Generating Good

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Generosity is a brilliant word and a powerful concept. Kahlil Gibran states , “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” That is worthy of pondering for a bit.

From this word we understand other things better, like, generate, generator, generative.

Generosity generates something…
It creates something…
From nothing, generosity breathes life and regenerates something beautiful.

However, generosity is not simply about money and wealth. It is a lifestyle that is always humming with creative goodness that brings light to dark places, food to starving spaces and beauty to desolate places.

Steve Goodier sums up the scope well:

“Money is not the only commodity that is fun to give. We can give time, we can give our expertise, we can give our love or simply give a smile. What does that cost? The point is, none of us can ever run out of something worthwhile to give.”

Generosity also has the power to free us from a myopic life of self-everthing. Self-service, selfishness, self-reliance, self-worship. The worship of self has run across the borders of narcissism in our culture, and generosity has the ability to heal us of this most pernicious disease. The Buddha noted:

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.”

The following video is a commercial from Thailand…it reveals the power that a little generosity has to make the lives of others better, and when you do that you cannot escape the personal benefit generosity re-infuses into your own life.

That video causes an unsolicited smile to form on my lips…

Being generous feels good and the scientific stats reveal that generous people are healthier, happy and live longer lives that are worth living.

The Bible has scads of passages about generosity, here are a few to help you pray and invite a spirit of generosity into your life:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38 

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.  2 Corinthians 8:12

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Luke 6:30

May you realize just how rich you really are and find yourself coming alive as you become a generous soul that gives especially when there is no chance of repayment.

Wasted Wounds or Sacred Wounds

Check out my newest podcast “Wasted Wounds or Sacred Wounds”

Everybody has wounds. The difference between those who find joy, meaning and healing in life, and those who are discouraged, depressed and bitter has much to do with how we deal with the wounds of life.  In this episode, Monty begins a conversation from his book Sacred Space about the process of turning bitter wounds into in sacred wounds…without transformation, all our wounds will be wasted…but with God, they can be transformative.

Click on the link below to listen to my latest Naked Faith Podcast.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/pksy9-554ef6/initByJs/1/auto/1

Naked Faith

RE:LENT

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Every year I have many people ask me “What is the purpose of Lent?” Why do we emphasize or practice something that isn’t found in the Bible?” What are the origins of Lent” and  “isn’t it Catholic?” If you did not grow up in a main-line church (Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist etc.) then Lent might be foreign to you. However, if you did grow up in one of those denominations, you see Lent as a 40 day focus on repentance, and removing the things that distract us from living a God-centric life.

Another way to put it is that Lent is a 40 day retreat that helps us realign with God. I don’t know about you, but I need as many opportunities as possible to realign my heart with the heart of God.

The Biblical connections would be the 40 day period that Moses encountered God on Mt. Sinai as well as the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert and was tempted by Satan. In light of the latter, that is why fasting has been a traditional part of the Lenten journey.

We miss the power of Lent, though, when we simply think we need to give up chocolate or something we like for forty days because it’s Lent…This misses the point and is a waste of good chocolate. When we desire to draw near to God, we ask His Spirit to reveal those things which continually negotiate for His attention and we choose to reprioritize that thing in our life so that God is first. Perhaps you do have an issue with food. Food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. So if food is used for comfort, or dealing with stress or any other way to medicate your life, then food would be a good thing to fast from. There are, however, many things that get lodged into first place leaving God in the dust.

What is it for you? Sports? Movies? Alcohol? Sex? Power? Leisure? Bad Religion?

Or maybe it’s more subtle like, stress, anger, manipulation, blaming, negativity, hatred, self-hatred, fear, excuses, arrogance or even judging.

All of these things carry something that we like, even though on the outside we would think it wrong, but somewhere there is a pay-off, and that is why we keep doing them.

Yet, when we continue to live this way, unrepentantly, these things become the gods we worship, and they are vicious gods.

Lent is a season in the church that helps us as individuals, and as a community, rid ourselves of the sins that entangle, ensnare and sabotage our spiritual growth, and that is powerful.

As life is always a two way movement of sorts, Lent, for me, is also a time of “adding to” not merely subtracting from.

What do you need to add into your spiritual journey this year?

How about Grace-giving, compassion, meditation, prayer, reading life-giving books, forgiveness, compliments, positive words to others, pursuing justice for the marginalized and oppressed, being a conduit of love to every person you come into contact with. Teresa of Calcutta said it well:

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”  

I think that the most beautiful moment of Lent happens when you do your soul work, realize that there is much shadow still inside of you, and yet experience the overwhelming and irrational love and grace of God. This kind of love knocks us off of our feet, makes our head dizzy and confounds the wisest in the world. This leaves us astonished, as Brennan Manning noted:

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” 

Grace and Peace…

Wounds and Scars

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The following piece by Amy Carmichael has long been a challenging favorite of mine.

It is real…
It is earthy…
It speaks of the truth that wounds and scars are a part of life…

Not something to run away from…
Not something to turn us into victims…
Not the end of the journey…

Rather, it’s the beginning of the journey.

What wounds do you have that you have tried to cover, to fix, to identify you?

In my book Sacred Space I wrote a chapter called Sacred Wounds. The big idea of the chapter is how God longs to take our wounds and redeem them in order to become restorative for others…yet, if we leave them unattended, they turn into bitter wounds and we become victims… and victims never realize the power of wounds and realized in scars when redeemed.

Hast Thou No Scar 

by Amy Carmichael

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

30 Days in God’s Story

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The best resolution you can make today, and is completely do-able in the next 30 days, is to read through all of the New Testament and immerse yourself into God’s story.

Amazing things will happen as you read through God’s message to us in the New Testament! The Bible says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, so as you begin to read, meditate upon and digest all that God has to say to you in the next 30 days, I know that faith will be unleashed in your life!

As you read, find a comfortable space with limited distractions. That could be a challenge in and of itself! Also, you might want to keep a journal, or a notepad and pencil handy to write down what God is revealing to you as you read. I am sure you will have some insights and some epiphanies throughout the next 30 days.

Finally, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your reading. The Bible is alive, it is God’s living revelation to you! In it God is revealing who He is, and leading you deeper into who you are becoming! So write down what seems to jump at you from the pages. You may not even know why it is sticking out to you, but as you pray and meditate on it, God will reveal why He decided to bring that to your attention!

Feel free to send me your insights and epiphanies during the next 30 days to pastormonty@svaonline.org

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