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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - The Mindset of Generosity

Chris Hodges - The Mindset of Generosity

Chris Hodges - The Mindset of Generosity
TOPICS: Legacy Sunday, Generosity, Christmas

How about that? Come on give Jesus all the praise, everybody. Oh, that's not good enough, come on give God the praise he deserves. Isn't that awesome? What a joy it is to be a part of what God's doing on planet Earth, that he allows us to be a part of that, and thank you for your role in all of that. It's just nothing short of a miracle. Let me say a big hello to all of our campuses that are now joining us. We are one church that meets in 26 different locations across Alabama and Georgia; and, of course, we are in 22 of Alabama's Department of Corrections and jails across the state of Alabama.

We are so grateful to be with you guys. You are not a project to us; you are our church family. We love you, we're grateful that you're with us, and we're streaming this service live right now to people around the world who are maybe deployed or wherever you are around the world that are joining us right now, And, of course, we have this on demand throughout the weeks and months ahead. Would you help me Grants Mill in saying the biggest hello you can? Come on, put your hands together and say hi. Appreciate that so much. And you guys want to hear some more good news? Yes or no? Yes or no? Yeah?

Okay, so we just finished "At the Movies," three weeks of taking movies that have redemption built into the story and sharing the gospel with people, and you did your jobs. We actually had record Sundays that normally would have been record low Sundays because of Thanksgiving. We had just huge attendance. And I want to thank you for bringing your family and your friends and people that are far from God to these services. And, of course, we give people a chance to follow Jesus, and we prayed so much for this to become a reality. And get ready, get ready, everybody, 1,142 people gave their lives to Jesus in three weeks. Come on, give God all the praise for that. That's awesome. I love it.

And I had somebody say, "Man, you always are talking about numbers". Well, you know, the Bible does. There's 120 in the upper room in Acts chapter 2. There were 3,000. It says the number 3,000 got saved after one sermon. And for heaven's sakes, there's a whole book of the Bible named Numbers. Come on, somebody, right? So we are happy to celebrate. And, of course, every number is a person, and every person matters to God, and I am excited about every single one. And I'm very grateful to you, too, for being the best church in the world. Before we jump into the message, I do want to give you a little snapshot of the seasons that we're coming into, because there's a lot of exciting things happening.

And one of my jobs, as a pastor, is not just to preach to you or bring you a message, but it's also to guide you as a shepherd. I like to think of it along different hillsides to have a diet on different places and seasons throughout our time together as a church family. And, of course, December, what can I say about December, man? It's just an amazing time. This Saturday, we have our "Giving Hope" season where we will actually have people who are in need to come and shop at gifts that you've provided, and they get to do it age specific, and the kids don't come in and get it from us.

We let the parents come in and shop, and then we actually have people who wrap these presents, and then we even have people who load cars, and every one of them gets a gospel presentation, but we want the parent to be the hero in the story, so the parents actually get to give the gifts to the kids, because we're trying to build strong, solid families. And so it's a beautiful thing called "Giving Hope" that happens this Saturday. And then a lot of different things that I'm so excited about, of course, which the hallmark of it all is our Christmas services.

Some of you who know this know I grew up in the church, and since 15 years old, I'm 60, so since 15 I've been part of the music in church. And then when I came on staff at Churches I was the production guide for church services, so I was putting together Christmas services, and I was the first one who had the idea actually to do a candlelight Christmas service at our home church in Baton Rouge, and we did it with great production, and it became very, very popular. So, when we came to Birmingham almost 23 years ago, we actually started our very first year had a candlelight Christmas service on Christmas Eve, that was so popular that we had to do several of them on Christmas Eve, that was so popular that we started doing it on the 23rd, and then the 22nd, and then the 21st, and now it's an entire week, 18th through the 24th.

We do take a day off right in the middle on the 21st just to kind of rest our voices and be with our own families for a little bit, but it is the joy of our life to provide for you more than 130 services across 26 campuses, and we're going to work hard. This year's service is spectacular in every way, and I'm so excited about it. We do have a reservation system, meaning it doesn't guarantee your seat. It just gives you priority seating, and it's our way to spread people out so that you don't all come to the same service. That system also frustrates some people, because they say, "Man, the one I wanted to go to got snatched up before I even got to get online or get on the app".

