Service with a Smile

For over a decade there has been a men’s small group that meets on Friday mornings at 6 a.m. at a local Denny’s. Many of the faces have changed through the years, but a few have remained the same, including Navigator Pete Fuller, and one of the group’s two usual waitresses, Angie.

Just before the COVID-19 swept through the nation, the transmission in Angie’s car went out and she no longer had a way to get to work. Then the government orders went into effect and Denny’s was forced to close its doors, leaving Angie without the job she’d held for over 15 years.

As their usual meeting place was no longer available, Pete quickly thought about Angie and wondered how she was faring without a car and a job. He gave his number to a few of the Denny’s employees to see if he could get in contact with her.

It wasn’t until almost two months later that Pete got a call from Angie letting him know that she was okay, but that she’d had to move in with her daughter, a single mom of six.

“I picked up the story about that time, and so I started reaching out to see if anybody had a used car,” Pete said. “And then the small group guys were talking about pitching in… But outside of our group, I had a couple people just because I posted on Facebook… And a couple of my friends, just from reading that, pitched in.”

On top of people wanting to help purchase a car, one couple whose kids Pete used to coach in soccer, reached out to Pete with two cars they were willing to sell. Pete went over, inspected the cars and purchased one from them, knowing it was going to need a little work.

So Pete took it home, parked it in his driveway and went to work cleaning the car up, fixing a few parts here and there, and giving it a tune up to get it ready.

“I don’t normally do that kind of work,” Pete, an instrument engineer, said. “But I was happy with how it came out… The people who sold me the car saw my pictures and they said they couldn’t believe it was the same car.”

But on top of fixing the car up, the group decided to gift Angie with six months of insurance completely paid for, and an inspection so that it would be road ready when she got it.

In total, about eight people combined to raise the money needed to gift Angie the car.

“I really believe I was put here to serve,” Pete said. “I think my calling is to serve in whatever capacity I can. I know we’re supposed to be missionaries. Clear Creek has recently, kind of explained that being a missionary isn’t necessarily going over to Honduras and working over there for two years, or whatever… That’s what I always thought a missionary was. And you know, I’m grateful that there’s people who do that, that just wasn’t ever me. But I’ve always felt the need to serve… When I see people in need, it works on my heart.”

From Left to Right: Debi Fuller (Pete’s Wife), Pete Fuller, Angie, Nelson Kennedy (CCCC Attender).

22 Ways to Live Whole-Life Generosity During Tough Times

This article was originally published on April 1, 2020 by Generous Church and posted here by permission. You can read the original article here.


Whole-Life generosity is needed more during times of struggle than in times of surplus.

Here is a list of 22 simple yet impactful ways that you can encourage people in your church to practice generosity to those right around them.

 

Practice gratitude:

In other words, refuse to be a complainer. Instead, look for the positive and then share it with others. Rather than contacting the complaint department whenever something is wrong, commit to only contacting businesses when you receive good customer service or excellent product delivery. Memorize and practice Colossians 3:15.

Share your stuff:

Have extra of some things? Why not share with those who don’t? Right now, things like toilet paper, disinfectant, hand cleaner, etc. are in short supply. Donate them to neighbors, local shelters and nursing homes. Then make it a habit to share your stuff with others from now on.

Remember the homeless:

These folks are always at risk but especially now. Call your local homeless shelter and ask what they need, then deliver what you can.

Help the youth:

Older generations have a lot to share with younger people. If you’ve faced previous hardships, your experience can provide fresh perspective and comfort to kids who are struggling with their current situation.

Shop local:

Call first, then order delivery or carry out. While there, buy some gift cards and give some away or keep some for future use.

Give blood:

The American Red Cross has a huge shortage right now. Once the current situation has passed, you’ll already know how easy it is to do donate regularly.

Support the service industry: 

Prepay your barber, hair salon, the babysitter, etc. using Paypal, Venmo or Apple Pay. Send them a note letting them know you care.

Go senior shopping:

Perhaps you can run errands, pick up groceries (even medications with permission) for the elderly and those who are immuno-compromised.

Get some exercise:

The gym maybe closed, but your neighbors need some yard work done. Call and ask if you can help out. Be the person who brings everyone’s trash bins back to the garage after the collection trucks have left your neighborhood. One Kansas City metro neighborhood had a person who did this every week for those on his street. After a while he was given the honorary title of “Mayor” for his subdivision because of this one simple but thoughtful act.

Order some flowers:

Have them delivered to a place of business that remains open or other “essential” organization. Include a note letting them know you’re praying for them.

Use technology:

Apps like Nextdoor let you see if any neighbors have asked for help. Reach out to them and be a blessing.

Help local food banks:

Call first to ask what they need. Things like funds, food, or volunteer help.

Stay connected:

Texting is fine. Email is okay. But picking up the phone and calling someone is even better. Consider using Zoom or FaceTime to stay in touch. This is good for both your friend and your own soul.

Reconsider your finances:

Now is the time to examine your spending, saving and especially your giving practices. Prayerfully consider what needs to change in the area of financial generosity. We’re not talking about tithing – we’re talking about living generously, being radical with the resources God has entrusted to you. Luke 6:38

Remember widows and orphans:

You can never go wrong being generous to those who are at risk and vulnerable. James 1:27

Order food:

Place the order and have it delivered…to someone else! Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, hospital staff, and many others would be delighted to have a box of fresh donuts, a couple of hot pizzas or some excellent Barbeque delivered to their workplace.

