Tag Archives: generosity

Roses for Mom

Christmas is a time for magic and mystery. It is also a time of generosity and grace …

It was Christmas Eve. The florist shop stayed open late and was doing a brisk business. A line waited at the counter. In that line was a 7 year-old boy. His clothes looked worn out and his shoes had more than a few holes in them. When it was finally his turn, he placed a wadded up dollar bill on the counter and spoke boldly, “Mister, do you have any roses for my mom? I’m willing to pay a buck for ‘em.”

Roses for $1? The other customers couldn’t help but snicker and whisper some comments of incredulity. The shopkeeper looked down at the boy and said, “Let me see what I can do for you.” The man headed for the back of the shop. After a few minutes he returned with a dozen long-stemmed red roses, picked up the dollar bill, and placed the roses in the boy’s arms. “You’re in luck, son. On Christmas Eve, we have a special on roses for young men who want to do something nice for their mothers. Merry Christmas!”

With a big smile on his face, the boy gathered his roses and walked proudly out of the store with his head held high. “Wait til mom sees these!”

May you find opportunity to bring joy this Christmas to someone who really needs it!

Any color you want

Henry Ford, according to Wikipedia, was a famous “American captain of industry and a business magnate, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.” He was also known for some pithy quotes.

The one most folks might know concerns the ground-breaking Model T automobile: “You can have it in any color you want, as long as it is black.”

Some of my favorites:

“Don’t find fault; find a remedy.”

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

“To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.”

Ford was more than a brilliant capitalist; he was progressive in his practices and innovative in his business. He was also generous. That quality was expressed in his association with Martha Berry. The long-lasting friendship between Martha Berry and the Fords began when, in 1921, Miss Berry accepted a dinner invitation from Thomas Edison, who at the time was a friend of the Fords. At this dinner, Martha Berry met the Fords and began her life-long friendship with them.

What a combination! Martha Berry’s commitment to making educational opportunities available for any person and Henry Ford’s willingness to do more for the world that the world did for him changed many lives.


We can follow Ford’s advice. Success is indeed making a difference for all the right reasons.

A holly, jolly Christmas

Hurry! It’s cyber Monday! You need to buy stuff you don’t need quickly! We seem to suffer from one of two maladies: conspicuous consumption or perhaps constipated consumption.

With our church recently experiencing the Matthew 25 Challenge through World Vision, it is even more painfully evident that we live in shuttered world. If we open the shutters, advertisers would have us believe that there is a brand new SUV or other luxury vehicle sitting in our driveway with a big red bow. They just appear!

Materialism isn’t new. Our consumer-driven society has been splurging on itself for many years. One silly column isn’t going to change selfish to selfless.

Still, it is heart-warming when you see people more interested in giving than receiving, people who accept blessing by blessing, people who intentionally open their homes and hearts. Yes, Christmas is the best time of year because we are confronted with the amazing gift of a generous God who knew exactly what we needed.

Let’s think of how we are going to invest not spend this year. I don’t mean to make ourselves more comfortable; I mean being more concerned with eternal values than earthly bargains.


Habit: a repeated action that becomes automatic

That is one way to define behaviors that become a part of our routine. Habits, both good and bad, are hard to break once established. Some you wish you never started; others you are glad you did.

Growing up, one of the habits we developed had to do with preparing for Sunday. On Saturday night, certain things were just done. Clothes were selected (usually by mom, including dad’s) and laid out, offering envelopes were filled, check marks were made in the appropriate boxes, and envelopes were placed in Bibles. Evening prayer always included asking God to bless our church the next day. Early to bed and early to rise. We never had a discussion about whether we were going to church. Since dad served on the church staff, that matter was already settled!

But it became more than habit or obligation. Growing in faith came to mean something more significant. It began to matter. It was good to see friends, to learn lessons, to participate in worship, but there was more. Over time, habit turned into yearning. As years passed, faith became personal and powerful. Coming to know a gracious and generous God touched a deep place inside.

Why do we come? Why do we serve? Why do we give? Our time, talent, and treasure should be given out of joy and opportunity, not habit or duty. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).

Only 9 to go!

