Generosity at Home

I have great excitement and anticipation as this holiday season approaches. It will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas with a baby in the house, and I am eager to share this time of year with my family. It is also the time of year when we pay a little more attention to the idea of generosity and generous living. But what does true generosity in a home look like? I’ll admit I am easily lured into the idea that generosity means money and things. Already I am thinking about what presents to buy for Oliver and how we can shower our love on him in that way. (I am well aware he isn’t even one and won’t remember!)

 

God calls us to generous living. And, if our homes, centered on Jesus, are the epicenters of an active faith life, then that generous living should begin in our homes. How then might we begin to live with great generosity in our homes? Is there a way for me to be abundantly generous with Oliver without buying out Toys R Us? How did Jesus model a generous lifestyle? Here are some of the things that I noticed as Jesus lived life with generosity:

 

·       Jesus was generous with his TIME.

·       Jesus showed GRACE abundantly.

·       Jesus allowed ACCESS to himself and his whole life.

·       Jesus left a LEGACY of faith.

 

As I reflect on those things, I am left to ask myself the following:

·       Am I generous with the time (undistracted, fully present time) that I give my family? Or, do I let material things take the place of the time I should be investing in them?

·       Am I quick to show grace to the others in my home?

·       Do I allow Oliver and Micah full access to myself, or do I let other things have more priority?

·       What legacy am I leaving Oliver? Am I generous with how I teach and equip him to follow Jesus? Am I pursuing a faith life that I want my son to replicate?

 

Recently, the Jaeger family shared a story with me about an experience where they were able to practice generosity with their oldest daughter, Renata:

I had heard about the Blessing Ceremony from you and the All Pro Dad website and thought it would be a great event to help Renata mark a transition in her life. She was very excited about her ‘Sweet 16’ and we decided to have a party with all of our extended family and a blessing. Renata has shown great maturity and responsibility so we wanted to honor and recognize her for that. After everyone had arrived, we thanked them all for coming, had Renata sit in the middle of the group, and told everyone what a blessing is (Baruch) and why we wanted to bless her publicly. We wanted to mark this day as her official transition from childhood into young adulthood. We told her, and everyone, that we recognize that she is growing up and is well equipped to be the person God wants her to be. We acknowledged and recognized all the great things that God is doing her and the abilities He has blessed her with. We wrote a letter to her which we read, and then presented her with a ring with an anchor on it as a symbol of the blessing and that God is our anchor. Hebrews 6:19 says ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ Then we all prayed together, ate, and had a great time! I think it was a great way to honor Renata for the person she is and is becoming, to state that we see her as an adult and proclaim this to our family, and to show her that God planned and chose her from the beginning.”

 

Jesus’ generosity was an investment in others and in the Kingdom. His wasn’t an investment in earthly things that are broken and destroyed, but instead it was generosity that allowed for the growth and blessing of His people and God’s Kingdom. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am eager to let Jesus guide my generosity.

 

How are you practicing generous living in your home? What creative ways are you finding to invest in those in your home and in God’s Kingdom? Share your stories with me in a comment below, or at epowers@livelifetogether.com.

 

Attitude of Gratitude

 

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise.

   Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good.

   His unfailing love continues forever,

   and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 -Psalm 100:4-5

 

Give thanks to him and praise his name!  I like the sound of that.  It is good to give thanks to God for all He has done for us, and the many ways that He provides for us and blesses us.  Especially as we prepare our hearts this holiday season, it is good to stop and reflect back on all we’ve been given, as well as to look forward to how we can share our gifts and the good news of Christ with others.    

It is good to stop and take time to name what we are thankful for.  To say it out loud or write it down.  Perhaps you have seen or even participated in the Facebook “Thankful Challenge,” when someone challenges you to write down three things you are thankful for every day for five days. Or maybe you have tried in the month of November to write down one thing you are thankful for each day.  These are good practices, not just at this time of year, but every day, to have a grateful heart and give thanks to our Father in heaven for the many gifts we receive.

 

As I read this passage from Psalm 100, it reminded me of lifeGroup. Especially the verse, “his faithfulness continues to each generation.”  We have seen several generations of lifeGroups since we began with just one.  And God has been faithful.  I am thankful for people who have agreed to meet weekly.  I am thankful for people who have said, “Yes, I will open up my home and share my life with others.”  “Yes, I am willing to discuss my questions and doubts and concerns with others.”  “Yes, I will ask others to help hold me accountable to follow through on what I say I want to do.”  I am thankful for people who invite those who are new to our church to join them in lifeGroup.  I am thankful for people who are willing to invite their neighbors to join them in discovering how to follow Jesus.  I am thankful for people who are willing to have difficult conversations and work through conflict when it arises.  I am thankful for families that are willing to bring their children to lifeGroup because they know the value of having other trusted adults invest in their lives.  I am thankful for a place to come to where I receive grace when I try and fail.  I am thankful for a group of people who help me be prepared to engage in relationships with friends who are far from God.  I am thankful that we have the privilege of living life together and the freedom to share the Good News with those in our circle of influence.

 

What are you thankful for?  Have you told God lately?  Have you written it down?  Try sending a note of thanks to someone, or writing out a thank you prayer to your Heavenly Father.  And would you tell me in a comment below how you’re choosing to respond?

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His love endures forever!  

 

Monona Giving Project

Hello (the) Church Family!

