Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jesus and His Teaching Spiral (Genuine Giving)

There are times when I examine the way Jesus taught, and I am blown away.  I have noticed that Jesus often spoke to his followers moving from general issues to more specific concerns.  He would, in a sense, spiral from the outer issues into the deeper inner issues of a topic.

In the sermon series I am concluding this week, I have noticed this same method.  I noted last week that my gracious giving message of 11/17 should have preceded my generous giving sermon of 11/10, but now I see more clearly why He did that.  He was spiraling into the real issue.

In Luke 6:27, Jesus instructs his followers on how to associate with others and giving takes on a primary focus.  It's as if He is using giving to explain how we should interact.  The movement of His message goes from giving to generous giving to gracious giving to genuine giving.

Genuine giving (the warnings of Jesus in Luke 6:39ff) is what I call the necessity of having our heart pure in the act of giving.  Jesus warns that the spiritually insightful, producing tree, and able builder must have things right on the inside in order for their outer activity to amount to anything.  Giving is the same.

The discipline of giving cannot be practiced-in truth-without the right heart.  You can give.  You can give generously.  You can give graciously.  But unless your heart is right, you cannot give genuinely.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Giving Graciously

Perhaps I should have offered this message before "Giving Generously" from November 10.  One must give graciously before generous giving even matters.

Have you ever had someone give to you, but not as a gift?  I mean those times when people give to you, but it is really about their need and not yours.  I mean those times when it is more about power and control than it is about help.  I mean those times when they really didn't want to, and you wish they would not have. 

Gracious giving must precede generous giving in order to keep the gift in proper perspective.  Gifts of grace can be received in the manner in which they were given.  Generous gifts that do not come from grace are often a burden and not a relief. 

We talk about how much we give a lot.  Perhaps we should start talking about how we give first.  So, in light of that, let me back up and share a message that should have come prior to Nov. 10.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Unceasing prayer should have been my last post

God has always had a way of taking me through the sermons I would preach.  My life. often, encounters aspects of my Sunday morning messages just in time for me to learn what God really wants me to know.

On Oct. 22, 2013, my wife, Paula Lackie, was involved in a hit-and-run accident while walking our dog.  It is now almost 3 weeks later, and she has been home from the hospital for 2 and 1/2 weeks.  Physical and Occupational therapy started last week.  I am glad to say that she is progressing.

The irony of being told that your wife was found on a sidewalk in your neighborhood while you are finishing a message on unceasing prayer is not lost on me.  The sermon on Sunday, Oct. 27, was probably the most difficult single sermon of my life.  I had told many people that this series, The Vertical Church, was the most important sermon series of my ministerial career, but I would discover that I had no real idea why.

Unceasing prayer became the context of my life, not just the content of my next sermon.  Connection to the Father was my only hope.  Prayer was the only vehicle to the thrown room of the One who could heal her.  Hypotheticals, theological concepts, and cute illustrations fell by the wayside.  The reality of a Father whose ear was unceasingly listening to my prayers was the only information that mattered.

After that Sunday, I moved to another sermon series, Give and It Shall Be Given, which has humbled me even more.  My sermons are planned many months in advance.  I had no idea there would be a reason for my church family to give to my family as they have these last 3 weeks.  Their love and support have helped us get through this difficult ordeal.

My wife should have a full recover according to the doctors.  There is much work and more time needed to get her back up to speed.  Our dog, Buddy, is fine.  He was not hit.  Our family will survive because we are fighters.   I am just grateful that she was not killed.  We will overcome.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.