Archive for the ‘serve’ Category

Give God's AbundanceWhat is it to give? I mean, really? You can give money. You can give away stuff, and you can also give advice, love, affection, time, piece of your mind, your right arm, and what wouldn’t you give to have that last one back – whatever your last one might be. In giving, we are transferring something, whether it is tangible or abstract, from ourselves to either a person or a group. When giving, we should have no expectation of something being returned because that would be lending or selling, and yet, many times, people get their feelings hurt simply because they were expecting a “thank you.” We wanted the acknowledgement of our gracious behavior. But why did we give again? Was it for a “thank you?”

I would like you to consider this about giving: there are three parties in this equation – God, you, and the other person.

In John Chapter 1, verses 1 through 5: 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (NLT)

That means that when you give, what you are actually giving is God’s stuff; His love and abundance has already blessed you with money, things, love, intelligence, and all that you hold dear to your heart. If that is a computer, then through God creating everything, he gave you that computer. He didn’t hold back even though he knew you would spend Sunday mornings browsing social networks instead of being at church. God gave freely to you because he loves you. That’s part one.

So basically, God has blessed you. Now God asks you to give. Someone has asked you for money to eat. Whether he is your father, brother, best friend, spouse, or a stranger on the street, you should seize the moment and give it, freely, because God did so for you. Now, you gave something; you transferred God’s blessing to you on to someone else. It became your turn to bless someone. You fulfilled your part of God’s will. That is part two.

God has blessed you. You have blessed someone. The other person has accepted your gift. Now if the person receiving doesn’t use the gift as he said he would, that will be between him and God. Don’t let such foolish thoughts as judgment and condemnation of others get between what God is asking of you. God freely gave you his blessing. He didn’t judge or condemn you when you didn’t use his gift to its fullest potential or squandered it on something frivolous. God will deal with the consequences of the other person’s actions. That isn’t what he is asking of you. You did your part. This is about someone other than you, and this is part three.

God + you = someone else blessed

With that in mind, when you give, you can’t place rules upon your gifts because giving from God cannot be bound by what you want to do; it is only bound by what God has asked you to do. Search from within, and you will feel what is being asked, and yes, sometimes it will hurt, and it won’t be easy, but doing what God asks sometimes sucks.

I love my wife, and she knows the difficulty of giving what God asks. I’m so proud of her for listening to the spirit and doing what is most difficult for her. A few months ago her company instituted an incentive plan, and as a reward, she could earn extra money for her hard work; soon after learning of the program, she told me that God wanted her to give her first incentive to the His Father’s Heart Ministry at our church, and sure enough, she has earned it. We don’t know what she is getting, but she has already promised it. I love you babe.

But it doesn’t have to be gobs of money or require a lot of effort. Carry McDonalds’ gift cards with you so that when someone asks for money, you can give a $5 gift card. But remember; don’t place your restrictions or your hesitations upon the gift. If someone asks, give. You might be wondering what if they use it for alcohol or something else or they haven’t been wise so far with what they have been given. Think about this story.

Over the span of many years a man built a substantial business kingdom of money and properties, but when he got old he was alone and had no family to share his fortunes with, so he decided to share it with all the employees that had helped build his kingdom.

He called upon two of his oldest and most faithful employees. He explained that he wanted them to handle the affairs of providing for those under him. For their efforts they would be rewarded with all the riches they could imagine. The businessman only asked one thing of them — that they serve all those that asked for assistance.

The businessman then emailed all his employees and spread the word that if they needed anything, they were to go and ask the two he had commanded to help.

The first employee did as he was asked. When someone asked for money for food, he took him shopping. When people needed money to pay for rent, he went to the landlord and paid the bill. If someone needed money for a car repair, he took her to the mechanic and made sure the car was fixed.

The second employee thought it was unwise to give to those who have been foolish with their money, so when someone came asking for money for food, he told him, “I know you. You drink all your paycheck away, and now you wonder why you have no money for food. I will not help you if you cannot help yourself.” And if someone needed money for rent, he would say, “I know you; you buy lottery tickets hoping to strike it rich while your family might be put on the street. I will not help you if you cannot help yourself.”

After a year, the businessman called his two most faithful employees before him to evaluate how well they were helping all his employees. When he saw the records for the first employee, he was happy and delighted that the employee had given so much of his riches away and helped so many others. The businessman told the employee, “because you have served all that came before you, anything I have is yours.”

When the businessman examined the records of the second employee, he saw that the man had hardly helped anyone. “Why did you not do as I asked?”