And I want you guys to know that we've always had empty seats, so people take seats and don't use them, all right? And I wish they wouldn't, but that's a reality, okay? And we've never not been able to seat someone. So, you just come. We'll have a place for you, if we have to give up our own seats. So, I mean that. Just make sure you know that you can come and be a part of that. And if you do happen to get seats that you can't use, put them back into the queue, and we'll make sure others can have those. Something else I want to tell you about this season is that both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are on a Sunday, and we will have regular Sunday services on New Year's Eve.

And then the very next Sunday starts, what makes all of this really a reality in my mind, and that is that we seek God. And we always start every year with 21 days of prayer and fasting. If you're new to our church, you probably know something about prayer, but maybe not about fasting. And so we have resources on our app and on our website that will teach you about fasting, because I do think it takes some preparation. So I would ask all of you who call this place home to start thinking about the fast, the 21 days of prayer and fasting, and I'll teach you more as we get closer to this day. Next Sunday, I've already prepared you for a day that we call Legacy Sunday.

Since the beginning of our church, we have had only one special offering that we completely give away to those that are hurting and those that have never heard is the way I like to say it. And it's to meet the need during a season of the year where I think you have a better opportunity than the rest of the year. Although we do this all year long, there's something special about the holiday season where people, I think, are feeling their pain more than most. And then it gives us an opportunity to share the love of God in practical ways, not to say that we haven't already done it. You saw on that little opener what's happened in just 11 months, but it's something that's very dear to us where we get to accelerate the vision of our church and make a difference in a lot of places. And what we do is just we vet opportunities. They don't know this.

So if it doesn't happen, we don't disappoint anyone, but we know kind of what we believe, we think you're going to do next Sunday. And so we just vet opportunities. They don't know it's coming, but we surprise a lot of people and just give them gifts at Christmastime. And, of course, there are tears and gratitude, and it's the answer to a lot of prayers in several areas. I mean, there's literally two dozen I could have given you, but some of the highlights are to local ministries that are doing a phenomenal job. They're our partners who are serving people, and we don't try to replicate what they do. We just try to partner with what they do, to pastors and churches that are in need right now.

And I have a mission in life to keep pastors and churches healthy and alive. And some of them are new church planters, and we did it, so I understand it. And they'll sacrifice Christmas for the sake of their church plant. And we send them a little gift and tell them they can't spend that on the church. And we want this, this is gonna go to your kids and so you can have a Christmas. And, of course, we're gonna continue our work of Bible translation. That's a growing project that we're trying to complete by 2035. We are already, by the way, we're already, you're already investing in and have delivered the Word of God for the first time in human history to more than 17.5 million people who've never had the word of God. And we're already getting the Word of God to those people. Can you say amen right there?

I know, I love this so much. But there's so much more to do there. And, of course, two missions works around the world that I wish I could talk to you about more, but for security reasons, because you're in, you don't know this, but you're in Israel right now and you're in the Gaza Strip. And you're working among Israeli, Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians. There's a revival taking place right now in the nation of Iran that you're a part of that we can't talk about 'cause we want it to keep happening, and just take great joy in your heart that God is moving on planet Earth, and we get to be a part of it. Amen, everybody? So, it's exciting, it's exciting.

And you say, "PC, why do we do this? Like why are we this generous? Why are we always thinking about others? Why don't we have an entire offering that we would go give away"? Even when Highlands has its own set of needs, and I use that term very loosely, it's nothing like the needs of the world, but we have eight of our campuses that are still portable, that need a building, and we have Highlands College that's growing by leaps and bounds, that has so many things that we still need to do there. But the answer is the reason why we would do something like Legacy Sunday is we're the Church, we're the Church.

And I use the capital C meaning not just Highlands, like the Church, the Church, the global Church, God's Church, and we believe that God has called the Church to be on mission. We call it the Great Commission, which I would remind you is not the great suggestion. It's the Great Commission. It's something he asked us to do: preach the gospel, help the poor, reach people, translate Bibles, build churches, raise up leaders. He asked us to do this. We have a mission here on planet Earth, and it is the joy of our lives to be a part of it. Can I hear a good amen everybody? But not everybody sees it that way. And honestly, good hearted people don't see it that way. And here's the question of the day: why wouldn't we? Like what would be the reasons for the people who aren't giving their lives away, and giving their resources away, and giving their joy away, and giving their love away? Why aren't they doing that?

