Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From Gratitude to Generosity

Generosity is not just about making people think we are good, nice and kind, it is about helping people see that God is good, compassionate and responsive to their cries.

Here are three thoughts from Sunday's message:

1. Generosity begins with a grateful heart. Take a moment and remind yourself of how others have been generous toward you. When is the last time you expressed thanks for such gifts? I am not a self-made man and we are not a self-made church. We each have been blessed by the tremendous generosity of others. If I am driving the Chevy S10 pickup truck of generosity, God is driving a Kenworth 18 wheeler.

2. Generosity is a statement of faith and trust. You never grow out of living by faith. As you continue to grow, God will continue to challenge you in more ways than you think. With faith comes trust, which work together like hand and glove. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

3. We are created to give, but tempted to keep. As we are created in God’s image, there is a sense of fulfillment when we are generous; however, the voices of fear and selfishness speak against it. We must combat these voices with trust in God and the Scriptures. Proverbs 11:24-25, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

When all is “said and done,” let there be more “done than said.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Observations of Generous People

I have been the recipient of overwhelming generosity throughout my life. Here is a list of some personal observations about generous people:
  1. Generous people are grateful people. They have an acute understanding that everything they have has been given to them by God.
  2. Generous people are not always wealthy people. Wealth has nothing to do with generosity. See npr story for an interesting article.
  3. Generous people don’t need special recognition for their generosity.
  4. Generous people are attractive in personality, and they inspire others to be generous.
  5. Generous people don’t spend time complaining about things they don’t like.
  6. Generous people have no regrets. There are no strings attached and they don’t keep score.
  7. Generous people don’t wait for “someday” to be generous. Instead of talking about making a difference, they respond quickly.
  8. Generous people end life well. Those who think they got a raw deal in life, end up with resentment; but those who live with gratitude end life with a deep sense of the amazing grace that surrounds them.
If you want to leave a legacy of generosity, start living that legacy now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Richard Foster writes, “We today yearn for prayer and hide from prayer. We are attracted to it and repelled by it. We believe prayer is something we should do, even something we want to do, but it seems like a chasm stands between us and actually praying. We experience the agony of prayerlessness.” (Prayer, 7).

I get it. 

Even as a pastor, I sometimes have to force myself to pray to God because I am too busy doing the work of God. Weird, right? Or maybe it's not really the business that keeps me from praying.

Foster further states that one of the primary reasons we don't pray is that we have a need to feel we have everything "just right" in order to pray. We want to say the right words and have lived righteously that week, thus deserving to be heard. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it puts us in control, and prayer, in and of itself, recognizes that someone other than ourselves is in control. This kind of thinking also piles on the guilt, which reduces even more our motivation to pray. 

The truth is that we will never have it all together, but that is the beauty of prayer. God invites us to have a conversation with him knowing exactly who we are - thought life and all. 

Humbling... yes!

Amazing... yes, yes, yes!

At some point we have to recognize that what really matters in the beginning of prayer is that we simply show up.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

My Four Girls

Yesterday, I watched as Stephanie received her diploma from Evangel University. She graduated summa cum laude, meaning "the highest praise." Not long ago, she was a child - I blinked - now she is an adult. She is now off to tour the West Coast with the Evangel Orchestra. To say I am proud of her is an understatement.
All my girls have made me proud. They each have completely different personalities and keep Esther and I moving - ok, mostly Esther. Yesterday, we could not decide where to eat so we drove around Springfield, MO for 45 minutes until we wound up at McAlisters, which makes some incredible iced tea (I wanted to stop and ride go-carts, but only Melanie wanted to participate). We ended the evening at Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy, which finally won out over Andy's. It was a day spent in laughter and silliness.
I am humbled to have four girls that love Jesus and have a healthy and biblical view of life. I am also glad that my girls love being pastors kids. Our prayers have always been that the ministry would not turn them away from church or their faith.
It's going to be a wonderful summer with all four girls home. We will be packing up our house in Maryland and moving to Virginia, so I am sure there will be several family meals, a few tears and certainly there will be many times of laughter.
Loving Dadhood,

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Psalm 46

As a pastor, I have used Psalm 46 quite often, especially at funerals and times of crises, but this passage took on new meaning for me in October of 2001 while going on a missions trip to El Salvador. I went with a team from our church to build two of the one hundred forty-four Assemblies of God churches that were completely destroyed in the earthquakes in January and February of the same year. What took the churches years to build was totally destroyed in a matter of seconds.

While we were there we saw what it means for the earth to give away. On one of our trips, we drove past a set of mountains that were once a single mountain. The mountain just split into two as the top of the mountain turned into a mud slide.

We also had the opportunity to bring relief to a refugee camp by bringing clothes and food. Thousands of precious people, who once had homes, were now living in tin shacks and dependent upon whoever would come and bring food and clothing. They were completely dependent on the generosity of others. When speaking to the pastors and missionaries living their, I was amazed and inspired by their courage and confidence. Although everything was lost, their faith remained strong. They understood that the only thing on this earth that we can really trust is God. Everything here may fail, but our God is our Strong Tower.

Sometimes the mountains in our lives seem to split open. The things we thought were safe are destroyed. You may feel like life as you know it is falling apart, but the God of Jacob is your fortress. He is the place you can run to for hope.

May the Holy Spirit remind you of God's presence today.