Tag Archives: generosity

The Secret To Changing Lives (Including Yours)

In the movie The Blind Side, a wealthy family chooses to adopt a homeless African-American teenager who has been traumatized by a terrible home life. In one scene, the family matriarch, Leigh Ann Touhy (played by Sandra Bullock), is enjoying lunch with her friends at a restaurant.

After receiving some criticism for adopting an African-American who will be graduating from high school soon, Leigh Ann explains…

“Look, here’s the deal: I don’t need you all to approve my choices, all right? But I do ask that you respect them. You have no idea what this boy’s been through, and if this is gonna become some running diatribe, I can find an over-priced salad a lot closer to home.”

“Leigh Ann, I’m so sorry,” a friend answers. “We didn’t intend to—”

“No!” another friend interjects. “We didn’t! Really!

“I think what you’re doing is great,” her third friend explains. “To open up your home to him. Honey, you’re changing that boy’s life.”

“No,” Leigh Ann replies. “He’s changing mine.”

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want your life to be changed?

Then join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover how.


Daniel 11:2-35
1 John 3:7-24
Psalm 122:1-9
Proverbs 29:1


Daniel 11:2-35. The details of this prophecy seem unmistakably exact, and interestingly enough, most scholars can attest to its fulfillment. After Alexander the Great’s empire was divided into four parts (in 304 BC), Ptolemy I became the ruler of Egypt (the king of the south) and Seleucus I became ruler of Syria (the king of the north). This passage is a great example of the fulfillment of prophecy in Scripture.

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The young church Eugene and I pastor is enjoying an exciting season of God’s favor in the school where we meet for corporate worship. Over the past year, the school has begun asking us to help them care for families in need, and now we’re partnering together in order to mentor their at-risk youth. People shake their heads in disbelief when I describe our ongoing partnership with the public school, and all I can say is, “It must be the work of God.”

But one event seemed to blow open the floodgates in our relationship. Last August as classes resumed following summer break, we decided to give back-to-school survival kits to every person on the 150 member school staff. That’s a pretty tall order when you consider that we don’t even have 150 people in our church! So, we invited the school community (families of students in the school) to help us. The school gave us permission to set up a table at registration where we invited students and parents to sign a thank you card for the staff. While signing the card, we asked for donations toward the survival kits. By the end of the week, we had four poster boards filled with encouraging comments to the staff, and we had raised US$1,000 from the parents to go along with the US$1,500 we had raised within our congregation.

The following Monday, the school principal welcomed me to the staff meeting where I presented the poster boards to the 150 staff members. There, I also thanked them for their selfless service to our children. The next Monday, we presented the back-to-school survival kits to them, replete with ibuprofen (of course!), an orange, green tea, a gift card to Starbucks, other miscellaneous items, and coupons for free stuff that were donated by local merchants. The feedback was overwhelming.

This whole experience has taught me an important lesson: generosity opens people’s hearts. The apostle John reinforces this throughout his first epistle, especially in today’s reading. He writes in 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Saying “Jesus loves you” is one thing, but showing it blows the doors off the hinges.

Why is generosity so powerful? Because when we give, we emanate the aroma of Christ. People see Jesus. John also wrote: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16).

Think about it: God so loved the world that he…what? He gave. And we’re never more like God than when we give, not only of our finances but of ourselves.

After witnessing the miracle of our relationship with our local high school, I just want to keep on giving. Like the example from The Blind Side, our generosity is changing lives, beginning with us.

Loving and giving are expressions of grace. It’s giving without expectation of receiving anything in return. It’s laying our lives down without the possibility of anyone returning the favor.

And isn’t that what Jesus did for us?


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Think of a time when someone gave generously to you. How does generosity (through giving or receiving) affect your heart?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Benevolent To A Fault

Four years ago, Charles Roberts stormed into an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and shot 10 young girls, killing five. He then killed himself.

The thought of senselessly murdering defenseless pacifists still rattles me.

While garnering an outpouring of sympathy from around the world, the Amish community refused gifts of any kind unless they were also shared with the widow of Charles Roberts and their three children. Several families still mourning the loss of their children even found the strength to attend Roberts’ funeral.

“We forgive Charles Roberts,” the community announced to an astonished world.

Benevolent…to a fault?

Join me as we explore this closer in today’s reading.


Joshua 21:1-22:20
Luke 20:1-26
Psalm 89:1-13
Proverbs 13:15-16


Joshua 21. If you’re like me, you probably whizzed through this chapter. However, notice how proactive the Levites were, compared to the seven tribes who Joshua needed to prod into taking possession of their lands (Joshua 18:2-3). In this chapter we read about the towns the Levites were given, since they had no area they could call their own. Notice that the word “allotted” is used repeatedly. Scholars believe it shows up a lot (pardon the pun!) to emphasize that God assigned the towns (rather than Joshua). Interestingly enough, some of the towns were not yet conquered (like Gezer and Tanaach), so the Levites bore the responsibility of taking possession of them.

