave Pritchard says:


    Over the last year Greg’s preaching has had an enormously positive impact on my life! Nearly everything he has discussed in his messages has resonated with me spiritually and has connected in my brain on some very deep and profound level. I am also tremendously thankful for This Blog where we can converse about these topics with civility and reflection. I just wanted to say that in hindsight, I think I was a bit too critical of Murray’s book in all fairness and that much more study and prayer is needed on my part before I spout off once again! Having said that though, I went to high school in Adams County Pennsylvania and saw first hand how some of the Amish were treated in that area, and…… how they treated each other! I wasn’t a Christian back then, so my perspective was probably a bit warped (still is warped, somewhat…ha!) but I do remember the unadorned beauty and simplicity of their farms and the fresh apple butter, cider and free-range eggs we used to buy from the locals. Incredible! It was a shame that I was only aware of their externals. As Peter suggested though, I downloaded a copy of “Retro Christianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith” by Michael Svigel for my Kindle. I’m only a short way in, but I already love his ‘Peanut Butter” analogy where he likens contemporary Evangelical faith to peanut butter that has been overloaded with additives, preservatives and a lot of other unnecessary extras. Perhaps aligning oneself with the more salient and “all-natural” aspects of the “Anabaptist Tradition” is somewhat of a romantic notion for Woodland Hills, but I know its something I’ve personally been craving in my own walk with the Lord, where I spent years adrift in non-denominational land.

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Guys,

    While the “The Naked Anabaptist” and “RetroChristianity” focus to some degree on the historical church development, another resource that I have come across which may be of interest is “Christ’s People in Today’s World” by Geoffrey Bingham (1985). A free pdf download of this book is available at this webpage (bottom left corner):-

    http://www.newcreation.org.au/books/covers/025.html .

    This volume is more biblically based in following God’s plan for man in His community. It is not heavy theological reading but provides a good foundation for this whole subject.

    The cover description is as follows:-

    “Today is a day of community. The electronic and literary media have drawn the world together into ‘a global village’. We can even begin to talk of ‘the community of nations’.

    However, this global village is an uneasy one. The world community lives in endless factions, religions, and political strife. Is there, in fact, a true and living community?

    The answer is, ‘Yes,’ the community of the Father—the family. It is also the people of Christ, the community of the Holy Spirit. It is the quiet but powerful miracle of God—His elect people always living in difficult times and bringing the witness of love and hope to the troubled nations.

    Its role is prophetic and priestly. Its proclamation is of the Kingdom of God—’Your God reigns!’ Its confession is not only to its own community, but to all the world.

    We need to know this community, to live in it more dynamically than we have, and to share its constraints with the world. CHRIST’S PEOPLE IN TODAY’S WORLD is a book which can help us.”

    Yes Dave, I enjoyed the analogies that Michael Svigel provides….they definitely liven up the reading and are very appropriate for the situations they describe.

  9. Peter says:

    Dave,….from what Jill has blogged under the next sermon, do you think WH is having a dose of the Cola Wars as described on pages 162 & 163 of “RetroChristianity”?

  10. baidu says:

    Get to work at 9 am, and start off your day with a long meeting with the bosses where everyone decides to comment on every li.

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