Well folks, I feel like I must continue with my message from last week for a couple of reasons, but especially because I feel like I left you hanging out there on a limb. Actually, I know I left you hanging and I did so purposely. You might remember that last week we heard of the story of the Rich Young Man- the man who came up to Jesus to ask Him what he had to do to gain eternal life. We are told that in response to the man’s question, Jesus looked at Him, loved Him and said “There is one thing that you lack. Go sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor. Then come and follow Me.” At Jesus’ words the rich young man “went away sad for He had many possessions.” So what about us, we who also have many possessions? Of course it is true that probably the large majority of us would not describe ourselves as rich, and perhaps we are not by today’s standards, but I am not so sure where we are by Jesus’ standards. I do feel pretty confident, however, that Jesus would consider many of us to be rich who do not consider ourselves to be. So, is that it for us; is the “game over?” I think the Apostles must have feared so. “Then who can be saved?” they asked. Is there something else that we can do; is there another course that the rich young man could have taken, another course that we can take? I think there is, and I am calling it the “game-changer.” There is something that we can do that will point us in the direction of Jesus and eternal life that will help us to become a better person, a better follower of Jesus and a better disciple. First of all, we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that for many of us there is something that at least gets in the way between us and being a better disciple and that is money and possessions. It can become the scorecard, how we measure ourselves and others and we allow it to compete with God for our hearts. Changing this dynamic is the game-changer. Money and wealth are indeed blessings from God, but that’s just it-they are from God. What we tend to do is emphasize the gift, and forget about the Giver. I am convinced that there is much about discipleship and life that we will not get right until we get this right. We begin to trust the gift more than the Giver. God is the giver and we need to trust Him more than the gift. The only way to do that is to become true givers ourselves. That is how we build up our trust in Him rather than becoming slaves to the gift. Of course the biblical answer is tithing-giving away 10% of our income to God and to the poor. The problem with tithing is that it even seems so unattainable for us, so like the rich young man we give up. But we don’t have to-and there is no reason for us to do so. We can begin by changing our philosophy around giving and tithing by practicing the “four P’s of giving.” First we make sure that our giving is planned-we don’t just give to God and the poor randomly and haphazardly, we incorporate it into our budget. Second, we make giving to God and the poor a priority- we make sure that giving comes first not after everything else. Third, we make our giving a percentage of our income; we need to start somewhere, anywhere, even if we start at 1/2% or one percent or 2%, as long as it is more than what we are giving now. We don’t have to start out at 10% but we need to start somewhere and then promise that our giving will be progressive (our fourth) step until we get there. Moving in this direction can and will indeed change our lives. It will open our hearts to more authentic worship and will build our faith. It will serve as an investment toward eternal life-it will build up treasure in heaven and all the while it will help us to become the people God wants us to be. Jesus offers the rich young man and James and John the path to true greatness. I am convinced that this where we start.