Giving, Praying, Going—GROWING

Not all of the instruments play at the same time.

But they all have a part to play.

This morning the going section has taken the lead in this beautiful symphony of serving. But this is not the beginning of the piece… or the end.

This particular movement has been months in building with the generosity of the  giving section. Over and over we have made them aware of the need and the opportunity and they have given faithfully, liberally, and cheerfully.

It has built as we have drawn closer and closer to this day with the stirring and strengthening of the praying section. They have interceded continually and gathered around the going section to do so.

And the going section has itself given toward this and prayed over this and prepared hearts and minds and hands to do this.

In this giving and in this praying and in this going there is a common motif. We give and we pray and we go that the kingdom of God and the impact of the gospel and the people and churches involved will grow.

This morning we took this picture before we set out on our journey. In it you see givers that pray and prayers that go and goers that give. It’s not all of the folks that were there this morning just as it wasn’t all of the folks who made this possible. But it is a sampling of the magnificent orchestra through which God plays this glorious symphony for His own great glory.

Big group selfie as we set off toward CityReach 2019!

As these sections converge on a city in need of the hope of the gospel, we give thanks to all of you that have given to make our part in this symphony possible. We rejoice for the many who have been and continue to pray for the journey and the impact and the experience of this powerful cooperative kingdom effort. We lift up our partners who will meet us in Madison with hearts and hands ready to demonstrate the grace of our great God together.

And we look with hope for the dimensions of growth… as the kingdom of God increases, as the servants are stretched and strengthened, as the local partners are encouraged and emboldened, and as we all lean into the opportunity to join in where we see God at work. 

This is not a new idea at all. In fact, this growing by working together is exactly what Paul taught us about in his letter to the Ephesians:

“… we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body,… when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Ephesians 4.15-16

When we each lean into our part, the body grows. That means that God’s kingdom grows—bigger, stronger, more effective. But, more than that, we grow into an ever more effective representation of Jesus himself.

As our Conductor has orchestrated the many parts together to ring out His own great praise, let us each play the part before us for His glory. Let us embrace our role in this work of obedience and honor… giving, praying, going—GROWING.

To Spend And Be Spent

Some things are simply spent when you use them. Other things you can re-use. We would probably be wise to pay attention to the difference between the two.

Some things, when they are spent, are simply translated into other things, other resources, or other economies.

A couple of weeks ago, we took our huge family to Kansas City to see a play. In one sense, there was a lot of money spent that will not come back to us. But, in a much greater sense, those funds were translated into memories and priceless time together. Every dime was invested in relationships.

I have found myself on many occasions thinking about the example of Paul the Apostle as he wrote to the Corinthian believers, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2 Cor. 12.15)

I have known people that modeled that sentiment, who continually spend their resources and their very lives pouring into, caring for, and looking after others. And, though I have tried to follow suit, I am still wrestling to overcome my own self-centeredness. Continue reading To Spend And Be Spent

When “Thanks” Won’t Cut It

I want to say “Thank you.”

I want to, but I want it to be bigger – huge, enormous, monumental – but it’s still those same little words. “Thank you.”

I have been on the receiving end of some of the most generous and even exorbitant kindnesses over the years from folks who saw that I had a need – even sometimes that I didn’t see – and were moved to give. How do you express gratitude for something that seems so far beyond anything you could ever do for someone else?

It’s good to send a thank-you card. I try to do that.

It’s good to try to express it in words. I try to do that.

But, all in all, it’s best, I think, to just BE GRATEFUL. To live with a grateful spirit and speak from a grateful attitude. Say “thank you” and MEAN IT!

As so many of us learned alongside Junior Asparagus years ago, a thankful heart is a happy heart.

But it’s also contagious.
Continue reading When “Thanks” Won’t Cut It