As you can see we are updating our website. There are still some bugs to work out. If you’re having a problem with the site please email us a detailed description of the problem (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’re honing our website’s look so expect to see changes as the days go by.
1st Session of the Call2Disciple Retreat at Christ Church with Thad & Erilynn Barnum, March 13-15, 2015.
Don’t forget to register for the Call2Discipleship conference with great teaching from Bishop Thad Barnum.
The Means of Grace: Radical Generosity
By the Rev’d Keith Huffman
Generosity in terms of our talent, time, and treasure is not something that comes to most of us very naturally or comfortably. Giving may be even harder for us if our generosity in times past has been spurned or left us feeling like someone took advantage of us. There is also a significant fear factor in giving that goes something like this: “If I give, then I am afraid I will not have enough for myself, my family, and other life obligations.”
This past year, Andy Stanely’s book, “Fields of Gold” truly challenged me concerning generosity. The basic idea in the book is this: Those who sow generously in the Kingdom of God can expect to reap bountifully in order to sow generously once again. Now if you are thinking, “Ah ha! So if I sow generously I get to reap generously, and I can go on a wild shopping spree to buy all the excesses I want . . . yeah the book is not about that at all! It simply advocates that Christians sow generously out of a deep and sincere desire to share in the generous service of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom purposes. And if we do so, we can expect to see a bountiful harvest.
I finished the book and had a conversation with myself. “Well, I don’t have a lot of money (seed) to be generous with right now—that’s just the facts, and Lord, I want to give (sow) generously to Kingdom purposes.” It was not long after that thought, that I remembered a sermon series from Church of the Apostles, Raleigh concerning giving where giving was not limited to just finances. Instead we learned that our resources to us by God are: time, talent, and treasure (finances.)
“Hmmm. I do have some time on my hands these days and God has given me a few talents in life . . . . Good Jesus, how I can be generous with these?!”
“Keith, give all of yourself away!”
“But Lord, you know I am not good at that.”
“Have you tried?”
“Yes. Well no. But well, not exactly, but Lord there are some things . . . you know that have happened to me in doing that in times past and . . .”
“Keith, why are you holding back?”
“Because . . . Lord, I am afraid. I am inadequate in every way and, . . . .”
“Is my grace not sufficient for you? Am I not sufficient for you? Did I not make you? Create you? Shape you? Form you? Place you where you are in life right now and placed people around you?”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know how to give myself away Jesus. How do we do that?”
“Look at me on the cross—that’s how you do it.”
The Lord Jesus gave himself away on the cross as the ultimate act of radical generosity and he calls us to do the same:
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matt. 16:24-26 (ESV)
Every Christian is a son or daughter of the most High King—King Jesus. And He has made each of us to be a unique person, uniquely equipped, and uniquely gifted by God to sow generously in His Kingdom. What is it that God has uniquely given you in terms of time, talent, and treasure? What is God asking you to be radically generous with right now? Maybe your time? Your gifts? Talents? And abilities? Or maybe your spouse, kids, or family, would just like the gift of YOU this year—friend don’t hold back—God does not hold back from you.
God The Father withheld nothing. He radically gave His all to us when he gave us His only begotten Son Jesus Christ whose life, death, burial, and resurrection overturned the curse of death and started putting the world back to right by first saving those who call on his name to be saved —friend this is an amazing act of radical generosity. May we, as we look to His Coming this Advent see that He withheld nothing from us, but was, and continues to be a radically generous God; and He desires us to be radically generous with ALL that we are too.
Savoring the Story
The Rev’d Stephen Linkous
I don’t know about you, but Advent seems to be one of the most busy times of my year. So many of us are pulled in a thousand directions trying to do all the ‘normal’ stuff while putting out Christmas decorations, making food (lots and lots of food), buying presents, visiting family, and the list goes on. We’re just too busy to slow down. But it’s kind of odd, huh? Our lives move at such a pace that we can scarcely remember what is really important. We get so caught up in preparing for the festivities of the Christmas season that we have a tendency to lose sight of who it is that we are celebrating! In the chaos of all this busyness the wonderful reality that we are celebrating – the incarnation of our Lord, the Savior of the world – easily takes a backseat to all of the stuff we get busy doing. If our lives read like a book, it would have way too much filler material and not enough real plot. That doesn’t sound like any book that I would want to read.
However, the story of Jesus is refreshingly different. It moves with the feel of an epic drama. His story is so incredibly wonderful it is near impossible to keep it fully in view. Here in Mark 1, we learn that the beginning of the epic drama that is the life of Jesus doesn’t begin with his birth. John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, tells us that the story of Jesus goes back even as far as Isaiah’s time, and representatively in Isaiah to the whole of the Old Testament. What John the Baptist tells us about that story here in the first chapter of Mark, as the whole of the Old Testament proclaims, is that the Messiah, the promised deliverer, will give us the breath of life itself. Jesus’ legacy throughout all ages will be the gift of life, which is nothing less than the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift is far greater than any other we could ever hope to give or receive this Christmas. The message of the Incarnation is a story too glorious to be too busy to miss.
Perhaps we have heard, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” too much, so much in fact that we simply nod our heads in affirmation while continuing on in our busy lives. May God grant us the grace to slow down long enough to savor the Savior’s story this Advent season, so that in all our preparations for the coming celebration the true Joy of Christmas is not missed. May we truly prepare the way of the Lord this Advent, in our homes, in our communities, and in our hearts.