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Sunday, May 13, 2018
Growing Your Garden Sermon Series, Week 2
Scripture: Mark 12:41-44 & Mark 6:35-44
Rev. Jill VanderWal

Imagine that you and I are walking down the street. You breathe in. You breathe out. I breathe in. I breathe out. We both need oxygen to survive. Would you worry that there would not be enough oxygen for both of us? Of course not—air is abundant.

Now imagine we are scuba diving and my scuba tank starts to malfunction. I signal that I need to share the oxygen in your tank. Suddenly the air becomes a precious commodity. Its scarcity makes us worry. What if there isn’t enough for both of us?

Our attitudes toward scarcity and abundance shape our world-view and direct the course of our life. Our beliefs become lenses through which we see all of life and how we live out our faith. The theme of scarcity of abundance runs throughout the entirety of the Bible through the theme of life…and death.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey writes: “Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people. In many ways our culture is driven by scarcity. Not enough money, good jobs, time…not enough to go around.  There’s not enough. I’m not enough.”

In contrast, Stephen Covey says the Abundance Mentality flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity” (quote from John Maxwell- article link below). Abundance mentality relates to every aspect of life – to parenting, to education, business, commerce and the church!

Sin is the voice of scarcity. God’s love is the voice of abundance.

Two images in the New Testament

The widow’s offering – Jesus uses this story to instruct his disciples. He shows how others give out of abundance, but this widow gives in a state of poverty; out of lack and uncertainty. Jesus says, “truly, she has put in more than all the others.”

Feeding of the 5000 – Bring what you have. The disciples find 5 loaves and 2 fish. “…and all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.” Yes, this is clearly a miracle, it speaks to the nature of the kingdom of God.  This is the image of the overflow!!!!

There is enough- if we share. Remember the story of Stone Soup? It’s an old folk story in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys, and exists as a moral regarding the value of sharing.

Invitation to Generosity:

To be generous is a moral virtue…it is the nature of God and how we are called to live in this world. It’s about our being and our action. Generosity is a practice. It is a commitment. It is a choice of who are are…and how we will be to others. It is a choice on how we commit our time, resources, energy – and our love.

John Maxwell Words on How to Develop an Abundance Mindset: (

Offer words of appreciation. Let people know how much you value their contributions. People want to know that their work matters. Your influence and happiness will increase in direct proportion to the appreciation that you show your team. I have found this to be one of the fastest and simplest ways to build a more abundant life.

Choose to see opportunity. Face the challenge with optimism and make sure your team sees you modeling that attitude. You’ll be surprised at how quickly problems dissolve and how soon optimism becomes your default mechanism.

Remind yourself that there is more than enough. As Covey said, there is enough pie to go around, so break that nasty habit of comparing yourself to others. Repeat after me: There is plenty for everyone. Say the sentence often enough, and it’ll become second nature.

Carefully select the company you keep. Mindsets are contagious. Limit your time with “the-glass-is-half- empty” people.

Spend time in reflection. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate all the positives in your life and work. Gratitude is a powerful aspect of an abundant mindset. A grateful heart is at the center of an abundant life. In his book, Life, the Truth, and Being Free, coach and speaker Steve Maraboli says, “Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess.

Give more of what you want. Although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your abundance is to give. Don’t feel like you have enough time? Slip away from your obligations, even if just for an hour, to help someone in need. Don’t feel like you have enough money? Give to someone less fortunate. In other words, be a river, not a reservoir. Giving is sure to put you in a more abundant and appreciative frame of mind.

In the theme of Growing our Garden, scarcity is toxic soil. It is poison, nothing can grow.

Abundance: Belief in God’s providence leads us to generosity and abundance

Preservation: God upholds the creation;

Cooperation: God works with all created beings;

Government: God guides all things toward the ultimate divine purposes.

Invitation throughout scripture is to life! Abundant life.


Here is a postscript to the sermon:

Scarcity is irrational…and can take on a life of it’s own: Let’s look at the example of the Rice Crisis of 2008. To make sure there was plenty of cheap rice on hand, Indian officials made it illegal for most Indian rice to leave the country. In October 2007, they blocked exports of all non-Basmati rice. Even though there was plenty of rice available around the world because farmers in many places were harvesting record crops, the Indian ban on exports meant that there was less for other countries to buy. Immediately, the price of rice on world markets started to increase. Then came the next reaction. People started hoarding. says Peter Timmer, an emeritus professor of economics at Harvard who is one of the world’s leading experts on the rice trade. Even Timmer went to Trader Joe’s and picked up six boxes of rice. “I knew it was going to be really expensive in another couple of weeks,” he says.

Governments, in their own way, did exactly the same thing. Early in 2008, Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam all started limiting the amount of rice that they would export.

During the first four months of 2008, the price of a ton of rice on the world market went from $300 to $1,200. This was a real crisis for people in Asia and West Africa.

Timmer and Tom Slayton, who follows rice markets for a living from his home in Alexandria, Va. — hatched a plot to pop the rice bubble.

“Tom called me up and said, ‘Peter, there’s a million and a half tons of high-quality rice sitting in Japan,’ ” recalls Timmer.

These stockpiles of rice exist because the World Trade Organization has forced Japan to import it from the U.S. But Japan doesn’t want that rice, and most of it just sits in warehouses. Japan is not allowed to re-export it — unless the U.S. says it can.

Timmer and Slayton started a lobbying campaign, pushing a deal between the U.S. and Japan that would allow Japan to export that rice to the Philippines. In mid-May 2008, both sides agreed. And that announcement was enough; the price started to drop.

And remember: All of this was completely artificial. There still was plenty of rice in the world! Fear and self-interest was keeping it off the market. But a lot of damage remains, and so does some of the fear that produced the crisis in the first place.

(How Fear Drove World Rice Markets Insane