Viewing entries tagged
Generosity

Good timing.

Good timing.

Google the term 'photo bombed' and you're sure to see an endless amount of images where a photo becomes a story or even a punch line. Some images are accidental, many are funny, but all are well-timed. 'Photo bomb' is a good commentary for how God shows up in our lives in unexpected ways. Most would believe that He's present and cares. We experience comfort and provision and answers to prayers. But so many of life's circumstances feel more hellish than heavenly. And yet, God's always present. My hope is that we can train our eyes to see glimpses of a good God in the backdrop of everyday life.

When Jesus describes heaven on earth, it often looks more subtle than grand. It’s a like a seed…yeast that works through dough…or a field of wheat mixed with weeds. He used everyday and ordinary images to offer a glimpse of the world God intended. Jesus wants to change our perspective that heaven is a realm we can experience today, not just when we die. And he invites us to be co-creators in a revolution of generosity & compassion, hospitality & forgiveness.

Since Easter, we’ve distributed $500 worth of HEB gift cards and $1000 worth of $50 cash envelopes.  We want to be a catalyst for compassion by finding opportunities to encourage others. However, this is also a chance to practice Renewal by yielding to the Spirit’s prompts and turning toward opportunity. Can’t wait to hear how you capture moments of heaven on earth – Salvation has come!

What's your story?

What's your story?

Creating a New Normal requires, well, a new approach, a different practice. This faith experiment is about finding simple opportunities to bring encouragement to others. However, it's also about learning to respond to the prompts of the Spirit. The Rhythm of Renewal is about increasing one's awareness of the presence of God. The more we respond, the more sensitive our hearts become. It’s how we draw near to God and sow seeds of heaven on earth.

If you received an HEB gift card or $50 envelope, you have a story to tell. Perhaps it’s a story YET to be told. Either way, I want to encourage you to pray. Ask neighbors. Talk with friends. Listen for ways YOU can help, bring hope, and support people living in our city. The resurrection means new life is available, and begins with each of us. So far,

  • A co-worker of Laurel’s, in the midst of divorce legal fees, received $50 for gas money, so that she could drive to the coast to visit grandchild and son for their birthday weekend. Another Tribe mate leveraged their $50 so that she could show up with a gift.

  • Jess and Kristin organized a brunch with ESL moms – all living on food stamps. They invited Shannon & Natalie to ply their trade a dietitians to offer introduction on healthy eating, shopping on a budget, and supplements that make a big difference for aches and allergies.

Please come ready to share your story at Tribe weekend on June 1-2. Just start with prayer, look for opportunity, and imagine if we all practiced yielding to God’s Spirit? That could be a transformational story. It feels like a New Normal. Get ‘ur done, friends…in Austin as it is in Heaven!

 

A Conditional Guarantee

A Conditional Guarantee

The very nature of faith means there are no guarantees. We can believe God’s Word. We can trust in God’s redemption, celebrate mercy, and hope in prayer. But guarantees in this life are hard to come by…Except, trouble. Jesus said in John 16, “I have told you these things, so that in me YOU MAY have peace.  In this world YOU WILL have trouble.  But take heart, I have overcome the world.” That’s right, In Christ…you may/might/possibly/by chance experience peace. BUT, ‘in this world, you WILL have trouble’. Honestly, I didn’t need Scripture to tell me something I already know. 

Here’s the beauty: If trouble is guaranteed…and peace is available, then is serves to reason God is already present in the midst of this world’s struggle.

Heaven is not simply a place we go when we die. Rather, Jesus said that heaven is here and now. Eternity has already begun. It’s like we live in a field of wheat but there are also weeds all around us. And, as the Parable goes, Jesus was adamant the field NOT be uprooted for fear of losing the good.

When we talk about heaven on earth, we’re talking about, sometimes small, ways of restoring the world as God intended through ordinary but attentive ways. When we celebrate the resurrection at Easter, we embrace the promise of “do over’s” and the chance to begin again…and again. What we find is that attempts to bring light, encouragement, support, relief, and help is Just. Not. Easy. Nor convenient. Nor comfortable. And often uninspired and unrecognized. Yet, God is in the Hard and the Good, which means we can experience peace in the midst of this world’s trouble. So, sow seeds! This is how Jesus described the kingdom of heaven.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve distributed $500 worth of HEB gift cards and $1000 worth of $50 envelopes. On one level, we want to experiment with compassion and generosity by finding opportunities to encourage others. However, this is also a chance to practice Renewal by yielding to the Spirit’s prompts and turning toward opportunity. Can’t wait to hear your stories of new life! Welcome to the resurrection! This is Church. 

In the Hands of the People.

In the Hands of the People.

The resurrection means that New Life is available for everyone for all time. The chance to begin again, heal, overcome, bounce back, retrace your steps can be part of our human experience. Like prodigals returning home, we have a chance to create a new normal for ourselves and for others. 

In response to New Normal, we raised $1500 by ‘fasting’ normal and everyday expenses. With those savings, we distributed $500 worth of HEB gifts cards on Easter. The idea is this: The resurrection means new life is possible for all of us. Jesus said, Kingdom of heaven is like a seed…” so yesterday we passed out ‘seed money’—$50 to every family, couple or individual in hopes of discovering ways to sow seeds. In Christ, we can bring encouragement and support to others. It’s not simply about finding a ‘needy’ situation but looking for an opportunity to ‘seed’ heaven on earth.

