Monday, August 17, 2015

God Loved, so He Gave...

If I err, I want to err on the side of generosity – in finances, in time, in thought and in works. I fall short often. Yesterday morning at church as my pastor was preparing to receive tithes and gifts, I heard the first part as he quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, he gave...” but then my mind began to reflect on some personal thoughts.

My Boy is visiting a friend’s cabin on Vancouver Island. The journey there includes a ferry ride which costs just under $17 for each way. We gave him $60 with express instructions to not spend the extra money unless it was absolutely necessary. While he was there, he texted me to tell me he had bought something for me. Instead of feeling grateful, I was annoyed. As much as I love presents, a gift for me is not necessary. I intended to speak with my Boy when he returned about the value of money and honouring through obedience.

God had a different perspective about it. To my Boy, his dad and I represent heaven’s abundance. He’s never experienced deficiency in finances because he lacks nothing of necessity. That’s not to say he receives everything he wants or is spoiled (that’s definitely not true). God loves to give, and as lovers of God who are being transformed in His image, Christians should be the most generous people on the planet.

God reminded me my Boy wasn’t willfully disobedient; he loves me and wanted to express his affection for me with a gift. How can a parent punish love? My Boy doesn’t have many opportunities to earn money so what he has is because we’ve given it to him. That sounds similar to me. Everything I have comes from God; I have nothing to offer Him except what He’s first given to me. And you know what? I’ve never experienced displeasure from God when I’ve brought Him a gift – my worship, my tithes, my time. How can I be displeased when my Boy gives me a gift?

My Boy is generous; my desire to err on the side of generosity has become his value too. I’m still learning about wisdom in stewardship but I learn best when I can feel the heartbeat of the Father. I need to extend the same grace to my Boy as the Father extends to me. And for the record, I love the gift he bought me. :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Do the Next Thing...

Do you make resolutions? I don’t make New Year’s resolution per se but the rollover into new digits is an opportunity to reflect and evaluate the previous year, and consider expectations for the year ahead. For many years I’ve asked the Lord for a verse or Bible passage that will guide my year. Not everyone appreciates a clear path, but for me and my personality, having direction helps me stay on-point, even when good distractions come along. I want to finish well, and I want to always be moving forward.

Over the years, moving forward doesn’t always mean moving forward. Sometimes moving forward means not moving backward. Sometimes moving forward is small steps, like the way the earth’s oceans are receding from land – we’re told it’s happening but it’s so incremental, most people wouldn’t have the ability to perceive it.

What are your thoughts and expectations for 2015? Several men and women in public ministry have made outspoken declarations about the big moves of God for this year. Their words excite our ears and tickle our fancy (what is a ‘fancy’, by the way?). Wouldn’t it be nice if it is true? I wonder what the prophets of the day declared each new year when the Israelites were in the desert, set adrift from their old life of captivity but not yet living in their Promised Land?

I love big moves. I believe I am one of many who are on the precipice of entering the Promised Land. It sounds exciting and fast-paced with lots of action but the reality is lots of activity with very little forward movement and more [a lot more] of what sustained me in the years prior.

I wish the words of big moves were true. For some, they will be. And possibily the Holy Spirit will surprise me (he knows how much I love surprises) but truthfully I’m subdued about expectations for the year. An informal poll of friends over the past few weeks seem to have the same thoughts as myself. This is a year of abiding. It’s not lack of faith or lost hope which compels my contemplative thoughts; it’s deep faith in the words already spoken. John 15 promises: abiding in Him produces fruit. It’s gonna happen. The passage is referring to grape vines. Grapes take three years to begin to produce, and before they do, they continue to do the next thing – they grow their roots, they grow their limbs and they grow leaves to absorb the goodness of the Son (sun).

If you aren’t feeling as excited as you think you should be, relax. Do the next thing and keep abiding. If you are feeling this is your year, then go for it, but still do the next thing.
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