Afraid Not…

There’s a feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. It happens when you step up to the plate when you play baseball. It happens when you step on a stage to say your lines. It happens when someone surprises you and jumps out at you from behind a door. That feeling you get – we call that fear. But what if it’s really something more?

When you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach something happens in you that’s really amazing. When you get that feeling you can run a little faster. You can jump a little higher. You can be a little more clever than you normally are. All because of that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. It’s almost like that feeling is your superpower. With that feeling, it’s like you become something more than you are on your own.

We call it fear, but fear doesn’t have to make you cowardly or cruel. Fear can make you kind. Without fear, we can’t be courageous. Fear can push you to accomplish something you never imagined you could do on your own. And there’s a reason for it.

What we call fear God calls something else.

II Timothy 1:7 says, “God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”

What if that feeling in the pit of your stomach isn’t simply fear? What if that’s what it feels like when God gives you power, love and sound mind?

Sound mind – that’s knowing what to do.
Power – that’s the strength to do it.
Love – that’s caring enough to be afraid, but to choose the right thing anyway. We call that bravery or courage.

That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is God reminding you, “I am with you. I am for you. And I am giving you the power, love and sound mind you need to be brave enough to do this.” Trusting Him is the key to bravery.

Sometime soon you’ll feel it again. You’ll be at work or school or with friends. You’ll have an opportunity to do the right thing, to speak up for someone who can’t speak for themselves, or to share the gospel with a friend. You’ll have a choice to make. As soon as it happens you’ll feel it again, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and you’ll have a choice.

Will I be paralyzed by fear or will I trust God?

This is your moment to be brave. This is what power, love and sound mind feels like. This is what it feels like for God to give you the words to say, the strength to say them and the courage to care about your friend enough to speak the truth in love.

What you call fear I call the power of God in me to make me more than I am on my own.

Do You Follow?

Jesus was so secure with who He was that He had no anxiety being around the dysfunction of others. He was never concerned that being around “those people” would somehow rub off on Him.

He would comfortably interact with rich & poor, sinners & self-righteous. His comfort would extend beyond Himself to make those trapped in their own dysfunction believe they could follow Him and find something more.

They followed Him.

Following led to belief. Belief led to obedience. Today, no matter what you believe or how you behave, regardless of doubts, denial or dysfunction…

Follow Him.

Don’t Miss this Date

I’m not too far from the day my kids start dating. It makes me wonder how to pray for them and those they will date.

For my daughter – I don’t want her to date a boy. I want her to date a young man. Someone with the courage to look her father in the eye and say, “I intend to date your daughter.” Someone who understands her heart is in my heart and firmly held in the grace of God. Someone, with the strength of godly character, daring an attempt to win her heart from mine, and bold enough to ask God to allow him to become an instrument of His grace in her life.

For my sons – I don’t want them to date a girl. I want them to date a young woman. I pray my boys would become the kind of men I just described. I hope they are attracted to strong, wise, godly women, beautiful from the inside-out, who challenge and encourage them to become mighty men of valor.

For them all – I pray they would recognize the truth and power of Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.” A date, a spouse, these are not what complete you. They are an earthly reflection of the grace and love of God in our lives. As my children begin dating I hope they understand the remarkable opportunity they have to be an extension of that grace to someone else.

For those who will one day enter my home with a desire to date my kids, know this – I look forward to meeting you. I’m praying for you now, that the presence of God in your life today would be overwhelming and prepare you for that moment when you become the reflection and receiver of the grace of God with my kids.

Riots, Revolution and Resolution

The world tuned in last night to watch the sadness and outrage as a community was torn apart by the choices of a few. Regardless of what you believe about this situation, it’s difficult to see how burning down a pizza place or pharmacy brings justice or builds a strong, vibrant and thriving community.

As I watched I was reminded of something. There’s a difference between a riot and a revolution and the difference is profound.

