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.

Common Ground

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In a culture that elevates a “winner takes all” approach to life, it is often hard to have “common ground conversations.” Most of our conversations quickly de-escalate into a “who is right, or here is why you’re wrong” type which serves to insert a strong halt to the topic(s). This is acutely seen when it comes to religion, right? Many feel religion is the source of all conflict, Marx believed it to be the opiate of the people, others wonder which one is right, and each one thinks their belief is the right belief.

While surrounded by religions today, we tend to live religiously illiterate lives preferring a 140 character understanding, or better yet an amazing Facebook meme.

Our knowledge concerning the belief systems of others runs only as deep as our tweets. This creates fear, hate, antagonism and worse.

I am excited about a new conversation I am starting at Snoqualmie Valley Alliance this weekend called Common Ground. We will be looking into seven religions that seem to have the most power and influence in the world today. My goal is to focus on the truth that exists between us rather than simply illuminate our differences. When we find areas of common ground we expand our understanding beyond our personal bias or a great tweet. We are able to experience a greater level of community with our neighbors who think and believe differently than we do. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul first sought to find common ground with people, and the result was a radically changed world.

I believe that when we have a better understanding of other religions, we become more confident of our own faith. This removes the fear, hostility, and animosity that is created by a lack of understanding.  In its place we will experience a new level of grace, humility and compassion…and boy, does our world need more of that.

Swallow Me Up


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Abba,
I long to abide in you
To dwell with you
To rest in you
But for some reason I can’t;
My mind wanders
My spirit is restless
My choices are divergent
My schedule unrelenting
Abba,
Sorrow and sadness cling to me
My soul is tired
I wonder if I’ve lost the story
But you remind me;
To be lost is to be found
To be known is to be loved
To wrestle with doubt is to find faith
To shed tears is to realize intimacy
Abba,
Pierce through my darkness so that I may see you
Forgive me
Re-align me
But most of all, don’t leave me;
You are all that is good
You are all that is true
You are all that I need
You are beauty painted with ash

Swallow me up in the ocean that is You.

Go To Dark Gethsemane

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Good Friday reminds me that darkness must proceed resurrection.

Good Friday reminds me that pain and suffering, the blood sweat and tears of life, are part of the journey, not something to avoid, minimize or deny.

Good Friday reminds me that when life reaches the apex of darkness, the light of dawn is thinly close.

In the Garden of Eden humanity experienced the divine disconnect. There Adam chose self over God’s sovereignty, sin over God’s sufficiency.

It would be another garden where the second Adam, Jesus, would choose differently in order to redeem and heal the brokeness created by the first Adam. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus chose the sovereignty and sufficiency of His Father’s plan over his own safety and sustenance.

This choice transforms the world.

In his book “Life of Christ” Fulton J. Sheen noted:

“As Adam lost the heritage of union with God in a garden, so now Our Blessed Lord ushered in its restoration in a garden. Eden and Gethsemane were the two gardens around which revolved the fate of humanity. In Eden, Adam sinned; in Gethsemane, Christ took humanity’s sin upon Himself. In Eden, Adam hid himself from God; in Gethsemane, Christ interceded with His Father; in Eden, God sought out Adam in his sin of rebellion; in Gethsemane, the New Adam sought out the Father and His submission and resignation. In Eden, a sword was drawn to prevent entrance into the garden and thus immortalizing of evil; in Gethsemane, the sword would be sheathed.”

In Gethsemane we are faced with the brokeness of our humanity.

The truth is we are more about our own safety than sacrificing it for the flourishing of others.

The truth is we don’t forgive our enemies, we conceive of ways to destroy them.

The truth is we don’t really care about the plight of our neighbor unless it somehow affects us.

The truth is we seldom forgive an offender unless they grovel for it.

The truth is we have rushed, embracing resurrection without dealing with the darkness of Gethsemane and Calvary.

You can’t live out resurrection without first crying in Gethsemane.

There is an old Lutheran Hymn that inches it’s way up into my heart each year during Holy Week, and in particular on Good Friday. It is called Go To Dark Gethsemane. As a resource to help you fully embrace the darkness in order to truly live a life of resurrection, take some time to meditate on this hymn.

Go to Dark Gethsemane
By: James Montgomery

Go to dark Gethsemane,
All who fell the tempter’s power
Your Redeemer’s conflict see.
Watch with him one bitter hour;
Turn not from his griefs away;
Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.

 

Follow to the judgment hall,
View the Lord of life arraigned;
Oh, the wormwood and the gall!
Oh, the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss;
Learn from him to bear the cross.

 

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb;
There, adoring at his feet,
Mark that miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear him cry;
Learn from Jesus Christ to die.

 

Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay
All is solitude and gloom.
Who has taken him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes.
Savior, teach us so to rise.

The last line is the call to live resurrectionally…

Savior…teach us so to rise!