And I don't think it's because they don't have love, or even love people, or care for people. In fact, I think they probably actually love them as much as anybody. I believe that a lot of people aren't able to give, or don't give, because they don't think they have anything to give, or that they don't think that they have enough, or they don't really believe, they really truly believe that they can't. It is what I'm gonna teach you today, and I've never taught this before, it's a mindset called the scarcity mindset. It believes I'm the need, and I don't have anything to give, and so I go through life looking to receive, not to give.

I wanna tell you a story that I've never told, only our trustees and a few of our lead staff even know this story, and they only know it because they were here when it happened, but today we kinda get celebrated and people in the church world celebrate the fact that we operate this church on strong margins, like we operate this with a lot of room in our budgets, and churches have asked me to help them get to this place, and they kind of marvel at the finances of the church, because you're incredibly generous. And the way we've managed this, you know, building buildings with no debt. But that's not really the full story. I'm not a financial genius. I was a person with a scarcity mindset. And the mindset meant that I was going to lead this church in a way where God didn't have to show up.

So we stayed portable for a long time, six and a half years at Mountain Brook High School. We had 4,000 people. And we didn't have a building yet, because I was convinced, I was determined not to do it without having the ability, of course, to pay for it. But I didn't even want to do any campaigns. I didn't like them. I didn't like campaigns and pledges and fundraising. And so I had to create a system where we could do this, honestly, without you showing up and without God showing up. Like, if you guys never did anything, we could do it. So, instead of doing all these fundraisers and things, we learned almost to a fault, we learned how to manage the finances of the church in a very, almost an overly frugal way. We had the offices of the church in the basement of my house. I didn't have an office for four years, you know, 'cause I just kept skimping, and it was because I didn't believe it was there to have.

In 2007, in July was the year we moved into our first facility, the one that those are in this room at Grants Mill are sitting in, this particular facility that we call the Grants Mill location. We moved in here in July of 2007. And it was in the spring, almost summer of 2007, that an old 80-year-old pastor came up to me and he says, "You have a scarcity mindset". And I said, "What do you mean"? He goes, "You really don't have faith to believe that God's gonna bless you in a great way, which is why you set this whole thing up".

And we did. We set it up that we could move into Grants Mill, and that if the church didn't grow by a single person, we could make our payment. I told him that. I bragged about it, that, man, we've got this where if it didn't grow a person, we can make the payment. He says, "Well, that's a scarcity mindset. You're not even believing for what God is gonna do, and you have no idea that God is actually gonna supernaturally bless you beyond what you can believe. And he wants to use you as a funnel". And he challenged me in a great way during that time. And I remember how I felt. And I actually prayed to God. I said, "God," in fact, he taught me to pray this. He said, "Chris, don't pray for your needs. Ask God to give you more than you need so that you can be a blessing to the world around you. You don't need what you need". He looked at me, "You don't need what you need. You need more than you need so you can be a blessing to the world around me".

Well, in 2007, while we were kind of finishing this facility, we had more than a thousand people coming from both Auburn and Tuscaloosa, driving two hours or one hour to church. And one morning in prayer, I felt in my heart that we were supposed to launch campuses during the season, in those two cities, during the season that we were trying to get in our first facility. It made no sense. I went to our trustees, who are our non-staff elders. I said, "This makes no sense. But I think God spoke to me that we're supposed to actually take funds that we're supposed to put in this building and put it into two brand-new locations. And we have the team and we're ready. We just have to put the money there". And they all agreed that we would do it. And then we moved into Grants Mill. And in three months, Grants Mill went from 4,000 to 9,000 people.

And then 2008 happened. That was when the financial crash happened, and the real estate market dropped. And again, I had a little bit of a, still a little bit of this scarcity mindset. But God was building my faith during that year. And you ready for this? Not only did we grow to 9,000 people in just a few short months, but in 2008, ready for this? This is when everything was down and every church that I know was down, the income of our church grew over 30% in one year during that year. Come on, praise God right there, everybody. And then we paid off all the facilities, and we've never borrowed again since then. And what I'm trying to tell you is that God, God has blessing that is available for us. Do you believe that today, everybody?