The employee said, “I felt it was unwise to help those who didn’t try and help themselves, so I only gave to those that I felt deserved it. I wanted to make sure that your money was not spent foolishly.”

The businessman stood up and said to the man, “It was not your fortune to decide upon; it was mine, and I am angered by your lack of compassion and for the disregard of my only rule — which was to serve all those that asked. Not only will you not inherit any of my riches, but you are fired and must leave this company and never return.”

So it is with the kingdom of God. All that you now have is God’s that he has bestowed upon you, and one day it will all be reclaimed from you when you die. If you do not give of God’s kingdom, you will never share in its glory when he calls you back home.

I want to close this post with Mark, Chapter 12, verses 41 through 44: 41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.  43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (NLT)

Maybe I shouldn’t use that as an example of giving as I wrap this up, but come on, that is giving. Right? I’m not here today to write that you have to give all that you have. I’m here, writing this, because I want you to know that God just wants you to start giving something – anything, and once you’ve done that, then you will see what joy it brings to your heart. You will give because God gave to you and now you are transferring his grace, love, and abundance on to someone else. You won’t expect even a “thank you.”

I promise you, if you open your heart and listen for the spirit of God, he will tell you whom to give to, where to do it, and what you should give. Remember, we have a living God. He communicates with us. Go out and listen, and you will know his love, and you will be able to give his love as well. Live with the spirit of God within you now while you have something to give.

photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/

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A day for my Lord

What is Easter about? Do people even know? Do I know? Does anyone know? The years have come and gone for two-thousand of them – that’s eight-thousand seasons of cold nights, snow, hot, sticky mornings, blossoming flowers and dead dry leaves. The miracles get forgotten. The life he lived becomes lost in the drudgery of work and running errands. The sacrifices seem minimal now and for many not at all. We place God under the piles of to-do lists and hide him away until the stores stock candy and cards that eventual remind us that Easter is on its way. Then we dress in our church costumes of pressed slacks and Sunday dresses with polished shoes that shimmer as we all stand in line waiting to file into church for a ritual that means nothing to those clamoring for a seat.

Here is an Easter tale for you that will make you promise to do better, but God is too distant, and we fill our lives with TV and after-school activities and phones that hold hundreds of games. You will say that you will change. You will agree that this is what Easter should be about, but who are we kidding? When you click off this page, or even if you read these words, you will be on to something new, and God stills waits, and God still loves, and God still forgives, but if you don’t take the time to know him, what difference is it if he waited; if you don’t embrace his love, and reciprocate it, what difference does it make that he shows us his love, and if you hold the world’s hate and don’t forgive, what is his forgiveness?

But the tale must be told, and if one person does see the meaning of Easter, if one person opens a connection with God, if one person loves his neighbor or forgives those that hurt her, then the tale was worth it, and I’m glad I felt well enough to type it.

See, this story begins with me working too many hours and not spending time with my wife, or going to church, or leading my meetings on Wednesday or Thursday, or even calling my kids. I’m not a good man, but I know that God’s love will show me where he needs me to be, and on this Easter, it was leaving almost an hour early so that my wife and I could eat lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We left early because I had skipped breakfast so that I could have a big meal at the steakhouse, and plus, I wanted the time with my wife since I’ve worked all weekend.

But as we pulled into the parking lot, we passed a woman on her phone, standing beside her car. She wasn’t parked in a spot, but more along the curb, so after we parked I asked Monica is she thought that woman needed help, and sure enough, as we got towards the back of the truck, we could see she had a flat, and Monica asked her if she needed assistance.

She explained she did. She didn’t have a jack, but she had a small donut spare. She had tried calling people she knew, but no one had a jack. I immediately went and got out the truck’s jack and tools, but I could tell they wouldn’t fit under the car. These tools were made for lifting a pickup not a car that is just inches off the ground. So we stood there thinking, and we decided to first call a tow truck, but after it was determined it would take an hour to 90 minutes for them to get there we scraped that idea and decided to ask someone for a car jack. The restaurant was packed and so was the parking lot, so there were plenty of people.

Monica went in the restaurant and asked. No one had a jack. I stopped a family dressed in their Sunday clothes rushing back to their car, complaining that someone had parked too close to them. I stopped them and asked if they had a jack. They didn’t even stop getting into their car as he answered first, “not one that will work on your car,” still griping about that car too close, and the wife, said as she was shutting her door, “it only works on our car.” I can understand; they didn’t want to get their church clothes dirty getting it out of the trunk, and besides the woman’s car wasn’t a new car or even a clean car, and I was dressed in shorts and a Hulk t-shirt. Monica asked an elderly couple getting into their car, but they simply said they couldn’t help. Cars passed by, and people parked and walked on.