 

This summer the Church in East Madison was presented with an opportunity to share blessings in the Monona school district, through the Monona Giving Project. There is a fund that is used to help school district families in need, with needs ranging from getting a car fixed to help with bills or school supplies. There is a limit to what can be distributed to a family from the fund, and there is already a person in charge of that part. What they needed was someone to take ownership of really increasing awareness and raising money for the fund.

 

Since that’s one of our neighborhoods on the East side, and we’re connected to schools in general, we decided to take it on. What we’ve found is that many people are willing to help and chip in when it comes to their neighbors and their community. As much as I have a hard time with asking for money, when you tell people about a need in their community and something you are doing to help, an invitation to join and get involved comes pretty naturally.

 

Already the fund has grown to more than 4 times its size from last year, but it has a long way to go.  What a blessing it would be if that fund had money left over at the end of the year because all of the needs had been met.

 

Even though this fund is set up such that we would not personally be in contact with those it helps, we’ve already developed relationships with the person in charge of the program, many other people in the schools and neighborhoods, and other churches.  We’re excited to see what God will do with this opportunity, and how He will open more doors for us to engage with and be part of lives in Monona and our neighborhoods.

 

We are blessed to be on this journey together with all of you brothers and sisters. Thank you for your prayers, and know that we are praying for you as well.

 

It would also be a great encouragement to us East-siders to hear your ideas or experiences: how have you used (or how would you like to use) your energy and creativity for kingdom investment?  

 

All I Want for Christmas...

As we dive into our 1more giver series, and begin to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, I want to ask: Can you imagine this?

Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:3-4

This promised reality has been made possible by the gracious investment of God sending His Son, Jesus, to the world. Christmas shows us God’s heart for every single person. He desires that every person would flourish. Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a * rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).

* Spiritual Capital - God dwelling among His people, and His people knowing Him completely and cooperating with Him fully.

 

Relational Capital - no more war or conflict between people; instead, perfect relational harmony and peace.

Physical Capital - no more death or sickness; instad perfect health for our bodies and environment.

Intellectual Capital - creativity and ideas abound.

Financial Capital - no more poverty or lack of any kind, but abundance of everything needed for a full life.

OIKONOMICS: How to Invest in Life’s Five Capitals the Way Jesus Did” pg. 98

 

Have you ever really stopped to consider Jesus’ investment? Can following Jesus give

us the rich and satisfying life today, before Heaven? Yes! The key is understanding that giving in the Kingdom of God is less about sacrifice and more about investment.

 

To solidify this learning during the holiday season, will you join me in a little experiment?

 

Here it is: Spend some thought time each week between now and Christmas, (alone, with others, perhaps with your family) and jot down some specific answers to the questions below.

 

Week 1: Spiritual Capital

What specific actions will I take this season to invest energy in following Jesus?

 

Week 2: Relational Capital

What specific actions will I take this season to invest energy in growing relationships

with family and friends?

 

Week 3: Intellectual Capital

What specific actions will I take this season to invest in ongoing learning, in creativity,

and in thinking deeply about things that really matter?

 

Week 4: Physical Capital

What specific actions will I take this season to stay or get healthy so that I can live and

love well?

 

Week 5: Financial Capital

What specific actions will I take this season to invest my finances so that the Kingdom

pursuits that I care about have the funding they need to be effective?

 

You are a giver. Invest your 5 capitals freely.

 

And, with an investors temperament, invest in your Kingdom Portfolio. Enjoy the

abundance! Our shared mission depends on it!

 

The Gift of Giving

What is a good investment today?

Over the last few years we have watched companies, banks and small business struggle and fail. We all have a friend or neighbor who has sold their home, downsized or moved away in hopes for greener grass somewhere else. The financial world is a mess and the risk is high in an unstable world economy.

Galatians  6:7-9 says, “You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

 

Investing in the lives of people with our time, talent and treasure for the glory of Christ is always a good investment. Numerous passages of Scripture challenge believers to serve. God has invested in each of us, distributing gifts by the Holy Spirit, equipping us to invest in others.

 

I admit there have been times when I’ve felt the nudge to act but let insecurity get in the way. We convince ourselves that we’re not qualified, that someone better equipped will come along to serve, someone with more money will give, or that we are just too busy to get involved. The inadequate feeling you might have when an “assignment” comes along – take comfort in it. That’s God telling you He wants you to step out and trust Him to show up. He’s not asking us to be perfect, a willing heart is enough. God will do the rest. Believe it or not, He’s called us all to much bigger things than what we feel capable of doing. That’s what makes comfort zones so boring and God’s work so awesome.

 

To minister effectively we must embrace a servant philosophy. The Bible says, "Consider others as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). This is such a vast contrast to our consumer, financial driven society where the rich and famous are lifted up and the poor and humble go unnoticed. Each person, each soul, is so valuable to God. Much greater than our personal desires and dreams. The world will not remember us for how much we accumulated, we will only be remembered for the lives we touched both here on earth and in heaven.

 

Allow the hand of God to slow you down, open your eyes, and touch your heart that you might serve like Christ. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” Galatians 6:9

 

 

 

Talent

Know that you have everything you need to serve others. Do your best and trust that God has the rest.

 

Time

If you’re not seeing opportunities to serve, you’re too busy. Set aside some time in your schedule and pray that God opens your eyes to see the opportunities all around you. It doesn’t need to be something magnificent, in fact, it rarely ever is.

 

Treasure

In America we've become consumed with material goods. Do you realize that if you make $40,000 a year you are in the top 3% richest people in the world? It is not wrong to enjoy the blessings we've been given. However, God commands us to return a portion of what He's given to His kingdom work.

 

Find out where your salary ranks: http://www.globalrichlist.com.