A revolution can come in a variety of forms, from the peaceful transition of power we call an election, or the protests of the Civil Rights Movement embodied in men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the more confrontational diplomacy of the American Revolution. All these revolutions have something in common.

They have a unity of purpose defined by a clear goal. They have leaders that inspire and empower people to accomplish that goal with strategic vision and tactical precision. Those involved in the revolution have a commitment to the goal that was best expressed by our Founders. They are willing to give their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in pursuit of the fulfillment of that goal.

A riot is isn’t like that. A riot isn’t about people coming together to bring a clear goal to life. It’s a bunch of individuals focused on themselves. It’s a bunch of individuals expressing their frustration through destruction. It’s a bunch of individuals with no real interest in coming together to solve a problem, but to express their hopeless belief that this problem has no solution. Riots don’t have goals or leaders. No one would consider committing their lives, fortunes or sacred honor for the success of a riot.

There is no honor in rioting, only survival.

This is why a revolution produces names worthy to be remembered, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington, Paul Revere. Riots only produce countless victims who suffer at the hands of anonymous criminals. The names remembered for riots aren’t the looters, but the looted, not the violent, but the victim.

To be sure, there is a better way. The most significant and difficult thing you will ever do is learn to have a healthy relationship with someone else. No where is this more true than in the challenges of building this great experiment, this great melting pot, we call America.

Riots don’t solve problems. They create more.

The quote is from a dubious source, but Mao Tse Tung in his Little Red Book once said, “What is needed is a permanent revolution.” It’s true. We need the kind of revolution that only comes with a change of heart. We need God to grant us the gift of repentance when we’re wrong and the capacity for forgiveness when we’ve been wronged. We need individuals who will lead with clear vision as we all pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the worthy and difficult goal of using who we are what we have for the benefit of others.

That is the significant and difficult work that will make our communities strong.

That’s a revolution worth having.

Senate Chaplain of the Week

It was a privilege to serve as Chaplain of the Week for the Oklahoma State Senate. Thanks to Senator Rick Brinkley for the invitation and your incredible hospitality. I’m proud to call you my Senator, more than that, my friend.

Everyday these men and women within our government, both elected and non-elected, are faced with choices that affect the lives of everyone in our state. Because their work is public and ‘for the people’ it’s the kind of job many mistakenly think they could do. Every decision they make, both public and private, is open for discussion. Daily they are challenged by people who may not have all the facts, but who are convinced they do have all the answers. Right or wrong, selfish or selfless, people are never shy about sharing their opinion.

They struggle to balance family, friends, and the work they do in order to serve the people of our state. They are people – just like you and me – making the best decisions they can based on who they are and the information available at the time.

I hope you will continue to pray with me for them. The Bible teaches that the hearts of our leaders are in the hands of God. Let’s ask God to move on their behalf. When these leaders are weak He can give strength. When they are right He can empower them with words that convict and convince and shape a healthy debate that leads to a remarkable, God-inspired, future. When they are wrong He can correct and move them to where they should be. Interestingly enough, God does the same thing for you and me.

When I think about Jesus and what he might think about politics I’m always reminded that Jesus didn’t come to win arguments. He came to win you. Once he has your heart the politics have a way of working themselves out for our good and his glory.

As we debate and argue about the issues of the day let’s fight for one another instead of with one another. Stop trying to win the argument and start trying to win the heart.

This week I used the words of Paul from Philippians 1:9-11 to guide my prayers for our Senators and their staff – would you pray this with me for them?

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense, till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory of God.”

This was a remarkable experience. I’m honored to have the privilege to serve.

A Comfortable Scandal

The world loves a good scandal. There’s something about hearing the latest gossip that causes our mouths to water, our ears to tingle, and our hearts to skip a beat. The up-and-coming politician said something he shouldn’t have. A coworker got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Charlie Sheen was seen in public – sober!

Scandalous news travels fast.