We solved the problem by going to Wally world and buying a jack. It worked. And after an hour of working on the tire we got it off and the spare put on, so she could drive to Tomball where she worked. That was at least 30 minutes away from where we were. We exchanged names, and Monica and I wished her well and a safe trip. So during all that one young guy on a bike stopped and asked if we needed help, but that was when we needed a jack.

We were out there for one hour and 30 minutes, and only one person even paused long enough to offer help. I got sunburned. I was so tired that we went in the restaurant, ordered our food, and then left. I was having a panic attack, and my vision was blurry from the low sugar levels since I hadn’t eaten a bite all day.

But I didn’t write this tale to speak of our deeds. God placed us there an hour early. God showed us the solutions. God soothed my arms as they were shaking from trying to jack that car up. But I didn’t write this for that. I am writing for the hundreds that passed by. For those celebrating Easter without knowing what it even means or what even Jesus wanted them to do! He didn’t say get dressed up and go to church. Jesus said love your neighbor. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR!! How hard it that?

This whole situation reminds of a country song, What I didn’t do by Steve Wariner.

I didn’t cheat,
I didn’t lie,
So her leaving took me by surprise.
Just a note on the table,
Saying we’re through.
At first I went crazy,
So it took me sometime.
But I finally read between the lines.
It’s not what I did,
It’s what I didn’t do.

I didn’t tell her,
Each day I loved her.
I took it for granted,
Somehow she knew.
I didn’t hold her,
When she needed a shoulder.
It’s not what I did,
It’s what I didn’t do.

You don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. You don’t murder or steal. You don’t lust at material things. No you keep all the commandments, but it’s what you didn’t do that which God said meant most of all. You didn’t love his flock, your neighbors, and if you can’t love them then you can’t love God. John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So here on Easter, when God has risen from the dead so that we might live, many walked right past him and denied him. That’s why I write this tale to warn of foolish deeds and missed opportunities. God lives among us – in each and every one of us. Love them, and you love God. Hug them, and you hug God. Change their tire, and you helped God get on his way.

I leave you with this… our Lord’s words. May God be with you as you read them.

Luke 10:25-37
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

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A Christian Prayer

take my eyes my Lord
and reveal those who need you.
take my heart my Lord
and fill it with your love and compassion.
take my hands my Lord
and build your kingdom.
take my arms my Lord
and embrace those who are lonely.
take my legs my Lord
and lead me to those who are broken.
take my mouth my Lord
and offer forgiveness to your sinners.
take my ears my Lord
and listen to all problems.
take my soul my Lord
and forgive me for my sins.
take all that I am my Lord
and share it with your world.

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Recently, I’ve helped, along with a core group of great people, start a ministry at our church. It has been difficult, for me, because I’m typically a shy person, and, yet, extremely rewarding as I witness God’s will fulfilled on a weekly basis. As a group of unique individuals, how do we, as volunteers, succeed in this endeavor when we each bring our own misconceptions, ideals, wants, needs, fears, and anxieties to the group? When you think about all that mishmash of emotions, you might begin to wonder how we can even come close to succeeding. But that would be true if we weren’t all bound by God’s love and guidance, and with his grace we will flourish and fulfill his will.

But that doesn’t just happen easily, and our lives, who we are, what we do, and how we cope, have a chance to interfere with the spirit of God and disrupt what he wants us to do, but, fortunately, there are ways to tackle our issues and bring them to light so that we can work on them. (more…)

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spirit in the wind

As each day passes, I wonder where God leads me. I certainly don’t have a clue. I follow because he is my Lord, and I know that obedience helps me to understand this crazy world. Whatever became of my past and whatever might transpire in my future, I must have faith and obey the spirit that stirs my soul.

I sit and watch as people pass by. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, and yet, we are connected by a God that loves us all — that essence that drives us to wake up each morning, to love that significant other, that damages the heart when we get hurt, and yet, so many struggle to ignore it; they push the spirit back into the inner closet of their ego, hoping that if they pretend it isn’t there, then it’s not there. But unfortunately, the emptiness left will remind them, poke, maybe yell, “fill me.” In the night while in bed, staring at the ceiling, they wonder why life doesn’t make sense, and when they finally drift to sleep, the spirit is set free, and they dream of happiness and love. (more…)

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