And he's looking for a group of people who will have this, not a scarcity mindset, but instead to have a blessing mindset that God wants to give you more than you need, so that you can be a blessing. Scarcity says, "I need to receive," but blessing says always have something to give. And even if you don't have a penny to your name, look at my eyes, everybody, you have something you can give. And today my goal is very simple. I'm trying to build your faith. For everybody who says, "I lack," I'm trying to build your faith today that God wants to use you as a funnel of his blessing, and I'm going to show you actually how much you already still have.

Now, I truly believe that many of us don't have a money problem. We actually have a mindset problem, and that is that God wants to be supernaturally generous to you, and He wants us to be generous with our lives. And I don't teach you this for next Sunday's offering. I teach you this for you, because I want you to live your life in this kind of way. So to do it, I'm going to show you an example of another church who actually believed this. I'm calling this today the first Legacy offering, and I'm going to show it to you in the Bible. And it's going to surprise you where the first legacy offering basically happened in Scripture.

So here's the story. Paul, the apostle Paul, when he gave his life to Jesus and he got converted on that road to Damascus, he went to the leaders of the Jewish church, and he said, "I'd like to bring the gospel to outside the Jewish people". At that time, they actually thought Christianity was Jewish people only. And so they said, "Sure". They blessed him. They said, "But with one condition". As you go to what is today, modern-day Turkey and modern-day Greece, and ultimately he would go to Italy and Spain. But when he went there, he says, "One condition, the only thing we ask is if you give this gospel away to Gentiles, non-Jewish people". He says, "Would you do us this favor"? And that is, "Would you remind them to be generous, especially to the poor back here in Israel"? Paul said, "I'm happy to do it".

So when Paul went and planted churches, he also raised up offerings that he would end up giving the whole offering away to the poor people in Israel. And so he starts off in northern Greece, which the Bible calls Macedonia, and now he's in southern Greece in a little town called Corinth, which is where we get the books of the Bible, the Corinthians books, and now he's talking to the Corinthians, and watch what he says. "And now brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the grace", and I want you, I highlighted that word because he uses it ten times in two chapters, and he's saying here, hey, this is a grace that was on their life, and that was very different, because all of their giving up to this point was Old Testament based, and it was required. It was the law for you to tithe. He goes, "No, no, no. I'm not talking about the have to; I'm talking about they get to, they want to".

The grace that God has given these northern Grecian people called Macedonian, these Macedonian churches, now watch this. Don't miss this. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. Notice two things. These people were going through hell on earth. They had trials. So when everybody says, "Man, I can't give, I'm going through too much," they have the severe trial; and in the middle of that trial they still had overflowing joy. In other words, they still had something to give; because even if they didn't have money, because they were going through a trial, they could give their joy away. They could give their peace away. You can walk inside of the room of depressed people, and maybe you don't have any dollars to give them, but you give them some joy. You can share. Are you following me? It's a mindset.

"And their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity". The question of the day is how did they give so big when they had so little? And the answer is what I've already told you. They had the right mindset, the mindset. Scarcity is this mindset, and that is I don't have enough. In fact, I don't have anything to give. And it's the mindset that is described in the book of Haggai. For some of you, this is your theme verse. You should actually put this on your refrigerator. "You eat, but I never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but you're not warm. You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it".

Come on, somebody, y'all listening to me? Yeah, scarcity, scarcity people actually say, "I don't have anything, but I'll do it when I have something. When I have more money, I'll be more generous". But having more money won't make you generous. Having more money will make you more of what you already are. 'Cause it's a mindset. In fact, this might shock you and surprise you. It shocks me. What I'm getting ready to share with you shocks me that according to research done in America, the more a person makes, the less they give, percentage-wise. Now, why is that? And that's because that people without money who give have to do it with faith. They have to trust God to do it, but people who have it are starting to count it, and they're becoming their own security, and they don't need God.

It's the truth. And that scarcity mindset, I don't have enough; where blessing says, no, I have something. I have something that I can give. I have something that I can do for someone else. It's described in Deuteronomy 28 that God will, if you'll have this mindset, "will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you". One place it says he will bless you so that you can be a blessing. And no longer now are we in this receiving mindset. We're in this giving mindset. We're thinking, I walk into every space with or without the resources that you think or don't think you have, but I have something I can give that can make a difference in the people around me.

