THIS is how we should live in true power if we are followers of Christ:Continue reading “The Kingdom like no other”
This weekend I was at our district’s Equip Conference. In one main session the speaker, Scotty Gibbons, invited a volunteer youth leader to the front. Scotty had been talking about encouragement and using Barnabas and Mark as the example.
At the end of the message Scotty randomly picked a youth volunteer to come up front and Scotty began to speak words of blessing into the young man’s life. Scotty then said he wanted to bless the volunteer for working so hard, having another outside job, and sacrificing so much. He gave the volunteer $100. Scotty then invited anyone else in the audience who wanted to bless the volunteer with any amount of cash to come up and do it. It was such an amazing response.
This video clip shows just a moment of that event. The line was long as people kept coming to hand the young man cash. it was overwhelming. It was overflowing generosity. It was a moment we just will not forget.
Every one of us have the opportunity to be a Barnabas in someone’s life. It doesn’t have to be cash. It can be a word of encouragement. We are ALL capable of speaking words of blessing.
Do it today!
The ability to live a generous life has nothing to do with an income level. Paul gives this testimony about the church in Macedonia:
While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. (2 Cor. 8:2)
When I was growing up I had no idea how “little” my parents really had because they were always so incredibly generous. If they came on someone who had a need, they would share out of what they had in their home. Over the years they housed and fed whole families. They were in the TV and appliance business and Dad was constantly giving away his services in repair and installation to people who needed it. They lived with incredible generosity.
I remember one delivery my dad made when I was in high school. A man had purchased a TV antenna. (They used to have those things, and they went on the outside of the house.) Dad had delivered it to him, but the man had said he would install it himself and save the installation charge.
We delivered the antenna and my dad started asking a few key questions to get an idea of how much this guy really knew so he would successfully install the antenna. I was a teenager and thinking only of getting out of there and back to the warm store, but I knew as Dad was asking this guy questions, the man had no clue as to what was needed to put up the antenna. I also knew what was next: Dad was going to come back to the truck, get his tools, and put the thing up for the guy… no charge.
He would hire guys to help him out at the store who just needed the work.
They would give of their resources and time to churches. Whole buildings went up with my dad’s skills. They have lived with incredible generosity. And they are not wealthy in any worldly sense of the word.
They are immensely rich spiritually. I am so immensely rich spiritually because of the heritage they have passed along to me.
I don’t need a huge income to live generously. I can take my meager skills and give them in places that may not “compensate” me in the way I could get in some other place. I want to give my best to people no matter their lot in life because I want to live generously.
It’s amazing what Paul says about adversity and generosity. It was hard times that drove the Macedonian church to generosity. This I can testify about my own church. In a current economic climate where churches are seriously challenged for resources, I have watched my congregation struggle through those same tough times and STILL give beyond what I can believe. We have taken up amazing offerings for people, supported MORE missionaries, and watched the hand of God take us through some deep valleys. There is a sense of joy and awe in the midst of the hard time.
I don’t have to believe my bank account to live generously. For that, I am so deeply thankful!
I know I just posted about the amazing generosity of my community, but the examples are so precious to me.
This morning I had my sons drop me off at the church so they could have the car for the rest of the week while I head off to a silent retreat. Later in the morning I decided to take a walk and headed over to a small breakfast and lunch diner several blocks from the church. As I sat down I said hello to a long time resident of the city I knew. He invited me to join him and his wife, then had another gentleman join us as well. The four of us sat and told stories and talked about the city and how good things are going.
As I got ready to leave I noticed the owner of the restaurant had given all the bills to my friend. I asked him if he would hand my bill over.
“No, this one’s on me.”
“Happy Thursday!” his wife chimed in.
I walked back to the church just blown away by amazing generosity. It doesn’t take a lot.
Too much of what I see in ministry these days is what I call “whale hunting.” We are out looking for those big givers. If we would just stay open and generous, we’d find that more often than not we have what we need right around us. It’s not in the huge gifts. But it can be found in meaningful gifts.
Be open. Look to bless others. Pick up the breakfast meal tab every once in awhile. Maybe even do it anonymously. My friend’s wife was telling me he liked to do it for soldiers. He will tell the waitress, “I’d like to buy that soldier’s meal, but please don’t tell him. Just bring me the check.”
Amazing generosity. I truly love this community where I have the privilege of pastoring.
This past Sunday was a great day of giving. In the morning before church we hit the annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast. The club that runs the breakfast raises several thousand dollars for projects for kids. It’s always a great opportunity for giving… and I get to eat!
In the afternoon after church I went over to a fundraiser for a local man who served in Afghanistan. He had suffered serious injuries after an IED explosion, including the loss of his right arm. A local business had put together a great event. It was so incredible to see thousands of people come through to support this young man. I was blown away by the generosity of a community as they honored a soldier who gave so much to protect our freedoms.
In the evening it was back to my church where they were raising money for our youth missions team to go to New York City. Generous people in our church had organized a coffee shop, silent auction, and concert. My youngest son Jared had put together the concert with several local bands and then invited friends through facebook. We were able to reach the final goal so our youth pastor and a couple of young ladies could go on this trip!
The generosity was overwhelming, but it really went over the top when two young high school ladies came up to me and asked, “Can we just make a donation?” (There was a $2 cover charge for the concert they had already paid.) I said, “Of course.” One then handed me a $20 bill and the other handed me a $10 bill. Just giving. They saw something worth doing and gave to it.
Generosity is so incredibly contagious. It was in at epidemic proportions on Sunday in my community.