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Giving

push

Pushing or Praying?

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41-42).

I often want to get my way so badly. Being an only child, getting my way came easily. My mother totally spoiled me.

The shock to my system after I got married and all of a sudden I couldn’t get my way all the time was epic. My desperation during that time was what started my prayer life. (Isn’t it interesting the things God uses to draw us to Himself?) Slowly, very slowly, I began praying sporadically, usually when I needed something, or when I was convinced I was right about something and Nicole was wrong. I was still pushing my way through life, more than praying my way through it. I was probably trying to push God to let me get my way!

In 2011, on my 39th birthday, prayer took on a different meaning when I was convinced to make Jesus the CEO of my life and seek him every day in every area of my life. I had so much to learn, and I still do, but this was a powerful step in the right direction. Praise God.

The energy I expend praying vs. pushing is finally shifting more towards praying. Pushing is hard. Pushing my agenda, beliefs, ideas, and thoughts onto someone is not only bad for relationships, it’s pointless. I’m learning more and more to turn to God in prayer, the true power. Turning to God in prayer makes pushing look like a weak alternative. I ask more questions of my friends, family, clients, and those with whom I interact – instead of telling them what I think.

Nowadays I try to only share my agenda or opinion in specific circumstances:

  1. After much prayer.
  2. When asked directly. Even then, I usually ask questions first. Jeff, my friend and mentor, modeled this for me.
  3. With those closest to me like Nicole, Luke, and close friends or family.

Thinking about this more, when I look at how Jesus interacted with those around him, I see him praying and questioning and gently teaching, never pushing at all. If I am to be like Him, I need to totally let go of the need to push, and instead pray, ask more questions, and gently teach when it’s appropriate.

I have so much work to do here. Pushing comes naturally; prayer does not.

Where are you in this journey of praying vs. pushing?

forgive

Love and Forgiveness Modeled Beautifully

My parents and Step Mom modeled love and forgiveness. Let me explain.

My Mom left my Dad when I was 9. He was depressed for three years and my Mom didn’t know how to deal with this situation; so she left. This only made things worse for my Dad.  My parent’s marriage had taken place just a few months before my birth – in short, my mom had become pregnant due to a relationship with a man she later found out was married.  She immediately broke it off with him when she found out he was married.  At some point, while pregnant with me, my Mom and Dad started dating and were married before I was born.  When my Mom left my Dad, she proceeded to date my biological father, who was still married.  Not good, I know. I believe this may have started before she left my Dad, I don’t know the exact timing as I was quite young.  At some point my Dad found out about her rekindled relationship with my biological father.

I was raised by my Dad, Mike Hurley, from birth to age 9 when my Mom left but at this point I guess my Dad decided he did not want to pay for child support, so he didn’t. This went on until I was 18.

When I was 12, my Dad met and later married his girlfriend who became my Step Mom, and they moved to Las Vegas from L.A. just a few years after the split with my Mom. Subsequently they moved to Kentucky in 1991 and we lost all contact with them for over three years.

This upset me greatly, and when I was upset usually my Mom was as well.

As you can see, my family life as a kid was complicated.

Fast forward from 1994 to 2005, when my Dad and Step Mom were now living in Washington and were planning to move back to L.A. to care for my Step Mom’s ailing parents. Unbeknownst to me, my Mom had been talking to my Dad and Step Mom for some time and had invited them to stay with her while they tried to sort out their move to L.A.  I want to note here that these three never went to church and at this time did not have a relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Yet, in spite of all of the above craziness from my childhood, they modeled the love and forgiveness Jesus spoke of in the Gospels and modeled Himself throughout His life, especially on the cross.

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:34).

My Mom and my Dad are no longer with us, but my Step Mom still cannot talk about my Mom without tearing up.  Of all of the main attributes of Jesus, love and forgiveness come the easiest to me just for the mere fact that it was modeled so beautifully to me by my Mom, Dad and Step Mom.

What story of love and forgiveness would you like to share?

 

Friday Inspiration

Lifestyle generosity doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s more of a growth process: the more you give, the better you feel-and the more joyful and contented you are, the more you want to give.

Ron Blue, Generous Living

 

 

gap

Love Gap

When Jesus was asked “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28b-31).

Seems simple – love God with all my heart, mind and soul and then love my neighbors as myself.  So how are we doing with the “Great Commandment”?

When people think of us as Christians do they think we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and that we love our neighbors as ourselves  — I would say probably no, at least not all of the time.

Could we be suffering a “love gap” that is the distance between how we are loving and how God created us to love?

Maybe we are failing to manage the time (calendar) God has entrusted to us in the manner in which God created? For me to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself it takes less time wasted and more time with God, reading His Bible, praying to Him and being in a listening posture. I still struggle with all of this because of the pull of the world is constantly telling me I have to do this and that and be busy, busy. Why all this busyness? Perhaps because most everyone else I know is doing it and busyness seems like the natural thing to do.

But I fear that we are quenching the Spirit when we are too busy with the things of this world and not focusing on things above and instead focusing on things below.  My focus too often is on what is right in front of me instead of heavenly things.

I need to remember that God is awesome and that He knows best and that is why I need to spend as much time possible with Him and Jesus.

I need to be reminded that I should not feel obligated to do my quiet time but instead be super excited to know our God more, to fall deeper in love with Him so He can be my everything including my most, by far, important relationship. I also must be reminded that when I do not live up to these goals, I should not feel shame or guilt but know that God loves me greatly and for Him there is no love gap.