You say, "Well, how do you do that"? Well, let me show you what the Bible says. This is Proverbs chapter 3. It says, "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first". Now, the first means do it before, really. It's like put it ahead, trust God for it, "of all your crops; and then your barns will be filled to overflowing". Then it will. So, when you are actually saying, "No, I'm gonna go into this with this generosity and mindset, 'then your barns will be filled to overflowing, your vats brim over with new wine.'" Malachi says it this way: "Bring the tithe into the storehouse," the place where you worship, "that there might be food in my house". And God says, "I know you don't think it'll work but test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to use it". And that God actually wants to see you as this funnel of his blessing.

Now, by the way, the tithe is not something you have to do. It's an Old Testament law that I don't even think is a New Testament command. I think it's a New Testament principle, but you need to know that we practice this as a church. Your church practices it. Tammy and I practice this, and I believe it works, that God wants to supernaturally bless you in a great way. I was talking to a pastor friend of mine, who was talking to someone about the tithe. And people do this to me all the time. They come up, and they kind of want to argue it, and I always say it doesn't matter, man. Just do what God shows you to do, bro. I'm happy. You know, you don't have to make this case before me, man. Just whatever the Lord shows you to do.

And this one person said to my pastor friend, he says, "Well, the only way I could do something like that". That's just like it's almost impossible to do. "The only way I could do it is if I rearranged my whole life around God". To which he said, "Like, isn't that the point"? Like, that's the whole point of Christianity is that if you're gonna live your life like I did in 2007 where I'm gonna set it up where I don't need God, isn't it true that it's in God's heart that he wants to set up something where you actually have to have faith? Because the truth is, bottom line, it takes faith.

It takes faith to have a generosity blessing mindset, and it's something that I want for you; because when you do, God is looking for the person who has that mindset, because he's looking for someone who can be that funnel of blessing. He wants to give you more than you need, so that you can be a blessing to the world around you. He's gonna bless you. Once you do this, he blesses the rest. He pours out his Spirit in a great way, and that's the story of the Macedonians.

Look what the rest of the text says. Paul says, "For I testify," now don't miss a word of this, "that they gave as much as they were able, and actually went beyond their ability". He goes, "And I didn't even have a good video or a good message. I wasn't like persuading them". "Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege", it's a mindset, "the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord's people. And they exceeded our expectations". Why? Don't miss this. "They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to others also". Reminds me of this quote by a guy named John Bonnell who says, "If one gives himself first to the Lord, all other giving is easy". Why? Because you have faith in God.

And I want this for you so bad, because it's a part of Christianity that once you understand, you go into every environment, I'm not just talking about your church and I'm not talking about next Sunday. I'm talking about tomorrow at work. You step into that room saying, "I'm here to be a blessing to the people around me". You step into school saying, "I'm here to be a blessing to the people around me". You go to a restaurant and you're not there, "Oh, I'm here to get a good meal". No, no. "I'm here to be a blessing to this server that is serving me today".

And that's why for 23 years, I've never had to ask you and never will ask you to give anything. If you've been here all 23 years, you know I've never in the history of our church asked you to give anything. I have unapologetically asked you to talk to God. You ask God and do it. God shows you to do. Why? Because I don't want you doing it for me. I want you to do it because you believe God is using you as a funnel of blessing to the world around you. I want you to have the blessing mindset. Come on, give God praise if you believe that's true. It is true. So look at the next chapter. This is the continuation of the whole Macedonian story.

So, Paul says it. So don't let me talk you into it. Each of you, and I'm saying this to you, too. "Each of you should decide in your own heart how much to give". And don't be a Scrooge. So, don't be don't do it reluctantly, but also don't do it because then PC came up with a great message Sunday that really talked me into it. No, no, no. "For God loves a person who's actually cheerfully doing it". They want to do it. Now watch this. "And God will generously provide all you need". When you put your heart and your mindset in. "I'm going to be a blessing to the world around me," God will generously provide your needs, and I believe it. And that is the story of Church of the Highlands.

For 23 years, you guys, we have had more than enough, and we've tried to steward it and leverage it faithfully, and I hope you have a sense of godly pride in what we've been able to do together as a church. "And then you'll always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others". This is the gospel, everybody. "As the Scriptures say, 'They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be legacy, remember forever. For God is the one who provides the seed". So he has it, and he's not giving it to everybody. He's providing seed to the people who know how to put it in the ground. "He provides seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. And in the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched," in joy and peace and life, in every part.

