You Weren’t Born This Way

We can be born black, white, rich, poor, southern and northern, but one thing we all have to learn is how to be generous.  One of the first words from a child’s mouth is “mine.”  Parents are often heard encouraging their kids, “Now, share that with your sister.”  Just getting older doesn’t mean we have this trait perfected.  Generosity is something that must be learned and practiced for it to be engrained in our lives.

Our culture plans for random acts of kindness and giving, but true generosity is more than random.  Truly generous people order their lives around generosity.  It’s interesting that Jesus said, “Happy” or “Happier” will be the result of generous living (Acts 20:35).

It’s truly not a matter of income either, because you’ve met wealthy people who aren’t generous and poorer folks who are.  The key is: it’s more about being than doing.  Doing implies an action, as in a one-time event, while being carries the idea of consistent behavior.  It’s who you are.  Being is about the heart.

So, if you want to be happier, live more free from worry over money, and then set your money free with generosity.  If you do, you’ll find you don’t care when pastor’s talk about money, when someone is asking for money outside the grocery, or a sympathetic ad comes on about a charity.  A generous person already has a plan for generosity and so they can say “no” to certain things, because they’ve already said “yes” to things that grip their heart.  We’ll talk more about that this weekend.

If you get a generosity plan, you will be happier, give more, save more and consume less.  I hope you’ll join me on this generosity journey and make the world a better place.

 

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The Power Of Presence

Posted in Perspective, Victorious Living, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on April 21, 2016

We’ve had several people from our church family in the hospitals recently.  In every case, each one is always so grateful when someone from church comes to visit. There’s something about the power of presence.

The last words recorded in Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ life are these, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Quite a promise if you ask me.  Yet, how many times do we feel alone, isolated, on our own? Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true.  I’ve felt lonely in a crowded room, felt hurt only because I misunderstood, felt unsure because it was a new experience. In these cases, my feelings were only a perception; the reality was something different.

What I’m saying is that you may feel tired, hurt, lonely, powerless, inadequate and needy – but the reality is that someone who created the universe is with you!  More than that, He’s promised to never leave you either – wow!

Why would an incredible God, as described in the Bible, want to hang out with me?  Here’s the answer: God is for me.  Hard to understand, but it’s true.  Paul says, “If God is FOR us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

None of this means that everything in my life will be great or turn out just like I want it to, but it does promise, I’ll never be alone and God is for me.  What more do you need? We have His presence with us always and the promise that it’s because He is for us.

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Time For Spring Cleaning

Posted in Attitude, Change, Perspective, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on April 14, 2016

Have you ever noticed how someone else’s sin seems so much worse than yours?  Let’s be honest, it’s much easier, and enjoyable, to look down on people who appear to be the “bad” people.  The problem is, God classifies all of us the same – bad people who need a good Savior.

Nowhere in the Bible does God reveal a sliding scale of sin.  To Him, all sin is equally bad, and all sinners are equally loveable.  In Luke 19:1-10 we find the story of a guy I sang about in Sunday School as a “wee little man.”  Yikes!  Can you even do that today without someone yelling, “intolerant!”  Maybe we should call this guy “vertically challenged?”

Anyway, he’s a hated, notorious, cheating chief tax collector that was seen as a traitor to his people.  But, when he climbs up in a tree to get a better view of Jesus, the Messiah actually invites Himself over to the guy’s house.  The religious people are appalled that Jesus would associate with this guy, but He does it anyway (all the mavericks love that!).

What happens is that this, perhaps, brief encounter with Jesus in his home, radically transforms the guy.  We see him say out loud that he is willing to repay anyone he’s ever cheated up to four times more – is that crazy?  Jesus doesn’t think so.  He thinks it’s simply evidence of a heart change and this man putting his trust in God over money.

So, today, even though it’s tempting to find some “notorious” sinner to gaze upon with judgment, let’s allow Jesus to come and clean up our house.  Your sin, my sin, and no one else’s sin is a problem for God.  And, so let’s show the same grace Jesus shows to us unto others and watch what powerful life change He still brings today.  No one is beyond the reach of grace!

 

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The Day Grace Ran

Posted in Evangelism, Love, Love for God, Salvation by PCraig on April 7, 2016

There are a lot of amazing things to see, experience and hear in life, for example: a newborn baby, the stars, and Niagara Falls, just to name a few.  But, for me, nothing fits the description of amazing more than the grace shown to others and me by God.

Grace defined by Webster is, unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God.  I heard it said as, God’s unmerited favor toward us.

Nowhere is this revealed more explicitly than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  Now, I grew up hearing about this story, but it’s only been in recent years that the power of the message pierced my heart like never before.  As you may know, the narrative is that the younger of two sons, takes his inheritance early and goes out and blows it on wild living.  He parties hard until the money runs out.  When it runs out, the friends run out too.

This isn’t the most incredible running is the story however.  Jesus goes on to say that the young man realizes what a fool he’s been and that life was so much better in the father’s house.  So, he comes up with a speech to say to his dad in the hopes that he can at least move back as a servant.

Now, here’s where it gets crazy and blows the minds of the listeners.  Jesus says, the dad is looking down the road as the son is coming home and actually runs out to meet him, so that he can tell him what an idiot he’s been – NO!  The purpose of the running is to get to his son as fast as he can and throw his arms around him, show his love, restore his place and celebrate his return.  If that’s a picture of our Heavenly Father’s reaction to us coming home to Him – wow!  That’s all I got, amazing, astonishing, overwhelming, beyond description.  That’s our God.

Why wouldn’t everyone love Him?  Why would anyone ever want to leave?  Who wouldn’t want the power of grace in their lives?

For those who have experienced this kind of grace that goes beyond comprehension, our job is now to invite others into the Father’s house.  It’s a place of return, restoration, and revel.  Not everyone knows and understands it, so like Jesus, let’s spread the true story of a Father’s love.

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