Generous Transformation

From drugs den to ‘lighthouse’
11:12am Monday 10th September 2007
By Tracey Scott of Bolton News

A DRUGS den used by street gangs has been turned into a Christian prayer house. The two-up-two-down terrace house in Mercia Street, Deane, officially opened its doors on Saturday. Devoted Christians Lindsay Syed, aged 49, and husband Navaid Syed, bought the property three years ago for just £12,500.

To help them celebrate, guests who turned up at St George The Martyr, Church Avenue, Bolton, were asked to walk to the Bolton Lighthouse in Mercia Street – the property’s new name – for a barbecue and speech by devoted Christian George Verwer.

The couple spent three years renovating the property and turning it into a prayer house. Mrs Syed, who lives two doors away, said: “When my husband and I bought the property, it was a complete mess.

“It was boarded up, filthy and filled with syringes. The plaster had been ripped off the walls and it had been completely wrecked.

“Over the three years we’ve renovated it and turned it into a beautiful prayer house – The Bolton Lighthouse.”

The property now comprises of a top prayer room with an altar and keyboard, a seminar room and a youth room.Downstairs, worshippers can enjoy the renovated herb garden with a barbecue, while inside Mrs Syed has fitted a new kitchen for group breakfasts and church gatherings.

She said: “Now we have officially opened, we are going to continue with our outreach locally. “We’re open to people who want to come in, take the gospel message seriously and generally help the house along.”

Have just heard from these folks today. The centre is still in action. What a wonderful example of generosity to a community.

Global Nomad
30 September 2010

Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” — John D. Rockefeller Jr. 

 

God’s Generosity

Here’s the second part of the mini-series.

The reason so few people really understand God’s generosity results from two realities. First, they measure it by what they perceive to be their wants and needs. Comparing our homes, cars and toys to others in the culture leads to envy and greed. In the face of our demands God will rarely seem generous.

Paul understood God’s generosity at a far deeper level than material comfort. He said he knew the secret of contentedness whether he enjoyed an abundance or whether he suffered in need. Because he was focused on God’s agenda for his life and not his own, he saw God’s hand of generosity in every area of his life. Look at how he described it: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8, emphasis mine)

I have lived most of my spiritual life like a son of a stingy Father. Not ever having all I wanted and often being disappointed by his response to some of my most fervent prayers, I lived with a nagging disappointment in God. Yes, I could express thanks and praise as well as the next person intellectually, but underneath I felt cheated and was continually frustrated by the things he did not do that I expected of him.

It has only been in the last six years as God has dismantled my agenda for my own life, that I have been able to see a glimpse of what Paul is talking about here. Because I was so busy trying to get God on my page, I couldn’t see the incredible things he was doing in my life every day. When I start everyday without my own preferences for how I want things to turn out, I find myself constantly amazed at what God is doing in my life and genuinely thankful at every turn. If he doesn’t give me something, it’s because I really don’t need it.

This is why our expectations are disappointed so often. It’s not because God doesn’t care about us, but because he is committed to freeing us from the tyranny of self. Only then can we enjoy God’s resources and discover just how generous he is.

© Copyright 2010 Lifestream Ministries
Permission is herby granted to anyone wishing to make copies for free distribution.

Trust you enjoyed this two post series. Will watch out for more such articles to share with you.

Global Nomad
28 September 2010

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill 

 

Giving Generously

Welcome to a two-part series of articles by Wayne Jacobson published in Lifestream.

In fact Paul was shocked at how the Macedonians, who were in the midst of poverty themselves, responded to the need. “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.” (2 Cor. 8:2-4)

Does that sound like tithing? Would tithing have resulted in such overwhelming action? I don’t think so! Here were believers who were so blessed by God’s generosity toward them that even out of their own need they could respond with generosity to others.

I love how the New Testament puts the focus where it belongs. We don’t give money to God so God will act generously toward us. Rather, he begins the cycle. Having overwhelmed us with his generosity, we will respond in the same way to others.

But there is a catch here, isn’t there? What if I don’t feel God is being generous with me, do I still give to others? Paul said that giving and receiving in the body does go in cycles. Those who have plenty today, might well be those who in need tomorrow. The goal is to share so that no one has too much or too little.