Jesus was fond of saying scandalous things. I think that was one practical reason for his popularity. Certainly people were encouraged by his teaching. The Bible says he taught with authority and that people enjoyed listening to him speak. But He was also prone to point fingers at the religious leaders of the day and say outrageous things about how you should conduct business, build a marriage or live your life. The disciples found this challenging. I think there were times the crowd found it amusing. But the further into Jesus’ ministry we go the more people began to realize that some of the the scandalous things He said were either directed at them or more difficult than they were willing to accept.

John 6 is a perfect example of this. A crowd has gathered. Jesus has miraculously fed them, now he’s teaching them once again. He’s talking about the Kingdom and eternal life. So far, so good. Everybody wants in the kingdom. We all want the happily-ever-after of eternal life. But then Jesus says something scandalous.

“Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” – John 6:63

Eat my flesh. Drink my blood…Ewe.

Let’s be honest – from this side of the cross most Believers understand this verse. He’s talking about the sacrifice he’ll make in order to secure our salvation. He’s leading into the bread and wine, the symbols of the Lord’s Supper. Nothing scandalous here. But read the passage. Imagine yourself sitting in the crowd listening to the message. There’s nothing there to indicate he’s speaking figuratively. No where does he suggest, “By the way, I’m talking about symbols here.” Instead he paints a picture that really is a bloody mess. How would you respond?

John 6:66 is one of many sad verses of the Bible. It tells us the crowd’s response, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more.” 

I think the same thing happens to you and me. It’s the comfortable scandal Believers struggle with all the time. We come across a passage of Scripture or hear someone preach the Word. God clearly speaks, “Do this,” or, “Don’t do that.” And we respond exactly the way the crowd did, (John 6:60) “This is a hard saying who can understand it.” And we turn back from following Him.

It makes sense that we would. Eat my flesh, drink my blood – that’s just crazy talk. Surely he didn’t mean it. But he did. And he means it when He tells us that marriage is sacred, faithfulness to our spouse significant. He wasn’t kidding when He told us to love our enemies or forgive those who hurt us. That part about sharing the gospel wherever we go – He really really expects us to do it. That’s our comfortable scandal. Some people have learned to sit comfortably in a worship service, hear the Word boldly taught, then casually dismiss the conviction they feel to follow Him wherever He may lead. It begs a question.

How far are you willing to go? What are the limits of your faith?

Let’s stop here for now and give those questions time to soak.

There are four things that distract us from faithfully following God. Four things that limit the depths of your faith. We’ll take a look at those next time. We’ll also see Peter’s amazing response and discover how his response can become yours.

Pray through this now – how far are you willing to go to faithfully follow God? What are the limits of your faith? What comfortable scandal are you living in today?


Part 2 – TEMPTATION – Read More >>

Bold Statements

I like bold statements. I like swagger. I like the confidence that comes from knowing you’re right and believing you have the skill and resources necessary to win the day. When I watch football there’s something about seeing my favorite running back push through a pile of thousand pound giants into the end zone to score a touchdown that makes me want to jump up and spike my TV remote!

There’s something special about bold statements and the will to achieve them. I serve at First Baptist Church Owasso. We’ve made some bold statements.

  • We will not be the church that prays small prayers. We will ask God to do the impossible and recognize that if God doesn’t come through, all is lost.
  • We will be the church that goes out of its way to reach people with the love of Jesus. We will go places we’ve never been before and do things we’ve never done before in order to share the gospel with people we’ve not yet met.
  • We will be a generous church. We will give more than we think we can afford and trust God to provide. We will recognize that we are tremendously blessed and that because we have been given much we can give much. We will not shy away from trying to meet the needs of as many people as God entrusts to us. We will be the church that serves people and serves other churches.
  • We will be the church that beats the odds. We will value our relationships more than our own rights or opinions. We will be quick to repent and quick to forgive. Like John 13:35, the world will know we are His disciples because of our love.
Those are some bold statements. Before the ‘we’ is the ‘I’ – before ‘we’ are the church that becomes these things ‘I’ must be the one to do these things.
  • Our church will see answers to impossible prayers when I begin to call on God for impossible things.
  • Our church will connect people with the gospel when I connect with people and love them like Jesus does.
  • Our church will be a generous church when I give generously to the church and to others.
  • Our church will beat the marriage and relationship odds when I value my relationships more than my own rights or opinions.
Bold statements + bold actions = the epic stories we love to hear.

