When I was a child, I thought like a child. I spoke like a child and I spent the money I earned like a child…on myself. Yes, I gave my 10 cents of my dollar to the Sunday School offering (my dad was the preacher and my mom was the Sunday School Superintendent), but what I really cared about was the other 90 cents I was about to spend. Wait for it…on Star Wars cards! I would mow lawns, rake leaves, gather, crush, crack, peel and sell pecans and go door to door selling Christmas cards or magazines to buy more Star Wars cards! I have the complete blue and red sets in my guest closet. I used to show, trade, barter and give or get favors from my school buddies to complete my set. For a season, my 4th and 5th grade years revolved around acquiring Star Wars cards!
If I had you over, you would be impressed with my collection, wouldn’t you? You can private message me if you really are interested in this stellar collection. Do you get it?! My hunch is your hope for me, maybe for your children and maybe even for yourself, is that my/our character and our lives are about something beyond stuff or even beyond the stars.
Generosity is about our character. It is beautiful when you see it, unforgettable when you receive it and life-giving when you participate in it. Generosity is a fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Generosity is attractive. I love the stories each Christmas about the secret Santas that give out $100 bills to strangers in need. It touches something deep inside me every time.
The opposite of generosity is selfishness, self-centeredness, greed and self-absorption. It is deadly even with the coolest Star Wars Card collection in the 5th grade. At some point, we are invited to give up our childish ways and grow in Godliness together. We are approaching that time as a community of faith.
From Oct. 27/29 through Nov. 17/19, The Acts 2/One Church family of faith will participate together in what we are calling the “Taking the Next Step” Campaign. The idea is that, together, we will take a step in our faith and faithfulness with Jesus by His help, love and guidance.
Two pieces of this campaign will be different for those of us who have been around church for a long time:
- We will be giving out a little book called Practicing Extravagant Generosity this weekend to every family or person who is willing to read along with us. Each day’s reading includes a Scripture and a brief devotion. I hope you will read along with me and pray with me each day. You will also be able to engage with our social media during this time. Our reading together begins Monday, Oct. 23. Since that is Fall Break Weekend, we will be handing these little devotional guides out this weekend Oct. 13/15 so you can be sure to get yours.
- The second thing you might notice at the end of the campaign is that we won’t ask for a “pledge” or “commitment” for 2018. We will ask for an “Estimate of Giving.” Some of our most faithful families have never made a pledge because they did not want to fall short of a commitment or pledge due to fluctuating income. I get it. Our hope with the “Estimate of Giving” is to release any angst or sense of duty and allow for 100% of our community to participate. We hope each family calling Acts 2 or One Church their home will fill out an “Estimate of Giving Card” in service on Nov. 17/19 – which also happens to be the weekend of my 50th birthday. My wife, Chantelle, says there may even be a party with some of my favorite foods!
I pray these weeks may be for us a time of spiritual growth and renewed commitment to all that Jesus has for us and the world. I’m excited for all of us to read the same stories each day as a church family and to discuss and share them with one another in small groups, online, in our homes, as well as in worship.
I admire and respect people who are generous, don’t you? I want to be more and more like them. Jesus said in the greatest sermon ever given, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21). Thankfully, my treasure is not the Star Wars Card collection in my guest closet!