He doesn't just enrich you financially. He'll make you have more peace than everybody else, so that you can get around a bunch of depressed people and give away your peace. He's going to give you more joy than everybody else, so that you can come into a room full of people who have no joy. They've lost their joy, and you can give some of your joy away. He's going to bless you in every way so you can be generous on every occasion. "And when you take your gifts to those who need it," they get, say, 1,142 people get saved. Like, it starts to work, and they follow God. Are y'all listening to me, everybody? Come on, this is our job as a church, this is what we do, okay?

So what I'm trying to stir inside of you is never having a scarcity mindset. Regardless of what you think you have, you are blessed. I walked into every place, I went to a restaurant the other day with a young man who served me, and I don't know his story, but I walked up, we were sitting down, and he walked up to our table and he goes, "Hey, welcome to the restaurant. Can I take your drink order"? And I just decided to strike up a conversation. I said, "How you doing, my man"? He goes, "I'm blessed and highly favored". I said, "You are"? I said, "Tell me more about that". He goes, "Well, that's what my grandma told me to say".

His grandma was smart. He's working at a restaurant. I don't know his financial situation, but he came into that place, he wasn't thinking, "Oh, I just wait tables". No, no, no. "I'm blessed and highly favored". It's a mindset that we need to have, and I want you guys, who call this place home, and those that are followers of Jesus to have it, because I truly believe that God goes, "Oh, you gonna act like that? Well, then here you go". And he starts to bless you, as you're faithful and obedient in what you have, and he starts giving you more, and you don't even, I can't even understand it. I can't believe how we are where we are today. Only God, only God. Why? Because he knew we'd be a funnel once my mindset changed.

Now, I want to close with a fun little ending, fun little story, okay? So this is in the Old Testament in the book of Deuteronomy, and there was a tradition and a custom and really a command that was required of dads to their kids, that before you died, you had to make sure you left money for the family in advance of your death so that the family could be taken care of. And he says that the dad must acknowledge a certain son, the firstborn one. My firstborn son's on the front row right over here. So the Bible says, no, no, when you have a firstborn, don't give him the same amount as everybody else. Give him double of everybody else's. Which sounds like favoritism and it's not. Said give him double, because the son is the first sign of the father's strength. In other words, when the dad's gone, the son has to represent the strength of the dad to the other kids. We have five.

So, basically, it's saying I have to give more to Michael than everybody else; so that if I die unexpectedly, Michael is taken care of, but Michael has more than he needs 'cause he has to represent my strength to the other four. And by the way, I've actually set up mine that way. Michael is the executor of my estate, if you will, to what we would have if I passed away. And I've already had the conversation with him 'cause we have our special needs son who still lives with us at 26 years old. And I've already had the conversation that if something happens to me, I'm gonna give you enough to take care of you, but you gotta take care of them, too. And that's what this is talking about. It's the right, it literally means not right, the responsibility of the firstborn belongs to that firstborn, that you gotta take care of them.

Okay, now watch this. Now we're gonna go to the New Testament. Watch this. "You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly to the church of the firstborn". The Bible calls the church, the oldest son. That means God has every intent of not only taking care of you, but he has to give you more. He has to give you a double portion, because you're to represent the Father's strength on planet Earth. This is a blessing mindset, and you need to know that's how we view this. This is why I'm so excited about next Sunday, because we don't need it. We have things we could do with it, but we're not. God's gonna take care of our eight other campuses that still need buildings. That's gonna happen, but we have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to Miss Tyree, 98 years old.

When our teams got to the Tuscaloosa campus at 6 o'clock in the morning, there was already a car there for our Thanksgiving Day outreach. As the teams were preparing for like a 9 o'clock beginning of passing out boxes, there was already a car there of 98-year-old Miss Tyree, who had been sleeping in that car since 4 a.m., because her whole family was coming in town and her grandkids for Thanksgiving. And in her own words, she goes, "I didn't have a single thing in the house, and I wanted to provide for my family".

And this is her words. I'm literally quoting her, "And you folks took care of my family that day," as tears ran down her little 98-year-old face because we're the firstborn. That was our job to be there for Miss Tyree. Like at the Greystone campus when they went to deliver Thanksgiving boxes, and they went to one house; and when the door opened, they noticed bedding was on the floor, not on beds. And so they respectfully inquired, "Is there something going on here that we should, that we can help you with"? Only to find out that there was not a single bed in the house. Everybody was sleeping on the floor. And they didn't call our financial office and find out if they could get a PO for some mattresses. That small group of Highlands people just went and bought beds. They knew I'd reimburse them. They knew it, they knew it.