Joshua 22. Joshua said goodbye to the eastern tribes because they lived on the other side of the Jordan river. Because they were difficult to navigate, rivers formed natural barriers to communication.

In verses 9-20, the rest of Israel mobilizes forces to wage war against their brothers on the other side of the river because Israel was commanded by God to worship around the tabernacle. The New Bible Commentary points out the healthy way in which  the western tribes worked through the conflict:

  • they squarely addressed themselves to the problem, and did not sweep it under the rug (11–12a).
  • they took apostasy so seriously that they put purity above their own lives, not buying peace at any price (12b).
  • they sent their ablest leaders, the priest Phinehas who had shown himself zealous for the Lord in the episode at Baal Peor (Numbers 25:7), and ten chiefs representing all the tribes, to investigate the matter and possibly to restore the offenders, not acting rashly (13–14).
  • they addressed the perceived offence objectively as a breach of faith, an act of rebellion against God, not subjectively as a body-blow to their own egos (15–16).
  • they argued their case on the conviction that God punishes sin as displayed at Baal Peor (i.e. it left them with the seeds of historical guilt and the Lord’s plague, not on expediency—17).
  • they also argued on the conviction that the sin of some affects all, as seen at Baal Peor (17–18) and in the case of Achan (18, 20; see 7:1), and such corporate guilt was not something inconsequential to them.
  • they respected their brothers’ consciences and convictions (i.e. that eastern Israel was defiled because it lacked God’s holy sanctuary), not ruling their weak consciences out of court (19a; cf. Rom. 14:1–23).
  • they were willing to sacrifice some of their possessions to restore their brothers to a clean conscience and proper worship, not insisting on their proper interpretation of the law (19b).

Luke 20:1-26. In verses 20-26, Jesus’ detractors try to catch him either advocating revolution against the Roman authorities or encouraging accommodation with them. Again, Jesus outsmarts them. But often overlooked in this story is Jesus’ request to look at one of their denarius. By showing him a coin with Caesar’s image, the “religious” leaders were disobeying one of the Ten Commandments—“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Exodus 20:4). Because Caesar was considered a god, carrying a Roman coin was a violation. “Good” religious Jews carried locally-produced coins instead.

Psalm 89:1-13. In verses 5, 7 and 8, “heavenly beings” and “holy ones” likely refer to angels. In verse 10, “Rahab” isn’t the woman from Joshua 2. Rahab was known as a mythological sea monster, mentioned as well in Job 26:12 and Isaiah 51:9.

Proverbs 13:15. The phrase “good understanding” is confusing. Dictionaries translate it as “good sense.” The Message offers this for the passage: “Sound thinking makes for gracious living, but liars walk a rough road.”

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The Jewish leaders were constantly looking for ways to get Jesus in trouble. After navigating his way through their question regarding his authority, Jesus gave them a parable about the vineyard.

In Luke 20:9-19, Jesus tells the story of the owner of a vineyard who lives a long way from his property. Three times he sends a servant to bring back some of the produce, and three times the workers kill them. Finally, he sends his son, thinking they will respect him—and they kill him too.

In those days, landowners enjoyed a considerable amount of privilege. After the first servant was killed, the owner could have sent men to his property to kill the murderers. But he didn’t.

Jesus’ parable casts the owner as naïve at worst, and “strikingly benevolent” at best. Without a doubt, Jesus measured his words carefully to make his point.

We have a heavenly Father who loves us generously, benevolently, and extravagantly. When compared to his holiness and perfection, our menial sins are deserving of death.

Anymore, I avoid the word “deserve.” I don’t deserve “a break today.” I don’t deserve a vacation or a night out on the town. All I deserve is death and hell.

Sounds harsh, I know. But please understand, I’m not saying we’re worthless, but I am saying we’re unworthy. We’re worth an infinite amount to God because we’re his children, created in his image. That’s why he sent his son to die on the cross for us.

But I don’t think many of us give God the credit he deserves. He puts up with our moodiness, our self-absorption, our manipulation. Then when we apologize, he continues to forgive. Over and over.

Like the Amish community forgave the killer of their children, God forgave us for crucifying his son. Not only did he forgive us, but he loves us, accepts us, and yearns to spend eternity with us in heaven.

That’s what I call benevolent love!


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does Jesus’ parable of the vineyard tell you about the heart of God?
  3. How have you experienced God’s benevolent love?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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