I remember sitting in my tent cabin on the side of a mountain in Yosemite National Park, where I was working for the summer. I was twenty-three years old, and I had just finished college. It was the summer I read Mere Christianity. I opened to the inside back cover of my journal, and I wrote, “Rules to Live By.” I already longed for wisdom, and I asked God for it daily. I had been paid attention to what happened—both to me and around me. For those couple of months, I thought back over my life. I tried to see where God was working. I thought about the spiritual relevance of everything.
People are more
important than plans.
By the end of the summer, I had three rules. The first one was this: People are more important than plans. Maybe you’re thinking, “Duh!” But to this Type A, first-born, compulsive list-maker, who would do whatever it took to tick that last task off the day’s to-do list, such a simple sentence both convicted and challenged me. In not-so-many words, God told me to prioritize the people in my life over the plans/tasks/lists/projects/obligations.
I haven’t always heeded my own rules, including this one. Continue reading
It was a little more than a week before Passover. Jesus was headed toward Jerusalem for the last time. He knew he was going to die, and He very bluntly told the disciples about it (Luke 18:31-34). His route took him through Jericho, on the edge of Jordan’s floodplain, before climbing a treacherous eighteen miles into the hill country and the city of Jerusalem.
The route was intentional. He had a few things to do along the way. He gave sight to a blind beggar outside Jericho (Luke 18:35-43, Mark 10:46-52) and, to the dismay of everyone around him, he enjoyed the hospitality of one short, criminally-wealthy tax collector. Continue reading
It is said that we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. I recently heard someone say, our mouths close; our ears don’t. Think about that one for a second.
And of course, there’s James…
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. –James 1:19
There is a type of generosity that costs nothing materially but takes supreme effort in our distracted-to-death culture: the generosity of attention. Continue reading
- Jesus told Zacchaeus to climb down from the tree because they were going to Zacchaeus’ house. Zacchaeus “welcomed him gladly” (Luke 19:5-6).
- Martha “opened her home” to Jesus when we walked into Bethany (Luke 10:38).
- Levi, a former tax collector, “held a great banquet for Jesus at his house” (Luke 5:29).
- A Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to have dinner with him in his home, and Jesus accepted his invitation despite knowing the critical nature of the man’s heart (Luke 7:36).
- A former leper named Simon threw a dinner party in Jesus’ honor just days before His arrest and crucifixion (Mark 14:3, John 12:1-2).
Some of Jesus’ best, most
intimate teaching took place
over a meal in someone’s home.
Some of Jesus’ best, most intimate teaching took place over a meal in someone’s home. Women and men, Pharisees and tax collectors—all sorts of people—invited Jesus into their homes. Okay, sometimes He invited Himself. Still, in every recorded instance, He said “yes.” What if, here in the 21st century, ours was the home? What if Jesus used us to reach someone over a meal in our home? Continue reading
In the first half of this year, we considered generosity, my #OneWord2018, by its source and relationship to other biblical concepts. For the latter half of this year, we’ll look at various types of generosity and related Bible instructions.
These days, we call it charity—the concept of sharing money or goods with those who need it. (In King James English, charity was a synonym for love. Check 1 Corinthians 13. I was so confused when I was a kid.) When we think of generosity, most of us start here.
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
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