Now, don't go doing that for everybody. I'm just kidding. But they weren't thinking scarcity. They were thinking abundance. They knew it. They just went and did it. And they knew if they didn't, if we wouldn't do it, that God would bless them, and they would do it. But the whole family has brand-new beds. Like another family during Thanksgiving, who didn't have it for themselves, they got to know three legal migrants from the Middle East who didn't have a place to go on Thanksgiving; and when they invited them, they invited their friends, and the next thing you know, they had 30 at their house for Thanksgiving. They couldn't even speak the same language. None of them knew each other's language. They told me that the whole day at Thanksgiving, they were just doing signs and smiling and laughing and trying to figure out what each other was saying. But they knew enough to invite them to "Giving Hope" this Saturday, and all 30 of those people are gonna hear the gospel for the first time this Saturday. And y'all pray.

Come on, everybody. I'm trying to put inside of you a mindset this has nothing to do with next Sunday's offering. I hope it's massive, but it has nothing to do with that. I want you to go out into every place you go just like those three stories, and I do want you to pray. I'm not asking you for anything I'm asking you to ask God. I am asking you to have a conversation between now and next Sunday, "Lord, what am I supposed to do in that offering"? And then just I will, you have no idea how content I will be with whatever that is, okay? But it doesn't end there. Don't attend this. Invite somebody.

"Like, I don't have any money". Well, you could, but you have, well, let me tell you what you do have. You can say, "Hey, do you want to come with me to a service"? And everybody has that. Like, why would you waste the effort that our team has been doing for four months and not have somebody that you know is who's far from God sitting right next to you? A generous, blessed, abundance mindset thinks that way. But I'll take it one step further. I'm encouraging everybody to do this. Now, we do this all year long, but we ramp it up during the holidays. And you say, "What is that"? Acts of kindness.

See if I can get it out of my pocket here, are these little cards that I'm asking everybody, as you leave today, to grab fistfuls of these. And keep them in your purse, in your pocket, bring them into every restaurant. And not everywhere, but as God speaks to you, it says something extra to show God loves you. And on the back it says, "And so do we, Church of the Highlands".

That's it. And you're to take these, and when you go to a restaurant today, don't leave just the general tip, leave a honking tip. Do y'all know what a honk, Alabamians know what a honking tip is. Y'all know what that is. For you more sophisticated Northern people that might be in the room, that's a very generous gratuity. All right, so like just being, like be nice, like give them a lot, give them, if you have it, give it. And shock them, and put this and tell, "God loves you". Or go through a drive-thru line, like a coffee shop, and just, "Hey, I wanna pay for the car behind me. And would you please give them this"? And let 'em pull up, and the person would say, "Oh, your coffee's paid for, and they asked me to give you this".

And like, I'm gonna live we're gonna lives generously, that we don't receive, we give. And it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Jesus himself, the one we follow, says that. Are y'all getting it, everybody? And by the way, we'll pull out ideas how to use these cards, dozens of them on our website, and on our app. You can check that out. But I wanna close with a story, and I'm gonna ask you just to stay with me to the very end, 'cause I want you to hear every word of this.

So, unfortunately, a couple weeks ago, we did a funeral service of a mom of three. And it's heartbreaking, you know, when someone gets sick. And so, anyway, her grieving husband was digging through his wife's stuff after she had passed away, and he got into her journal, and he found this story, and he sent it to me. And I asked him permission if I could share it; and when I read it at home, I sobbed like a baby, and I sent it, I called Tammy. I said, "Tammy, come read this quick". And we just, we wept together as we read Melinda's story. And this is before she married her husband and says this.

I remember the day well. I was driving aimlessly down highway 150 with my stomach telling me that I needed to eat, and my mind telling me I just don't care. I had recently moved away from my family and lifelong friends for a job that I desperately needed. And from the day I arrived, I basically flopped around like a fish out of water. I was breathing air and doing what I thought was living life, and I was trying to fill the huge void in my heart with things that would prove to do nothing to fill it. I was left with personal issues stirring in my head and making me feel crazy, out of touch, and unloved. I had the vast feeling of loneliness consuming me. And I pulled into the drive-thru of Chick-fil-A.