Even though new life is possible, it’s not automatic. Our Rhythms invite us to practice a living and resurrected faith! Renewal is the Rhythm to encourage a growing awareness of God’s presence. We become spiritually alive the more we yield to ‘turn’ to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. The reason we practice Generosity or Compassion is a way to see how God is the Source of all that we have. Perhaps this practice might ignite a new way of seeing our own resources and everyday opportunities to ‘seed the kingdom of heaven”.  This is just another way we can Apprentice or share what following Christ means with those closest. If you find an opportunity that requires more than $50, find Community with friends and Tribe mates—The money is in the hands of the people!

A Normal Idea

A Normal Idea

We often think of fasting as an extreme form of spirituality, like it’s reserved for the ’spiritual green berets”. In reality, we all “fast” all the time! We fast sleep, workouts, quality time with friends & family, returning messages, fried foods, favorite hobbies, and doing our taxes. The difference is that our sacrifice is often for personal gain, busyness, or procrastination. Christian fasting is a voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of spiritual focus. So, what if we were more thoughtful about a daily offering as we prepare our hearts for Easter? What if we had small ways, each day, to remind us of our faith, hope, & love for God?

A faith Experiment for Lent & Loving More. Consider what simple ways you can save money for during Lent. Keep a running total of how much you save from your usual spending habits and operating budget. At the end, we’ll pool our savings and announce our grand total on Easter Sunday. Since the resurrection offers new life, we’ll leverage funds together to bring life, care, and compassion to others!

It’s been said that forty days is enough time to create a new habit. What if this experiment could also affect the way we see God’s provision in our life and also create a new normal?

For ideas on simple ways to save and participate, check out our Lent Experiment. You can (re)start at any time and can turn in money each week but all monies to be collected on Sunday, April 14, 2019. Because Hope is rising & New Life is a promise for all!

Hearing God.

Hearing God.

The word “Listening” in Latin is ‘obedire'. 'Audire' means “listening with great attention”.

That’s where the word “obedience” comes from.  Jesus is called the obedient one, that means listener. 

The Latin word for not listening, being deaf, is “surdus”. If you are absolutely not listening, that is where the word “absurd” comes from. 

So it might be interesting to note that somebody who is not listening is leading an absurd life.

This insight comes from Henri Nouwen’s Advent Book, which offers really helpful guidance as we move through this sacred but Oh-So-Hectic Season. If this month feels more emotional, it’s because we all carry with us particular longings. Some are shaped by God, some not. But all of us long for EXACTLY what Christmas represents – God’s peace, hope, love, and Joy. And while Christ has come, the world – & all of us in it — are left longing for more. The Good News is that Hope has come. The more Good News is that we get to participate with God as agents of justice & mercy, compassion, generosity, & hope.

This month, we’re celebrating the anticipation of Christ’s coming with a series entitled, December Longings. Chances are the people closest to you are also longing for something more, different, and better. BE. LIGHT. Offer Hope, help, healing. Invite them into faith and community

Speaking of Heaven on Earth, in the last two months, Mission Hills has been able to leverage almost $3000 from the Good Neighbor Fund!! All people in significant need. Your attendance ($1 set aside for every person in worship attendance) and your attention to the needs in our city MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE! 

  • A single mom who’s husband is incarcerated, driving for Lift, needed car repair

  • Dental care for immigrant friend

  • Rental assistance for hospitalized & out of work burmese family 

  • Grandparents left to raise 9 grandkids that two drug-dependent daughters abandoned, 

  • ESL books for 10 students taught by our own people

Hope has come. You’re part of it. We all still carry longings but, when we bind together to practice and share a living faith, Christ Reigns!

All in!

All in!

There’s a video making it’s rounds on social media What does it mean to be a child? So Good! It captures the imagination and adventure in children. It wasn't until I saw the video that I had an answer: Being a child means living as if consequences weren’t real.

Ever surprised by a child jumping into your arms? You weren’t expecting but caught ‘em. Barely. Jesus welcomes a ‘childlike’ faith SO THAT we can trust him with our lives without reservation. No matter how hard we’ve worked or overcome, everything is a gift from God – education, health, friendship, shelter, gifts, and the ability to generate an income. In other words, being a Christian is learning to see God as the Source and our lives as an offering.

When we talk about generosity, giving comes from 2 perspectives: Either, I give from my own resources - my earnings - my stuff… OR, I give from God’s provision – blessings - resources, which I’ve been entrusted to steward.

Unlike children, we often want to trust and then learn to GIVE. But, it’s only in giving that FAITH GROWS. We tend to think of giving as a trade off (this-for-that) but giving our entire life is the only way to new life!

God Cares for us as his own – Not indifference but intimately & personally. Spiritually, it’s means we learn to see – at every stage and every age – Christ at the center. This isn’t automatic! It requires a practice and a regular discipline to remind us who we are in light of who Christ is. We're invited to follow without reservation, to give our lives by going 'All in'!

Welcome to Lent because Easter is coming. New Life is within reach. Our Lent initiative to make each Friday good for another. With child-like faith, make a plan to practice generosity... 

  1. Make a charitable contribution as an act of faith.
  2. Put $$ in an expired parking meter or buy a 2 hr parking sticker & leave it stuck to machine for someone.
  3. Leave an exceptional tip (whether they deserve it or not). Decide to be generous as God is with you.
  4. Buy a strangers’ coffee anonymously, if possible.