But how much is too much and how little is too little. While I think it’s obvious that almost every one of us who live in first-world countries are incredibly wealthy financially by world standards, so few people really know God’s generosity. Why?

© Copyright 2010 Lifestream Ministries
Permission is herby granted to anyone wishing to make copies for free distribution
.

[continued tomorrow….]

Global Nomad

27 September 2010

“He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Walking with Generosity

What might happen in our town or village?
Local churches determine the exact nature of the mission programme – it is a partnership with TFM. Here are some sample menus to help a church thinking of participating in the Walk or a team member who is thinking of joining a team. The key thing is to devise a programme attractive to non-church people.

Village Mission: 4 days Saturday – Wednesday

Sat. Team walk to the village by 5pm. Welcome event + evening outreach BBQ and later pub evangelism

Sun. Team preach & take part in church & chapel (a.m.). They run a family fun day in the afternoon, and a Songs of Praise in the evening

Mon. School assembly + visiting door-to-door in the daytime. Coffee mornings in two homes of church folk. Evening: youth event in village hall

Tue. Further visiting. Old folks lunch. Evening main meeting with prayer for healing.

Wed. Team walk to next place to begin their mission there …

Town Mission: 8 days Saturday – Sunday

Many aspects will be similar to the village programme. Here are some additional opportunities:

Schools. May be several visits – secondary as well as primary

Evenings. Flexibility to put on more events e.g. ladies meal, men’s event

Teams. Might need more than one team to reach the community well

Night of Colour. Could ask Daniel Cozens to show his paintings and share the gospel in that setting

Youth. Might be able to use our specialist youth teams

The Ethos
Jesus’ sending out of the 72 in Luke Chapter 10 has been the TFM model. In particular we have embraced simplicity: Team members come without cars, mobile phones or credit cards, only bringing £2 per day to engage in pub evangelism.

– They trust in God for provision of food and other necessities

– Teams of Walkers take this simplicity a stage further, carrying their own packs and sleeping on hall floors. (The mixed teams of Walk associates, for practical reasons, sleep in the homes of church members).

Team members all sign up to a “Spiritual Rule of Life and Holiness” for the mission. TFM have found this common rule of Christian living to be of great benefit in helping people to grow as disciples of Jesus. Moving beyond the fringe of Church does not mean leaving the Church behind. TFM values its partnership at a local and regional level.

The Making of Disciples
Hit and Run evangelism is avoided and the making of disciples is taken seriously. Within 48 hours those who have responded to the Gospel are offered a visit from a team member or a local Christian and participating churches are expected to have Nurture Groups in place. Through Faith Missions will provide two courses called “On The way” and “Going with God” for churches that do not have their own discipleship course.

How the Good News is Shared
Walkers have a friendly image and their approach to evangelism is gentle and non-aggressive, yet bold. They will go into pubs and, with the aid of Gospel Beer Mats, speak of Jesus there. That’s the boldness aspect. They will also go into schools, colleges, workplaces, homes, churches, and chapels, parish halls, open air sites and from door to door with a Personal Beliefs Questionnaire. Preaching, as well as conversation, is at the heart of it, as is prayer for healing in accordance with the

Youth and Children
Reaching young people will be an important part of this mission. TFM are seeking to put together an exciting programme of culturally-relevant evangelism that will engage with the emerging generation. As well as working with well-known youth organisations with expertise in schools work and youth evangelism, we are hoping to involve many local young people in a variety of outreach initiatives. Separate publicity leaflets will give details of the youth and children’s programme.

While meeting with a friend over lunch, he shared with me about his latest project. He is organising a special Walk through villages and towns in his county in the UK. It is part of TFM that seeks to promote such initiatives in which hundreds of folk take part to be a blessing to those whom they meet along the way.  Learn more on their site: http://www.t-f-m.org.uk/Index.asp?MainID=1898

Global Nomad
22 September 2010

“Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”   — Barbara Bush 

Tough Generosity

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

From The Paradoxical Commandments, by Dr. Kent M. Keith

Global Nomad
20 September 2010

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

— John Bunyan 

 
 

 

Generous Art of Questioning

“The Direction of Our Questions”

A wonderful book on renewal of the mind is James Schall’s Another Sort of Learning: Selected Contrary Essays on How Finally to Acquire an Education While Still in College or Anywhere Else, Containing Some Belated Advice about How to Employ Your Leisure Time When Ultimate Questions Remain Perplexing in Spite of Your Highest Earned Academic Degree, Together with Sundry Book Lists Nowhere Else in Captivity to be Found. Wow! You don’t read subtitles like that since the days of Jonathan Edwards of the early 1700’s. ISBN 0-89870-183-X.