What will we give up today, to close this love gap?

paul

The Life of Paul

I’m fascinated by the life of Paul. This hard-charging, super type-A personality was bent on doing what he thought was the work of God—only to find out it was the antithesis of it.

Talk about being outside of God’s will!

A man who, upon learning of his wrongdoing, does a 180 and starts proclaiming the name that he was trying to bring down: JESUS!

A man who, upon his conversion, goes away to Arabia for three years to do things about which we can only speculate. Preach and teach? Receive more revelation? Pray?

It would be like Bill Maher travelling to one of his gigs only to come across Christ, become blinded and filled with the Holy Spirit, get baptized, regain his sight, then fall off the face of the earth and emerge three years later to plant churches in San Francisco with Francis Chan and write books about Jesus, grace, love, forgiveness, gratitude and how to finish strong for Christ!

Can you even imagine!

Maybe if Paul never felt the grace of God he would have never become grateful. Gratitude became one of his greatest attributes. He urged his fellow Christians to be grateful all of the time. “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

His gratitude welled up and he wanted EVERYONE to experience this freedom in Christ.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Jesus was using this type-A personality to promote His name. Paul was literally risking his body so that everyone he came across would hear the Good News.

This, my friends, is the road to true generosity. It was through gratitude due to the grace of Jesus Christ, that Paul was able to freely and abundantly give of himself, risking the life God had given him to spread the Good News. He recklessly gave so others would be free ̶ FREE IN CHRIST!

Paul’s life is the perfect model for us to follow in order to have Jesus reign supreme in the calendar, cash and calling God has entrusted to us.

What did Paul do first? Did he become generous with the cash, or step immediately into the calling God had on his life?

No.

Jesus uprooted the calendar part of his life. Jesus reprioritized his life to what Jesus created him for. His true calling. But it first started with the calendar part of his life.

 

 

content

Arabia—A Time with God

Saul persecuted people of the Way. He witnessed Steven being stoned to death. He was marching his way to Damascus to inflict more persecutions when Jesus Christ met him and confronted him about his activities.

Saul was blinded, filled with the Holy Spirit, regained his sight, became a Christ-follower and was baptized, then started proclaiming the name of Jesus in the synagogues.

After a little time he went to Arabia. For three years! This hard-charging man was in the desert for three years. His job was taken away as he no longer had a heart for it. He lost all of his friends, his co-workers, and those who were part of the mission to persecute people of the Way. His life completely changed.

What happened during these three years?

Could God have spent this time rebuilding the foundation of his life and faith? Saul had been going very hard for a very long time, possibly never stopping. (This sounds oddly familiar to me.) How cool it would have been to eavesdrop on the conversations between Saul and God.

Maybe during this time he learned to be content?

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Maybe he learned about Jesus’ grace and what Jesus had given up for him and everyone?

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Maybe he learned how to live and what to die for?

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Maybe he learned to count others more significant than himself?

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Maybe he learned to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) even when you have been beaten and thrown in jail?

“And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:23-25).

Maybe he learned that it is far better to give than to receive? (Acts 20:35) Undoubtedly Saul became Paul—a completely new man. It was that time away from everything and everyone except God that caused this change.

When was the last time you were away from everyone and everything except God? Are we missing the life we were created to live because we have not had our time away with God?

tithing

Financial Freedom

I’ve had a lifetime challenge with money. When I was young, I wanted some, then when I got some, I wanted more.

Always more. More money. Give me more. I need more. I want more. I deserve more.

More. More. More!

I got more and it made me angry because I still wanted more.

One of my early steps towards financial freedom was memorizing this verse: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Hmm. ALL. Really? This was a different formula. I read it over and over again, and I realized the verses preceding it were all about money and stuff. (Matthew 6:19-32)

Yes I was storing up a lot on earth, isn’t that the point to making a lot of money? This is what I thought I was supposed to do. This is what most everyone teaches and practices.

Then I made Jesus the CEO over my life. Slowly. It was hard, and still is. I’m really, really hard headed.

We hired a Certified Kingdom Advisor and a budget coach. They started praying for us and working with us. Things started changing, slowly. Real change does not happen quickly. We started realizing that God had given us so much financially, not to mention His grace and mercy when we were young Christians but not following His ways.

We got our financial life in order. It took saying no to a lot of things, both on the calendar, to make time to fix this mess, and of course in the cash area of our lives.

We started tithing and now we have given thousands of dollars, with no significant increase in income, to Kingdom causes and have become more and more joyful. We love giving. We love having financial order in our lives. We have no regrets about any of the giving. We are now tracking toward financial freedom and it’s a great feeling.

For me the following was and is true:

Financial Independence (tracking towards it) = Anger, fear, entitlement, discontentment (never had enough) and arrogance.

Financial Freedom = Joy, peace, confidence, happiness, gratitude, humility, generosity.

Friday Inspiration

To be joyful and generous,  you have to see things as God sees them. When your beliefs, your vision, and your actions align with his perspective, the results will be nothing short of incredible.

Ron Blue, Generous Living

Friday Inspiration

 

The Bible is unclear on exactly how much we should give. I believe this lack of clarity is because the decision concerning the amount an individual gives should be based on a personal relationship with God. As we seek the guidance of the Spirit through an active prayer life, giving suddenly becomes an exciting adventure.

Howard Dayton, “Your Money Counts”