And as I spoke my order, I felt tears rushing to the surface of my face, and I began to break down. I'm no stranger to a good cry, but I didn't see this one coming. I made whimpering, sad noises and remember feeling just so terribly lost. So, as I pulled up to retrieve my order, I was scrambling to wipe my face and come up with some explanation for how their chicken sandwich with that one crucial pickle made me cry. And I pulled out my check card and gestured it toward the sweet guy in the window, and he tells me... (It's tough when you know the person.) He says, "Ma'am, the person in the van in front of you paid for your meal and asked me to give you this." And the guy handed me a card from Church of the Highlands and on the back it says, "God loves you." And I pulled away, and I laughed out loud with relief, and then I broke into happy tears. I managed to pull across the street and paused and thought to myself, "Wow, thank you."

Now I must admit God knocked on my heart that day, but I didn't go running straight to Highlands. Matter of fact, it took me six months to get there. My boyfriend, now husband, made a decision that we really wanted to find a church we could enjoy together. I grew up Catholic, he was Protestant, so we knew there would have to be some compromise. He pulled up the websites of several churches and because of the card I received that day, we included Church of the Highlands. I was leaning to more of a traditional service, but I couldn't get Highlands out of my mind. We perused the sites and were less than enthused; and lucky for us, Highlands had a live streaming broadcast at 9:45.

Pastor Hodges was beginning the second Sunday of the end series, and I stared on the floor and listened for about two minutes, and we both looked up each other and said, "Let's go." We went to the 11:30 service; and as we came closer to Grants Mill, I saw cars lined up like ants. The place was teeming with people. Traffic combined with a lot of people in that situation would typically send me to an anxious frenzy, but not that day. I had an unfamiliar patience heading into that parking lot. I walked into the main auditorium, hearing the music of booming, worship booming through the doors, and the energy of the presence of God was so strong, there was no way you could mistake it. And during that service, Pastor Hodges spoke so clearly about what God expects of us, and every piece of his message was like direction I needed in my life, direction I'd spent years trying to find everywhere else.

People need and want boundaries, and that day they were all laid out for me. Prior to that, I can honestly say I didn't know they were spelled out so clearly in the Bible. But at the end of that service, Pastor Hodges called out to those who wanted to commit their lives to Christ. Now, I grew up in church, and I've always considered myself a believer, and I've been to services with friends and heard this altar call time and time again but ignored it. I thought I was already there. But after hearing the words of God that day, I knew I wasn't. I hesitated at first, but I raised my hand and cried out and prayed the prayer of accepting Christ as my Savior, and I made a decision to walk with Christ, and I made a decision to learn and share and to make my life more like his.

And they did. She went on to be on the Dream Team and raise her family there. She closes, "I thank Church of the Highlands for helping me make that decision, but I thank the person in the van that blessed me that day with the message that led me there". And this is our opportunity. So, I'm gonna do something that you're not supposed to do. I'm supposed to call the ushers forward and I'm supposed to, and I just decided today I was just gonna dismiss you, to go live this life.

And if you wanna give, the ushers will have it at the doors. And if you want prayer, we'll have our prayer team at the front of every auditorium. But I wanted you to leave with not the thought of passing the buckets or even singing another song. I wanted you to leave with the weight of Melinda's story and saying, "That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go live my life on mission, and I'm gonna make a difference in the offering. I'm gonna make a difference at the Christmas services. I'm gonna make a difference because I'm the firstborn, and I have a blessing mindset, and this is what I'm called to do".

So stand on your feet, everybody. And if you do wanna be baptized, the campus pastor's already told you where that is. If you wanna come back tonight for step one, you've already heard about that. And if you'd like to give, or give us your connection card, you can do that on the exits on the way out. And I'm dismissing you with this prayer. If you're a Christian, and you believe what I said is true today, would you open your hands before God?

And Father, I send these people out as a blessing to the world around us, God. We leave here today without a scarcity mindset. We leave here, God, with a blessing mindset that we're going to walk into every place and say, "I have something to give". And so, God, I send them out into this world as missionaries, as light and as salt to the earth that is around us, God. And God, for everything, we promise, we're going to give you all the glory, in Jesus's name. Amen.

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