Questions should be asked honestly, seriously, respectfully, personally, openly and appropriately – and listened to in the same way. But it is the Ultimate Questions where we need the most help. These are called First Order Questions in philosophy, those that get to the heart of what is, the ones that are eternally oriented. Second Order Questions are the interpretive and how-to ones, the ones we frequently ask because they are now oriented. Acts 17:11 tells us to “search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so.” Things that are so are things that are – the truth.

Questions create a problem to be solved and a parameter to go to. They are designed to start discussion and not to stop it. Questions can be bounced around in a classroom, in a conversation, in a context of encouragement and mutual interaction – and reverberate around our minds in thought. But they must be pointed at the truth in the right direction to make progress toward His goal. Currently, the two Big Questions are: 1) What can I get out of it?; and 2) What can I get out of? These have nothing to do with the truth of what is and take us nowhere.

One study of four-year-olds demonstrated that they ask an average of 400 questions a day. We can learn something from children in the direction of asking of questions. The author Hermann Krusi is quoted in John Gregory’s Seven Laws of Teaching (Pillsbury Press, n.d., pp. 113,114) as a student of children’s questions. As a child approaches the questioning period, he or she asks four types of questions: 1) What is that?; 2) What is there in it?; 3) Who made it?; 4) What do they do with it? He went on to conclude:

“In the first question, ‘What is that?’ he was trying to get a consciousness of the thing lying before him. By the second, ‘What is there in it?’ he is trying to perceive and understand its interior, and its general and special marks. The third ‘Who made it?’ pointed toward the origin and creation of the thing; and the fourth, ‘What do they do with it?’ evidently points at the use and design of the thing. Thus this series of questions seemed to me to include in itself the complete system of mental training.”

Children, according to Rudyard Kipling’s poem in Just So Stories have a knack for asking questions: “But different folk have different views; I know a person small — She keeps ten million serving men, who get no rest at all! She sends ’em abroad on her own affairs, from the second she opens her eyes — one million Hows, two million Wheres, and seven million Whys!” And there is order and direction to their madness.

There are the BIG first order questions and consequential second order questions. There are little questions that are conventional and traditional and answered by common sense criteria. The BIG questions are those that have a large scale and scope to them, and have unusual possibilities for answering them. They get us to our foundations, our pillars, our bedrock. They force us to consider assumptions, presuppositions and starting places. They move us beyond the mundane to the eternal, but then back again to action and practicalities.

Here are twelve BIG ones to answer for yourself, given to me by the wise man Dr. John Patrick of the Univ. of Ottawa: Foundational ones 1) Where did I come from?; 2) Why am I here?; 3) Where am I going?; Moral ones 4) How can I make sense of suffering?; 5) How can I come to terms with mortality?; 6) How can I believe in justice? Philosophical ones 7) How can I know?  What may I believe? 9) What shall I do? Theological ones 10) How can I love? 11) In what is my faith?; 12) Where is my hope?

Remember that good and great questions have a direction to them. They are not asked haphazardly as even a child unconsciously demonstrates. What are your questions? How are you asking them? Where are your questions going? What are you going to do with the answers? Remember ASK: Ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7). He is already pursuing us with His questions. And when we pursue Him He will pursue us further, and answer us. Perseverance leads to his promise and a revelation of the Promiser.

David P. Bertch
Navigator Representative
Copyright, 2004

Global Nomad
16 September 2010

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”
— Calvin Coolidge
Former American President

Dialoguing Generously

The past couple of weeks have been a cascade of meetings with people from all walks of life and in all kinds of situations. It has freshly alerted me to be aware of such opportunities to share about eternal issues. The range of folk and the diversity of inspiring projects in which they involved have been very special.

Each of these meetings is so different and yet each has its own wealth of potential. It is a joy to be able to meet with such a variety of folk from all walks of life and to spend time talking with them. Do trust you too will have such incidents each week if not daily and value your prayers for my ongoing networking. Below is a selection of recent dialoguing….