The Parent Trap

Recently I’ve been plagued by a question. It has to do with my kids. I have four children. My daughter is my oldest. She’s nine. The rest are boys; six, four and nearly two. They are great kids. I love being a dad. With each passing moment I’m reminded of the fact that we are drawing closer and closer to the teenage years, that lovely time of life when boundaries are tested, strings are slowly cut and children cross the threshold from being kids to being adults. I’ve seen first hand how difficult raising teenagers can be and not too long from now I will experience this beautiful mess for myself.

Some people approach this time of life like Mark Twain. He said, “When a child turns twelve you should stuff them in a barrel, seal the lid and feed them through a knot hole. When they turn 16 you should plug the hole.”

See here’s the challenge – and it leads in to my question – I’ve seen horrible parents raise incredible children and I’ve seen incredible parents raise children who relentlessly reject everything about their own heritage. So I have to ask…

Is the quality of my parenting measured by the character of my kids?

It seems like the obvious answer would be ‘yes, of course’. You always judge a business by the product they produce, so if family is your business then your children are the best barometer or your skill as a parent. Unfortunately, experience doesn’t demonstrate this to be true. Kids who grow up with great privilege make wrong choices. Others who grow up with every odd stacked against them become exceptionally successful. Our children are not a product. They are people. Therefore, our success or failure as a parent can’t be solely determined by the content of their character. Their must be something more.

So I look to Scripture. Like many things, it seems we’ve gotten our measurement of success backwards. Today we judge parents by their kids. In Scriptural times kids were judged by their parents. Consider Solomon. The Bible identifies Solomon as the wisest king Israel would ever know. During his reign the nation was unified and experienced almost universal peace. Silver was so abundant during the reign of Solomon that they stopped counting how much of it they had! Can you imagine being such a successful leader? The Bible tells us that political leaders all over the world sought out Solomon’s wisdom on everything from economics to agriculture, from political prowess to social justice. To suggest that Solomon was successful is a massive understatement. Yet when Solomon sits down to write his book of Proverbs (wise sayings), how does he start? Does he give his resume? Does he tell of all his great works? Does he mention the fact that his kingdom is greater and more successful than his father’s before him? No. As he begins his magnum opus on all things wise Solomon states simply, “The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David…” Solomon was king, the most successful king Israel would ever know, yet in his time of greatest triumph he wasn’t identified by his works. He was identified by his father.

Scripture does this a lot. The history of the Israelites after Solomon is not nearly so joyous. The kingdom splits and one king after another rises to take the throne and attempt to lead both Israel & Judah. Do you know how each king is evaluated? Either they walked in the ways of their father David or they didn’t. From one generation to the next everything was measured by the example of their father David. But there’s more here than that – it’s difficult to illustrate the number of times God looked to the leaders of Israel and said, “I will bless you…because of my servant David.” By this time, David was long gone, yet his influence remained. WHY? Because he was a great parent? NO. Because he was a godly man. The Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart.

And that’s the answer to the question.

We can’t judge the quality of our parenting by the character of our kids – it’s not an accurate measurement. Kids are not products to be produced, they are people to be led – to be influenced. If the quality of our parenting is measured by the character of our kids then God must be the worst father ever. And we know this simply is not true.

Listen to this – God wants to free you from the pressure that as a parent you are not enough. It’s true. He wants you to understand something. As a parent, YOU WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. You can’t attend enough games or watch enough recitals. You can’t discipline enough. You can’t be gracious enough.  You can’t write enough checks to guarantee your child a successful, happy, holy life. As a parent, you will never be enough. So stop trying.

