Generous people are rarely mentally ill

Have you ever been so fired up about something that you didn’t exactly have a lot of tact when it came to communicating what you were fired up about?

My wife is a very laid back person. She is extremely talented so she doesn’t have to say a lot(unlike me).

It takes a lot for my wife to get fired up.

When my son was about eight years old he was riding his roller blades in our garage and drive-way and for some reason he decided to dart into the street in front of a car that was coming up the road.

The car almost hit him and then my wife almost hit him.

With great passion she yelled at him, “Don’t you ever go in the street again without looking or I will kill you before the car kills you!”

Neighbors started locking their doors!

There is a portion of scripture where the author James is fired up and is not concerned about the lack of tact in how he delivers this extremely important message.

“You rich people should cry and weep! Terrible things are going to happen to you.”

“Your treasures have already rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.”

“Your money has rusted, and the rust will be evidence against you, as it burns your body like fire.”

“Yet you keep on storing up wealth in these last days.”

“You refused to pay the people who worked in your fields, and now their unpaid wages are shouting out against you.”

“While here on earth, you have thought only of filling your own stomachs and having a good time, but now you are like fat cattle on their way to be butchered.”

C’mon James, tell us how you really feel?

James is pretty fired up because he is seeing rich people taking advantage of the poor.

He is seeing powerful people exploiting the powerless.

He is seeing excessive living that is keeping others from living at all.

The first century church took this very seriously.

They chose to live simply so that others could live.

The scriptures state about the early church that “…All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

The scriptures go on to say that, “There were no needy persons among them”

They ended poverty. Not the government. Not a NGO.
Not a few rich people. The church did!

The church ended poverty.

Could you imagine them saying that about the church  in the 21st century?

What a legacy we could leave.

I think it is a legacy we can leave. I am not the only one who thinks this.

Dr. Scott Todd writes in his book, FAST LIVING,

“22 countries have cut their malaria rate in half in only six years.”

“We used to say that 40 thousand children die each day from preventable causes. In the 1990’s, that number dropped to 33 thousand per day. By 2008, it dropped further to 24 thousand. Today, 21 thousand!”

“In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is 26 percent. We have already cut the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in half! And we did it in one generation.”

“And that is with only 9% of American Christians tithing. Do you see our potential?”

“If the 138 million American Christians who attend church at least twice per month were to tithe, it would result in two hundred and fifty billion dollars per year in philanthropy by simply obeying one of God’s biblical principles of generosity.”

The American church is the richest church in the history of the church so Jesus will definitely hold us accountable to the words, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

James words that lack tact are more relevant today and should lead us to urgent action!

My parents taught me the principal of the tithe when I got my first paper route when I was ten years old.

I delivered two hundred papers 3 days a week.

It was a lot of work for a ten year old.

I once crashed into the back of a parked pickup while I was looking sideways trying to throw the Orangevale News onto an elderly person’s porch. I was unhurt, but my pride was bruised and my front wheel bent.

After delivering papers for my first month and doing collections for a 35 cent a week paper, I received 40 dollars for one month’s work.

It was 1975 and I was ten years old.

You might as well have given me a thousand dollars.

I was so excited about the potential slurpies and baseball cards with bubble gum I could purchase at the local Seven-Eleven.

But before I could spend anything, my mom gently reminded me of the tithe and so I, not so much out of enthusiasm but more out of obedience, put 4 dollars into an envelope and saved it for the next Sunday’s offering.

Since then I have tithed my entire life. I am very thankful for my parents teaching and example.

It has brought me and my family much joy, peace and purpose to my life.

The root word of “miserable” is “miser”. Need I explain more?

Karl Menninger, the dean of American psychiatry, says “Giving is a criterion of mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill.”

I want to thank all of the generous people at my church who are helping end poverty in our own community and around the world.

I have always said that my church is not a rich church but a generous church.

These are my favorite verses about generosity:

“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” Proverbs 11:24 (Message)

“The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 (NKJV)

“God blesses everyone who is kind to the poor.” Proverbs 14:21 (CEV)

“Caring for the poor is lending to the LORD, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

“Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry.” Proverbs 28:27 (Message)

“Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless.” Proverbs 31:9 (CEV)

“Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:9 (NLT)

A Gratitude Poem – Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I am thankful for today, it’s a gift not deserved
It allows me the privilege to humbly serve
I am thankful for the poor who teach me real faith
They teach me how to walk, in more eloquent ways

I am thankful for the pain that I try hard to avoid
It draws me to the only One who can fill my heart void
I am thankful for my tears that sting my blood shot eyes
They bring healing to my hurt and expose the lies

I am thankful that man is not perfect, as not to depend
It reminds me to put my hope in the One without end
I am thankful for my mistakes, for my sins and disgrace
It keeps me from religion and makes me run towards Grace

I am thankful for the journey, life’s ups and downs
Living fully in the moment,  possibilities have no bounds
I am thankful for friends, who put up with my foolish ways
“He is a stubborn mule, but we love him anyways!”