Oxford student studying his Masters in Education
Business executive in a coffee shop
Student from Pakistan on a bus disorientated in London
Farmer from Africa (ZIM) riding in a train
Director of a charity
Staff at Just Giving
Welcome desk staff at KPMG – large company in London
Man wandering on railway track – causing interesting conversation with passengers
Business development Manager of café-chain in London
Coach drivers

Global Nomad
15 September 2010

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Triple Generosity

The following three aspects of generosity are worth considering and making a part of our lives. The illustrations have come through personal experiences over the past few decades.

Generous Appreciation.
Actively seeking to show generous appreciation whenever one can is a good goal to foster. There are so many opportunities that come our way each day, remembering to capture and use them is the challenge.

A group of blind folk were being shown round a special exhibition on-board an ocean going ship. The tour had been creatively designed to be as tactile as possible thus enabling the visitors to have a really memorable and meaningful time. The sounds, smells, tastes and opportunities to feel various items brought great insight to them. As they were leaving, one of the group commented to one of the tour guides: “The voices of your staff shine”. What gracious words of appreciation.

Generous Respect
Showing respect to those whom we meet, whatever their background, culture or language is also a key element in being a generous person. A visitor to the same exhibition was sitting in his car on the quayside and watching all the ship personnel working together. They came from some 50 nations.n It was like a United Nations situation for sure. The observer was fascinated to see such respect for one another by folk from such diverse backgrounds. It was especially impacting to him as he was from a country where respect for different cultures had gone through a challenging time. Being generous with our respect is noticed by others and is an encouragement to them.

Generous Sharing
Finding the most effective matches for materials, equipment or services can be an tough assignment at times. A whole consignment of excellent but highly specialized medical books had been made available to us to share with others. Obviously they would not sell very quickly through our normal international book fair outlet. Thus ideas were explored to locate the right recipients. The matron of the largest teaching hospital happened to call in to see us. Soon a plan was in hand to donate these volumes, several hundred of them, to the various teaching hospitals and colleges in the region. The matron arranged for the media to be alerted about the donations and thus the match(es) were made.

However the generous sharing did not end there. The matron alerted us to a large donation of medical supplies for us to share in another country of specific shortage in this area. Thus the generous sharing continued. May these thumb-nail sketches of generosity be an inspiration to be generous in these three areas of appreciation, respect and sharing….

Global Nomad
“Racial Justice Sunday”
12 September 2010

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” — Albert Pike

Generous Obedience

Thinking about people who cross our paths in daily life, they could well be contemporary versions of: the official in the chariot, the boy with the lunch, the business man searching for reality, the woman at the well, the friend at midnight, the civil servant up a tree, the disabled person at the roadside …… They were all obedient to the Divine Directive.

Over the past decade or two, I have been privileged to meet up with folk in the 21 century who are moving out in active service in obedience to the One who has motivated their vision and burdened their hearts.They are all so different and involved in such a diverse range of expressions of the Divine Love.

They are moving without high profile promotions or logistics in lands across the globe, folk are gathering to hear the valuable messages they bring; it maybe detailed teaching, it maybe using a skill acquired over the years to captivate and entertain an audience large or small, it may be a family travelling at the directive of the Spirit, it may be establishing vibrant and sustainable projects in various locations, it maybe using artistic skills, it maybe just drinking coffee and having a listening ear, it maybe using a large bus to share the good news and distribute scriptures, it may be training potential business entrepreneurs, it may be setting up a medical project, it maybe drilling wells to provide refreshing water,it may be plying the waterways and lakes of Africa. In each case it is folk being willing to respond to the Spirit’s direction.

Such humble and yet confindent obedience is bringing much blessing. It is surely generous obedience in action.

Global Nomad 07 September 2010

Generosity in Rumour Evaluation

Socrates’ Triple Filter Test

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high
esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said,
“Socrates, do you know what I just heard about your friend?”
“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d
like you to pass a little test.
It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
“Triple filter?”
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my
friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re
going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure
that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or
not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what
you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him,
but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though,
because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you
want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really.”
“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither
true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

[Quote sent in by a friend]

Global Nomad  02 September 2010