Stop trying to be a great parent. Stop trying to meet every need. Stop trying to give every gift. Stop trying to enforce enough rules. Stop trying to be cool enough, relevant enough or hip enough. You will never be enough. You simply CANNOT be God for your children.

When my daughter was first born she had some respiratory problems and spent 7 days in ICU. Once she got home we had to give her IV antibiotics through a pique line in her head. There was one evening I was holding her and considering the future I had planned for her when I was struck by this one thought – As her father I want to protect and provide for her, but there are so many things I simply will never be able to do for her. I will never be able to protect her from a broken heart. I will never be able to save her from the lies of cruel people. I won’t be able to keep her from making foolish choices. I can’t do these things for her, but I know the God who can. So I resigned myself to this one thought – I can’t guarantee my children a successful, happy or holy life, but I can give them an example to live up to. I can be like David and provide an example worth imitating. I can strive to live in such a way that when future generations look back they can hear God say, “I will bless you…because of my servant Chad.”

There’s a world of Scripture to back up this style of parenting.

  • I Corinthians 11:1 says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
  • Philippians 3:17 says, “Brethren join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “These things you’ve heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.”

It begs a follow up question – Do I have a life worth imitating and what does a life like that really look like? Scripture answers that question too:

  • Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such there is no law.”

Did you catch the last phrase of that verse? ‘Against such there is no law…’ In other words, you can’t get enough of these things. More than that – you can’t give enough of these things! Am I, as a father, as a man, as a leader living a life worthy of imitation? Is what I’m producing in my life and the life of others characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control?

This is the challenge of parenting:

  • Too much LAW and children REBEL.
  • Too much GRACE and children become entitled or spoiled.

How, as  parent, do I know when it’s time to lay down the law and when it’s time to give grace? There is a fine line between DISCIPLINING and COACHING.

  • Discipline is about right verses wrong.
  • Coaching is about choosing good, better or best.
  • Discipline calls for justice and judgement or grace and mercy.
  • Coaching calls for patience and self control.
  • Discipline calls for discernment.
  • Coaching call for wisdom.
  • In moments of right versus wrong we DISCIPLINE.  When correcting bad behavior we DISCIPLINE. These times are always crystal clear. My kid just lied about something. It’s time for discipline. My child was caught cheating on a test. Spanking, grounding – pick your punishment, corporal or capital, a wrong must be righted. My teenager ignored curfew. Car keys are lost. Discipline is always about teaching a child the difference between RIGHT & WRONG.
  • COACHING is always about teaching a child the difference between good, better and best. Should my child play sports or music? How should they spend their time, more on academics or building significant friendships? Choosing baseball over piano isn’t about right verses wrong. It’s about good, better or best. How is your child ‘bent’? What are their natural abilities, interests and experiences? Where do they excel and how? There’s no right or wrong here, simply good, better or best. As a parent how can you draw the best out of your child?

There is certainly more to parenting than this.

  • Luke 15 tells the story of the Prodigal Sons – I say ‘sons’, plural, because both sons in the story are far from the heart of their father. One son rejects the Father and rebels against the example he set. The other son ‘religiously’ tries to earn the love of the Father by always obeying every rule. Though, for all those years, he continued to live under the same roof as his father, he becomes bitter and as estranged from his father as his younger brother.

I’m struck by the fact, in the story of the Prodigal Sons, that never once is the parenting skill of the father questioned. Instead the father is shown as an example of patience and love; grace and mercy; justice and judgement. He is a picture of God our father. I wonder if you’re the rebellious son or the religious son? Either way you’ve become estranged from your father, not because you have a bad dad, but because of your bad belief and bad choices. Like the father of the Prodigal Sons, God stands ready to receive you by His grace into his family and will celebrate when you come.

God is a perfect father. He has shown us what to do, told us what to do and now he is saying to every parent – now go do it yourself. Stop trying to be a great parent. Start becoming a godly example for your children to follow. You can’t be God for your kids, but you can be exactly the father or mother God designed you to be.

