Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Surrendered Giver


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…..

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NIV).

My husband is a surrendered giver. I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin.

God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I can choose to be selfish or selfless. But I need to live in a way that searches for opportunities to be generous. Over the years, Dan has taught me so much about what it means to be a surrendered giver.

We are to give as much as we are able to give. Two years ago, we downsized so that we would have more money to give away. We both drive older used cars. There is nothing wrong with buying a new car or a bigger house – unless it affects our ability to give.

The church in Macedonia saw giving as a privilege. We need to do the same.

We need to look for opportunities to give. Love gives. For God so loved the church that He … gave! A surrendered giver gives out of gratitude for what God has done in his life and is willing to stretch and develop a generosity reflex when presented with a need.

Jesus measures what we give by what we have left. Do you tithe the ten percent we are challenged to give? How would you respond if Jesus asked you to double your tithe? Whoa! That is a lot to ask – right?

We have a friend who attended a conference where the speaker challenged each attendee to double their tithes and see what God would do in their lives. Our friend accepted the challenge and has seen his business mushroom into a huge success. Today, he not only gives a double tithe, but he also gives to meet the needs of many in our community. He is also one of the most humble and unassuming people I have ever met.

Another friend has a great way to look for opportunities to give. He has two accounts. One for his living expenses and then there is his God account. He is a Day Trader. Each morning he gets up and says, “Where are we going to give today, Lord?” I know this attitude absolutely delights the Father who is the ultimate surrendered giver.

The reality is that if my checkbook does not reflect my faith, I have an immature faith. God does not need my money. He wants me to give so He can bless me!

How about you? What kind of giver are you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

How to Build Belief on an Unshakable Foundation

Thank you Encouragement for Today for today’s message….

What we believe shows in the way we act, the decisions we make, and the choices we pursue. Over a decade ago, I learned this important lesson from a winsome woman I met at a women’s retreat. Her name was Ruth.

Ruth stood out in the retreat crowd not only because of her lustrous gray hair but also because of the cluster of younger women around her. They were talking with her, doting on her, and soaking in every word she said, so I headed over to meet this woman who drew in like a magnet.After listening to this delightful woman talk for a while, I asked her, “What’s your secret? Over the years, how have you continued to grow in the Lord, stay positive and exude joy?” Her answer was simple yet profound,

“Be today who you want to be tomorrow.”

As she spoke, I remembered a conversation from a girls-night-out with some women from my church. Conversation flowed freely from one topic to the next as I got to know the women across from me. We talked about our kids, our homes and our work. Ironically, both women had done specialized nursing with geriatric patients.

I started to question them about their work and their patients. Finally I asked, “Why do you think that so many older people, particularly women, seem to struggle with negativity as they age?” Both looked at me in surprise and said that I was incorrect. They were unanimous in their theory of how aging affects personality.

“Aging only magnifies who you already are,” my friend said.

“Yes,” chimed in the other, “If you are kind when you are young, then you’ll be even kinder as you age. If you think positively when you’re young, then you will also have that habit as you age. But if you are a complainer when you are young, then you’ll get worse as you age. If you are unforgiving when you are young, then you’ll become very bitter as you age.”

They explained that occasionally diseases that affect the brain will change a person’s personality, thinking and actions. Generally, however, through stories and comments of family members about the early days of their elderly patients, they had found that their original hypothesis held true. Ruth’s answer to my question about the secret to aging well was completely consistent with my friends’ observations. “Be today who you want to be tomorrow.”

I’d like to propose a corrolary truth to Ruth’s today:

What you believe determines who you’ll be.

Aging magnifies what we believe. If we believe that Jesus commands us to use words to build up, then we’ll develop the habit of encouraging words.

If we believe that God is good despite our circumstances, then we’ll develop the pattern of praise in the midst of hardship.

If we believe that He is the provider and healer, then we’ll cultivate patient, expectant waiting (without complaint…ouch!) as we wait for His provision and healing.

If we believe that the fruits of the Spirit given to us are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then we’ll pursue portraying those traits.

Ruth’s beliefs shone brightly because of the kind of woman she had become. Who she had become reflected what she believed.

Do you desire to be a godly, older woman like Ruth? I do! Then, we’re called to pursue knowing Truth (belief is part of truly knowing!) and living the Truth. It really does change everything– including our aging.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!