Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Four Stages of Generosity

We all want to be generous people, but generosity is not something that we acquire overnight. We are by nature self-centered, and so it is counter-intuitive for us to be generous. Below are four stages we can work through to develop generosity in our life.


1. Satisfaction.
"I don't need anything else in order to be happy and fulfilled."
Adam and Eve had everything they needed in the garden, but they wanted more. They wanted to be like God. Rather than be satisfied, they instead chose to covet. We can never be generous if we aren't first satisfied.

2. Contentment.
"Even if I lost everything, I could still be happy and fulfilled."
This is a big step up from satisfaction. Job experienced loss unlike most people could ever imagine. Yet he realized that his joy and his fulfillment didn't come from anything he owned or any relationship he had. They came from God. As long as Job was able to focus on God's character and promises, he was able to be content. All generous people must first be content.

3. Gracious Giving.
"I choose to give to people even when they don't deserve it."
People who give gifts so they can receive something in return are not generous. True giving means we give to someone who will not necessarily repay us and someone who may not deserve our good favor. Generosity is rooted in a desire to give to others, without receiving anything in return.

4. Sacrificial Giving.
"I choose to give to people even though it will cost me dearly."
Jesus is the perfect example of generosity. He gave his life for those who hated Him. Just before His death, he said, "Greater love has no one than that he lays down his life for his friends." This is ultimate generosity... giving your life away for the good of others, even if they don't deserve it.

Once you are ready to give your life away, you are ready to live a generous life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Before You Slumber. Take a Moment...

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Exhale the carbon dioxide in your body.

Inhale the pure oxygen your lungs are craving.

As you breathe out, let go.

As you breathe in, embrace.

Let go of the day’s pain and trouble and disappointment.

Embrace tomorrow’s joy and possibilities, and excitement.

Let go.

Embrace.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Sleep well.

Discovering the Joy Filled Life

Oh, the joys of those who do not

follow the advice of the wicked,

or stand around with sinners,

or join in with mockers. (Psalm 1:1 NLT)

Other translations begin this verse with "Blessed is the man..." I like the phrasing of the NLT, "Oh, the joys..." This is a good reminder that the blessed life is a life of joy. Blessings do not necessarily come in the shape of material or financial gain. Blessings are not always related to our circumstances. Blessings do not have to be us receiving something really wanted. However, the blessed life is always a life full of joy.

JOY IS NOT RELATED TO OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. (Here are some other thoughts on "joy")

Interestingly, in Psalm 1, the author first points to what does NOT bring the joy-filled life (He will use verse 2 to explain the source of the blessed life). Here is the conclusion. Joy is not found in the coalitions you create for your own benefit. I know it maybe doesn't exactly say this, but let me suggest that is exactly what it means. Consider this:

  • Since the garden of Eden, self-exaltation has been at the root of all evil.
  • The wicked, the sinners, and the mockers are all people who can be characterized first as those who are selfish.
  • These are people who create relationships for their own gain. Those who enter relationships with these people do so for their own gain, even if that "gain" is simply feeling more popular or better about oneself.
  • Relationships which center around my own desires and advancement will never bring me joy.
Take it from someone who has lived this experiment, and who has seen the devastation caused when relationships are leveraged for personal gain. The relationships you have will never completely fulfill you... ESPECIALLY, if they are relationships formed with the wicked, the sinners, and the mockers... aka the self-absorbed.

But...

Wait for verse 2, there the secret of a joyful life is revealed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Think I'll Write a Book Now.

So, I've been contemplating writing a book.

Actually, I've already written a few, but never published them. You can read them in draft form if you want.

Formations

The DNA of a Healthy Christian

Supermodel Jesus

But now, I'm going to try my hands at a real book. And if I have the time and endurance, it might even find its way to Amazon... But probably not. Life is usually more important.

Ae a faithful reader of this blog, you get to read the first few lines before anyone else. You are welcome:

Click.

"Son of a..." Owen stopped himself. Even though the words had already completed their course through his mind, they weren't appropriate to leave the mouth of a pastor.

"Just what I need", he thought to himself as he turned the key again.

Click.

He knew it wouldn't make a difference, but he turned the key once more and held it.

Click. Click. Click.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy!

I saw this little cartoon over at 22words. Frankly, it's brilliant. Marianne and I were just talking tonight about the dangers of "victim" thinking. No matter how much we might want to blame those around us for our troubles, the truth is that most of us... most of the time... are guilty of sabatoging our own lives.

How do we stop? The first step is to acknowledge and identify the things we do to ourselves that trip up our lives. Only then can we start taking positive steps to be PROACTIVE in life, rather than REACTIVE.

Screen capture from my IPad. Original source is unknown.
 

Have You Ever Heard Me Speak? Did You Not Hate It?

Have you heard me speak? If you don't hate listening to me, would you consider taking a minute to complete the survey below. I hope to use some of the answers as I put together my "introduction packet" I will send to churches/camps/organizations where I may have the opportunity to speak. (if you can add your name, if that's uncomfortable for you, that's okay also!) Thank you in advance!