Remember your church: 

Consider volunteering for an area of ministry you know is always lacking help. Contact the appropriate staff member now and let them know you’re “all in” when services resume. Then keep your promise. Also, remember to contribute faithfully. Malachi 3:10

Pray and fast: 

We’re commanded to pray without ceasing. Now is a perfect time to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting.

Write some notes:

Nothing beats a handwritten note. Sit down with pen and paper, jot a brief message of encouragement and drop it in the mail. Everyone loves getting personal mail. Remember the old saying regarding letters, “You have to write them to get them.”

Enjoy being quarantined: 

Stay home and use the extra time to get some cleaning, organizing or simple projects done. Staying home helps protect you have health risks and protects those around you, too.

Be creative:

These are just a few ideas, but I bet you can come up with many others. Keep the current restrictions in mind and make your ideas fit the context of your current situation.

Remember who you are:

Or better put, remember to Whom you belong. As Americans we have the right to free speech. As Christians we have the authority to speak truth. But we have to earn the right to be heard. When you speak, be positive, loving, caring, and gentle. Live out the Fruit of the Spirit. Call your neighbor to ask how you can help them. Ask if you can pray for them. Share a favorite passage of Scripture with them. Be generous in love!

Bold Love Update

008: Bold Love Update with Chris Alston and Ryan Thomas

In this episode, Ryan Lehtinen speaks with Chris Alston and Ryan Thomas about the current state of the Bold Love campaign. They also provide the most up-to-date information about the West Campus land and building project.

 

Does God Care About My Finances?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

God loves us unconditionally. He gave his son to pay the price for our sin – a price that you and I could not, and cannot ever, pay. God gave us this gift so that we would have an opportunity to give him our heart. Though he has equipped us each with our own unique set of abilities, personality, and passions, God is primarily concerned with our hearts. So, when Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,”he was emphasizing the importance of our heart’s allegiance.

Jesus goes on to say, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). He warns us that we must be careful not to put our trust in money. We are inclined to tie up our hope, identity, and security in money since it can give us a sense of personal control. God does care about our finances, but more, he cares about our heart. He cares about the motives behind the way we use our resources. Therefore, there are some fundamental elements he lays out that show us how to handle our money or finances in a godly way.

First of all, we must acknowledge that God is the owner and provider of all things. King David says it this way in 1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”

So, what does the owner or provider of all things tell us to do with the money he has entrusted to us?  He says:

  • GIVE. God doesn’t want the leftovers, he wants the first and best. God wants to be a priority in our lives, and because our hearts are where our treasure is, there is a pretty simple way for him to see if he has your heart. God demands to be first. Make giving the first priority in your budget. (See: Proverbs 3:9-10, Exodus 20:2-3, Matthew 6:24)
  • SAVE. God wants us to save for the future. He makes it clear that saving money is a wise decision. And he wants us to think strategically about every area of our life, in order to glorify him with everything we have. Make saving the second priority in your budget. (See: Proverbs 21:20, Proverbs 21:5, Luke 14:28)
  • LIVE ON THE REST. After we have given back to God a portion of the money he has provided for us and saved some of that money for the future, we should live on the remainder. That means we need to manage our spending, our commitments, our desires in a way that we can pay for them with the money we have left each month. 

But, be warned, when we don’t live on the rest, we go into debt. Remember, God wants our hearts. He tells us that we cannot serve God and money. Regarding debt specifically, God says that being in debt is like being a slave (Proverbs 22:7). Avoid debt at all costs. If you find yourself in debt, develop a plan to get out of debt as soon as you can.

When we choose to honor God with our money, we become willing partners with him, storing up eternal treasure, and entrusting him with our lives, our futures, and our hearts.

Commit to develop a budget that allows you give, save, and live on the rest. Ask someone to hold you accountable to living on that budget and thank God every day for providing what you need.


Giving it Away

Kyle Yawn, a 26-year-old Maintenance Flight Controller at NASA, loved his job, but he could not stop thinking about retiring early. He always loved spreadsheets and numbers, and it became the ultimate optimization puzzle for him. It was fun figuring out the earliest he could possibly retire.

Kyle’s boldest estimates had him retiring in his mid-thirties.

“My dad retired when he was fifty,” Kyle said, “I was ten, and my mom had quit her job when I was born. So I’d seen my parents my whole life, essentially, as I was growing up.” Because of this, an early retirement became a life goal for him. Kyle saved every penny he could, maintaining a budget lifestyle even as he got raises at work.

Then in February of 2016, Kyle received an email that shook him to his core. He had signed his small group up for the Generosity Challenge, and was receiving a daily prompt encouraging people with specific ways they could be generous that day. Kyle had just received a significant raise at work, and the email suggested using a recent raise at work for others instead of themselves.

Kyle was stunned. When he got home he talked to his wife, Lisa, about the email. He suggested they give the whole raise away.

Lisa was reluctant at first, but Kyle assured her that they could afford to give it all away. Suddenly, their lives switched gears. Instead of worrying every day about where the money would serve them best, it became about where it could serve everyone else. They remembered organizations they had always wanted to support, and started recognizing places where they could help the people in their lives. Some of their friends needed help paying for car work, and another friend was raising money for a mission trip. Now these prayer requests became opportunities to give. “It was really fun and exciting,” Kyle said, “because we switched from having this plan all put together to ‘alright God, where are you pointing us to use this money that you’ve given us’ because that’s what we want to use it for.”