What are you saving for?

A new car? A trip? A ring? A video game? How about new furniture? Hardware? School? Or a home improvement project?

And how much self-discipline does it require to actually save and not touch the pot?

If you’re like most people, a lot.

Saving doesn’t come naturally. As a result, it’s typically taught, not naturally inherited (though I wish it was). Primarily because saving denies immediate gratification for longterm satisfaction. The very fact that you can’t afford something “now” further increases the sought item’s value, whether perceived or actual. Saving changes lifestyles, checks motives, and even shapes thought.

I recently unearthed my childhood piggy bank, hand crafted 30 years ago for me by potter Brad Cather in Connecticut. It’s an outstanding piece, full of character. I’ve always loved it, and quite amazed it’s still intact after all this time.

My kids found it especially amusing, and I decided it was a good gift to pass on.

For whatever reason – and I can’t imagine why – they’ve decided that they’re saving for an iPad.

That is, until recently.

On Monday I was sitting with the infamous Hopper Kids at the breakfast table where they were playing over cereal bowls with some wooden animal carvings I’d brought home from Africa over a decade ago. When they asked where they came from, Jenny and I not only began describing the people who made them – as well as some of my various adventures in “the bush” – but their living conditions.

Quite intrigued, I asked Eva particularly why she thought I visited Africa. She thought for a moment, then her eyes lit up. “Did you go to tell them about Jesus?”

“Yes, Eva, I did!” I replied. “I went to tell them about Jesus and play my music for them in worship.”

Then the words a parent dreams of.

She said, “Someday I want to go to Africa and tell people about Jesus and tell my friends about Him when I come home.”

Jenny went on to tell her about the needs of those living in many parts of Africa.

Eva got quiet for just a second (all she’s capable of, really), then looked up with a profound question that I’m still unraveling in my own mind:

“Which is a better idea, Dad: saving up our money to give to the people, or buying an iPad?”

Like any good Daddy, I asked her what she thought.

“I think giving it to the people.”

Feeling both proud and personally convicted, I went on to explain that if we take care of the things important to God’s heart, He’ll take care of the things important to ours (Matt. 6:33).

“What do you mean?” she asked.

Trying to think of a good example, I told her how many times the Holy Spirit tells us to give away the money we make while traveling. Knowing we could use those monies to pay bills and buy food for our family sometimes makes the giving “more challenging” than others. But I explained that – to His credit – Jesus has always made a way for us and provided when we were faithful to be obedient and give things away.

When we start reformatting the priorities of our lives to use our time, talent, and treasure to save people, we start attracting a new attribute of God’s resources: favor. Simply put, it is the measure of how we’re utilizing our present position of proximity and influence to serve others into a place of life. If done correctly, the result of good stewardship is more resources, to do more of the same (Luke 19:12-28).

Needless to say The Hopper Kids are no longer saving for an iPad. They’re saving to save people. And inspiring their parents to do the same. ch:



Steve Ciferri · 14 Sep ’11 at 7:42 am

Very nice Christopher. We as Americans are in the now and we want that now, give it to me now. But we need to think about the big picture. And that picture is much bigger than we know. it is very hard some time but “Not my desire (will) but yours be done”. We say use us Lord. Well it may be the money in our pocket for a new guitar or a new gadget we really want. God knows our hearts we need to know his!!
Love you man!!

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:19 am

    “We say use us Lord. Well it may be the money in our pocket for a new guitar or a new gadget we really want.”

    Man, this is such a true statement. Often I think that God wants to use me “as a conduit” for his love and think that’s spiritual, or emotional; but how often has the Lord been trying to get us to do very mundane, practical, financial things not realizing that’s just as spiritual. Thanks for commenting, Steve.

Megan J. · 14 Sep ’11 at 7:44 am

Wow! That’s one amazing story!! You’re kids are so great, and they have great parents. Your children are always thinking of others even though they are so young! It’s a very true story, and I personally need to work on saving, but I’ve also been finding myself recently giving to random people in small ways (even though I’m a college kid), and this is also the first semester I haven’t sat at school completely broke. I have more now than I did a year ago, when I wasn’t giving.

Sidenote: Look up Berry Blessed Ministry’s (It’s Aly’s best friend Elizabeth, and her husband Tim), they have a website and a facebook. Why am I telling you this? First they are great people, and to me remind me a lot of you and Jenny (Which is saying a lot). But mostely, they just left for Africa YESTERDAY! They will probably be posting updates and pictures, and if you explained and showed Eva, I bet she would love it!

Love you Christopher! God Bless you and your family!!

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:23 am

    “I have more now than I did a year ago, when I wasn’t giving.”

    This is so great! And what simple, practical proof that “it works.” Or rather, He works. God is faithful to His Word!

    Berry Blessed Ministries: Awesome! Great site, and they seem like amazing people. So these are Alyssa’s friends? WOW! And I LOVE the name! Cute play on words with their last name.

      Megan J. · 19 Sep ’11 at 8:03 am

      Yeppers. Alyssa’s best friend and her husband!