God Bless,
Chad

BTW…Ezekiel 18 talks about this is as well. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

 

 

Some Thoughts on Divorce

Mark 10:1-12 & Matthew 19:1-10 (click the verses to read them at Biblegateway.com) provide pretty succinct Biblical discussions on divorce. In these passages Jesus tells us that Moses allows for divorce because people have hard hearts. He then quotes Old Testament Scriptures that say divorce is not what God intends.

Matthew 19 indicates that sexual immorality may be legitimate grounds for divorce, but if you read it closely this passage isn’t really granting people permission for divorce. It’s actually saying that if you divorce for any reason except sexual immorality then once you or your former spouse remarry you’ll be committing adultery. It doesn’t really say, “Because of sexual immorality, divorce is okay.”

To be clear, it says, “Divorce is bad, don’t do it. If you think divorce is your only option count the cost and consider what the affects will be.”

Divorce is only a legitimate option because of the hard hearts of people. Sometimes this hardness of heart leads to adultery. Sometimes to wrath. If someone is in a physically abusive situation they should get out now.

The End of Grace

Divorce, historically, has carried a stigma, as though God somehow considers divorce more wicked than other sins or divorced people second class citizens. This simply is not true. From a spiritual perspective, divorce represents the end of what is almost always a long list of unrighteousness. The tragedy of divorce is not simply the damage done to a family but that divorce represents the end of grace. It’s two people saying to one another, “There is no hope for repentance, reconciliation or restoration between us. I’m giving up on you.” I believe this is why God hates divorce (not divorced people). Scripture is clear about the grace God has given those who believe. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful. His love for us remains sure, His grace remains strong and His mercy is everlasting in spite of how often we disobey or disappoint.

One design God has for marriage is that it should be a picture of His relationship with His people. It’s simply contrary to His character to give up on His people. When a couple gets a divorce they destroy that picture.

God is so passionate about His faithfulness to us that he once commanded an Old Testament prophet, Hosea, to marry a prostitute in order to illustrate His relationship to His people. God told Hosea, in spite of her unfaithfulness and adultery stay with her, love and cherish her. You are an example of my (God’s) relationship with Israel. They are my people, they have been unfaithful to me, but I will remain faithful to them. Nothing will separate them from my love.

I know couples whose marriage has survived the misery and devastation of adultery. They survived because the unfaithful spouse asked for forgiveness and the faithful spouse gave it. It’s a choice I’m not sure I could make. But I’ve seen it happen on multiple occasions. These marriages, like Hosea’s, have served as an example of God’s faithfulness in spite of our unfaithfulness.

I’m not suggesting that remaining married in the face of adultery is the first, best or only choice. Just like everything else in marriage it takes two. It takes one to seek forgiveness and one to give it. In most marriages both people need to ask forgiveness of one another and give it. It takes both repentance and forgiveness. That’s what leads to a restored relationship. If no one is willing to repent it’s impossible to offer the kind of forgiveness that leads to a restored relationship.

In the end Moses was right. Adultery, outbursts of wrath, selfishness, envy, uncontrolled and unreasonable spending, an unwillingness to repent or forgive – all these things represent a hardening of the heart that can (and likely will) lead to the end of a marriage. Are they ‘legitimate and Biblical’ grounds for divorce? Legitimate, maybe – Biblical, I’m not so sure.

In the end God’s desire is the same, remain faithful to one another. Keep your promise. Anything less is not His perfect intent for you and your spouse.

Practical Thoughts

If you’ve been divorced – You’ve lived through one of the most painful life events a person can experience. You may feel shame or failure. You may feel freedom. Whatever the case I can assure you of a couple of things:

  1. God loves you. You have not done anything that God cannot redeem.
  2. You have a future. It may involve another marriage, it may not. Either way, it’s never too soon to begin practicing faithfulness.

Your divorce happened because someone hardened their heart. How will you cultivate a pure heart that willingly yields to God?

