Be Generous

Dear Emma:

As we close out November and begin the Christmas season, it’s the perfect time to do more than just say what we are thankful for but to actually embrace living out each day with a generous heart. I have always believed that generosity flows from a grateful heart. When you know how blessed you are, you can’t help but want to give back to the Lord for all that He has done. Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, and I so enjoyed counting our blessings and thanking the Lord for His love for us, our family, our health, our church, our friends, our home, our careers, and the list goes on and on. God has been so good to us, and I truly believe that the best way we can give thanks is by turning our words into actions and living a life that is full of love and generosity towards Him and to those around us.

There’s so much that I could share about giving generously. Perhaps the greatest thing that I have learned is that we can’t out give God. When we choose to give to Him with our time and our resources, He blesses us more than we could ever dream possible. In fact, He tells us in Malachi 3:10, “Try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” He also promises that if we give, it will be given to us. “For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). How awesome to know that in God’s economy, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 10:35) and when we live by this principle, He promises to take care of our needs and to bless us abundantly. Ultimately, it comes down to this:

Giving is not because God needs our money or service. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Giving is for US to learn to obey and trust God in all things

and to experience His abundant blessings in our lives.

 

Another thing that I have learned about being generous is that it is often less about money and more about what’s in our heart. When we choose to see that everything we are and everything we have is because of God and is His anyway, we are less apt to hold on to things tightly and we become more willing to give freely and generously because our trust is in the Maker of the Universe who owns it all (Psalm 104:24, Psalm 50:712) and who has promised to meet our every need (Philippians 4:13). I like to picture it in my mind as when we fully trust the Lord’s provision in our own life, we no longer hold on to everything with our fists clenched tightly; instead, we open our hands, our hearts, and our lives and fully extend them to the Lord and to those around us. Thus, Generosity becomes a way of life when it is no longer about us and what we can get out of something, but rather how we can freely give and make a difference.

 

 

So how can we embrace a generous life? Well, let me first say that I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t always get it right, but I have seen firsthand how when we are generous in these 4 areas not only does it make a difference in those around us, but our lives are never the same.

  • Time and Service: As you know, this past week I put a post on Facebook about your grandpa’s upcoming 90th birthday and asked people if they might want to participate in a card shower for him. With all that grandpa and grandma are facing with grandma’s Alzheimer’s, I thought this would be a great way to encourage grandpa. I have to say that I have been completely blown away by everyone’s kindness, generosity and excitement to be a part of this. As of right now, we have over 100 people that have asked for his address to send a card to him. It truly has been such a beautiful picture of the good that can happen when people take the time to give generously to someone else. But equally as touching are all the personal messages that people have been posting and writing to me about how grandpa and grandma have been such a blessing to so many throughout the years. From opening their home for people to spend the night, to inviting people that visited the church over for a meal, to taking meals to those in need, and several even shared how they remembered when they took me in as a baby—just a few of the many examples of a life time of giving generously which has impacted so many lives…especially my own and such a testament to how God not only uses us but also how he blesses us when we live generous lives.
  • Money: When I think of people who have been generous with giving money, there are a number of people that come to my mind. First, your Nana and Papa are two of the most generous people I know. Throughout their whole lives they have supported ministries, missionaries, helped people in need, and have always supported our ministry of singing and speaking in churches, at ladies’ conferences, and youth events. And when I think about the decisions that have been made at our concerts, I know there are many people in Heaven as a result of their generous and giving hearts. Emma, I would also say that your dad has a generous heart with giving as well. I remember when he first started out investing in real estate and wasn’t even making money yet, he decided to take on the full support of a missionary in Africa. I’ll be honest, at first I wondered if he should wait until he was actually profiting, but what I quickly learned was that his act of faith and giving set the stage for God’s blessings that we have seen all throughout the years. I also remember around that same time when we were newlyweds just starting out in ministry and on a summer concert tour, he asked a successful businessman out for breakfast. I’m sure the guy was wondering what he was going to get hit up for, but all your dad wanted to do was ask him some questions about being a Christian businessman. The man shared that early on he made a commitment to live off of 10% of what he made and to give 90% back to the Lord, and he said he never once regretted that decision and has always been so blessed by the Lord. Your dad never forgot that conversation and it truly impacted our hearts from that day forward. Once again, you can’t out give God. One last example was just recently when I had the privilege of speaking at your school to the middle school girls. Your daddy and I talked about it and felt led to give all 180 girls a copy of my book, “Dare to Soar”, to further encourage the girls to boldly live for Jesus. We had so much fun doing it, and we truly felt like we were the one who walked away with the blessing. Well, a few weeks ago, someone came to us and gave us a check to cover the expense of the books. We didn’t ask anyone for that. We certainly didn’t expect it or even want it, but I believe with all my heart that God did it to remind us yet again that you can’t out give Him. He blesses us more than we could ever imagine when we give to Him.
  • Talent:  Earlier today, I received a message that brought tears to my eyes. Out of the blue, an old friend messaged me to tell me about a business meeting he had recently with someone in Atlanta. At the end of their meeting, the lady shared her testimony with my friend that in 2002 she was at a concert in Florida and there was a young lady singing “This is the air I breathe” named Paula Dunn and during that service she received Christ as her Savior. When she shared this, my friend immediately told her that he knew me, and they both could not believe what a small world it was when God brings people and stories together. My friend was so excited to share this with me, and I was blessed beyond belief to hear what God did so many years ago.  I share this not to take any of the credit, but to simply say that I am in awe at what God will do when we make ourselves available to Him. It is so exciting to know that we can use the gifts God has given us to play a part in pointing people to Jesus. Sweet girl, I love how I already see you using your talents. Whether it’s singing for Jesus, writing encouraging notes at Thanksgiving, or even how you wrote a note this week to give to a girl you played against in a basketball game, it all can make a difference for eternity when we use our talents and gifts for God’s glory. I hope you never forget that and always use everything you have been given for His honor and glory! 
  • Heart: Recently, I was talking with a friend who humbly shared with me how God had led her to help someone who was disadvantaged and had fallen through the cracks of society. The situation had escalated to the point where my friend and her husband took this person in their home temporarily until proper housing could be secured. By doing so, my friend took on supervising and caring for this person, something that was very involved and demanding of her constant attention and even involved clean up after this individual was very sick. As she shared this with me, I couldn’t help but think of the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:40, “When you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” There is no doubt in my mind that my friend’s time and loving acts of service ministered to this individual, but more importantly, it pleased the Lord. Her self-less giving was as important to Him as any message preached, any concert given, any missions trip taken, and any amount of money donated, for it was given straight from her heart to the heart of God.

So, as the calendar rolls into December tomorrow and we dive into the Christmas season filled with happy Christmas carols, twinkling lights on decorated trees, gifts carefully chosen and wrapped under the tree, and all the other festivities we hold dear, I pray that we will also look for opportunities to give generously with our time, our money, our talents, and our hearts. It’s been said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” And sweet girl, that is so true.  In fact, when we choose to live a life of generosity, that is when are rich−rich in blessings, rich in eternal rewards, and rich in the joy and contentment that comes from a life filled with generosity and love. This is my prayer for our family: may we give extravagantly from a heart filled with gratitude and love not just at Christmas but all year through, for when we choose a life of giving we are living a life that is truly blessed by God above.

Love you forever,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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