Megan J. · 14 Sep ’11 at 7:46 am

Sorry about all the typos. First,* mostly*

Stephen Byers · 14 Sep ’11 at 8:02 am

Another great read bro. You are amazing parents and have awesome kids. I had a thought while I was reading to go along with what you were writing. After Patty talked about her work with the shoe boxes my daughter Ashley was very touched. Her birthday was coming up and she knew that she would be getting money from family and friends. She has been saving for an expensive camera as she likes photography and that is what she wanted to put her birthday money towards. About half-way through Pattys sermon Ashley turned to me and said she wanted to give her birthday money for the shoe boxes. I was so proud of her but I can also tell you it did something to me. You can be sure this father is going to do whatever it takes to make sure she gets that camera. I think that is the heart of the Father when he sees us give and sacrifice our desires for others. It opens the hand of Gods blessing on us. Its the one investment account that never goes wrong. Thanks for the reminder.

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:27 am

    “You can be sure this father is going to do whatever it takes to make sure she gets that camera.”

    Man, you blew that up! What a profound and simple truth!

    So often I feel that we make the Father so “foreign” to how we’d react as parents. Granted, there are negative attributes we have that God would never have; I’m not talking about those. I mean the amazing pride He feels at looking at His kids; the self-sacrifice and long-suffering He constantly endures on our behalf; the way He shows off what we do to the angles and saints in glory. “Looky, there! That’s my daughter! That’s my son!” Of course you want to bless your daughter with that camera after seeing her heart respond to need! YES! That’s EXACTLY how the Father feels. May we identify with those emotions more in the days to come.

Costa · 14 Sep ’11 at 8:48 am

Wow! I’m challenged too. Even though I’m in debt I still have SOMTHING to give! If children half my age do, then I certainly do as well. Operation Christmas child is so great because it provides a way for those who think don’t have much, to make such huge difference on someone else’s life! Thanks for sharing Christopher

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:29 am

    You’re welcome, Costa. Indeed: OCC is a highly “valuable value” give. Seeing those children’s needs puts even our “debt” into perspective, eh?

Jennifer Hopper · 14 Sep ’11 at 9:04 am

Wonderful post Evangeline’s words made me cry… Again.
You’re the best daddy:)

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:30 am

    And you’re the best Mommy. These are the moments we live for.

Billy Jepma · 14 Sep ’11 at 9:43 am

That’s awesome. Love that story, you guys are so awesome. Miss you and the kids. Much love, 🙂

Beth Walrath · 14 Sep ’11 at 9:58 am

I remember growing up being in my dad’s office & listening to people complain about not having money. Yet, in the next breathe they would talk about the 2 snowmobiles they purchased the past year. It used to make me mad. They felt they deserved those things. We don’t deserve anything.
This post just reminded me that our money is ultimately God’s money. Let Him spend it. If God wants Eva to have a IPad He will get her one. Bless you & Jenny for being such wondeful parents. Love you guys.

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:32 am

    “…our money is ultimately God’s money.”

    Good word. I’ve had similar frustrations when counseling people, too. (And all at once convicted about the new gadget I bought…eeek!). I wonder how differently we would live as individuals and as a government if we saw the money in our accounts as God’s and not our own (or a tax payers)?

Glade · 14 Sep ’11 at 10:12 am

Stories like that help us to remember how we always have something to give. Even if it isn’t much, if we give all we have, it’s so valuable in God’s eyes! Like the lady with only two pennies in the Bible; she gave it all, not knowing where her next meal would be coming from. But God provides!! Praise the King!!

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:34 am

    That the Lord rewards reckless faith is truly awesome. To live in such a way that it forces heaven to back you is bold, brash, and exciting. But kids of the Kingdom get that their Daddy is all powerful. Amen!

Brian Corcoran · 14 Sep ’11 at 11:36 am

That is so so so totally “Awesome”!

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:34 am

    Thanks, Brian. Indeed it is! This father’s heart was bursting at the seems, and all the while convicted.

Steve Nelson · 14 Sep ’11 at 1:15 pm

How sweet and powerful a moment. Thank you for the blog and sharing a story that will convict many. God is at work in our hearts to free us from selfish care that holds back from miraculous blessings. Encouraged and blessed by this Hopper breakfast moment.

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:37 am

    “God is at work in our hearts to free us from selfish care…”

    The more I read “taking up your cross” (Mark 8:34-35), the more I’m convinced of my selfishness being put to death.

    Amazing how profound breakfasts can be.

Christian Fahey · 14 Sep ’11 at 7:00 pm

Marvelous! Their giving will pay richer dividends than any investment vehicle here on earth ever could. Praise God!

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Sep ’11 at 9:37 am

    In light of some of the things I know you’re reading, I love the “dividend” implications. Good word! AMEN!

Amber · 19 Oct ’11 at 10:29 pm

Wow, deep thought from “little the people!” It makes me realize how selfish we are as “big people”. The heart of the child doesn’t just think about its own desires but about caring for others. I’m sure I will think of where my money is being spent with the thoughts from Eva & Lui. We can buy a $4 dollar latte and not give the man on the street corner asking for money a dollar. Thanks for the thoughts Eva & Luik!

    Christopher Hopper · 20 Oct ’11 at 12:52 am

    I know, I know…they often convict me as an adult.

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