If you’re considering divorce – You are living through one of the most painful life events a person can experience. You may feel shame or failure. Whatever the case I can assure you of a few of things:

  1. God loves you. You have not done anything that God cannot redeem.
  2. Count the cost – divorce will cost you something. It will cost your kids. You will break a promise to your spouse and your children. Is the price worth paying?
  3. Someone has hardened their heart. Examine yourself. Is it you? Is it both of you? Is there room for grace? Are you willing to forgive? Are you willing to ask for forgiveness?
  4. You have a future. It’s never too soon to begin practicing faithfulness.

Generosity

What was the last generous thing you did for someone else? You know what I’m talking about, the kind of thing that cost you something and doesn’t seem to directly add value to you, but that greatly benefits someone else. What was it?

  • Did you leave a tip for a waiter that was greater than 18%?
  • Did you give $10 for a water straw?
  • Did you clean out your kids closet and donate the toys to charity?
  • Did you volunteer your time to help someone in need?
  • Did you stop to listen to the story of an anonymous stranger simply because, in that moment, they needed a sympathetic ear?

Generosity – giving out of the abundance of what God has given you.

It’s Christmas and as they say, “‘Tis the season!” Here’s the beautiful thing about generosity. True generosity benefits the one who receives and the one who gives.  No earth shattering revelation here.

  • The one who receives gets the value of the gift given.
  • The one who gives gets the satisfaction of serving someone else.

Generosity is a good thing.

God loves generous people. Proverbs says that some people never give anything and end up loosing it all while others spread what they have all around and keep getting more. It’s the difference between the generous person and the miser. God loves a cheerful giver.

But, in God’s economy, there are two standards of giving that are better than generosity.

  • Obedience
  • Sacrifice

Obedience is simply doing what God asks you to do because God asked you to do it. Sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more. It’s giving more than you think you can afford and trusting God to provide.

Out of obedience we give our FIRST and our BEST to God. It’s another Proverb. Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Out of simple obedience to God I will give Him the FIRST of all I have. This is about money. But it’s also about time & talent. It’s about attitude. It’s about taking the first and best of who you are and giving it God.

Out of simple obedience to God I will give Him the BEST of all I have. Simple obedience doesn’t ask for just anything. God asks for your best. He’s not interested in your left overs. He’s not impressed with your abundance. All that you have He gave to you in the first place. He deserves your best. He wants your best.

Now here’s a common misconception. God doesn’t ask for your first or your best because He needs the money. He asks for your first and your best because you need to learn to give. Let’s be honest. We’re not exactly ‘givers’ by nature. It may be more blessed to give than receive, but I spend way more time fretting over my Christmas list than everyone else’s.  Genuine giving – the kind that is without grudge or remorse, the kind that comes with no expectation of getting something in return, the kind of giving that comes with no strings attached – that kind of giving has to be learned. How often has your generosity really cost you something? How often have you given with no strings attached?

God’s generosity toward you cost Him something. As a matter of fact God pushed beyond generosity to sacrifice. He gave His first and His best. He gave His only begotten son. Jesus became the sacrifice. He took the penalty for your sins and mine. God gave…Jesus was obedient, God was generous and the sacrifice was made. It’s the kind of gift that can never be repaid, but because of the gift I can choose to live my life a certain way. I can choose to live in a way that honors the gift I’ve been given.

So this Christmas season – in the midst of all the giving and receiving – don’t settle for simply being kind or generous. Push past generosity and give like Jesus gave. Give your FIRST and your BEST. Give out of the abundance of what God has given you, but don’t stop there. Give out of simple obedience. Give sacrificially – give more than you think you can afford and trust God to provide. Give up something you love for something you love even more.

This Christmas don’t stop with generous. Give your first and your best. Give out of simple obedience. Give sacrificially and discover God’s first and best for you.

God Bless,
Chad

The people of First Baptist Owasso are generous. Their mission and ministry meets needs in our community and around the world. They share the gospel and serve faithfully because they want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this generation. You can partner with us through giving. Click here to discover more.