That is my bike. All mine.

‘That is my bike’

‘ But…you aren’t using it’IMG_6696[1]

‘Doesn’t matter! It’s mine’

‘But you aren’t using it’

‘It’s mine and you can’t have it!’

‘Why can’t I? You aren’t going on it!’

‘It’s mine and you aren’t using it!’

 

And so it continues the back and forth of ‘it’s mine and you aren’t going to use it and I refuse to budge’. Everyone loses out. The bike isn’t used, no one gets to play. What a shame. We later on explain that in this house we do generous. In this house we do what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. It’s non- negotiable, we aim and desire to be a generous family. Not just generous with our possessions and our money but our love, our friendship, our time, our words, our encouragement and even our very thoughts towards others.

A generous heart is something that you can see immediately in others, it is attractive and contagious. You want to be around those who are generous with their love. The company of people who are generous wphone 073ith their words and encouragement is like a magnet. They are kingdom people who seek to show off a generous God and who do it sacrificially and with joy. That lovely moment when you ask someone for their time that requires sacrifice and they say a JOYFUL yes. I have those people in my life and I know it is sweeter because of it.

More and more I have come to want more of this. Possessions are literally worthless when it comes to bringing God’s kingdom here on earth. My wants and my desires to have the latest fashion item (not that i could ever tell you what this is – I am clueless in this area) or my own space and time are meaningless when it comes to living out community that manifests the glory of God. I want Jesus to be evident in how I do every aspect of my life and I believe that this comes from a heart that seeks to give over and over again. Giving costly and cheerfully.  Counter cultural in our society but in the kingdom it’s the only way.

How many times I have thought in that tit for tat manner that my 6 year old had today. It’s mine I want it, it’s mine you can’t have it, it’s mine because I deserve it, or it is mine and you can only have it with something in return. How wrong are these thoughts. Giving to meet the standard when we should be giving and then some. My home, my possessions, my money, my clothes and the list goes on are utterly worthless when it comes to God and His Kingdom. I recently had the privilege of being in a conversation of a group of friends who all went to same church who shared clothes, they had house keys for each other’s homes and the policy of what is mine is yours wasn’t just a nice saying but a reality. The heart behind this of course was value. They valued each other and people over their worldly goods or their most treasured possession. It was infectious to be around, it was love and joy acted out in the most beautiful way. God is a generous God. In our lives we have found we can never out give God! He always has more than we could ever give.

How infectious is it to be around friends who try cunning ways to pay the bill first at a restaurant or who give away something you mentioned in passing you like. This is the way I want to live all the time not just when it suits, convenient or requires no sacrifice.

I want to hold on to ‘things’ so lightly that I will go wherever God takes me because it won’t matter where I live or if my furniture matches but His Kingdom, His people will be worth more than any of that.

generosity-pays

The other day I looked at our toothbrush holder and it is a plastic McDonald’s cup of the Lego Movie. I looked at it and thought about buying a new one and then another thought quickly entered my head of why would I do this? Why would I spend money on a holder for our toothbrushes that no-one will ever see or care about. Spending a fiver on something that is literally worthless when that fiver could go towards something way more significant for those who have nothing. It’s a silly example I know but it’s those little decisions I am hoping that will build into a lifestyle.

Jesus teaches us over and over again about what treasure we should be seeking. Many examples in the gospels about how riches and possessions can keep us from being a follower of Jesus. May we position our hearts to never put something before the Kingdom of God.

We are trying to teach our kids the value in being generous. Helping them to see and value people more than any possession. That we give over and over again and sometimes it hurts because it requires sacrifice but Jesus and His kingdom is worth more than all the riches in the world. In our experience so far has been only that as a family as we have given we have received much more of a blessing than we could have imagined.IMG_6865[1]  Photo credit Ruth Kelly ( ruthkellyphotography.tumblr.com)

Wanting to live generously I realise that it starts with me as an individual, then as a family, as a church, as a community. I never want to value possessions over people, I want to keep giving and not being sucked in by what the world says I should have or wear – yes sometimes that is hard but the joy that comes with it is inexpressible.

‘Generous’showing a readiness to give more of something, especially money, than is strictly necessary or expected.

 

In this house we don’t do church

“People who want community on their own terms don’t want to be in community; they want to be worshipped” – Jared Wilson

Powerful words, don’t you agree? These words made me have a serious think about how I think about involving others in my life.  Do I think about what I will get?  Or what burden it puts on me before I embrace and ‘do’ community with my people, my family, my church?  Do I worry what people will think of my house, my food, my kids?  If I do then I’m very much making it all about me.

I love community and I have for the majority of this blog included an amazing piece from Sarah Bessey that describes down to the finest detail why I go to church.  Sarah I feel here has articulated in a much better way my experience of my church, my people.  That is why I don’t want to say very much and let her blog do the talking.

My own experience of community and going to church as a new Christian was modelled over and over again when I joined our current church 15 years ago.  I was invited and fed, I was loved and accepted.  I was an interesting character, I had a colourful past but people took time to get to know me over a meal around their kitchen table; I took time to get to know them and their kids.  Some of those ‘kids’ are now close friends of ours and getting to know and spend time with our kids in exactly the same way.  This is what you do.  These people I met 15 years ago are still a huge part of our lives.  I have walked many a path of celebration and of devastation and people have done the same for us.  Many a tear and much rejoicing have been done over a cup of tea in our home, with the toys scattered over the floor and the kids running around.  We go on holidays together with our kids and embrace the excitement, the frustration and the joy of organising what we will all do that week and try to please everyone – not easy!   We don’t do ‘church’, we do ‘life’!

Church is not a club you join or an organisation you become part of.  It’s a family you belong to. It’s a place where you don’t walk away easily because you don’t agree, or because it doesn’t suit anymore.  It’s a place where you can be vulnerable, a place where you get your hands dirty and help anyone and everyone who is in need, a place where you can love and be loved.  Church is a place where you invite people to sit around your kitchen table have a pasta bake and who you get to know and accept.  Church is a place when you invite people round they come in their slippers because they know you are going to be in yours.  My best friends have come from my church family, not because we had lots in common to begin with but we just did plain old life (with all its crap) together and the rest followed.

If you make it all about having your preferences met, hanging back when it all gets a bit awkward (which of course it can), and only jumping in when it ‘suits’ – that’s not community. Our community is based on a ‘common unity’ around Jesus, not around music tastes, our level of education, skin colour, gender or even our age. Church is a camaraderie of misfits – or at least it should be.

These are my people, this is my family, and this is indeed my church.

144  A dinner date with Kerry every Monday brings so much joy 155even when she cleans up!

     IMG_1648 Baby Seth and his mate.     IMG_9635 A farm visit.

DSC_5653   A trip away with a bunch of fantastic people and amazing kids!

DSC_6800 A park trip…….. with a chat from Dan to the bug DSC_6830

DSC_6396 Mount Stewart outing DSC_6518  BBQ fun at Hanover

DSC_6633 Chats with the girls.

Enjoy the blog (and the photos) – Here is the link to ‘ In which I think community is worth the intention :or why I still go to church’ 

Here are really only a few photos I have taken over these last few years.  Need to use my camera way more in these moments – I love having the memories!