A congregation was excited about its new, young pastor. He was energetic, preached inspiring sermons and worked with the youth. Then one night he was late for the church council meeting.

Another time, he failed to show up for a committee meeting.

He even started coming late to worship.

Then one Sunday, he failed to show up at all for worship.

The council voted to dismiss the pastor.

Then the council had the following message posted at the church entrance: “We have fired our pastor for acting like the rest of us.”

A preacher wrote that story, right? Sounds like one, doesn’t it?

Did you know there are nine weeks left in 2015? Counting this Sunday, we have a handful of Sundays left in the year. Included in that number are holiday weekends – Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As we enter the last two months of the year, let’s take a look of the days ahead:

  1. How will this coming season encourage me to grow deeper as a disciple of Jesus?
  2. How will I support the mission and ministry of my church?
  3. How does my calendar reflect my service to fellow members, community, and Christ?
  4. Will this be the year when I am much more interested in giving than getting?
  5. How will I experience being a more joyful steward of my time, talent, and treasure?
  6. How will I express my gratitude and generosity because of the blessings God has brought into my life?
  7. Who is the person who needs to hear the Gospel from me during the holiday season?
  8. Was Brother Lawrence right? “Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God.” How can we practice the presence of Christ in a hurried, distracted life?
  9. Let’s make the most of this time of year!

What Day is it?

calendar daysSomebody comes up with these things. Special observances for an amazing variety of emphases or reminders or celebrations take place all the time. Some are certainly laudable: World Heart Day, Cancer Awareness Week, Ataxia Awareness Day. You have to wonder about some of the other ones:

Red Squirrel Week, Bear Necessities Month (what kind of necessities does a bear really have?), World Reflexology Week (hit yourself on the knee with a hammer), Talk Like a Pirate Day (aaaargh), National Toilet Paper Day (should be connected to Bear Necessities Month), National Sun Awareness Day (go outside and look up), Brain Awareness Day (yep, got one – need to use it more), World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (that’s what we need, more caffeine), and the list goes on. You may know of some obscure and interesting ones I haven’t hear about. Send ‘em to me: mwilbanks@wieuca.org … or not.

A day use to last 24 hours. They seem to go by faster now. The pace of life has increased for most of us. It’s hard to get everything done on this day when the next one is rushing toward us so fast.

Jesus had an interesting take on days. In the Sermon on the Mount, He was trying to teach His followers how to replace anxiety and stress with trust and faith (Matthew 6:25-33). He closed that part of His message with these words captured by Eugene Peterson in The Message: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Living one day at a time sounds easy but it seldom is. Time is one of those things we can’t recapture and we know we are not guaranteed any more time than right now.

So let’s establish our own day. You can name it whatever you want. How about Giving Thanks Day or Pay Attention Day or Give Grace Day or Generosity Day or Share Your Faith Day? You decide, then go live your day to the fullest.


Along the Journey – Without Regrets

churchill-giving-quote1A man was touring the campus where he had given considerable sums. Several of the buildings bore his name. He had made a fortune in the oil business and he decided it would be a good idea to help out his old university. Writing those checks gave him a great deal of satisfaction at the time.

Now things were different … so different. His business had tanked – bad investments, failed partnerships, lousy economy – he had grown too fast, trusted too many people, made too many hasty decisions. He was broke.

As he walked among the students, he listened as the school president waxed eloquent about future plans and capital needs. The administrator had no idea that his largest donor was tapped out. Finally the man stopped the presentation and told the president the truth and watched as the blood in the man’s face seemed to drain.

After a moment of awkward silence, the president in a much weaker voice offered,  “I guess you wish that you had the money back that you spent here.”

“No,” the man responded. “If I still had all that money, I would have lost it, too. This money is safe. The money is even now building something of great value. It’s building lives. It’s helping to provide education for all these young people. Letting it go was the best thing I ever did.”

The man didn’t regret giving. We shouldn’t either. At Wieuca, we are building lives. You know our motto: “Connecting People, Changing Lives” We’re about investments around here. I will never regret giving to a gracious God who has blessed me so.

By the way, there’s a happy ending to the man’s story. He began to rebuild his business and was able to recoup most of his losses. He even reached a point where he could give enough for a new student center at his old school. He didn’t regret that either!