The cat is out of the bag. Study after study in the last few decades have shown that people who live generous and giving lives have a much happier and fuller life. This is true – Christian or not - across the spectrum of generations and social realities and people groups and level of income. But we don’t need anyone to tell us this – do we? Deep down, we all – every single human being – both knows this and has experienced it. When we are generous and giving it fills us with joy, purpose, and meaning –doesn’t it? It is almost as if someone made us to live this way but we have forgotten how to do it or perhaps something is getting in the way.
When we left Denver to serve St. Matthew, one of the things we did was have a big garage sale. A little girl found a rather expensive educational toy that my daughter had loved, but her parents, seeing the $5 price tag, said “no.” So, I gave it to them. I will never forgot the joy in that little girl’s face but neither will I forgot the joy I had in giving it to her. It filled me up…so much so that I was giving things away all day!...And I still smile about it!
What stories can you tell? We all have them, little glimpses that remind us that we were created to live generously and in so doing to be filled up and complete in ourselves…Little glimpses that touch our hearts with the truth that living generous and giving lives is what we were made to do. When you think about it, this is exactly what the Bible says. It says we were created in the image of our Heavenly Father, who gives GENEROUSLY every day to all. And when we lost sight of who we were created to be, our generous Heavenly Father generously gave His own dear Son so that we could have and live life anew as His dear children, being filled with His joy and reflecting His generous heart in our lives.
In the next few weeks, this is our focus; the blessings of living the generous life we were created to live…and the real life money issues that get in the away. Don’t miss it!
Sunday, November 5th “Not Having Enough” (Fear vs. Identity)
Not having enough. Have you ever struggled with this dilemma? I mean, how can someone be generous when they don’t have enough themselves? It makes sense…but a rather unsettling statistic is that virtually no one thinks they have enough. That is, study after study finds that when people are asked if they have enough money, virtually everyone –no matter how much money they have – say they need just a little more. How about you?.. We tend to tie the blessing of living a generous life to having enough or maybe even having beyond enough…but maybe there is a different way of looking at things, a way that would empower us to live the blessing of a generous life even when we don’t think we have enough. This is our focus today.
Sunday November 12th Everybody Wants A Piece of Me (Worry vs. Grace)
Ok. What’s the first thing you think when the doorbell rings and you answer the door to find a salesperson in front of you? Are you open to listen to what they have to say?...or are you immediately guarded as if they are trying to part you from your hard earned money? We have learned from experience that wisdom says for us to be concerned – worried even – in that everyone seems to want to separate us from our money. But where is this wisdom -this frame of mind – taken too far in the sense that it is a roadblock keeping us from living in generosity in those places and opportunities that God gives us? That is, where is this mind set perhaps keeping us from living in the blessing of a generous life? Where does it make sense to see others through the eyes of grace instead? This is our focus today.
Sunday, November 19th "Giving 'til It Hurts??" (Limits vs. Thankfulness)
When I was in grade school, I remember reading the story of Roger Bannister, the first runner to run the mile under 4 minutes. It was a feat of both mental and emotional as well as physical proportions. Why? Because all of the “experts of the day” said it couldn’t be done, that the human body was simply incapable of running a mile under 4 minutes. But Roger busted through what now is seen as an “artificial limit” to a new place. How do we view the blessing of living a generous life? Do we immediately put limits on it? I mean everything in our lives and in our world has limits –right? This grace of giving, this living a generous life certainly must have limits as well –right? It’s what we talk about today. Come and see as we celebrate Thanksgiving together!
Sunday, November 26th "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" (Ego vs. Honor)
In the classic movie, “The Lord of the Rings” there is a scene where the evil Saruman asks an orc that he has just created the question, “Whom do you serve?”…to which the orc replies, “Saruman.” This is always the bottom line, isn’t it? Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” …to which Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” The key to living in the blessing of a generous life, finally, is about these two questions, the bottom line. Who do you say Jesus is?...And whom do you serve? This is what we focus on today.