Monday, April 30, 2012


2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

Last week I preached a well-received sermon on the concept of Abundance. Abundance is a powerful Biblical concept which, if applied regularly (one might say religiously)  has the power to transform everything in your life.

What is Abundance?

Abundance is not just gratitude, although gratitude and counting blessings is good.
Abundance is not just generosity—it is possible to be generous even with things that are scarce in our lives. Sometimes poor people are the most generous. It is possible to be down to your last crust of bread and to share that crust with someone. Sharing from scarcity can be a deeply moving gesture, but it is an adaptation to a crisis, and if you are not in a crisis you need to adjust your thinking. 
Living a life from a viewpoint of abundance is taking an honest look at what we possess in abundance and making our choices and decisions based on the fact--not the idea, but the fact--that God is providing us with abundant blessings.
It means leading with our strengths, and with confidence.
It means recognizing we all have blessings to give and concentrating on sharing those blessings rather than focusing on any perceived deficit or lack in our lives.
This time of year, most yards are covered with dandelions. Many people look at their dandelion-strewn lawns and see persistent weeds. I see abundant free food for my dandelion-loving pet bunny.
What do you possess in abundance?
It may be material abundance.
It may be land.
It may be time.
It may be a lot of pet-able, adorable animals.
It may be wildflowers.
It may be pennies.
It may be rocks.
It may be patience for handicapped people.
It may be friends.
It may be faith.
Whenever my thoughts turn to what I want or need, instead of practicing scarcity thinking and dwelling on the things I do not have, I am learning to inventory what I possess in abundance and figure out how to use that abundance to get what I need, or to re-examine whether I really need it in the first place. Abundance teaches us that even though other people have more of some things, God is providing each one of us with not just enough, but more than enough. We just need to look with eyes of abundance to see it.

Also, and this is really important, we need to figure out how to share from our abundance with others. Sharing from our scarcity, in many cases, can make us feel resentful and can lead to more scarcity thinking, but sharing from our abundance grows our soul and multiplies our abundance according to God's plan for humanity.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Resurrection is like...

When I was a child we spent most of our Easter Sundays in Florida, and attended some church where we'd never been. Over the years I heard many children's sermons about objects that tell the story of the Resurrection. I always enjoyed these, so I thought I'd share a few from my childhood plus a new one I've found:

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

The sand dollar is a beachcomber's dream shell find. Generally you only find fragments of them, but they are widely available in gift shops in Florida. I found a website with four versions of the legend. This is the version most familiar to me:

Upon this odd-shaped sea shell
A legend grand is told
About the life of Jesus
The wondrous tale of old

The center marking plainly shows
The well known Guiding Star
That led to tiny Bethlehem
The Wise Men from afar

The Christmas flower, Poinsettia
For His Nativity
The Resurrection too is marked
The Easter Lily, see

Five wounds were suffered by our Lord
From nails and Roman's spear
When He died for us on the cross
The wounds show plainly here

Within the shell, should it be broke,
Five Doves of Peace are found
To emphasize this legend
So may Love and Peace abound

The Easter Lily

There are different versions of this legend as well.

Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon, churches are filled with exquisite Easter lilies. Churches at Easter time grace the altars and surround the cross with Easter Lilies, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This importance rests even more clearly on a legend that the blood of Jesus, as it fell from the cross, was by a miracle transformed into flowers which filled heaven and earth.

The Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross -- two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints -- brown with rust and stained with red -- and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

Resurrection Cookies
This is a teaching activity for children. It could be adapted for use as a children's sermon if the ingredients were simply brought into the church and displayed.