Generous in prayer #40acts blog

Generous in prayer #40acts blog

Act 36: Habit asked us: What generous action from the last 35 days do you want to make a habit?  Two generous actions have become a habit from the past two years of participating in 40acts. A generous action from the first year I participated in 40acts is still a habit of mine. Three years, there was an Act to be generous in prayer. (I think there is a prayer Act each year.) I knew there was a hole in my prayer life.  I knew where my prayers were stingy.  I knew who I wasn’t praying for. I had some aspects of prayer covered.  Prayers of gratitude are the bedrock of my relationship with God – even in tough times.  When I’m struggling, I pray.  I will belt out my laments to God. When I know of a situation that is devastating or difficult, I take it to Jesus.  If someone is suffering, I hold them in the light of God’s countenance. But, praying for people – people I love and care about – on a regular basis?  I never found a way to do that.  If you were doing reasonably well, I wasn’t praying for you. If you were confronting the ordinary challenges, triumphs, and hurts of everyday life, I was thinking about you, talking with you, but I wasn’t lifting up your joys and sorrows in prayer with any regularity. I tried.  I read about the systems other people – and other pastors – used to pray for people regularly.  I created lists and started cards files and set up photos.  Sorry.  If you were doing reasonably...
Generations of generosity #40acts blog

Generations of generosity #40acts blog

One of the recent #40ACTS got me thinking about my faith, how it developed, and who was responsible (other than God) for nurturing it. First, of course, are my parents. Both my mom and my dad were active in St. Lukes Evangelical Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, IL, near where we lived. My dad served as church financial officer, and I remember being in the church office counting money after worship on most Sundays. My mom was active in the senior citizens’ program, as well as in a couple of circles. They strongly influenced me as role models. Second, would be my Aunt Lill, my mom’s sister. Aunt Lill was a graduate of the Chicago Conservatory of Music and the organist at St. Lukes; she was a wonderfully generous individual. Her husband, Uncle Austin, a carpenter, was also active in the church, often ushering and building/repairing stuff. They were like second parents to me, and I would often spend the day with Aunt Lill; I remember one particular day when I sat in a pew at church while she practiced for Sunday; then she took me to lunch and to the Pickwick Theater to see a Disney movie. Aunt Lill and Uncle Austin were both positive influences on my faith. Third would be my Aunt Nonnie, my dad’s sister. Aunt Nonnie was a faithful member of a Lutheran church on the near north side of Chicago. She didn’t drive, and would walk the three blocks to church on most Sunday mornings; when the weather was bad, her husband, Uncle Ray, an Illinois State Trooper, would drive her. I never...
Forgive me.  Who me? #40acts blog

Forgive me. Who me? #40acts blog

Act 32 encouraged us to be generous with our forgiveness. I thought of the terrible things I have heard of Christians finding the peace to forgive.  I remembered injustices that have injured me that I have been able to release. Then, I looked through my heart for where I was holding a grudge.  Where was I angry?  Where was I hurt and blaming someone?  Who did I think had behaved in ways that were unfair, unjust or unkind? All those answers lead back to one person: me. I think this is a common dilemma.  We hold on to our own wrongdoings. We confess our sins on Sunday and receive the assurance that we are forgiven by God. But, we judge ourselves and withhold forgiveness. It’s a pretty effective way to keep God from being Lord of our life.   We aren’t supposed to put ourselves in the position of judging what God forgives. God generously forgives us.  Even me. If we lay a lavish layer of that divine forgiveness on our own soul, we just might find it easier to forgive someone...
How do you measure generosity? #40acts blog

How do you measure generosity? #40acts blog

I thought I was being generous when I put my envelope in the collection plate at Old Orchard United Methodist Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  I was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, and we had bought a home in Cherry Hill, a 25-minute drive to the base. We began attending Old Orchard Methodist shortly after we moved in.  Since joining the Navy in 1964, Pat and I had been stationed in, and attending churches in  New Port, Rhode Island, Athens, Georgia, San Diego, CA, Bremerton and Seattle Washington, Long Beach and San Diego, California, Sasebo Japan, Libertyville, Illinois, Ann Arbor Michigan, and Newport Rhode Island again before finally buying a home in Cherry Hill.  We had been Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and non-denominationalists.  Since we were at most places for less than three years, we never actually joined or got very active in any of the churches.Old Orchard was different.  When we first visited in Old Orchard was different.  When we first visited in 1979, we immediately felt at home, and the church became our family.  Our kids attended Sunday school, and we attended Bible Study, and we became regular visitors. One Sunday the minister, who we really liked, took me aside after the service and asked me when we were going to join the church.  He said it was about time.  We had never given it much thought since we hadn’t joined any other churches, but after much thought finally made the decision to join. In those days, joining meant pledging, and we did.  I remember thinking that this was a big step for us since...
Can I get a do-over? #40acts blog

Can I get a do-over? #40acts blog

This is the third year I have done 40acts and each year, around now, I feel overwhelmed.  I am deeply moved – internally and externally – by 40acts.  But, it can be overwhelming. I find it hard to keep up.  Even the simple green ideas are hard to plan on some days. Other days, I think I would do a yellow or red idea if I had time to figure out what I felt called to do and when to do it. Each year, I think, “I kind of wish we only had one act a week. I could manage to be generous then.” That makes me feel thoroughly ungenerous. During my sermon last Sunday, I offered ideas to live as a person freed by our encounter with Jesus.  One of my suggestions was to work through 40 acts again when the 40 days of Lent are over. I guess I was preaching to myself. I am going to work my way back through this year’s 40 acts, one week at a time when Lent is over. I’ll tell you my system, so I will commit to it:  put each act into Evernote and set a reminder date. There are 42 weeks between Easter 2017 and Ash Wednesday 2018.  I think I will take the last week of the year and the week before Lent out of rotation. I’ll just move through the acts in the order they appeared. The upside: It makes me smile to think of the places and seasons I will get to try out generosity. (I wonder where I will be for #chocolatetuesday.) The downside: I...