I am thankful for the beauty, that never goes away
Looking at her smile, that is offered every day
I am thankful for her brown hair, brunette I’m told
It was that way from the beginning, it never gets old

I am thankful for two gifts, their eyes deep vivid blue
They have grown up wisely, I am enjoying the view
I am thankful for their passionate, selfless hearts
Their maturity comes from the side of their mother’s parts

I am thankful for the two who brought me into this world
They allowed me to dream, to make my life unfurled
I am thankful when they would say, “Follow your passions”
It has brought me to difficult places full of God’s fashion

I am thankful for my creator, who wonderfully made me
He makes me walk boldly with a sense of great responsibility
I am thankful for his patience, his utter sense of waiting
For me to grow up, get on board and become consenting

I am thankful for children, showing hope for tomorrow
They teach me to trust, play, love, laugh and marvel
I am thankful for children, who have no limitations
They teach me to dream, to ask, and not to question

I am thankful for forgiveness, a gift offered freely
Makes me let go of past grudges and do it more quickly
I am thankful for the Sacrifice willing to be punished
My life is based on Him saying, “It is Finished!”

6 Questions That I Would LOVE to hear your answers!

1. When it comes to fixing something that is broken in our world, what are you most passionate about?

2. Who have been the most influential people in your life and why?

3. When it comes to having hope, (10 being a lot of hope and 1 being no hope), how would you rate the future and why?

4. With over 300,000 churches in America (with 4000 closing their doors every year), what impact do you think the church is having in our culture when it comes to Jesus’ mission statement in Luke 4:18-19?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
   To proclaim liberty to the captives
   And recovery of sight to the blind,
   To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
   To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

5. What specific things could the American church do better to represent Luke 4:18-19?

6. With all the problems in America, does the American church have an obligation to address global poverty? If yes, why? If no, why?

I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Where there is no vision, people perish

They say that those who can’t, end up teaching
But I say those who won’t, end up critiquing
They say, stay close to those who are for you
I say, those that are for you are sadly few

They say, I’m all about team, but what’s in it for me
But I say, If you have to ask, then it’s more about identity
They say, I am all the way in, you can count on me
I say, in the end, it’s all about their security

They say, things I want to hear, with a face full of fun
But I say, behind closed doors, they wish I were gone
They say, we can do it on our own, we don’t need you
I say, be careful what you wish for, dreams do come true

Miracles don’t happen by dabbling, only by immersion
Miracles happen by many, not just one
Miracles happen by values, by the choices we choose
Miracles happen by vision, not taking others clues

Being popular is dangerous, a worn out treadmill
Consuming your mind, trying to get the lead bill
Fame is cotton candy, sweet at first, then quickly fleeting
It’s the drug of choice, in this celebrity media frenzy

Paul writes that the most important parts are hidden
So why does the man on stage get the recognition
Paul writes my weaknesses are ok because He is strong
So why does the man on stage sing a different song

They say, be sold out, be dedicated, but within reason
I say, I must be fully in, regardless of the season
They say, make sure you get out of the way, let others lead
I say, I don’t think I am done yet, my hurting heart still bleeds

They say, what about local, seems not enough people hired
I say, what about global, to whom much given is required
They say, I can’t afford to live, where is my Iphone 5
I say, they can’t afford to live, many die before age 5

They say, I have to simplify, I’ve lost the American dream
I say, our wants have lost the reality of our true needs
They say, once I get set then I will surely help others
I say, blessings come by first serving sisters and brothers

Spending so much time trying to look important
Dabbling has made the church benign and impotent
Jesus said, If you want to gain your life you must lose it
Not for the faint of heart, they are words of immersion

They say, give people rules, it’s the role of religion
I say, rules kill people, it leads to short term conviction
They say, but without rules, our world is undisciplined
I say, we have more rules, than history ever intended

They say, tell people to stop, tell them be strong enough
I say, I stopped drinking by myself, that’s called a dry drunk
They say, living a righteous life is what you don’t do
I say, righteousness means living justice outside the pew

They say, thy kingdom come, they will be done
They say, but you can’t be both democrat and republican
I say, God is bigger politics, He is bigger than religion
I say, it’s mad Grace and the work He has given

In the words of Mr. Chesterton:
Christianity has not been tried and found wanting
It has been difficult, untried, and daunting

In the words of Jesus of Nazareth:
If you want to gain your life, you must lose it
If you want to be greatest become a servant

If you invite someone to a banquet, invite those who can’t reimburse you…
Forgiving your enemy, feeding the hungry, redeeming rather than condemning is the life you are to pursue…

Our attitude is to be like Christ, it’s a life daily dying
It’s an attitude I’m not close to, if I said so I’d be lying
My titles, posturing and positions are taking a toll
My only peace comes from Grace filling this God-shaped hole

4 Guarantees That Cannot Be Taken Away

There are a lot of things that cannot be guaranteed.

