Four Things My Father Taught Me and Four Other Things I Learned from Him

My father taught me how to mow the yard. It was a huge yard, and we had a riding mower. At first, I was so small that my foot wouldn’t reach the brake. When I was finished mowing, I had to drive around until I found my Dad, who would run up beside me, then hop along with one foot on the brake until the mower stopped. My Mom stayed inside, refusing even to look out the windows. Continue reading

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The Flip Side of Generosity

Last week, we dug into the relationship between humility and generosity. We receive both worldly/tangible gifts and spiritual gifts from God so we can bless others.

But what about the gifts other believers receive to bless us? There’s a flip side to generosity. Continue reading

Authentic Generosity Springs from Humility

We get so we can give.

Why does God give us things (tangible and intangible)? First, because it’s in His nature. God is generous. But second, we get so we can give.

From my car to my children to the love I show my neighbor, everything I have is, in a sense, on loan from God and on its way to someone or somewhere else. I am the conduit of His blessing for others. The things He gives me are mine for the time it takes them to pass through my hands, through my circle of influence. Like an earthen ditch flowing full of water, some of God’s blessing soaks into the earth over which they pass, and so I am blessed as all these things pass through me.

That last paragraph is where I want my mindset to remain. I’m not often there, which is why I write this month about the connection between humility and generosity. Continue reading

Because Peace is Powerful

As I write today, carpenters cut, pull, hammer, etc. in the next room. They also listen to the radio, sing, and have interesting conversations. (Confession: For writers, eavesdropping is a requisite.) It’s loud and dirty work, this renovation of our living space. I have hope (confident expectation) that, when they and the other tradesmen finish, everything will be better than it was before (after I dust at least ten times!), but this interim is…challenging, to put it nicely. Not surprisingly, I find it difficult to concentrate.

This morning while it was still quiet, I sat at my dusty dining room table, wiped yesterday’s dust off my Bible, and opened it to the end of John 16. Continue reading

Sorry Jesus, Your Deity Slipped My Mind

“Didn’t we just do this the other day?” Most years, Christmas decorations show up in the stores, and I can’t believe it’s already that time again. Or my first-born starts talking about her birthday, and I’m like, “Wait, didn’t you just have a birthday?”

I can imagine Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt the same way about Passover. After she and Joseph returned to Nazareth from Egypt, they went to Jerusalem for the festival every year. It was a three-day walk each way, but they did it, as did almost everyone in Nazareth. Continue reading

It’s Okay If You Don’t Understand

It’s the night before Jesus will be crucified. He provides a place for the Passover meal. He washes the disciples’ feet. He points out the one who will betray Him. He challenges the one who will deny Him (John 13).

Then He starts talking. In my Bible, the next four chapters (John 14-17) are almost all red print. This is Jesus’ conclusion to the sermon His life has preached for the last three years. Continue reading

Generosity’s Connection to Joy

I like to give gifts at random times, for no apparent reason. I think it’s fun to surprise someone with something they’ve wanted or needed, and I enjoy doing it. But I don’t like being expected to give a gift.

Have you ever felt pressured to give a gift? I’m not talking about the compulsion of the Holy Spirit. I’m talking about that time when social expectations or high-pressure tactics practically forced you to make a donation or give a gift. Call me coldhearted, but I strongly resist emotional pleas and guilt-ridden appeals.

If you’re bullied into giving, that’s not generosity. Continue reading