Will I live a long, healthy life?
Will I make a lot of money?
Will my candidate be elected?
Will I find the love of my life?
Will I get that dream job?
Will I be labeled “successful” by my peers and family?

I can’t guarantee those things for you.
You can’t guarantee those things for you.
No one can guarantee those things for you.
God doesn’t guarantee those things for you.

There are 4 things God guarantees for us, everyday, if we embrace them.

They do not depend on the right circumstances, the right candidates or the right economy.

They are secure and cannot be taken away.

The first guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the GIFT of being uniquely created

Viktor E. Frankl wrote this while in a Nazi concentration camp, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”

Everyday you can wake up and know that God uniquely made you for something greater than yourself.

You cannot be replaced. You are deeply needed.

You have unique strengths and talents that God has planned from the beginning of time to be used to bring hope and healing to this broken world.

No circumstances can take this GIFT away from you.

Everyday you wake up and look in the mirror, remind yourself that you are one of a kind, and God wants to use your talents, passions and experiences to make this world a better place.

Everyday you can live with the GIFT, hope and confidence that you are not an accident and you were created for this moment and this time in history to do something great.

Do not play it small. Do not wonder why you are here.

You are here on purpose. You are one of a kind.

Embrace this gift!

The second guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the JOY of forgiveness

There is nothing more paralyzing than the regret, pain and grief of past mistakes and sins.

Our self esteem plummets as we live with the consequences of what our past transgressions have brought to us.

Depression, addictions and other destructive behaviors try to mask the pain of our past.

Yet…you are no different than anyone else in the room.

You are no better or worse than the people to your left or to your right.

You are not a better or worse sinner than the people in your neighborhood.

You do not have the “corner market” when it comes to irreversible sins.

God sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of the world, and you are not an exception to the rule.

God is bigger than your sin.

God’s love for you is greater than your regret.

When we come to God with our grief, he is there to replace it with his forgiveness and that is a JOY we can embrace and live with everyday and nothing can take that away.

Someone once said, “After grief for sin there should be joy for forgiveness.”

C.S. Lewis said, “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

Knowing we are forgiven by God is the biggest step towards mental health.

Forgiveness is the greatest need for the human race.

The third guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the OPPORTUNITIES of today

Bill Keane said something deeply profound when he wrote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

We are often so consumed by the regrets of the past or the worries of tomorrow that we miss the OPPORTUNITIES of today.

Scriptures remind us over and over that, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

They remind us to, “Remember how short our lives are so we should treasure and live each day wisely.”

They remind us that everyday, “God’s mercy, grace and power is offered to us, to do His will, to be His light.”

Everyday that we wake up and have breath is an opportunity to experience the abundant life God has offered to us.

Everyday is an opportunity to grow, learn, celebrate, laugh, cry, serve and love a world that desperately needs it.

“For God so loved the world…”, and it changed everything!

When we use every opportunity to “love the world…”, it changes everything, mostly ourselves.

Paulo Coelho, author of the powerful book “The Alchemist” wrote, “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

The fourth guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the PROMISE of tomorrow

We can live fearlessly everyday, embracing our uniqueness, celebrating our forgiveness and boldly loving in difficult places because of God’s promise of the future.

The Apostle Paul showed us that “No eye has seen, or mind can comprehend what God is preparing for those who love Him.”

He also reminds us that, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.”

The Apostle John saw that we can live with the security that one day, “There will be no more disease, sorrow, pain, tears, abuse or regret.”

Jesus taught us that as we celebrate our uniqueness, are born again by forgiveness and love the least of these, that we are investing our lives in things that will last forever.

As we live in a fragile, painful world that does not have a lot of guarantees, the scriptures teach us that as we grieve because of disease, war, abuse and broken promises, that we should grieve with a powerful hope that has been promised to us from the beginning of time, that in the words of Pablo Neruda, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Everyday we can offer our uniqueness, be freed from our sins, be energized by our daily purpose and can walk around with a silly grin, not because all things are well, but because…”it may be dark in the night, but joy comes in the morning!”

Each generation seems to boastfully declare they are the last one before God makes all things right.

I do not know the answer to that one.

When asked that question, Jesus said he didn’t know the answer either.

Because we do not know, our job is to know what is guaranteed in this life and to pass it on to the next generation.

That is our job. This is our opportunity.

Let’s make sure the children around us and children around the world know that there are 4 things that are guaranteed and cannot be taken away.

The GIFT of being uniquely made.
The JOY of forgiveness.
The OPPORTUNITIES of today.
The PROMISE of tomorrow.

Carl Sandburg once said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” I couldn’t agree more!